We have developed an approach to our curriculum at St Christopher’s Academy which has evolved over time. We can describe this as having three distinct components that interconnect and intertwine with each other to form a broad and rich learning experience for children during their time here. Layer one lays the foundation for learning. We believe that happy children who feel emotionally settled and want to come to school learn best. To this end we have a robust nurture and family support programme that enables us to support children and their families to ensure we achieve this aim. Layer two is the taught curriculum. This is subject based, meets the requirements and ambitions of the national curriculum and is dovetailed with key attainment indicators that ensure children meet their milestones across the breadth of the curriculum. Layer three compliments the taught curriculum with a rich range of experiences that have been designed to provide contexts for and embed learning in the classroom. In addition to this, layer three provides bespoke opportunities for children who may not have access to normal every day experiences and by doing this we promote equality of opportunity and raise aspirations. We are mindful of current educational thinking and theories and to this end we have dovetailed the curriculum and assessment to enable children to achieve and build on key milestones, to make links across curriculum areas and accumulate the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.
We intend that our children should experience a curriculum that allows them to:
- Read early so we can quickly move from learning to read into reading to learn.
- Acquire a wide vocabulary that will unlock understanding over a broad range of subjects.
- Develop number fluency that will scaffold and support their problem solving and reasoning skills.
- Develop resilience and be prepared to persevere and extend their own thinking.
- Have a good understanding of the faiths and cultures of others in our school and in the wider world and some of the broader issues around this.
- Develop tolerance and respect for others regardless of race, faith or culture.
- Practice our school Values and develop healthy social and emotional attitudes.
- Have well developed local and wider historical and geographical knowledge and understanding expected for their age.
- Gain the scientific knowledge, understanding and skills expected for their age.
- Take an interest and become involved in a broad range of environmental issues.
- Experience a range of musical and sporting opportunities both in and out of school
- Be well prepared at each transition phase for the next stage in their journey of learning by building on the intellectual capital the children have already gained.
- Have a voice and see the impact of their opinions.
Conditions for Learning
We believe strongly that children learn best when they feel happy and safe. Our Vision was designed in 2013 and is revisited every year and it is by no coincidence that the first few statements are focussed on children wanting to learn. We believe that children have to be keen to come to school and eager to learn before deep learning can occur. To this end we instil our Values in all we do, we work hard to promote pupil voice through our Investors in Pupils agenda and ensure that it has impact. We support our most vulnerable children through our nurture programme, we expect and promote high levels of behaviour and attitudes and hold a strong moral purpose.
The Taught Curriculum - The Core.
At the heart of our school is the taught curriculum. We believe this should be rich in knowledge, challenging, progressive and balanced in terms of skills and content. We aim to enable children to gain the skills they need to access the curriculum and gain a full understanding of the content therein.
We recognise the value of quality texts and appreciate the intellectual capital they can add to learning, therefore out English curriculum is taught through quality texts. We prioritise the acquisition of a wide vocabulary across all disciplines as the basis to support an accumulative understanding of the areas we teach.
We teach maths to promote the Essence of Mastery which is encapsulated by the nine statements included in our document ‘How we Teach Maths at St Christopher's Academy’
We teach a subject specific curriculum that has clear age related expectations of the outcomes required at each stage of the primary phase. Our foundation subjects are led by an enquiry based approach that encourages children to consider and question.
Progression, balance and consistency is ensured through comprehensive curriculum mapping which is overseen by class teachers and subject leaders.
This component of our curriculum is both supplementary and complimentary and provides children with a range of experiences in and out of school that equally contextualise and add depth to their learning. This part of the curriculum is in many ways unique to our children and community and is designed to meet their particular needs as well as embedding and extending the learning that takes place in the classroom.
Impact of the Curriculum
Academic Attainment and Progress
The core purpose of our school is to provide children with an education that will prepare them well for the next stage in their journey. In an academic context, we strive to ensure that whatever their starting point and whatever the barriers to learning, we enable the children to achieve the best outcomes by considering Age Related Expectations and the children’s individual potential.
Our curriculum is mainly subject based and each subject is broken down into steps that indicate the expectations of knowledge and skills to be attained for each stage of the primary phase. It is our intention that the children meet these expectations at each stage and that each stage provides the building blocks for the next stage.
In preparing children for the next stage in their journey we ensure that:
Our Nursery children are school ready and have acquired the developmental stages they need to proceed to start school and our children in Reception classes build on this development to enable them to access the KS1 curriculum.
Our children in Year 1 are provided with the phonic skills and knowledge they need to learn to read efficiently so they can quickly transition into reading to learn. We build the resilience needed in our KS1 children so they are prepared for the demands of the KS2 curriculum and our children in year 6 are prepared for the academic and social and emotional demands of life at secondary school.
Social, Moral and Cultural Understanding,
The impact of the time and focus in this area is seen in the children’s attitudes to each other, to adults in school, to their conduct on school visits and trips and to the way in which they approach their learning. The children at St Christopher's Academy are often complimented on their behaviour in the wider community and we pride ourselves on this.
Our school is a diverse community composed of families from around the globe and through our Values programme and the ethos and culture of our school, we see Tolerance and Respect demonstrated on a daily basis.
Many children and their families encounter difficulties that stretch far beyond the control of the school, however through our family support system and our nurture programme we provide advice, support and practical help that impacts positively on the wellbeing of the family and therefore the child.
- Phonics is taught systematically across the school using the 'Letters and Sounds' programme. This is introduced in the Foundation Stage and is consolidated throughout Key Stage. It is expected that children will have progressed through, and completed, 'Letters and Sounds' by the end of Key Stage 1. Children will then begin to follow the 'Support for Spelling' programme in Key Stage 2.
- Children are set into phonics groups across Foundation Stage. In Key Stage 1 they are taught in their classes as part of their guided reading and Literacy lessons. It is expected that children will have progressed through, and completed, 'Letters and Sounds' by the end of Key Stage 1. Children will then begin to follow a bespoke scheme of work for teaching spelling in Key Stage 2.
- Some pupils will undertake specific intervention programmes if they experience any difficulties with reading and/or spelling.
- The school has a wide selection of phonic reading books which may be sent home with children in addition to their regular reading book. These are used to support children who need more practice applying their phonic knowledge into their reading.
You may find the Letters and Sounds website information useful: http://www.letters-and-sounds.com/
Mathematics at SCA
At SCA, our intention is to enable all pupils to meet their maximum potential in Mathematics and become fluent, resilient and independent-thinking mathematicians with the power to reason and deploy their learning in new contexts.
To meet this intention, we employ a Mastery approach to Mathematics. We teach mathematics to whole classes and all children are encouraged to believe that by working hard, persevering and adopting a positive mindset focused on resilience and growth they can succeed in Maths.
The key elements of a Mastery approach are essential in meeting our intent:
- Maths teaching for mastery rejects the idea that a large proportion of people ‘just can’t do maths’.
- All pupils are encouraged by the belief that by working hard at maths they can succeed.
- Pupils are taught through whole-class interactive teaching, where the focus is on all pupils working together on the same lesson content at the same time, as happens in Shanghai and several other regions that teach maths successfully. This ensures that all can master concepts before moving to the next part of the curriculum sequence, allowing no pupil to be left behind.
- If a pupil fails to grasp a concept or procedure, this is identified quickly and early intervention ensures the pupil is ready to move forward with the whole class in the next lesson.
- Lesson design identifies the new mathematics that is to be taught, the key points, the difficult points and a carefully sequenced journey through the learning. In a typical lesson pupils sit facing the teacher and the teacher leads back and forth interaction, including questioning, short tasks, explanation, demonstration, and discussion.
- Procedural fluency and conceptual understanding are developed in tandem because each supports the development of the other.
- It is recognised that practice is a vital part of learning, but the practice used is intelligent practice that both reinforces pupils’ procedural fluency and develops their conceptual understanding.
- Significant time is spent developing deep knowledge of the key ideas that are needed to underpin future learning. The structure and connections within the mathematics are emphasised, so that pupils develop deep learning that can be sustained.
- Key facts such as multiplication tables and addition facts within 10 are learnt to automaticity to avoid cognitive overload in the working memory and enable pupils to focus on new concepts.
We believe that our intent can be met through our Maths curriculum. This is carefully structured to ensure that pupils have the opportunity to meet all National Curriculum objectives during their time at our school. The timing, order and duration of the learning are deliberately chosen to allow longer to be spent on topics which gives all pupils the chance to develop a deep and meaningful mastery of the concept. Our intention is to provide a cumulative Maths curriculum where knowledge and skills are gained, retained and connections are strengthened in future terms and years.
The big ideas of Teaching for Maths Mastery are central to the choices we have made to meet our intent:
- representation and structure;
- mathematical thinking;
- variation and
- coherence through small steps
To help fulfil our intent, each SCA year group follows a careful journey through a schedule of learning blocks. Each lesson within a block focuses on one key conceptual idea reflecting the small step, mastery approach. These lessons may last longer than one day each depending on what is necessary for the pupils.
In planning for each lesson, teachers identify the incremental key learning points (micro-steps) that will be required and decide the order in which to expose the pupils to each key learning point in a carefully ordered episodic fashion during each small step lesson. Potential misconceptions are also thought through during the planning stage and incorporated into the lesson as opportunities for learning. Key vocabulary that will occur during the block is predicted in advance so that the correct terminology can be taught, repeated, moved into active use and contextualized. Planning also deliberately builds in opportunities to expose the underlying structure of the mathematics that allow generalisations to be formulated from reasoning about specific cases.
Lesson delivery involves an initial task; teacher structuring using appropriate representations (concrete, pictorial and abstract) and class recording of the learning; application of the learning with incremental addition of key learning points before pupils have the chance to apply the accumulated learning independently.
Reasoning skills such as pattern spotting, identifying what is the same and what is different, forming conjectures and providing convincing evidence and proof that support mathematical thinking are always promoted in an SCA Maths lesson. Pupils also have the opportunity to reflect on and take ownership of their learning in a lesson, often being asked about successes and areas that might be proving more difficult.
Further challenge, extension and deeper thinking tasks are made available to pupils who complete work and challenge will always be present in lessons through the teacher questioning; promoting mathematical thinking and connections; developing reasoning skills and moving from the specific to the general.
At SCA, we know that number fluency requires continuous practice. Becoming fluent with number facts helps to avoid cognitive overload as mathematical concepts and contexts become more intricate. As well as including specific number fluency lessons in our curriculum blocks, we also use key points of the school day to allow practice of number bonds and multiplication facts in the form of puzzles, word problems and drills. Homework is often number fluency based as that allows parents to support their child with the fundamental facts. Another aspect of fluency is the flexibility to use alternative methods and representations which is encouraged in our lessons.
The immediate impact of a SCA Maths lesson will be apparent within the lesson. The opportunities for discussion, engagement in talk and questioning allow teachers to quickly ascertain the pupils’ level of understanding and provide further guidance as necessary. Much of the independent work can be marked “live” giving pupils instant feedback on their efforts as feedback closest to the point of action is the most effective. The sole purpose of feedback should be to further the children’s learning.
Where necessary and possible, intervention is provided as quickly as possible to help maintain the intention that the whole class is working together.
The progress that pupils make over time is clear evidence of the impact of the teaching and learning. To measure this progress, teachers integrate a combination of formative assessment (gathered during discussions, questioning, resourced activities, paired and independent tasks) and summative assessment carried out at the end of each block. By considering all the evidence, teachers can evaluate a pupil’s true understanding of each Maths block in a way that allows for the ever-present disparity between the natural, relaxed situation of demonstrating understanding in a lesson and the rigid, formality of a test where interpretation of the question may be the biggest stumbling block.
This informed teacher assessment is compared against age-related expectations for each term of the academic year. Demonstrable solid understanding of all the blocks within a term will meet age-related expectations for that stage of the year. Through the internal assessment process, gaps in understanding can be identified and addressed and parents can be informed of their child’s progress over the course of the year to date.
Of course, children at SCA participate in the external assessments of SATs during Year 2 and Year 6 and the Multiplication Tables check at Year 4. Although our intent is to enable learners to develop deeper mathematical understanding (rather than just meeting the requirements of tests), these assessments are important measures of the impact of the teaching and learning at SCA. Pupils in the relevant year groups also undertake mock tests in the build up to the external tests which provide additional evidence for the teacher’s judgement.
A further way we, at SCA, consider the impact of our Mathematics teaching is to consider the pupil voice. Each class appoints a Maths Ranger and they meet with each other and the Subject Leader to share their thoughts about the Maths experiences they are encountering at our school.
At St Christophers Academy we share a passion for books with a love of reading at our heart. We know that the development of reading skills, along with speaking and listening skills, is fundamental to the progress that our children make and we are determined to enable our children to become confident, fluent, enthusiastic and effective readers. We have high expectations for our children and encourage them to approach books actively, expecting them to make sense and developing an assortment of strategies to help them not only decode but also to understand what they are reading. All at St Christophers Academy are committed to ensuring that this happens and this policy clearly sets out how reading is taught in our school.
We aim to develop literate children who:
- Read with enjoyment across a range of genres
- Read for pleasure and enjoyment as well as information
- Love reading and get excited about books
- Have the opportunity to listen to books that are beyond their reading ability, for enjoyment
- Build their bank of sight words to become fluent readers
- Are aware of their own progress and development of reading
- Develop their experiences through a variety of texts including use of libraries, ICT and other available media
- Are provided with an environment in which the teacher models good reading practice and associated skills
Early Reading and Phonics
Phonics is given high priority at St Christophers Academy with daily sessions in FS2 and KS1. Children in our nursery (FS1) take part in whole class and small group ability sessions to ensure that children make a positive start. Children are taught phonics following the Letters and Sounds programme.
Children in our early years are given picture books or reading books for parents and carers to share with their children. In FS2 children will be given home reading books when class teachers assess it to be appropriate. These home reading books are phonically decodable books from Collins Big Cat, Oxford Reading Tree or another school scheme. We also believe that the teaching of phonics and reading should be in a rich language and text based curriculum, where children are taught a range of other strategies to help them become independent readers.
Children in Y1 are tested to check that their phonics decoding is an age appropriate standard. These skills are addressed in daily phonic sessions, using Letters and Sounds and a combination of other resources. Children are routinely assessed for their sound recognition, blending and reading- and extra intervention is organised where appropriate.
Teaching staff plan for a variety of reading opportunities:
In shared reading sessions the teacher’s role is to make overt what good readers do. They assume the role of the expert reader, modelling the reading process to the whole class and providing a high level of support. In shared reading children can access a text which may be challenging to them individually. Reading skills and strategies should be clearly modelled, and discussion should help children to a deeper understanding of the text. Shared reading should have a specific focus and all abilities should be included in discussions with differentiated questions. Teaching objectives are pre-planned and sessions are characterised by explicit teaching of specific reading strategies, oral response and high levels of collaboration.
Guided reading sessions should happen at least 3 times a week. In these sessions children may be split into ability groups or Kagan seating structures may be used, where children practise, refine and apply key reading skills. In KS1 and lower KS2 (in groups of no more than 6), children work through a number of skills over the course of the week, related to the book they are studying. In UKS2 guided reading is conducted as a whole class. The skills covered will relate to the reading focuses/genres for the half term. For example the fiction unit will include prediction, clarifying, questioning and answering activities, which develop over the weeks. The teacher will monitoring the impact on future learning to ensure the children make progress.
Pupils take responsibility for selecting and reading a variety of texts including fiction, non-fiction and poetry from the school reading scheme, class libraries, web pages, print and text around the school etc. In The pupils should be able to read these books independently and comprehend them with little or no teacher/adult support. The focus for the reading is to provide practise, develop reading for pleasure and to develop personal response to text.
Independent reading response
From year 1 children have reading journals, where a range of evidence is collected and can be used to form an accurate assessment of their reading. Teaching staff plan an independent reading response activity for pupils at least once per week. This activity is a written response located in pupils’ reading journals. This provides evidence to support level judgements and the moderation process. It also provides pupils with regular opportunities to formulate written responses to a text.
Examples of intervention strategies which may be used in school:
- Better readers programme (BRP)
This is a short term intervention program ( 10 weeks, three times a week) aimed at improving key reading skills by focusing on: independent use of reading strategies and skills, increased ability to discuss texts and understand them beyond literal level, increased confidence, leading to increased enjoyments and motivation to read.
- Modelled Reading
This is where a group of children work with a teacher, adults precisely model reading sentences according to punctuation and expression and the children copy and repeat these sentences as modelled. This strategy is only used for groups of children who will benefit from this intervention.
- Individual Readers:
Provision for individual reading in school occurs for all children in EYFS, KS1 and KS2 with identified children throughout the school. Year groups are focused at different points in the academic year, for example reception in the summer term. In key stage 2, adults will listen to identified children, who are not reading at home and or have been identified from termly standardised reading tests.
In the foundation stage children should be sharing a book daily with and adult at home, retelling the story, making predictions about the text, noting print on the page and discussing text. In KS1 children should read at home to an adult daily and adults should write comments in pupils’ reading records. Children receiving little or no support at home with their reading should be identified and receive 1:1 reading support within school. Pupils in KS2 should read at home with an adult at least 3 times a week with the adult writing comments in the pupils’ reading record. Children should still be encouraged to read independently; developing their reading stamina and reading for pleasure.
Children take home a variety of books throughout the primary phases in order to develop reading for pleasure and progression in decoding and comprehension:
Children will be given an independently chosen library book. As the year progresses, children in FS2 move onto CVC books or scheme books which are level appropriate. These books are phonically decodable and match the phonics phase the children are working on.
All children are given an independently chosen class library book and a reading scheme/book banded text at appropriate reading age and comprehension level. Children may also have a decodable text at appropriate phonics phase. There is no specific scheme used, books are sourced from a variety of schemes and retailers and book banded for our readers.
All children are given an independently chosen class library book, an Accelerated Reading scheme text at appropriate reading age and comprehension age, class core reading text and if receiving phonics intervention, a KS2 decodable text at appropriate phonics phase and age related interest level.
In the unfortunate event of books being lost by pupils, parents/carers are notified that a £5 charge per item is necessary for the school to restock each item.
The reading environment
Each class will have a class library/book corner, containing a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry and real life texts. Favourite books, book reviews, collections of books on a similar theme, weekly newspapers or reading displays will also be in classrooms. At lunchtimes there are school reading role models who take part in a range of reading activities to inspire and help other children.
In KS2 the reading display may be linked to Accelerated reader and the children’s achievements.
Children are assessed against the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP) and the National Curriculum. These provide guidance for teachers in understanding how their children will progress through the three stages of the primary curriculum (Foundation Stage, KS1. KS2). Teachers assess children against these frameworks to determine starting points and targets for children in their class.
- Home/school reading diaries track daily progress.
- Teachers observe progress during reading activities within lessons daily and annotate planning.
- Reading journals
- Reading session planning records track weekly progress.
- Pupils’ phonics progress is tracked by phase and assessed half-termly.
- The EYFS profile, and National Curriculum year group expectations are used to assess progress periodically half termly.
- Accelerated Reading assessments are carried out at the beginning of every half term and are used in conjunction with Rising Stars reading assessments to inform teacher assessment.
- In KS1 and KS2, teachers record pupils’ progress against the National Curriculum objectives using St Christophers Academy KPIs (Key performance indicators) on the school assessment and tracking system, Classroom Monitor. Classroom Monitor is then used for half termly summative data collection and analysis;
- Rising Stars reading assessments are done half termly and inform termly teacher assessments.
Leadership and Management
The literacy coordinator is responsible for reviewing and improving the standards of teaching and learning of reading though out the school by: analysing data, pupil progress through lesson observations, book trawls, pupil interviews, auditing and supporting professional development, purchasing and organising resources.
What are we learning about in Science this half term?
This half term, our children have some very exciting topics to study.
This half term, Reception children are studying Ourselves. In this topic we will look at the following:
- Our bodies
- Body parts
- Keeping healthy
- Our skeleton
Year 1 – Animals and body systems
This half term, Year 1 children are studying Animals and body systems. In this topic we will look at the following:
- Identifying and labelling a variety of animals
- Carnivores, herbivores and omnivores
- How to care for pets
- Naming parts of the human body
Year 2 – Habitats
This half term, Year 2 children are studying Habitats. In this topic we will look at the following:
- How animals adapt to their habitats
- What animals need to survive
- Identifying a variety of animals
- Lifecycles of living things
Year 3 – Light
This half term, Year 3 children are studying Light. In this topic we will look at the following:
- Sources of light
- How to protect your eyes from the sun
Year 4 – States of matter
This half term, Year 4 children are studying States of matter. In this topic we will look at the following:
- Solids, liquids and gases
- Heating and cooling
- Evaporation and condensation
Year 5 – Earth and Space
This half term, Year 5 are studying Earth and Space. In this topic we will look at the following:
- Earth relative to the Sun
- Moon relative to the Earth
- Relationship between Earth, Sun and the Moon
- Earth’s rotation
- Day and night
Year 6 – Evolution and Inheritance
This half term, Year 6 children are studying Evolution and Inheritance. In this topic we will look at the following:
- Have we always looked like this?
- Changes to the human skeleton over time
What are we learning about in Music this half term?
Across the school, all classes study a variety of songs through Charanga music. Each class will learn how to:
- Warm up their vocal chords
- Use music terminology
- Read lyrics
- Perform new pieces of music
Song study for this half term
Hands, Feet, Heart
Let your spirit fly
Livin’ on a prayer
I’ll be there
In addition to this, throughout the year we offer instrument tuition to all of our classes.
Autumn half term
Year 3 & 4 are taking part in Sing out Play out. They receive weekly lessons from a local music teacher and learn how to sing. This is all in preparation for a big concert in the summer term.
Year 5 are learning to play the J-Sax. They have a lesson every Monday morning which is very exciting for the children.