The school will use an innovative curriculum based on the Core Knowledge Sequence, developed by ED Hirsch’s Core Knowledge Foundation for elementary schools in the United States, but adapted for English primaries. This curriculum was first introduced in the UK by the charity Civitas and you can find out more about it here. The idea behind it is that all children should complete their primary education with a storehouse of general knowledge, along with the self-confidence and skills to use it. Lessons start promptly at 8.30am and finish at 3.30pm (Reception, Year 1 and Year 2) or 4.00pm (Years 3 to 6). The Core Knowledge Curriculum at our school prepares our pupils for moving on to our secondary school and for leading their lives as citizens in modern Britain.
At our school, we value the diverse ethnic backgrounds of all our pupils, our families and our staff. We are cognisant of the Department for Education’s (DfE) requirement “to create and enforce a clear and rigorous expectation on all schools to promote the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs” and these values are part of our school culture. You can read here about how we incorporate British values into our school life.
This is a central part of every pupil’s life at our school and is at the heart of our curriculum; every child in our school is a reader and so are their teachers. We teach our pupils to read through the use of the Read Write Inc. phonics programme, which you can find out more about here. Our pupils in Reception will receive an hour of dedicated phonics instruction each day. When pupils complete our phonics programme, they move on to a focused spelling programme that will further enhance their reading ability.
Our Reception class will start their day with a half hour Guided Reading lesson. Throughout the week, pupils work in different groups on phonics activities, comprehension skills and they also read with their class teacher and a Learning Support Officer, with whom they change their books. All pupils take home a set of reading books each week, which we ask them to read to their parents and carers. This should take approximately half an hour, but the time varies according to the needs of the individual pupil.
“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
We have a passion for high standards in Mathematics and believe that all pupils can become excellent mathematicians. Throughout our school, we will adopt the Singapore Maths approach to mathematical development. Singapore Maths is a teaching method that encourages pupils to master mathematical concepts in greater detail and it does this by using a three-step learning process. The three steps are: concrete, pictorial, and abstract. In the concrete step, pupils engage in hands-on learning experiences using concrete objects such as cubes, lollypop sticks or counting bears. This is followed by looking at, or creating pictorial representations of mathematical concepts. Pupils will then move on to solve mathematical problems in an abstract way, by using numbers and symbols. These three steps will be included in every lesson we teach and we believe that this contextualised learning is the key to a deeper mathematical understanding for our pupils.
“The answer is only the beginning.”
Method and process are equally as important as the answer. We will ensure that our pupils have a bank of strategies and the mental fluency to confidently solve mathematical problems in a range of contexts. We will encourage our pupils to explain their methods, talk to each other about how they solved a problem and find relationships and patterns in their processes and solutions. Mathematical vocabulary will be at the heart of each of our lessons; ensuring pupils understand and use the correct terminology in order to communicate confidently in a shared mathematical language. Pupils will also work in mixed-ability groups, giving every pupil the opportunity to challenge themselves and extend their own thinking through working with a range of their peers.
A strong relationship between conceptual understanding and procedural fluency are key for pupils to truly gain ‘mastery’. In order to extend, we believe in deepening thinking within the area of study, rather than accelerating onto the next topic. To deepen knowledge and understanding, we ask questions such as: How did you get that answer? Can you prove it to me? What strategy did you use? Is there another way? Can you show me?
We believe that Mathematics is an essential tool for life. We strive to develop great mathematicians, who use their fluency, reasoning and problem solving skills with confidence, throughout their school career and into their adult life.
This is the first official year of school for primary pupils and it is also known as the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). The DfE has a statutory framework for the EYFS. At our school, the curriculum for Reception pupils is based on this framework and comprises seven key learning areas. The Prime Areas of learning are Communication and Language, Physical Development, and Personal, Social and Emotional Development. There are also four Specific Areas, which are Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World, and Expressive Arts and Design. You can find out more about these learning areas on pages 7-12 of the DfE’s statutory framework publication.
In addition to this framework, we prepare our pupils for the Core Knowledge Curriculum by introducing a variety of important knowledge-based topics in Reception. This means that our Reception pupils will learn about notable events, people and places, such as the Magna Carta, Henry Moore and Ernest Shackleton. This approach is unique in Reception, however, we have the highest aspirations for all our pupils as they duly rise to the challenge.