Curriculum Policy Statement
At our Primary School we provide the Early Years Foundation Stage 0-5 Curriculum which covers our rising three to five years age range. We work together with parents and carers to create a smooth transition from home to school. Our Nursery Class builds on the experiences, skills and knowledge that the children bring with them. Mrs Smith and Mrs Brown make home visits prior to children starting school to help this transition by meeting and getting to know every child. A copy of the Foundation Stage Curriculum is available from the DfE (September 2012), and the school has a copy that you may read. Our Nursery and Reception Classes display weekly planning which parents are encouraged to follow.
In Years 1 to 6 the National Curriculum is taught; it provides clear programmes of study and performance descriptors for each Key Stage and Year Groups. We use the NC and various published schemes to support our planning. Long term plans for each subject area are organised into a Two Year rolling programme of Topics, in order to provide a broad and balanced curriculum, for all our children in our KS1 and KS2 classes. These long term plans are evaluated and reviewed annually by staff. While we build upon the key skills and subject knowledge we also encourage imagination, creativity, excellence and enjoyment from both staff and children alike. We expect teaching to be inspirational and learning to be inspired and fulfilling.
RE (Religious Education): the Bedfordshire Agreed Syllabus 2012 (currently under review) is taught and in addition the new Understanding Christianity themes have been introduced and form part of our Long Term Plans.
Phonics: the National Strategy for Letters and Sounds is taught throughout the School. It provides a very clear progression in learning and a framework for teaching for each year group.
We use the White Rose Hub for Maths and the Herts for Learning frameworks for English, Science and Computing.
We are sure that a positive attitude to and a love for learning, once developed in the early years, will stay with the children throughout their lives. We are as concerned with your child’s attitude to learning as with his/her ability to learn.
A guide for parents can be found at the link below:
Organisation of Education and Teaching Methods
The children are taught in Key Stage groups each day comprising of Nursery and Reception children (Early Years), Year 1 children and Year 2 children (Key Stage 1), and Years 3, 4 and 5 children (Key Stage 2).
Whole class teaching, group work and one to one approaches are used where and when appropriate, with differentiated work and activities provided to ensure that all children are working to their own ability and need to achieve their full potential. Our aim is to provide consistent positive feedback to individuals in order to encourage independence, confidence and positive self-esteem, self-motivation and a willingness to ask questions, find out and have a go.
In the Early Years we work within the EYFS 0-5 Curriculum which has its own distinct identity. It sets developmental stages leading to the Early Learning Goals with high expectations within a play based curriculum. It covers seven areas of learning; Personal, Social and Emotional Development; Literacy; Physical Development; Mathematics; Communication and Language; Understanding the World; and Expressive Arts and Design.
In KS1 and KS2 we work within the framework of the National Curriculum. The five core subjects are Mathematics, English, Science, Computing and RE (Religious Education). The Foundation subjects are History, Geography, Design Technology, Music, Art and Design, PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education), PE (Physical Education) and a Modern Foreign Language - French in KS2. We teach the British Values as part of PSHE and RE.
A topic based curriculum is delivered when areas being covered lend themselves to a combined approach, but the essential skills and knowledge remain secure in each subject, otherwise subject areas are taught as discrete areas of learning.
The National Curriculum (September 2014) is divided into three programmes of study:-
- Spoken Language: We teach children to express themselves clearly, accurately and confidently and to recognise the importance of listening carefully, while extending their vocabulary and developing a use of good grammar. The children have many opportunities to talk and listen in small groups, with their class and with the whole school. We are proud to share Class Assemblies and School Productions with you throughout the school year.
- Reading: This is divided into 2 sections – word reading and reading comprehension. We believe that reading should be an enjoyable activity through which children develop a love of literature. To achieve this they must be given the skills necessary to read with understanding. Children must learn to decode words without losing sight of the meaning of the text. Regular practice is necessary and a wide range of material is used in order to offer the greatest opportunities of meeting challenging and interesting texts. This includes opportunities for listening to and discussing a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books in addition to time every day for shared reading with the whole class, group reading with small groups and individual reading. While your child may not read his/her reading book to the teacher every day, they are encouraged to read at home every day and change their reading books as they need to. We believe children make the best progress when they read a wide selection of books at each level.
- Writing: This is divided into 2 sections – transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition including vocabulary, grammar and punctuation. Children are given opportunities to write for a variety of purposes, using neat joined handwriting from the early stages. They are encouraged to become independent writers using the skills they are taught and to develop an interest and enjoyment in communicating their thoughts, ideas and knowledge to others. The regular teaching of punctuation, grammar, sounds, letter blends and high frequency words helps to provide the skills needed and children are taught how to use this knowledge in their writing.
The National Curriculum is divided into four sections:-
- Shape, Space and Measure
- Handling Data.
- Using and applying mathematics
We provide daily opportunities for all children to experience and acquire mathematical concepts and learn the mathematical language necessary for their communication. Introduction in the Early Years is through play activities and discovery. Our children are all encouraged to develop mental capabilities and strategies and to discuss their work in practical activities. They are taught to record, make logical deductions, solve problems and carry out mathematical investigations. Teacher assessment is continuous.
The skills and knowledge of computing are taught as part of topic, as well as in separate skills based lessons. Computing is also integrated into all areas across the curriculum. Children have access to a wide range of experiences using a variety of equipment; laptop and desktop computers, programmable devices, CD players, DVD recorders, digital cameras and interactive whiteboards in their classroom. They are taught to use ICT equipment and software, confidently and purposefully, to communicate, investigate, handle information, solve problems and record their work. Our school staff, parents, governors and the children are all encouraged to access our Learning Platform via the internet. It is used to keep everyone informed and up to date. The children have access to their own class pages and e-mails. E-Safety is taught throughout the school.
Science in the National Curriculum provides our children with opportunities to explore and investigate the world around them, to develop understandings about the workings of the physical and biological world through first hand practical investigations. In the Foundation Stage this is taught through planned play activities and experiencing the world in which they live. In KS1 the children are taught to work scientifically to develop their knowledge and understanding of plants, animals including humans, living things and their habitats, everyday materials and seasonal changes. At KS2 children are taught to work scientifically to develop their knowledge and understanding of plants, animals including humans, rocks, light and forces and magnets. Their understandings are challenged through well-timed guidance, practical activities and teaching that extends their knowledge and scientific skills progressively. Through these activities based within class topics or as discrete subjects, our children develop their understanding of investigating scientifically and fair testing. We encourage them to question, think about what to predict, what might happen, observe results and to suggest reasons why things happen.
ENVIRONMENTAL and FOREST AREA
Our conservation area is situated on the playing field. Our Forest Friends, Eco and Gardening Clubs have worked together to develop this area. All classes have had opportunities to be part of this development in environmental science. We participate in local and national projects. We have a Living Willow Tunnel, Arbour and enclosure in which the children love to sit and run around and have developed areas for growing plants and encouraging local wildlife to the garden. Our Forest School has joined with the Eco and Gardening Clubs to continue to promote our Ethos of caring for our environment while encouraging deeper understandings of what this means.
Through History lessons our children gain knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and think of the wider world. History is taught in many ways; through stories from the past, people's own experiences, ICT sources, pictures, historical artefacts and evidence to inspire children’s curiosity to know more about the past. The children are taught about changes in history and over time, the lives of significant individuals in the past and significant historical events, people and places in their locality. We cover the National Curriculum through a Topic based curriculum where History is taught as part of a larger topic. Use is made of the local environment by visiting places of interest. Parents and villagers are also encouraged to come into school to share their experiences of times gone by.
Geography is taught to inspire in the children a curiosity and fascination about the world and its people that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. Geography equips children with knowledge about diverse places, people, resources and natural and human resources, together with an understanding of the Earth’s physical and human processes. Children are introduced to a wide variety of geographical skills and concepts and every opportunity is taken to experience the local environment to illustrate theory and to raise awareness. In our geographical studies we also make important use of our school, school journeys and links with the wider world including contrasting environments. By its very nature geography is a practical and cross-curricular subject and forms part of our Topics.
From the Early Years all children are given varied opportunities to explore music through singing, playing tuned and non-tuned instruments, and listening to a variety of styles of music. They enjoy visits to the school from a range of performing groups or individuals leading workshops. Children combine sounds to compose music which they perform in groups or on their own. There are opportunities for all children in KS2 to sing as a choir and take part in the National and local performances. Recorder is offered to Year 4 and 5 children as a lunchtime club this opportunity provides a chance to learn to read music play and perform in small groups during school concerts. Both groups encourage children to have fun while making music together. Violin, guitar and brass tuition is offered, for a charge, by the Inspiring Music Bedfordshire’s peripatetic service.
We believe Design Technology is learning through observation and making. Children are given opportunities to look at the things around them, to recognise how things are designed for a particular purpose and what works well. They have opportunities to create their own ideas and develop ways to solve problems as they arise. Children design and make products using a range of materials including food, textiles, electronics, graphics and resistant materials. Through a range of practical experiences, within class topics, children are encouraged to develop their designing and making techniques and evaluate their own work as informed users of products.
Our children are taught skills and knowledge in Art. We provide opportunities for them to explore, develop and record their own ideas of what they see and what they imagine. They experiment with a wide variety of materials and techniques to create pictures, models and artefacts. We give attention to the use of colour and tone, pattern, line, shape and space, form texture and movement. The children review their own and others’ work and find out about the differences and similarities of artists, designers and crafts-people in different times and cultures. We also teach through Art, topics covering other subjects in the National Curriculum. For example during a Key Stage One topic ‘Fire and Ice’ the children painted a larger than life firebird which they used in dance, drama, and story-telling. We believe Art is a wonderful subject for children to explore and be creative in. It also gives children opportunities to really see the world around them and make sense of it.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY and SPORT
We believe that daily physical activity and sport is essential to the health and well-being of all children and leads to an active healthy life style. Through our daily Physical Education opportunities children develop skills and understanding in a variety of physical activities. We believe these should be enjoyable. We provide a safe and well structured environment for children to develop their skills and improve on their PB (personal best). We teach the importance of keeping fit and healthy through exercise and being a good team player while enjoying a variety of sports. Each class has a daily P.E. lesson throughout the year, covering Dance, Gym or Games. Daily classroom aerobics are enjoyed by everyone. Athletics and swimming is taught in KS2 during the summer term. In the EYFS the children have access to planned daily physical activities inside and outside. Our very popular extra-curricular clubs include Football, Netball and Dance and Gym.
MODERN FOREIGN LANGUAGE - FRENCH
Our children are taught French in KS2 to enable an early understanding of a modern foreign language. Our main focus in lower KS2 is to teach our children to speak confidently with the correct pronunciation and intonation, to understand what they hear and respond appropriately. They are taught vocabulary in a wide range of topics, greetings, songs and rhymes, to follow simple instructions and to ask and answer questions. The introduction of early reading and writing is taught alongside this. The children also have opportunities to learn about French people, places, culture and traditions. In upper KS2 children learn to read and write simple sentences and phrases in French while extending their vocabulary and cultural knowledge and experiences.
We believe that as a Church of England School, RE should be seen to be an important integrated part of our whole curriculum. Our teaching of Religious Education is based on the handbook issued by the Diocesan Director of Education which aims to extend the agreed RE Syllabus of the Local Authority. Children are taught about festivals, events, symbols and stories from Christianity and other major faiths. We visit the local Church and other places of worship in the wider community. We encourage children to think about their own ideas and beliefs about life, and what is right and wrong, while responding sensitively to the feelings and beliefs of others.
We join together for a daily Act of Collective Worship and the whole school attends a service in Church once a month which is led by the local Priest-in-Charge. Other services are held in Church throughout the year including; Harvest, Christingle and Easter. Parents may withdraw their children from Collective Worship after a discussion with the Headteacher and a request has been put in writing.
PSHE (Personal Social and Health Education)
We teach the PSEPSHE curriculum as a discrete subject, throughout the school. In these lessons children learn to identify and articulate their own feelings, while developing an appreciation of and sensitivity to the feelings of others. Through this children develop a confidence in themselves and a respect for others. We aim to develop self-esteem and assertive communication that enables children, as they grow into adults, to cope with the world around them. We encourage an awareness of what is meant by a Healthy Lifestyle. The children will know how to make informed choices around Healthy Eating, Physical Activity and Emotional Health and Well Being. These underpin the whole curriculum and ethos, through lessons, assemblies, playtimes and club activities.
SMSC (Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development)
All schools in England are required to show how well children develop in SMSC. At John Donne we are committed to this development in all our children. SMSC is covered in various ways through our Assemblies, RE, PSHE, Values Education, British Values, our School and Class rules through our School Council and Eco Committee and in our Forest School provision and school trips and extra-curricular experiences. We recognise the importance of SMSC in the development of the whole child and place great importance on it.
At John Donne our Values Education is in the sixth year of development throughout our school. We have been very pleased with the impact this has had on everyone. All staff are expected to use implicit and explicit strategies to support this development. Children are expected to show our values in their behaviour and recognise them in the behaviour of others as they become familiar to them. They are encouraged to articulate their understandings, support each other and celebrate successes. Every half term we introduce a new value to all staff and children in an assembly followed by a Values day in each class when we enjoy activities designed to develop our understandings. Further assemblies reinforce these understandings through examples. Also Values stickers, leaves and badges are used to celebrate and display success. Our Newsletters aim to keep parents informed of our Values and give them opportunities to support their children at home.
All schools in England are required to be actively demonstrating the British Values; these are: -
- The rule of law
- Individual liberty
- Mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs
They are integral to everything we do as a staff and at an age appropriate level with the children building upon them each year.
DRUGS AND ALCOHOL POLICY STATEMENT
As part of PSHE curriculum the children learn how to care for their bodies. This includes healthy eating, physical activity, drinking water, personal hygiene and an understanding of medicines and how these may help or harm us. Drugs which are not medicines such as tobacco and alcohol and their effects are covered. Our age appropriate curriculum lays the foundation for future development in the next phase schools, leading to healthy adult lifestyle choices.
ASSESSMENT, RECORDING AND REPORTING
The children’s work and progress are assessed continuously by the teachers working within the guidelines of the New National Curriculum 2014 Programmes of Study.
Children are expected to be actively engaged in their learning. They are encouraged to work towards the next steps in their learning (targets), evaluate their own work and share any successes. Marking and feedback is an integral part of this process. These steps form the progress being made and inform the mid and end of year Teacher Assessments (TA) that provide an accurate judgement of attainment and progress made by each child in the school.
We report in the context of achievement being at, above or below the expected standard for most children in the same year group. We call this Age Related Expectation (ARE).
These teacher assessments are reported to parents in the middle and at the end of the school year. Parent consultations are held twice a year, during the Autumn and Spring terms, when parents can discuss their child’s progress with the class teacher. An opportunity is available should parents wish to do the same in the Summer term. Members of staff are always willing to discuss concerns or other matters at any other mutually convenient time to ensure the well-being of your child.
Throughout the Reception year each child is assessed on their progress towards the end of EYFS Early Learning Goals. In June the statutory Year One Phonics test takes place and for Year Two and Year 6 during the month of May the statutory KS1 & KS2 SATs are administered. The results of these assessments are submitted to the Local Authority and Parents are informed of the results.
Forest Schools originated from the Scandinavian Education System based on outdoor learning. It offers regular opportunities to learn in and about the natural environment. It allows children the space and time to develop through exploration and play with practical hands on experiences. Developed in the UK Forest Schools has become very popular, and evidence has shown successful learning outcomes for all who participate in it. Forest School children develop confidence, self-esteem and independence.
Here at John Donne we began offering weekly access to our Forest School in September 2016. Each year group enjoys an afternoon with our qualified Forest School Level 3 member of staff.
All children will be taking part in a variety of activities, in child centred lessons, carefully planned around topics with cross curricular links.
- Learning about seasonal changes
- Learning to use tools
- Den building
- Working with mud and clay
- Fire lighting and kettle boiling
- Collecting, observing and recording
- Exploring, investigating and finding out
- Studying flora and fauna
- Solving problems and team building
Links have been made with another Forest School Leader so that planned visits to a forest can take place each term.
Forest School children develop increased health, fitness and emotional wellbeing from being active in an outdoor natural environment.
- They have opportunities to develop fine and gross motor skills and coordination
- They develop social skills by communicating, and negotiating while solving problems, working together and sharing experiences
- They develop a sense of self care, responsibility and independence
- They gain knowledge through multi-sensory experiences and real life learning with links to the National Curriculum
Forest School takes place all year round and in all weathers. To ensure the children are comfortable and get the most out of the experiences they will need a pair of wellington boots and warm, waterproof, outer garments. These should be kept in a bag on their peg ready for their turn. They may bring old clothes to change into if you prefer. Arms and legs need to be covered and hair must be tied up. Encourage your child to talk about the natural environment and give them opportunities to be in it as often as possible.
The children enjoy collecting our Forest School badges as recognition of their contributions to our Forest School.