Teaching and Curriculum Organisation
Wherever possible, subject areas are taught in a cross curricular way through topics, with the exception of Mathematics which is taught as a discrete subject from Year 1, to allow children to develop a depth of understanding. The teaching staff have chosen topics that will engage children’s curiosity and imaginations to bring out the best in their learning. These range from traditional topics such as ‘World War II’ to ‘The Spirit of Adventure’ a Geography based topic which uses the Disney Pixar film ‘UP’ as a visual stimulus and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ an upper key stage 2 topic comparing Britain to the Caribbean and looking into fair trade. Those subjects that do not lend themselves to the topic are taught discretely.
Many opportunities are sought to widen children’s experiences. Trips and visits to local areas, museums and exhibitions all form important parts of the curriculum; as do visiting speakers or workshops to give children first-hand experiences. Children also develop their own ways to present their learning including setting up their own museums for parents or design exhibitions to show off the development of many different skills over a term.
When teachers are planning for their class groups they will adapt the programme so that the children work at the level appropriate to their ability. We are committed to giving the widest possible range of opportunities. There is an emphasis on breadth and balance across the whole curriculum, as well as a continuity and progression to challenge and encourage each child. The majority of teachers have responsibility for co-ordinating a curriculum area throughout the school and they encourage the development and implementation of that area, keeping abreast of current educational thinking.
The primary curriculum has 3 stages:
- Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) nursery and reception 3-5 years old
- Key Stage 1 (KS1) Years 1 and 2 5-7 years old
- Key Stage 2 (KS2) Years 3 to 6 7-11 years old
Children at the Foundation Stage (Early Years and Reception) follow carefully planned programmes of activities. There are three Prime areas; Communication and Language, Physical Development and Personal and Social Education. There are then four Specific areas; Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts, and Design. Each child is assigned a Key Worker who monitors their progress and attainment and reports to parents on a regular basis. This Key Worker is usually the class teacher. Almost fifty percent of children’s time in Early Years is spent outside. This gives children the opportunity to explore their learning in a different context. The same areas are planned for outside giving children constant access to reading, writing and mathematical skills as well as developing their understanding of the world around them and their social skills.
The main areas of English are Speaking and Listening, Reading and Writing with each of these areas thoroughly planned. It is our aim to nurture a positive attitude to English and for the children to enjoy this subject. From Nursery to Year 6 literacy skills are often taught within the framework of a particular topic. This ensures English is learned in a meaningful context; that the children enjoy their learning and are stimulated to make progress. Sometimes particular literacy skills are taught in a discreet and focused lesson as it is not always appropriate to include certain skills into a cross-curricular framework.
Reading skills are crucial for children’s learning in all subjects, and from the earliest years we encourage enjoyment of books. Every child is heard to read regularly by an adult. We teach phonics skills (knowledge of the letters of the alphabet and the sounds they make) together with recognition of common words and the ability to make sense of text. Sharing books at home is a vital part of learning to read, and we value this partnership with parents. Most of our children become fluent readers and extend their reading and research skills with increasingly stimulating, varied texts.
When the children learn to write they are taught to write for a range of purposes; producing lists, reports, labels, instructions, descriptions and narratives. This begins as mark making and playing at being writers and develops into well-structured coherent sentences and paragraphs. They develop their skills using a range of forms, adopting conventional structures and punctuation at an appropriate stage. ICT is used to support this process. We encourage children to write from the earliest age. Phonics strategies are taught on a regular basis. Spellings are taught within a discrete subject and learnt at home and in school. There is an emphasis on handwriting to ensure correct letter formation and fluent writing.
Speaking and Listening
We aim to develop children’s confidence and expertise, so that they can express themselves effectively and appropriately and to listen and respond attentively and thoughtfully. Children take part in a range of activities with different audiences: for example, reading aloud, group discussion, drama activities, presentations to the class or speaking in assembly, learning to match their spoken language to the audience and purpose.
The development of mathematical knowledge and concepts comes from first-hand experiences. Planning for maths is based on the end of year expectations in the National Curriculum.
There is an emphasis on Number and the ability to manipulate number. This starts with basic number recognition, addition and subtraction facts and times table knowledge. As children move through the school we teach more advanced number concepts like squares and primes. There is a clear progression of teaching of number concepts which leads to children being confident with mental calculations, and formal written methods all grounded in a very good understanding of the number system. The study of number includes detailed knowledge of fractions, ratio and proportion and algebra. For mental maths children are ability grouped across the school and sessions are held daily.
The understanding of Shape starts again with basic recognition and understanding of shapes and their properties. Once this is in place Shape is linked to measure and then to number. This allows children to apply their knowledge in real life contexts.
This is about gathering, representing and interpreting data. Children are expected to find the answers to questions posed to them but also to ask their own questions and find ways of answering them. Often statistics are linked to the application of number strategies.
This aspect of Mathematics starts with the recognition of different common measures like length and height and then moves into the relationships between different measures including the comparison of metric to imperial measurement. Time is taught in this aspect of Mathematics, including reading and interpreting timetables. As with all areas of the Mathematics curriculum there is an important element of calculation involved in measurement.
Our work in science is firmly rooted in first-hand experience. We give the children the opportunity to observe, explore, ask questions, discuss and draw conclusions from situations that are real. This experience begins early on, when children are naturally curious. We build on this curiosity by teaching children to turn their observations into questions that can be tested in experiments.
Throughout the school children will investigate scientific ideas in relation to: themselves and other living things; the properties of natural and man-made materials; the effect of forces; sound; and light. They will be taught how to present their findings in writing, diagrams and charts. In all practical activities health and safety issues will be stressed.
The school is keen to promote the development of computing for every child. The children learn and develop a range of computing skills through a carefully planned curriculum and structured computing sessions using a range of software and hardware.
Pupils have access to a class set of laptop computers to learn a range of specific skills including word processing, data handling, problem solving, research and geographical manipulation. Each year group also has access to a minimum of four computers to apply these skills in different areas of the curriculum and extended project work. Computers are connected to a school wide intranet and to the World Wide Web (safely filtered through the Herts Intranet).
All teachers have their own laptop computers which are used for lesson preparation, pupil assessment and as a resource during lessons. All classrooms and the two group teaching rooms have interactive whiteboards to enhance interactive learning.
E-safety (internet safety and helping our children to be safe online) is an increasing concern for many parents and carers. Children have non-stop internet access through their mobile phone, iPod, games console, laptop or other devices. This may not always be with a parent or carer’s knowledge and can happen from anywhere, including the privacy of a child’s bedroom. The school takes E-safety very seriously and parents / carers are asked to help the children by signing an ICT eSafety agreement. We also regularly hold E-safety evenings for parents to further raise awareness. If you are looking for guidance, you may wish to speak to your child’s class teacher or email Hertfordshire’s E-safety Multi-agency Group: email@example.com
Art and Design
Children are encouraged to develop confidence, skill and enjoyment in the use of a wide range of tools and materials. Picture making is developed from simple symbolic representation to more sophisticated imagery based on close observation. Throughout their primary years children will explore colour, pattern, texture, shape, form and design at a level appropriate to their age and conceptual development. Activities include drawing, painting, printing, dyeing, collage making, working with wood, clay, natural and man-made materials, model-making and design projects.
Design Technology (DT)
In Design Technology children develop skills so that they can design and make useful things and solve practical problems. We encourage them to think and plan for themselves and teach them the skills to enable their ideas to become a reality. As part of the design process we encourage them to look critically at what they have done and to suggest improvements which they might make. Richard Whittington is particularly well resourced in the technology area, having a comprehensive range of safe tools, equipment, electrical and mechanical components. Children work with food, textiles and a range of construction materials and kits.
To develop a true understanding of their environment children must begin to ask questions about it and seek out answers. We will lead the child to ask ‘What is this place like? Why is it like this? How is it different from other places? How is it connected with other places? How and why is it changing?’ In their early years the children will be involved with their immediate environment and as their skills and understanding develop, they will consider other more distant places. To help develop an empathy with other environments the children will be asking ‘What would it feel like to be in this place?’ Map skills and aspects of physical geography are taught in the context of the places studied. These include locally Thorley, a rural development, and a contrasting foreign locality. There is one residential journey in Year 6, which is currently a five-day trip to Norfolk.
‘To understand the present we need to know about the past.’ With our youngest children this involves telling stories and beginning to develop a sense of time. They begin to develop an appreciation that things weren’t always the same. As the children progress through the school they will learn about famous people, events and developments in British history beyond living memory. In addition to this they also study ancient civilisations. Wherever appropriate topic related days have been created to bring history to life. These topic days provide the children with a practical, hands-on approach to learning and allow them to develop a deeper understanding of a particular time period.
Music is an important and integral part of the curriculum. Opportunities are provided for the children to listen and respond to a wide variety of music including classical, folk, jazz and popular. In addition, visits from performing musicians add another dimension to the children’s listening and musical understanding. Numerous opportunities arise for singing a wide range of songs both for themselves and to an audience.
The school has a large selection of tuned and un-tuned percussion instruments. These are used by the children to accompany their singing and music making, as well as a means to create their own compositions. Many different forms of stimuli are used as a starting point for creative music, including the children’s own experiences, pictures, words, poetry and stories. The children are encouraged in their music making to take account of rhythm, pitch, use of instruments and musical form. As the children progress they may be asked to make a permanent record of their music either using symbols, musical notation or CDs.
Personal, Social and Health Education and Citizenship
At Richard Whittington the personal, social and health development of the child is a central focus of education. Elements of P.S.H.E. and Citizenship are not taught as separate subjects but are an integral part of all areas of the curriculum and the life of the school. The teaching of this subject now also includes education on drugs.
The School has set up a school council with elected representatives from Year 1 to Year 6. The council’s role is to meet and to hear the views of the children, taking forward ideas and suggestions to the Headteacher.
Physical Education (PE)
In this area children are encouraged to be as successful as possible in all aspects of movement. Physical Education forms an important part of the total education of the child. It aims to promote the normal growth and development of each child and to give children a greater understanding of themselves and their physical capabilities. Our main concern is to encourage efficient movement through a strong and healthy body. Children will experience a wide range of activities including gymnastics, games, athletics, dance and swimming. The teaching of skills in class is reinforced through a wide range of extra-curricular activities appropriate to the age of each child.
The school sports days during the summer term are days when children can apply the skills they have learnt, in an atmosphere encouraging their full participation and enjoyment.
Swimming: Children attend lessons at Grange Paddocks pool in Years 3 and 4. For this activity to continue it is necessary to ask for voluntary contributions.
Religious and Moral Education (RE)
The ethos of the school forms the basis of moral education at Richard Whittington. We expect everyone in the school to show consideration for others and a tolerance for all people and their opinions. Our teaching is mainly Christian but we also teach about all the major world religions and cultures. Major religious festivals are celebrated in a variety of ways and as the children progress through the school, we aim to develop a deeper understanding of those festivals. We follow the agreed Hertfordshire Syllabus for RE which aims to teach children about religion and to ensure that they learn from the moral teachings of different faiths.
Collective Worship (Assemblies)
Collective worship (assemblies) is held every day and takes a variety of forms including class assemblies. We like to end the school week with a whole school assembly where we can all share in the work and achievements of the children.
At all times we promote positive attitudes and encouragement so that children can develop a good self-image and have confidence in themselves. Parents may withdraw their child from RE and/or collective worship. Please see the Headteacher for further details.
Modern Foreign Language
In Years 1 to 6, your child will be introduced to French. It will be an informal fun session using drama, songs, books, games and activities.
Sex and Relationships Education (SRE)
This policy stresses the value of family life, and discusses the importance of caring relationships between people. The care of all living things is central to our approach and the nature of human reproduction is considered in increasing detail as children grow up. In Years 5 and 6 our school nurse works alongside the class teachers to prepare the children for forthcoming pubertal changes and their implications. Linked to this is reassurance that bodily changes, both physical and emotional, are quite normal and acceptable. Help is given in adjusting to these changes whilst emphasising the importance of personal hygiene. A fuller account of our approach to sex and relationship education can be consulted in school. We shall keep parents informed about our arrangements for teaching this subject. Parents are offered the opportunity to view DVD programmes prior to children’s viewing and are also offered the right to withdraw their child.
SEND and Highly Able
We have a positive whole-school approach to the education and development of all children. The focus is on what the child can do rather than what he or she cannot do. The early identification, assessment and provision for any child with special educational needs is very important. We aim to give each child as full access as possible to the National Curriculum and all aspects of school life. We seek to enhance self-esteem and increase self-confidence, helping children to enjoy a successful education and achieve their full potential.
Children requiring additional help receive support from our Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator and through provisions made by the class teacher. Intervention groups are created as appropriate to address literacy and maths catch-up needs, and also for the development of social skills where necessary. Where appropriate, other specialists and the Educational Psychologist may be involved. The involvement of parents is vital at all stages.
Where children show exceptional ability in one or more areas of the curriculum, we identify them as highly able. In partnership with other local schools, we are able to provide children with the challenge and stimulation of working with other talented children on events and special days designed to extend the more able.