“The school offers pupils a broad range of subjects with a strong focus on literacy and numeracy. There are well-planned opportunities for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. ” Ofsted June 2014
In Nursery and Reception class, children follow a programme of work as outlined in the Framework for the Early Years Foundation Key Stage.
A useful Early Years Foundation Stage Framework guide for parents is available to download here.
From Year 1 the children follow the National Curriculum. The National Curriculum is taught as part of the broader school curriculum from Year 1. The core subjects of the National Curriculum are Maths, English, Computing and Science.
At St Mary’s Maths and English are taught daily and are also interwoven into the topic-based approach to teaching with computing, Science and all foundation subjects: Art, Geography, History, Design and Technology, Physical Education, Music, Personal and Social Health Education (PSHE) and a Modern Foreign Language (French). Religious Education is reflected throughout the curriculum and also taught within a weekly hour-long session. We believe that the children need a broad range of skills, taught through suitable topics of work to enable them to become independent and self-motivated. The individual needs of pupils are met through the delivery of the curriculum, ensuring challenge and support.
The National Curriculum website may be of interest to you:
An annual overview of the curriculum plans for the whole school can be found here. Whole School Curriculum Map 2017-18
For half termly plans for each year group, please see the relevant class page in the ‘Our Children’ section using this link.
Our pupils follow the National Curriculum programme of study for English and each class takes part in a daily Literacy session. We are a “Power of reading” school, which means we engage children in the English curriculum through using high quality books and creative teaching approaches.
Phonics is taught in Foundation Stage and Key stage one using the Read Write Inc programme. We use a range of reading scheme books in the early stages to introduce reading. These are supplemented by non-scheme books and a language rich environment. The children take part in daily guided reading, a carousel of reading activities for 30 minutes each day. These include either reading with the teacher or a range of independent tasks, for example, spelling investigations, dictionary skills, sentence structure, vocabulary development and comprehension activities. Every child has at least one guided reading session with the teacher each week. This involves reading a text with a focused learning objective.
Children are given opportunities to write for many different purposes and acquire the necessary skills to achieve this. Handwriting, Spelling and Writing progression are carefully structured throughout the school and we work towards all children writing fluently, in a joined up style by the time they leave St. Mary’s.
Speaking and listening:
The children learn to express themselves in a variety of situations, not only to each other, but also to adults and groups. Drama is used to explore the curriculum and widen their understanding and personal experience.
Maths is taught through the National curriculum programme of study. Much emphasis is laid on quick mental recall and mental strategies. Knowledge of number bonds and facts involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are priorities. Investigation and problem solving are vital skills taught for applying Maths in a variety of situations.
We encourage the children to explore, investigate, and reach conclusions. Science is taught both as a discrete subject and through Science related topics.
Pupils learn about significant people, events and places from both the recent and more distant past. They use different sources of information to help them investigate the past, both in depth and in overview, using dates and historical vocabulary to describe events, people and developments.
Pupils investigate our local area and a contrasting area in the United Kingdom and abroad. They find out about the environment in both areas, the people who live there and start to make links between different places in the world. They find out how people affect the environment and how they are affected by it.
Art, Craft, Design Technology
Through topic work, pupils develop their creativity and imagination by exploring the visual, tactile and sensory qualities of materials and processes. They learn about the role of art, craft and design in their environment.
Each classroom has an interactive whiteboard and access to two sets of laptops. Other computing equipment includes programmable floor robots, CD players, video recorders and digital cameras. Computing skills are taught and used throughout the curriculum. Pupils explore computing and learn to use it confidently and with purpose to achieve specific outcomes. Children use the internet for educational research and we ask all parents to read our policy for E-safety and sign a permission slip for their child.
Physical Education (PE)
Pupils develop their skills in movement and coordination and enjoy expressing and testing themselves in a variety of situations. They enjoy communicating, collaborating and competing with each other. Year 3 & 4 have blocks of swimming lessons at the Berkhamsted Sports Centre throughout the year, funded by Northchurch Parish Council. St Mary’s has excellent outdoor space for teaching and learning PE.
Pupils listen carefully and respond physically to a wide range of music. They play musical instruments and sing a variety of songs from memory, adding accompaniments and creating compositions. Year 3 learn to play the recorder and Year 5 & 6 learn the ukulele. Instrumental tuition is offered in the guitar, piano and violin. Children perform to the school and wider community and some children take part in local schools’ music events.
Modern Foreign Language
Our modern foreign language is French and is taught to all pupils in Key Stage 2. Children learn simple phrases and vocabulary. A French assembly is held in the summer term for pupils to show off their skills.
Sex and Relationships Education (SRE)
SRE is not covered as a separate subject, but is integrated into the curriculum, focusing on self-respect and positive relationships in all year groups. In Years 5 & 6 pupils learn about the changes their bodies are going through and reflect upon their relationships in positive ways.
Religious Education (RE)
As a Church of England school, RE is incorporated throughout the curriculum and the ethos of the school through the promotion of Christian values. In RE pupils explore Christianity and other principal religions. They learn about different beliefs about God and the world around them. Pupils encounter and respond to a range of stories, artefacts and other religious materials and learn to recognise that beliefs are expressed in a variety of ways, as well as beginning to use specialist vocabulary. Pupils will understand the importance and value of religion and belief, especially for themselves, other children and their families. Pupils ask relevant questions and develop a sense of awe and wonder about the world, using their imaginations. They talk about what is important to them and others, valuing themselves, reflecting on their own feelings and experiences and developing a sense of belonging. We hold daily acts of worship and children are taught Christian values through Bible stories and discussion. Parents have the right to withdraw their children from Religious Education and Collective Worship if they wish. To do so, a meeting with the Headteacher and Chair of Governors must be arranged.
Personal Social and Health Education (PSHE)
Pupils learn about themselves as developing individuals and as members of their communities. They learn the basic rules and skills for keeping themselves healthy and safe and for behaving well. They have opportunities to show they can take some responsibility for themselves and their environment. Pupils will begin to learn about their own and other people’s feelings and become aware of the views, needs and rights of other children and older people. As members of a class and school community, they learn social skills, such as how to share, take turns, play, help others, resolve simple arguments and resist bullying. They begin to take an active part in the life of their school and its neighbourhood. Social Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) materials are used to support the delivery of PSHE and focus on emotional connections to learning.
Throughout their time at St Mary’s all children have many opportunities to go on class visits, which extend their learning. Outside organisations also visit the school often. Recent visits include Whipsnade Zoo, the Roald Dahl Museum and St Albans Cathedral. The cost of these outings is met through voluntary parental contributions (see charging policy). If parents have difficulties making contributions, the Headteacher would be pleased to talk to them in confidence. In Year 4 & 6 pupils are given the opportunity to attend short residential visits to develop self-confidence and independence, in preparation for transition to middle school.
Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (S.E.N.D.)
St Mary’s is an inclusive school and offers equal opportunities for all. Pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEND) or those who are Gifted and Talented are identified as early as possible. Early intervention, support and encouragement ensure pupils make appropriate progress. Pupils may be given an Individual Education Plan (IEP), with targets, which are discussed regularly with parents and pupils. Our Special Educational Needs Disability Co-ordinator (SENDCo) assists class teachers in identifying needs and developing provision and strategies for individual pupils. We regularly seek help and advice through working in partnership with outside agencies.
The school has access to outside agencies such as the Educational Psychologist and the Westfield School Specific Learning Difficulties base, which offers support to all schools in Berkhamsted. Gifted pupils are provided with encouragement, stimulation and challenge to ensure that they progress and reach their full potential.
Forest schools is designed to promote confidence, self-esteem and independence in children of all ages, regardless of ability. At the same time, we have a lot of fun together! Our Forest School site is in the wild area next to the school field. The programme does differ according to the changing seasons and weather but we aim to get outside whether wearing hats and suncream or jumpers and coats! Activities include:
- Bushcraft skills – lighting fires, building shelters, cooking over the open fire
- Arts and crafts – using woodland materials to make things
- Natural World Knowledge – investigating habitats, creating homes for wildlife etc
- Trails and maps
We want every child at St Mary’s to have an opportunity to experience Forest School. At the moment, we are delivering sessions to all year groups.