Our school has introduced an innovative new 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). The Core Knowledge Curriculum at our school prepares our pupils for moving on to 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 and Year 1 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.
All year groups in our school 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.
Each year, in the summer term, the whole school, from Reception upwards, spends a fortnight focusing on a play by William Shakespeare. Our aim is that by the time our pupils leave our school, they will be familiar with at least seven Shakespearian texts, have an awareness of the impact of Shakespeare on modern language and literature, and have the confidence to tackle a whole range of other playwrights.
A number of our parents and carers also kindly volunteer to read with our pupils, one to one, during our Guided Reading lessons and we find this an invaluable support. All our volunteers receive DBS clearance before they can work with our pupils.
The school hosts regular Reading Mornings, where parents and carers come into school to read stories in class with their child and their child’s peers. We are also currently in the process of developing a School Library, with the help of our dedicated PTA.
“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 have adopted 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 are 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 ensure that our pupils have a bank of strategies and the mental fluency to confidently solve mathematical problems in a range of contexts. We 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 is 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 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 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 and they duly rise to the challenge.
Key Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2) and Key stage 2 (Years 3 to 6)
In Key Stages 1 and 2, we teach daily English, Mathematics and Reading lessons. In addition to these core elements of the curriculum, we use our Core Knowledge Curriculum specifically to teach Geography, History, Science and Visual Arts. You can find out more about the content of each of these areas, in each year group, here. Our pupils take enormous pride in their learning and in the presentation of their work; this is supported by daily Handwriting lessons, which begin in Reception. Scholarship is highly valued at our school; we believe all our pupils are scholars and we refer to them daily as such. We hold a weekly Scholars’ Assembly, where teaching staff choose a Scholar of the Week to receive an accolade in front of the whole school, which reinforces the importance of hard work and perseverance.
Religious Education (RE)
We believe that it is vital for all our pupils to learn from and about religion, so that they can understand the world around them. Through religious education, pupils develop their knowledge of the world faiths, and their understanding and awareness of the beliefs, values and traditions of other individuals, societies, communities and cultures. We encourage our pupils to ask questions about the world and to reflect on their own beliefs, values and experiences. We use the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham’s Religious Education curriculum, in order to deliver weekly RE lessons to all our pupils, from Reception up to Year 6. You can see our curriculum overview for RE here.
Personal Development, Behaviour and Welfare: Core Virtues and Values
To enhance our curriculum and cultivate well-rounded, happy pupils, we have designed our own Core Virtues and Values programme for pupils from Reception to Year 6; this teaches children to develop an understanding of themselves, of others and their role as citizens in their local and wider community. Each term, we focus on our core values and virtues and how they relate to the personal, social and emotional development of our pupils. A themed whole school assembly is then used each week to reinforce the culture of our school.
Physical Education (PE)
We believe that physical education is a basic entitlement for all children. Our pupils receive two PE lessons a week. In Reception, these lessons start with developing gross motor skills, throwing and catching balls, navigating spaces, choreographing and learning dance routines, and parachute games. As children move up through the school, teachers build on these skills, so that pupils can participate in traditional games, such as cricket, rounders, tennis and hockey. It is important that pupils have the skills they need to participate in competitive sports and to succeed in this learning area in secondary school, as well as an understanding of how to maintain a healthy body and lifestyle.
Each summer, we hold a Sports Day for our pupils and their families. Sports Day includes traditional team games, such as hurdles, javelin throwing, sack racing, and the classic egg and spoon. Our families get into the competitive spirit by participating in the parent, carer, grandparent and sibling races.
To date, our school has not been eligible for the DfE's primary PE and sports funding.
All classes from Reception upwards receive a dedicated weekly Music lesson. This lesson teaches pupils key music skills, as well as developing their knowledge of renowned composers. In Reception, pupils experiment with a variety of percussion instruments and in Year 1 we teach whole-class recorder. Our weekly Singing Assembly supports pupils’ interest in music and we also have a school Choir. All our classes being named after composers reinforces the significance of music in our school.
In addition to reading books, all pupils, from Reception to Year 6, receive weekly Homework on a Thursday, which is due in on the following Monday. Homework consists of a piece of English and Mathematics and may include a task related to one of the other curriculum topics being studied by the class. Homework will build on what pupils have been studying in class, with the exception of research tasks for topic work. Parents and carers often ask how long homework should take in each year group, but this is dependent on the needs and interests of the individual pupil. Some Reception pupils will initially struggle to complete their homework and this is not something they will be chastised for; all we ask is that they have a try and we know that eventually they will learn to enjoy finishing their homework.
A range of additional activities support our curriculum and, unlike many other primary schools, we take our pupils on a trip each half term from Reception. We believe that making the extra effort to provide a range of extra-curricular activities will stimulate pupils’ interest, knowledge and passion in the subjects we are teaching them. We also offer a variety of after school clubs, from 3.30pm to 4.15pm, which are delivered by our staff. These clubs rotate each term and include arts and crafts, choir, cookery, dance, sports and story time. Pupils can attend one of these clubs each term, free of charge. External providers also offer classes in ballet, French and Spanish and these have a charge. Please see the Charging and Remissions Policy on our School Policies page.
In order to support working families, the school has recruited an external provider, P3, to provide extended childcare onsite daily from 3:30pm-6:00pm. If you would like to book a place for your child in P3, please contact P3 directly on 07875 724 227. You can learn more about P3 here.
You can view our after school clubs for the academic year 2014/15 here.
We know that our pupils, and their families, are excited about learning at our school, because we provide them with an inspirational curriculum. We are extremely proud of our pupils’ achievements and believe it is our duty to continually build on our good work and assess the impact of our curriculum. As such, our teaching staff evaluate their lessons each week, our Headteacher conducts termly curriculum audits in conjunction with Civitas, and, as a Trust, we have established a Curriculum Committee to strategically oversee and ratify this process. We also hold a Core Knowledge Celebration at the end of the year to showcase the incredible storehouse of knowledge acquired by all our pupils.