Curriculum & Assessment
In their first class, our youngest pupils develop confidence and consideration for others within their learning environment. Foundations for more structured learning are laid here. The curriculum for the Early Years or Foundation Stage pupils is based on The Early Learning Goals.
There are seven areas of learning and development that shape the education programmes in the early years. All areas of learning are important and inter-connected. Three areas are particularly important for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning. These areas are known as the prime areas and are:
- Communication and language
- Physical development
- Personal, social and emotional development
The four specific areas help to strengthen and apply the prime areas. These are:
- Understanding the world
- Expressive arts and designs
In planning children’s activities, the different ways in which children learn are reflected on. These are known as the characteristics of effective learning:
- Playing and exploring – investigating and experiencing things
- Active learning – concentrating and keep trying, enjoying achievement
- Creating and thinking critically – having and developing own ideas and making links
By providing a secure and stimulating environment in which we value children, we aim to encourage every child’s unique and special potential to unfold. We consider all aspects of the children – emotional, social, physical and intellectual. When planning our provision for their care and education, we build upon their previous experiences and take their interests into account. We believe in giving children a variety of learning experiences where they can be involved in their own learning, planning and assessments. A topic based curriculum includes purposeful activities to provide opportunities for teaching and learning both indoors and outdoors. This will also provide flexibility for child initiated activities, which build upon children’s natural curiosity and allows them to explore the world around them.
We see our outdoor areas as an extension of the classroom and believe children should be given daily opportunities to play and exercise in the fresh air! Children are welcome to choose whether they are inside or out, otherwise known as ‘free-flow’. Our outdoor play area is a safe and secure environment where the children have the chance to explore and investigate through play. Purposeful activities and opportunities are also planned for, many of which promote the importance of health and wellbeing.
Approach to Phonics and Reading Schemes
There is a requirement for the youngest children in primary schools to be taught letters and sounds on a daily basis. The teaching of phonics at St. Peter’s is part of a language rich curriculum and pupils in Reception, Years 1 and 2 are screened at the beginning of the year. They are then taught on a daily basis in groups at the phase (from the document ‘Letters and Sounds’) which matches their ability. The ‘Jolly Phonics’ commercial scheme is also used to support this. Phonics groups are formed according to ability rather than age. Regular assessment throughout the year ensures that pupils access the phase suitable for them. Key Stage 2 builds on these skills with regular spelling sessions.
Year 1 Phonics Screening
All children nationally are screened at the end of Year 1 to assess progress made within phonics. In 2017 once again this school performed well above the national level with 91% (10/11) of pupils meeting the expected standard compared to 81% nationally. There was no difference within the performance of sizeable groups of children.
Phonics education is part of reading education in general. The teaching of reading is seen as a crucial part of children’s development within English and is carried out by several means including shared, independent and guided reading. A (newly purchased) reading scheme is used to help to support reading in the first few years at school and, to complement this, a wide variety of books is available to all children. Whilst older pupils in particular are encouraged to choose their own books, choice is monitored to ensure they stay focussed and continue to enjoy reading. To encourage boys’ reading there is a selection of boy-friendly literature.
Pupils’ paired reading is regularly carried out. For example, reluctant readers – who may be unsupported at home – are paired with older and more confident readers; this has proved to be successful, especially with boys. Also, a successful link involving the development of literacy in general and paired reading in particular has been formed with the pre-school play group held on the school site; this involves visits out and visits in.
The National Primary Curriculum
The National Curriculum was first introduced in England in 1988 as part of the Education Reform Act in order that there was some consistency and continuity to children’s education in all schools throughout England. It has since been reviewed and revised several times but retains the basic aim of ensuring that all pupils receive a broad, balanced curriculum. The most recent major review for the primary curriculum was in 2013, with the new curriculum beginning to be taught in September 2014. Although there is no mandatory requirement for academies to follow the national curriculum, since St Peter’s converted to academy status in February 2016 it has continued to do so.
The school has adopted a creative approach towards children’s learning. This means that independence and inter-dependence in learning are encouraged through the offering of a wide range of opportunities and experiences. Children are encouraged to have open and enquiring minds and to think critically. Of crucial importance is that the pupils are involved in what they learn and they are given responsibility for the direction that their learning will take.
Each class has access to a ‘learning zone’. These have been designed by the children themselves and are situated outside the classrooms; they are ideal for small numbers of pupils, especially when undertaking group work.
Enrichment activities along with trips and visits help to bring the curriculum to life and enhance children’s learning. The school is fortunate in that every class has an interactive whiteboard; some classes have the benefit of the latest digital screen technology. Each class accesses learning in our large and impressive ICT suite; here specific computer skills are taught – including coding – and are used to support learning across the curriculum. The class set of laptop computers can also be utilised. The school also benefits from an increasing number of ‘tablet’ computers.
All pupils are able to participate in a variety of sports and exercise due to our extensive grounds. Swimming lessons form part of the Physical Education programme for Key Stage 2 children.
To access the primary curriculum individual programmes of study and attainment targets, subject by subject, please CLICK HERE.
Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
Appropriate support is available for children with special educational needs; these may be learning difficulties, or behavioural or other problems that affect progress in school. The initial identification of a child’s special needs mainly comes from concerns raised by the class teacher or parents. The school then follows the latest SEND Code of Practice (2014) for the identification and notification of children with special educational needs and disabilities. Children working on individual programmes (learning plans) are taught within the class environment wherever possible and may have regular support from teachers and teaching assistants.
If considered necessary, further help may be sought from outside agencies such as advisory teachers from the County Support Service or assistance from the Educational Psychology Service. If further action is required a compilation of an Education and Health Care Plan may be appropriate.
The school has achieved ‘Dyslexia Friendly’ status.
The Most Able Child
Special help may also be needed for the most able child. One of the advantages of a smaller school with some mixed age classes is the flexibility and individual pupils or groups of children and pupils are able to access learning at a higher level than that of their peer group. Many initiatives have been implemented within school to help to address the particular needs of more able children. There are also opportunities for the most able to work with outside agencies such as the local secondary academy.
The school always works in close partnership with parents as soon as any special need is identified.
A widespread programme of Health Education is regarded as an essential element of the curriculum at St. Peter’s and the school has full ‘Healthy Schools’ status.
Health Education is taught through the science and Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) curricula. In Foundation Stage, healthy eating is promoted with the daily provision of milk and fruit for the mid-morning snack. Provision of free fruit continues throughout Key Stage 1. Key Stage 2 children are encouraged to bring a healthy snack, such as fruit, to school.
The school further promotes healthy eating through close liaison with its catering partner, Chartwells Catering Services, to prepare wholesome and nutritious school lunches. All pupils up to the end of Year 2, regardless of home circumstances, are entitled to a free school meal.
Sex and Relationships Education
Sex and Relationships Education begins in an informal way in Reception and Key Stage 1 by looking at establishing and building relationships; this is extended in Years 3 and 4. In Years 5 and 6 more formal sex education is undertaken. Parents are invited into school to review the resource materials that class teachers and the school nurse use.
Every parent has the right to withdraw his/her child from sex education if they so wish. However, parents are encouraged to contact the headteacher before making this decision.
Working at home is an important part of pupils’ progress; it is usually used to support the work done by children in their classes. Homework allows for development and extension of the pupil’s work. Some tasks are specifically-designed written or research pieces, whilst at other times pupils are asked to complete work which is outstanding at home. Parents are encouraged to play a role in supporting their children with homework set in order to raise the level of motivation. A reading record is provided in Key Stage 1 and a homework diary in Key Stage 2: these help to maintain a dialogue between home and school.
Government guidelines recommend varying amounts of homework dependent on the age of the child and St. Peter’s adheres to the following:
- Years 1 and 2: One hour per week.
- Years 3 and 4: One and a half hours per week.
- Years 5 and 6: Two hours per week.
Assessment/Testing and Reporting
Assessment of learning takes place regularly throughout the year through the marking of children’s work in line with the school’s marking policy. Children are also assessed in the core subjects on a termly basis. Each child’s progress is tracked and any deviation from expected development is noted and targeted.
For all Foundation Stage pupils, a profile is completed throughout the year by the class teacher; this is used to track progress and plan for the next steps in learning.
Each pupil’s progress is then measured against national standards at two points in a Primary School:
- At the age of 7, at the end of Key Stage 1.
- At the age of 11, at the end of Key Stage 2.
Beginning in 2016 pupils’ performance is measured by use of ‘scaled’ or ‘standardised’ scores with 100 considered to be the expected score and 110 marking greater depth.
Currently pupils are tested in English (reading and writing) and maths at the end of both stages and also in Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling (GPS) at the end of Key Stage 2. Teachers’ assessment is taken into account in addition to results of written tests.
Every summer parents receive a written report on the progress and achievements of their child. Parents are invited to respond to this report and discuss it with their child’s class teacher.
The school also uses a method of assessment based on the expected standard of achievement at certain milestones during the primary school years. This form of teacher assessment is complemented by the results of formal tests.
Assessment for Learning is an initiative which was introduced many years ago at St. Peter’s and is the process of seeking and interpreting evidence for use by learners and their teachers to decide where learners are in their learning, where they need to go and how best to get there.
The teaching in R.E is based on the Diocesan Agreed Syllabus and the Staffordshire County Council agreed policy.
St. Peter’s pupils participate in a daily act of Christian worship. This offers them an opportunity to affirm their beliefs and to reflect on their ideas and values and those of others. The headteacher and other members of the teaching staff lead worship based on planned themes. The local vicar, the vicar from a neighbouring parish and other invited guests regularly visit school and lead collective worship.
Parents have the right to withdraw their children from collective worship if they so wish; before this right is exercised it would be appreciated if this could be discussed with the headteacher.
There are numerous opportunities for pupils at St. Peter’s to extend their interests and to participate in extra-curricular activities. These include a variety of sports clubs, ICT and art and craft. Throughout the year pupils have the opportunity to represent the school in a wide range of sporting activities and tournaments against local schools.
Pupils have the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument at St. Peter’s. Choice of instrument depends on uptake and is currently available in violin and keyboard.
During their final year at St. Peter’s children attend a 5-day residential course at a local Outdoor Education Centre where they experience a variety of activities including canoeing, rock climbing, abseiling, problem-solving and archery. It is planned for children in a younger year group also to take part in a residential course.