At Rackenford C of E VA Primary School, we believe that a curriculum fit for the 21stcentury must be broad, balanced and enriched with exciting, relevant experiences that fire children’s imaginations and give them the confidence to face new challenges and solve problems.
Our curriculum is in line with the statutory new National Curriculum, underpinned by our Christian foundation. It prepares our children for a constantly changing world, giving them the skills to contribute positively to society and live fulfilling and healthy lives.
Our school values are: trust, respect, friendship, perseverance, forgiveness, truthfulness and compassion. They are at the heart of all that we do.
Our curriculum provides children with the opportunity to:
- Enjoy the challenge and adventure of learning
- Follow their own interests and curiosities
- Find out how they learn and develop learning powers, such as ‘resilience’ and ‘perseverance’ to enable them to become life-long, independent learners
- Master a range of skills and develop in-depth knowledge and understanding
- Communicate and interact effectively and confidently with others and discover the power of collaboration
- Celebrate the uniqueness of everyone and the values, beliefs and culture of others
- Make a positive contribution to the school, local and wider community
- Become reflective learners, excited by their own potential and motivated to achieve their best.
In EYFS, year 1 and 2 our program of learning phonics is based upon the Letters and Sounds publication but it has been adjusted to meet the increased expectations and requirements of the new national curriculum. It covers the reading and writing of sounds and words and involves both new learning and revision of previous learning in every session.
If you would like to know what sounds your child is learning about this week then please ask your child’s class teacher.
In year 2-6, we develop children’s spelling further by using the No Nonsense Spelling materials designed by the Literacy team at Babcock LDP and published by Raintree. The program is easy to use, flexible and comprehensive. It enables us to implement an effective spelling teaching program that prepares the children for their move into Key Stage 3.
In Early Years and Key Stage One our children choose book banded reading books that relate to their current reading level. There is a good selection of books in each coloured band so that the children are able to access a variety of genres. We try to hear the children read as often as possible in the school day but due to the numbers of children and the demands of the curriculum it isn’t possible to do this as regularly as we would like. We therefore really encourage parents to take an active part in this by reading with their children each day after school.
In Key Stage Two, the children continue to access book banded reading materials until they are a level to become a free reader. At this point they are able, with support, to choose appropriate reading materials from the library. Teachers will also provide children with appropriate levelled reading books in class during shared and guided reading sessions. These sessions will tend to include an opportunity for the children to read, discuss and answer questions about the text.
As a maintained school we have an obligation to teach children from Year 1 to Year 6 about aspects of RSE and we feel it is important that as a school we are clear about what that entails. The mention of the words, ‘Sex education’ can create unnecessary anxiety for parents and carers and we want to reassure you that the focus of much RSE in primary school is broader than you might think, focusing more so on the relationship’s aspect.
We adopted the JIGSAW scheme of work in 2020 in order to fulfil this statutory requirement and we began trailing out some of the units with pupils covering ‘Being me in my World’, ‘Celebrating Differences’ and ‘Dreams and Goals’. The JIGSAW scheme covers issues such as Building self-esteem, recognising feelings and emotions, Healthy friendships, Differences and similarities between girls and boys and challenging stereotypes, Rights & Responsibilities and Growing and changing.
Throughout the year we cover different aspects of the JIGSAW curriculum through six broad topics- Being me in my World, Celebrating Difference (autumn term) Dreams & Goals, Healthy Me (spring term) Relationships and Changing Me (summer term) A focus on Relationships is covered within each topic, with the ‘Changing Me’ topic covering most of the Sex Education aspects. The whole school covers the same unit at the same time and each unit starts with a whole school assembly.
As a parent or carer, you do have the right to request your child is removed from parts of the sex education programme, but we feel confident that the content is both relevant and appropriate for our age group. It is important to clarify that withdrawal of your child would only be considered only for content that is not part of the statutory science curriculum.
To help you understand what will be taught, please see the below Jigsaw leaflets outlining further detail along with our PSHE/RSE policy.
WHAT WOULD IT TAKE FOR SOCIETY TO TRULY FLOURISH?
BE KIND, BE TRUTHFUL, BE THE BEST YOU CAN BE
We aim to provide an inclusive education enriched by our Christian heritage, with four key elements which are at the heart of all that we are and align with the Church of England’s Vision for education: Wisdom, Hope, Community and Dignity. Our children are given opportunities to develop their character to become independent, collaborative, creative learners who have the confidence to seek wisdom and nur
ture their love of learning in and beyond school. Our small school provides big opportunities to broaden learners’ horizons and prepare them for the’ fullness of life’, through hope, aspiration and our core values. Through our opportunities for stewardship, courageous advocacy and service we focus on relationships and learning to live well in a wider community that can flourish together. Central to children’s learning is respecting the worth, dignity and preciousness of each person in a safe and inclusive environment.
The need for recovery
As a school we are concerned about how to help our school community recover emotionally while sensibly addressing children’s gaps in learning. Recently, a think piece entitled A Recovery Curriculum: Loss and Life for our children and schools post pandemic was published. In it, mental health expert, Professor Barry Carpenter recommends five sensible ‘levers’ that can help schools recover following a ‘systematic, relationships-based approach to reigniting the flame of learning in each child.’ So how can we put this into practice at Rackenford C of E Primary School?
The lockdown and the sudden closure of school will have created a new lived experience for pupils all of which will have included an element of loss. It talks about 5 losses: Routine, Structure, Friendship, Opportunity, Freedom
These losses can trigger the emergence emotionally of anxiety, trauma and bereavement in a child. As a school and as individuals we will need to help children heal from these losses therefore our curriculum will need to give children the opportunity to heal so they can reengage with their learning and feel enthusiastic about learning.
Teaching is a relationship-based profession and we will need to spend time rebuilding relationships to enable children to access learning again.
Children have lost knowledge, but they also need time to recover and heal. The 5 levers of recovery are: Relationships, Community, Transparent curriculum, Metacognition, Space
Before I talk through each of the five levers, there are five main factors that will help us achieve them.
1. Staff expertise
2. Support from local community
3. The right curriculum, tools and resources
4. National provision
Our curriculum has incredible influence over the recovery process, too. It has the power to inspire and rekindle curiosity. To reconnect and make sense of experience. To endow knowledge and broaden horizons. We are using several valuable tools to support our recovery curriculum process:
Curriculum Maestro: Our curriculum planning, monitoring and delivery tool; Babcock’s The Book of Hopes English resource; Jig Saw PSHE programme, daily worship, daily mindfulness, meditation and yoga and a curiosity approach to learning through play.
Lever 1: rebuild relationships
Positive relationships are vital for child development. Children may have experienced loss during the pandemic, including the loss of relationships with their peers. They will need help to re-establish friendships, reconnect with staff and work with others.
Using our curriculum to recover 1. Implement a clear curriculum pedagogy. It transforms a child’s experience at school, provides structure and ensures we are delivering content in the most effective way. But it can also help rebuild relationships by fostering collaboration, empathy, confidence and self-expression.
2. Teach projects that explore relationship themes. We will avoid ad hoc lessons and resources. We will sequence our curriculum content so that children meaningfully revisit and build upon their knowledge, understanding and skills.
3. We will offer regular opportunities for children to work together on purposeful, absorbing and rewarding tasks. Provide challenge and allow them to innovate and find solutions.
4. We will identify overarching human concepts and themes that can run throughout our curriculum and deepen children’s understanding. Cornerstones Maestro is our Curriculum planning tool, it threads 10 Big ideas, which include humankind and change, across subjects and year groups.
Lever 2: understand the individual child and their community Our curriculum principles are informed by our school’s values, aims and the needs of the community. Children from different communities may have experienced the lockdown in different ways. The curriculum can help children tell their stories, strengthen their sense of self, family, community, and place in the wider world.
Using our curriculum to recover
1. We will allow time for individual children and families to tell their lockdown stories. We can adapt our curriculum content to reflect this or be flexible with delivery.
2. We will model good speaking and listening skills and empower children with the emotional vocabulary they need to express their thoughts and feelings.
3. We will teach projects and regular PSHE sessions that cover themes such as identity, personal feelings, similarities and differences and community belonging. Cornerstones Maestro School Days project enables pupils to explore the history of their school. In it, they can consider the significance of school closures as a significant moment in history.
4. We will engage children with high quality resources, such as stories, games, songs, discussion prompts and videos. They should reflect cultures within and beyond your community.
5. Interesting, relevant themes will also engage parents.
Lever 3: know, acknowledge and address the gaps in learning through a transparent curriculum
Missed learning is a complex issue. Children’s needs will vary and not all gaps can – or should – be addressed immediately. We have a curriculum in place with a sequenced knowledge and skills framework, which enables us to be in a strong position to plan a flexible route to recovery.
Using our curriculum to recover
1. We will identify significant curriculum coverage that children have missed during the spring and summer terms. These include subject aspects and concepts that need embedding before children can move on, or that they are not likely to revisit in future projects.
2. Subject leaders can then see if and where this missed coverage is to be revisited in future projects. If not, add it to plans. Using Curriculum Maestro to track actual coverage, identifying and reassigning gaps. Where and when appropriate, use ‘low stakes’ quizzing and child-friendly testing to assess where extra support for key skills, such as reading are needed.
3. Using half termly assessments to identify gaps, track progress and mark learning milestones.
4. Consider doing less content in the short and medium term, but in more depth. This will help children become more secure in their knowledge and skills.
Lever 4: metacognition – ensure the children continue to develop the skills for learning
Professor Carpenter states that ‘it is vital that we make the skills for learning in a school environment explicit’. If children are to get back on track and have self-efficacy, they will need to be aware of the skills they need to learn.
Using our curriculum to recover
1. We will offer a curriculum pedagogy that teaches and provides ample practice for metacognition strategies. These include planning, identifying how to solve problems, organisation, self-evaluation, analysis, adjusting and more.
2. We will teach projects that explore positive models of human personal development, resilience, character, adapting to challenges and achievement.
3. We will share the bigger picture. Let children know about and have a say in the route their learning is taking them on. This will help to keep them motivated, give them hope, and provide a sense of purpose.
4. We will empower children with subject knowledge and highlight the learning approaches that are useful for specific subjects. For example, with older children, explain how geographical enquiry might look different from historical enquiry.
Lever 5: a curriculum that engages and inspires, gives children the space to adjust and minimises any disadvantages
This is a crucial lever. Children deserve to experience joy and to be engaged if they are to feel secure and positive about being in school again. Lockdown may have been a narrow experience for them, but school can lift children’s spirits and provide welcome relief.
1. We will set a clear pedagogy that values and promotes curiosity, deep focus, innovation and self-expression. These are not just valuable for academic development – they are important for personal growth and fulfilment.
2. We will prioritise a love of, and the skills involved in, reading – it’s the essential tool for accessing a wide curriculum. A focus on reading for the first term back at school. 3. We will plan a rich curriculum that broadens children’s horizons and covers a wealth of topics and themes. Exciting subjects spark the imagination, we will choose projects that our children will enjoy and that build on their interests.
4. We will deliver shorter projects that cover the essential skills and knowledge needed for key topics.
5. We will provide resources that are high quality, pitched right, and enjoyable to use. Videos, stories, texts, physical resources and visitors – virtual or otherwise – these will bring the curriculum to life for our children.
6. We will rekindle the joy in teachers and in leaners. Utilise workload-saving curriculum tools, plans and resources that are flexible and need only minimal adaptation. These relieve pressure and free staff up to enjoy their teaching. And we know how infectious that is.
If you wish to find out more about our curriculum, either ask your child’s teacher or speak to the Head of School.