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Early Years Foundation Stage
The curriculum is not just a list of subjects taught in a school. The curriculum describes everything that goes on in the school and helps children to learn about the world around them. Any curriculum must cover all the activities in a school designed to promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils and prepare them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life and society.
The new national curriculum has given us an opportunity to review our teaching and learning in school. Each class teacher has produced a brief overview of their areas of study for each term, which is shown by clicking the year group tab under the CURRICULUM menu heading.
We aim to provide an inspiring curriculum that will help our children:
To achieve these aims, the curriculum is:
Children will be given support and challenge in their work and there will be high expectations for their behaviour. Diversity, effort, achievement and care for others will all be encouraged, recognised and celebrated.
Children love to play, explore, ask questions, imagine, try things out, and become good at new skills – consequently they are always learning! In school our task is to structure their experience so that they learn as much as possible in key areas, and take part in a broad and varied programme of learning activities, which reflects the richness and diversity of both the human and natural world.
In order to deliver a motivating, high quality and balanced curriculum to our pupils, we combine national and local strategies, with school specific focuses.
We follow the New National Curriculum for English.
Speaking and listening, reading and writing are at the centre of our curriculum at St Joseph’s, with children given the opportunity to develop and enhance their skills for a variety of audiences and purposes.
Structured class activities as well as wider school events, responsibilities and clubs give our children the opportunity to develop their speaking and listening skills
Reading is a strength of the school. Children experience a wide variety of reading materials at different levels of complexity, so that they become confident and fluent readers. We have a wide selection of books; both fiction and non-fiction in our school library and all settings also have a class library, with children encouraged to take books home. Our annual Reading Challenge also encourages children to read out of school. In addition, children in both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 take home reading scheme books. Teachers keep a daily record of individual and group reading in school. Children’s progress in reading is regularly assessed and information shared with parents on open evenings.
We have always endeavoured to give our pupils an experience of different forms of writing and they are encouraged to respond to many creative, cross curricular projects, incorporating ICT. Our youngest children use writing in both structured play situations and to record their ideas. As children mature and gain in confidence they soon begin to write stories and longer pieces of work and they are taught the conventions of writing and a cursive style of handwriting. Our children are taught the rules of spelling and are currently expected to learn weekly spellings. They are set targets to improve their writing each term and grouped in their classes to help them achieve these targets.
We follow the New National Curriculum for mathematics which has higher expectations than before and our planning is carefully structured to reflect this. Home Learning activities will focus on key skills appropriate to the ability of the child.
Mathematics is taught through a daily maths lesson to all children. There are also opportunities to use mathematical skills in as many other situations as possible. Our aim is to make maths achievable and fun for all.
Maths helps children to make sense of the world around them; this is achieved by understanding relationships and patterns in quantity, space, shape and measure in everyday life.
Number work is the key to success; therefore building knowledge of number bonds and times tables is an essential part of the daily maths lesson for all children
For the youngest children the majority of maths work is through practical tasks and there is less recording at this stage. As children progress through the school they learn to record more and use formal methods of calculation. However, discovery, thinking and solving problems is at the heart of good maths teaching and all children undertake activities to foster this. They are expected to be able to talk about how they solved problems and share their ideas
Children are should know their multiplication tables up to 12×12 by the end of Year 4 and are expected to have quick recall of number facts. Older children are taught how to use calculators effectively and appropriately. This prepares them for the use of calculators in secondary and adult life.
From early Years to Year 5, children are taught in mixed ability classes. In Year 6 they are set for Maths. These groups are flexible and designed to meet the needs of each child.
Religious Education and Collective Worship
All schools are required to teach Religious Education. In Catholic Schools, however, it is regarded as a core subject accounting for 10% of the timetable. The programme ‘Come and See’ is followed in all classes in school as recommended by the Spirituality, Formation and Education Service in Hexham and Newcastle Diocese. Whilst the teaching is predominantly Christian, the children are also taught about Islam and Judaism as they move through the school and they also have the opportunity to visit places of worship of other faiths.
The beliefs and practice of our faith permeate the day-to-day life of the school and most parents choose to send their children to St. Joseph’s because it is a Roman Catholic school. Nevertheless the Governors are required to remind parents of their right to withdraw pupils from religious worship and Religious Education. However, parents are also reminded that the school exists to give a Catholic education to its pupils and that they are expected to be in sympathy with its aims and objectives. Each day begins with a corporate act of worship – class, whole school or Key Stage. Children also have the opportunity to worship with the parish at regular intervals in church.
We are very proud to be part of the parish of St. Joseph’s.
Science activities are designed to encourage children to ask questions, to investigate in a practical way and then to record their findings. In addition to classroom based activities, we use our grounds, visits or have visitors to support this work. For example children in Year 5 visit St. Anthony’s Secondary School to investigate mixing and separating materials using the Science Laboratories.
Compulsory subjects called Foundation Subjects include:
Wherever possible, we seek to teach aspects of each subject through a cross curricular and creative curriculum approach. In the creative curriculum, staff deliver half termly units of learning centered on a given theme to make learning more engaging for the children. We use ‘Cornerstones’ curriculum materials as a basis for our work. We also make use of special days and weeks, themes and a range of visitors. Visits also enhance learning and all settings are required to incorporate them into their work. School is also keen that all pupils are able to enjoy and learn from the residential experience offered by Derwent Hill in the Lake District when they are in upper Key Stage 2.
History is a valued part of the curriculum at St. Joseph’s Primary School. It provides a means of exploring, appreciating and understanding the world in which we live now and how it has evolved over time, through the study of major past events, and the lives of people who have evoked significant changes to our and other societies. For our younger children this begins with their own experiences. Older children learn about each major period in History from the Stone Age through to World War 2.
History should stimulate curiosity and imagination and we encourage this by providing children with the opportunity to learn in a variety of ways, including visits to museums and places of historical interest, the opportunity to develop enquiry skills, re-enactments and role play, as an integral part of the history curriculum.
Geography teaches an understanding of places and environments. Through their work in geography children learn about their local area and they can then compare their life in this area with that of other places. They learn to read maps, how to use an Atlas and broaden their knowledge of countries around the world. Through their growing knowledge and understanding of human geography, children gain an appreciation of life in other cultures. Geography teaching also motivates children to find out about the physical world, and enables them to recognise the effect of climate change and importance of sustainable development for the future of mankind.
Design Technology and Art
Children learn to investigate how things are made and are taught simple construction techniques. In art children have opportunities for drawing, painting, pottery, collage and model making. Children are encouraged to discuss and evaluate their work and to look at examples of art around the world.
We have an IT suite each with 30 computers, which are networked and linked to the Internet. We have an interactive white board in all teaching spaces, which allows teachers to access a wealth of resources to enhance learning opportunities. All children use the suite with their class teacher. Each classroom also has access to computers and/or laptops, which enables focused work across the curriculum as IT supports all aspects of the curriculum.
As children move through the school they learn how to use word and publishing programmes, data handling and control programs, how to extract information from CD ROMs and the Internet, send electronic mails and make simple presentations using power point. The new National Curriculum is providing us with new challenges which include coding, algorithms and programming and external visits enhance learning opportunities. E-safety is always high on our agenda and all children are taught to use technology safely and respectfully.
Music is a strength of our school. We have three specialist music teachers delivering curriculum lessons and peripatetic teaching in violin, clarinet and saxophone. In addition to this we have a separate choir, led by Miss Brown and hold two music concerts per year, in the spring and summer terms. All our Key Stage 2 pupils learn to play the recorder in Year 3 and the chalumeau in Year 4.
Our large, enthusiastic junior school choir performs regularly at venues in the wider community, as well as regularly taking part in ‘Sunderland City Sings’ Schools Choir competition, which takes place at the Sunderland Empire.
Physical Education and Sport
Our school recognises the importance that physical education has in developing our children’s physical competence and confidence and their ability to use these across a broad range of physical activities. Our children are introduced to a variety of skills necessary to enjoy individual and team games. As they move through school, they have the opportunities to take part in competitive events. All classes have the opportunity to go swimming in Key Stage 2.
Physical education lessons are supported by our active play initiative run by our ‘Active Play Leaders’.
Modern Foreign Languages
During the year all our Key Stage 2 children have an opportunity to learn French, often through fun and exciting activities and songs.
Personal, Social, Citizenship and Health Education
Personal, Social and Health Education along with Citizenship is an essential part of our pupil’s education. Taught in a cross curricular way, as well as through dedicated programmes such as ‘Statements to Live By’, it enables children to develop the knowledge, skills and understanding they will need to become informed, healthy, active, independent and responsible citizens. We encourage pupils to take part in a wide range of activities and experiences across and beyond the curriculum, contributing fully to the life of our school and community. Through taking part in curricular and extra-curricular activities our children learn to recognise their own worth, work well with others and become increasingly responsible for their own learning. The children, as part of the process of growing up, will be given the opportunity to reflect on their experiences and understand how they are developing personally and socially. Spiritual, moral, social and cultural issues are seen to be an important part of this process.
We currently hold the Healthy Schools Award and our Anti Bullying Team is working towards an Anti-Bullying Award. They present their own policy and work to the Governing Body in the summer term each year.
We have a school council. Classes elect one child to serve on this each year. The council discusses issues that concern the whole school and help make decisions. We believe that the children should feel that this is their school and that they are part of helping it to be a happy and secure place in which they play and learn. The school council members help create such an environment.
Our Mini Vinnie group is also very active and supportive of fundraising for charitable works. They elect their own committee and make decisions about who they are fundraising for and what form fundraising will take.
If you would like further information or have any queries about our curriculum then please make an appointment to discuss this with your child’s class teacher.