At St Michael’s Primary School, we follow the objectives of the National Curriculum 2014 but have designed our own creative and engaging curriculum to meet the needs of all our children, which will stimulate, inspire and raise standards for every child and provide opportunities for rich personal and academic development.
Vision and Rationale
Effective teaching and learning requires pupils to be excited, motivated and engaged in their learning. For this reason we have developed a creative curriculum which meets the needs of all learners.
The creative curriculum is a carefully planned, thematic approach to teaching and learning designed to support children’s natural curiosity and stimulate their creativity. It offers children the opportunity to work in depth, giving them the time they need to reflect, consolidate and transfer their learning. Direct experience is placed at the centre of the curriculum so that teachers draw out and develop children’s thinking and capacities in meaningful contexts. Knowledge, skills and understanding are expressed in a range of different media and ways, often making effective use of the creative arts.
Children, adults and parents work with each other, drawing resources from the school, locality and wider community to create a challenging, distinctive and exciting curriculum. All our children have an entitlement to a well–resourced and rich learning environment that promotes their sense of responsibility and autonomy.
This is important as children need to be engaged in and excited about their learning, to feel involved in the process and have a level of anticipation about what will happen next. A creative curriculum is not simply about making links between subjects, although this is an important part of it. It provides the ‘hook’ onto which we ‘hang’ our learning! It is about finding ways to inspire the children by drawing in skills from art, music, technology, dance and drama, film and the outdoors. Creativity is about inspiring children through memorable learning experiences, to go out into the real world and bring the real world into the classroom. Creativity can be a platform for establishment of personalized learning, enabling children to think for themselves, branching out into areas of curiosity and interest.
The core of the St Michael’s Curriculum is the National Curriculum. Around these essential skills we have planned topics and created memorable and purposeful experiences for pupils to practice and develop their skills.
Evidence from an ever-growing body of reports, projects and academic research shows what teachers who teach outside regularly already know - Outdoor learning can have a huge influence on children’s learning and development including on social skills, behaviour, resilience, leadership, physical health, wellbeing, enjoyment and engagement with learning – all of which can contribute significantly to their academic achievement. For this reason we have a commitment to learning outside the classroom at St Michael’s and class teachers plan lessons across all subjects to be taught outside.
Rationale behind our Curriculum
Our curriculum is designed to take account of the three contexts for learning: Curriculum Areas and Subjects, Cross-Curricular Learning and Opportunities for Personal Achievement.
Curriculum Areas and Subjects
We plan curricular learning under the following subject headings:
· Religious Education
· Physical Education
· Modern Foreign Languages
· Art and Design Technology
At St Michael’s Primary School, we provide opportunities for cross-curricular learning, which allows children to make connections between different aspects of the curriculum. Carefully planned opportunities support children to deepen understanding, and develop their skills in relevant contexts. Topics are chosen that allow us to work within the National Curriculum, but they provide opportunity for a breadth of study across many subjects. We have a bias towards topics that the children can relate to the world immediately around them, so local history is important, but the ability to contrast civilisations from the same period in history (Stonehenge and the Pyramids) is also exploited.
When introducing a new topic, we favour an ‘Immersion Day’ (or several days) to allow the children to become knowledgeable and enthused. This is often using activity led and practical activities and includes a ‘What do you know already?’ session. This provides visible stimulus in the classroom, enables cross curricular study to proceed quickly and prevents the subject getting stale.
In general, Topic study supports work in:
• English Topic
Work is also supported by school trips and by external agencies visiting the school, giving the children a ‘hands-on’ learning experience.
Enrichment and Additional Breadth
We make full use of every opportunity to develop wellbeing, academic and personal development and expand the children’s’ horizons. On Friday afternoons the curriculum is collapsed and all the children work in vertical groupings on areas subjects that they have chosen to do.
· Art and Craft Clubs
· Outdoor skills
· Drama Club
· World Book Day and Book Week
· Author visits to the school
· Maths Challenge Days
· Aspiration Days and Visits to Bath University
· Music and carol concerts
· Voice In a Million
· An active sporting calendar including Sports Days and Festivals
· KS2 End of Year Production
· EYFS and KS1 Nativity Shows
· Peripatetic music lessons
· Class Assemblies
· Celebrating Harvest, Remembrance and Easter in the Church
· Special Reflection Days
· Leavers Day at Salisbury Cathedral
· Roles of Responsibility (Head Boy and Girl, House Captains, Ambassadors, Sports Captains)
· An active School Council
· An active Worship Council
· Visitors to the school
· Bluey Club
· Charity involvement (Race for Life, Children in Need, Trussell Trust)
Opportunities for Personal Achievement
Throughout their time at St Michael’s Primary School, we place high value on learners’ personal successes. Recognising and supporting wider achievement provides children with a sense of satisfaction and helps to build motivation, resilience and confidence. We celebrate successes both in and outside school through Celebration Assemblies, Class Assemblies, Newsletters, our Shining Example Awards, Stars of the Week and Headteacher awards, stickers and pencils. Our house points system also recognises a wide range of achievements and the house shield is awarded annually to the house with the most points.
When planning learning, the following design principles are applied to help ensure that we get it right for all children.
Challenge and Enjoyment – At St Michael’s Primary School we provide our learners with appropriately challenging experiences that are active and engaging for all. We have high expectations of all learners’ attainment and achievement taking into account the needs and abilities of individuals. We provide opportunities for Greater Depth learning and Mastery of the curriculum through carefully structured lessons, activity led learning and by teaching to the top. This with a range of differentiation strategies and support ensures children to choose their own level of work and challenge.
Breadth – We plan to ensure learners have the breadth of curricular experiences and use our curriculum to ensure this.
Progression – Taking account of prior learning and specific needs, we plan for continuous progression for our learners. Class teachers plan ‘cold’ tasks to ascertain where individuals are with their learning, and plan accordingly. School tracking and monitoring systems help us focus on continuous improvement and the use of Classroom Monitor provides benchmarks of learning across the curricular areas. Our transition arrangements between each year and especially between the key stages, also support continuous progression for our learners.
Depth- We provide our learners with experiences that allow them to learn in enough depth across the curricular areas, so that they can confidently apply their learning in different contexts. We encourage our learners to be creative and independent thinkers and use a wide range of strategies and techniques to support this.
Personalisation and Choice – Within our curriculum framework, we provide opportunities to ensure that our learners are involved in what they learn and how they learn according to their individual interests and needs. Through topic work in particular, pupils identify what they want to learn and are given choices about how they present their learning, taking account of individual needs, learning styles, aptitudes and talents.
Coherence – We ensure a coherent learning experience for our pupils, linking appropriate curricular areas and deepening understanding e.g. learning about body systems through PE, Science and Art and Design.
Relevance - We ensure that our learners are exposed to relevant and local curricular experiences, helping them to identify how their learning will provide strong foundations for future life and work. We encourage children to be reflective learners, identifying when and how they will use what they have learned in later life.
At St Michael’s Primary School, we understand that transitions can be anxious times for pupils and parents. We recognise particular anxieties at pre-school, end of EYFS and end of Year 6. We plan carefully to ensure that transition experiences are positive, that prior learning is built upon, and that any additional support needs are communicated. We work with parents and other agencies to help ensure we get it right for every child. For families joining us in Reception, we hold open days, parent meetings, phased induction and welcome packs. Staff visit children in their pre-school setting to ensure that the best provision is put in place for them when they start school.
We begin our transition to Secondary Schools in Year 5, when pupils are invited to annual events at various schools in the area and take part in taster days so that they can make informed decisions about their Secondary School of choice. Prior to starting in Year 7, pupils and staff (primary and secondary) meet to ensure that learning, and any additional support needs are communicated. For children with Special Educational Needs, carefully planned transition takes place, over a term, to ensure that September can be as successful as possible for all involved. Where involved, other agency partners (e.g. school nurse, educational psychologist) are invited to support this transition process. Year 7 Heads of Year visit the school to help Year 6 pupils put together a learning profile and learning passport which help Secondary staff to provide appropriate support to meet learning and other needs.
Each year, pupils have opportunities to meet with their new teachers before the summer break on ‘Bump Up’ Day. Teachers communicate learning and additional support needs information with transition documents, which are completed for every child in the school and those with Case Studies, My Support Plans or Educational Healthcare Plans are discussed in detail. At all points of transition, effective communication helps to ensure that needs are met, and that learning is a continuous process from EYFS through to Year 6.
Teaching, Learning and Assessment
Our Teaching and Learning policy reflects our aims, to ensure that the children at St Michael’s Primary School, are at the centre of their own learning and we recognise the importance of making learning irresistible, meaningful and memorable. It is the provision of high quality learning experiences that lead to a consistently high level of pupil achievement. It outlines what we believe is essential for children to be successful in their learning and what underpins what we deliver. It sets our clear expectations, provides a consistent approach, can be easily monitored and ensures equal opportunity for all our pupils. By adopting a whole school approach we aim to ensure a consistency in our pedagogy that will meet the needs of all learners in at St Michael’s Primary School and provide rich and varied learning opportunities that allow children to develop their skills and abilities to their full potential.
Through our teaching we aim to:
• meet the needs of all learning styles ie visual, auditory and kinesthetic
• enable children to become confident, resourceful, enquiring and independent learners;
• foster children’s self-esteem and help them build positive relationships with other people;
• develop children’s self-respect and encourage children to respect the ideas, attitudes, values and feelings of others;
• show respect for all cultures and, in so doing, to promote positive attitudes towards other people;
• enable children to understand their community and help them feel valued as part of this community;
• help children grow into reliable, independent and positive citizens for the 21st century
Effective learning requires effective teaching. When teaching we focus on motivating the children and building on their skills, knowledge and understanding of the curriculum.
For effective teaching and learning to take place there are a number of key elements that we feel are essential.
All staff have a shared understanding of what effective learning and teaching is, and engage regularly in career long professional learning to continually enhance our practice.
We use a wide range of stimulating and supportive learning environments and creative teaching approaches to motivate and enthuse learners and promote enjoyment of lifelong learning. We provide active learning experiences for all children at all stages, encouraging independent thinking and pupil engagement with the learning process. We differentiate our learning and teaching resources and approaches, to provide an appropriate pace and challenge in learning for all.
We set high, yet achievable targets for pupil learning, and closely monitor, assess and track progress. We use Classroom Monitor to support us with the analysis and use of this information. We use a variety of assessment techniques, and focus on providing quality feedback to learners, supporting next steps in learning. We encourage our learners to self and peer assess with an ongoing focus on improvement. Assessment for Learning approaches (AFL) directs our practice. We gather a range of evidence on what learners make, say, write, and do, and this, combined with learning conversations, standardised assessment results and professional judgement, support us to provide reliable evidence for reporting on progress and achievement to pupils and parents. We regularly engage in moderation activities with a range of colleagues, within school and externally, to ensure that we are promoting the highest standards in learning.
Where there are barriers to children’s learning and progress, we use the Wiltshire Graduated Response to Special Educational Needs (GRSS) to provide additional support for learning.