The starting point for our school’s curriculum is the National Curriculum. We ensure that the National Curriculum is taught and we aim to go beyond this by increasingly offering a wider range of activities to enhance and enrich the children’s interests and stretch their abilities. Our school has a specialism in Arts and Music, and the opportunities for these areas are targeted throughout our provision. This is within the everyday planning for teaching and learning in the classroom, and beyond through enrichment provision.
Our school’s curriculum is based on four cornerstone principles. These have been developed with all the staff and shared with governors and are underpinned by the values embodied in the school’s mission statement. The four cornerstone principles upon which our curriculum is based are:
- Enquiry: to develop an enquiring mind, to question and challenge. Each curriculum theme begins with open questioning to explore ways of developing our knowledge and skills through this particular theme.
- Spirituality: To experience the beauty and value of life, and to deepen our understanding of ourselves and to give a self-confidence and an inner peace in life; to develop an emotional awareness of others and the effect one has on the world and those around us; to open our minds to greater possibilities, including a sense of awe, wonder and mystery.
- Diversity: A respect and tolerance for others who are different from ourselves derived from a greater understanding of one another; a valuing of each other and the contributions we all bring to our lives shared together in this world.
- Possibilities: There is no limit to the possibilities within our learning and our lives. Education holds the key and is a lifelong process. At St Mary’s school we are a community of learners, young and old, together. The other principles lead to opening up wider possibilities to explore for the rest of our lives.
Curriculum drivers: These are the identified leading learning areas for a given period of time, such as a half term unit of work. For example there may be a science / technology driver for one unit, and then a arts-based driver for another. Other curriculum areas are linked with them. This is shared over curriculum areas in a two-year rolling programme, Years 1-2, 3-4, 5-6. The precise nature of the theme is derived with the children according to their interests and the unique diverse make up of each class. The teacher ensures that a progression of skills is taught through each subject, and the knowledge and understanding is developed within each subject area.
Early Years (reception) has a one-year programme which teaches the same essential skills required each year though the precise nature of each theme is adjusted according to the interests, abilities and diverse nature of each cohort.
The main curriculum drivers will be the same throughout each key stage which in turn enables shared learning and extension of learning in a broad direction. We publish our long term overview for the year on the website but it is subject to some change and review as it is a dynamic plan, responding to the interests of the children and the events of the world around us.
Enrichment of our curriculum
From the very conception of our school the principle of ‘Possibility’ has been fundamental to the provision within our curriculum. We enrich our curriculum by taking our children on visits to experience learning about new concepts first hand for themselves; similarly we have a continual programme of visitors to our school bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to share their specialism and again open our children’s minds to wider possibilities. We remove any ‘glass ceilings’ which are sometimes in place in schools by holding expectations that children are able to tackle most things and achieve well.
We allocate a weekly time for enrichment activities whereby children can explore and deepen their knowledge on targeted programmes. All children take part in all these activities in order that they are able to broaden their experiences. For example, enrichment activities may include the teaching and learning of specific artistic or musical skills: dancing, sport, cookery, computing, or a language. The possibilities are endless and we aim to ensure a breadth is on offer during the school year. Sometimes children participate in mixed-age activities which also enhances their ability to learn from one another.
Our after-school activity programme aims to include elements from a diverse curriculum range. Currently we offer drama, tennis and dance, and at lunchtimes a computing / library club.
As the school grows opportunities for learning musical instruments will be provided. The school has a dedicated arts and music room, and resources are targeted through the annual school budget to ensure that quality instruments and materials are available. The school has currently purchased staging and a sound system to facilitate performance, and an increasing range of musical instruments of high quality.
Assessment of our curriculum
The purpose of assessment is to inform both the learner and the teacher of the next steps to improve and progress. Assessment at St Mary’s is an ongoing process which takes place in each lesson. This is known as ‘assessment for learning’ – the teacher feedback and encourages the child to reflect upon what he or she has learnt and how to improve next time, and also to value what has been achieved.
We measure progress more formally every half term (six times a year) against criteria within the National Curriculum. Teachers are experienced and able to see when a child requires more support or is ready to move in after each lesson, and the half-termly checkpoint serves to draw together this information. Teachers work with the local authority (Richmond and Kingston) and local schools to validate their judgments as good practice.
Children know their next steps and have target bookmarks which act as reminders through their day when they are engaged upon a task. Our children are developing independence from the very beginning to take responsibility for their own learning journey and know how to help themselves and seek assistance when they find a difficulty. They are fully involved in evaluating their progress and share this in the termly Learning Review (pupil/ parent progress meetings).
As a community of learners we share our learning every week as a whole school. Adults and children reflect on something which they have learned and achieved, and we celebrate this together. It is recorded in our ‘Sharing/learning ‘book which is available in the foyer.
Currently the national method of assessment through levels is undergoing a major change to a new system: assessment without levels. The two systems are different and schools are seeking to develop the new system during 2014-15. At St Mary’s we are assessing the half-termly checkpoints on the levels’ system for reading, writing and maths during 2014-15, whilst we are developing our new assessment system in accordance with the new National Curriculum statements. Some subjects, such as computing, are being assessed against the new National Curriculum orders because there are fundamental changes within the curriculum which we implemented in September 2014. Our new assessment policy is currently under review in the light of these developments.
Current Curriculum Plans
The curriculum plans are to be found in the 'For Parents' menu under each class's name.