Curriculum


The National Curriculum at Abbey Meads

The Ofsted Report for the inspection, which took place in September 2014, states:

“The curriculum is impressive. It provides a range of good quality activities that promote a high level of pupils’ enjoyment. A wide variety of after-school clubs, school trips, artistic and cultural events enhance the planned activities well.”

 

At Abbey Meads School, we follow a thematic or topic approach to learning, which links learning across curriculum areas. We provide a rich, varied and broad curriculum that brings learning to life. From September 2014, the choices of topics will be inspired by Cornerstones, though final plans and activities are planned by our teachers to match the specific needs of the children.

 

Foundation Stage 1 (Nursery) & Foundation Stage 2 (Reception classes)

Children in the Foundation Stage are taught following guidance in the EYFS Framework, which explains how and what children will be learning to support their development.

 

There are seven areas of learning that shape our educational programme at Abbey Meads. Three areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, as well as building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive. These three areas are known as the prime areas:

·         Communication and Language

·         Physical Development

·         Personal, Social and Emotional Development

 

As children grow, the prime areas will help them to develop skills in four specific areas which are:

·         Literacy

·         Mathematics

·         Understanding the world

·         Expressive Arts and Design     

 

Each area of learning is implemented through planned, purposeful play and through a mix of adult-led and child-initiated activities. In planning and guiding children’s activities, teachers reflect on the different ways children learn and develop their practice accordingly.

 

They focus on the three characteristics of effective learning which are:

·         Playing and exploringchildren investigate and experience things.

·         Active learningchildren concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties.

·         Creating and thinking criticallychildren have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas and develop strategies for doing things.

 

At Abbey Meads, we use the document Early Years Outcomes to assess children in the Early Years and plan for their next steps. The document sets out what children should be doing in each curriculum area from birth to age five. We use the document to make best-fit judgements about whether a child is showing typical development for their age.

 

Key Stages 1 and 2 (Years 1 to 6)

Skills, concepts and knowledge, which need to be taught to children throughout the primary age range, is guided by the programmes of study found in the National Curriculum 2014.

 

A major element of the curriculum, which underpins all we do and runs through all life at the school,  relates to a sense of belonging, personal and social development and the development of a caring and understanding ethos. We develop outstanding citizens of the future.

 

From September 2014, we have introduced Jigsaw as our new approach to teaching elements of Personal, Social and Health Education. This was trialled during the 2014 Summer term and forms part of a pilot supported by Swindon Borough Council. More information can be found on the Jigsaw website.

 

The core elements of English, Maths and Science are documented very clearly in the National Curriculum 2014 document. At Abbey Meads, teachers use this programme of study to guide their starting points, before using their skills in assessment and creativity with planning to match exciting learning activities to the needs of individual children. Teachers also use a range of other resources to assist with planning.

 

In English, we teach Letters and Sounds with support materials, such as Jolly Phonics, used in the teaching process. The Oxford Reading Tree Scheme, along with several other supplementary schemes, forms the basis of our reading, with many children moving on to be ‘free readers’ after the scheme.

Within the school, we have designed our own spelling scheme and ‘Writing Must Haves’, which are shared with parents in the Pupil Reading Record Booklet. The PDF files for the ‘Writing Must Haves’ can be found on the right hand side of this page.

 

In Maths, teachers follow expectations from the National Curriculum and use the Abacus online planning resources to assist their planning. This link takes you to the Abacus website, though not to the pages accessible for teachers’ planning.

Within Maths, we also have our own specifically designed number bond and times-tables schemes, which run throughout the school. Children are regularly assessed and moved through the schemes depending on their achievements.

We also have the ‘Maths Must Haves’, the visual Calculation policy and ‘how to’ videos for parents wishing to support their children at home.

The children can access Mathletics (click the ABOUT tab) and Abacus maths at home.

 

Our Science curriculum is extensively outlined within the National Curriculum in England for Key Stages 1 and 2 and is supplemented by a science scheme that has been aligned with this guidance called ‘100 Science Lessons’. Each age group has its own 100 science lessons though, as you would expect, the lessons chosen from this 100 will relate to the skills and concepts needed at that time and not all 100 lessons are used each year.

While the school values and applauds parents supporting their children at home, it does not encourage parents to buy these specific books as doing so might spoil the children’s enjoyment when followed in class.

Additional environmental and science activities form a major part of the curriculum in Year 3, where children access Forest Schools Activities on a weekly basis.

We employ 2 qualified Forest School Teachers to run these activities. They also run additional activities in after school clubs and family learning events.

 

Within the rest of the curriculum, we continue to follow guidance as specified by the National Curriculum in England for Key Stages 1and 2. Each area of the curriculum has a specific scheme outlining and specifying the skills and development required within each age group. This includes Computing, which contains a separate section on E-Safety, and Modern Foreign Languages, with French being the language taught at Abbey Meads.

 

In other areas of the curriculum, we follow other guidance available from specific resources, to which we subscribe.

In Religious Education, we use the LCP Scheme of Work to guide planning which is linked closely to the Locally Agreed Syllabus.

In Physical Education, we follow the PESSCL Scheme, which uses videos to provide additional visual stimulation to pupils as well as planning aids for teachers.

In Music, we use the Charanga resource for both planning and pupil lessons. You can see a short video on this resource on this page opposite.

 

In Design, we are guided by modules created by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA)

In Art, we follow a specific progression in skills document, tailored to meet the objectives as specified in the National Curriculum.

 

Many of the cross curricular topics covered in class are driven by one or more of these areas of the curriculum, for example: historical periods, geographical locations, scientific concepts etc.

 

We also study some aspects of the curriculum, often considered to be for older children, when the opportunity presents itself. For example, as a result of their residential trip to the Isle of Wight, our year 6 pupils study Victorian Britain, Tennyson’s poetry and physical Geography involving GCSE level coastal erosion. They also link their visit to the theatre on the island with work later in the year on Shakespeare’s plays, supported by an additional trip to the Globe. Year 6 also have the opportunity to perform at the O2 as part of the Young Voices Choir.

 

Within our curriculum, we also try to give children further benefits and advantages where possible by offering free additional experiences in the expressive arts.

·        The school provides free music lessons for children in years 3 to 5, where children learn to read music and play the recorder and then the clarinet.

·        All children in the school receive expert provision in gymnastics and dance, as two areas of the Physical Education curriculum benefiting from specialist coaching, and all children swim for a whole year between years 2 and 3 to develop this life skill.

·        The Governors of the school are committed to providing inspiration through watching professional performances of music and theatre skills, with three musical roadshows and two theatre productions provided free for the children every year.

·        We regularly invite resident artists to join our school, with No Added Sugar being the most recent partner to work with us in this field.

 

The school organises many activities to involve parents in their children’s learning, such as Open Hours or Family Learning Workshops, and all classes go on class trips each year, including a residential trip in year 4 and two residential trips in year 6.

 

The curriculum is further strengthened by after school activities (clubs), run on a voluntary basis by staff, which focus on the interests and strengths of the volunteers involved.

Most happen on Mondays, though there are a few that happen at other times in the week, including competitive inter-school matches.