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Curriculum overview

Intent

At Welwyn St Mary’s we use the term ‘curriculum’ in the widest and richest sense to include all that takes place within our school, whether planned or unplanned.  We include the impact that our ethos and Christian foundation has on the development of the whole community

Our approach to learning is based on ‘Believe and Achieve’ and founded on the biblical teaching in Matthew 19.  Our shared commitment to serve, support, enable and develop within the knowledge of Christ’s love ensures that all understand the role and purpose of Christian values in everyday living.  Through actively living these values, pupils can see and experience how to be happy and successful individuals as part of our community and the wider world.

Our broad curriculum is devised so that all pupils can thrive, develop skill and passion and grow in self-belief.  We have a strong commitment to equal opportunities, providing the best possible chance for pupils to thrive and to engage in learning both within and beyond the classroom. We firmly believe that learning is for all and a lifelong privilege and joy.  Our learning experiences aim to nurture the whole person – head, heart and hand – equipping pupils with knowledge, understanding and skills.

Implementation

Our broad curriculum builds on the skills learned and developed through the core subjects.  National curriculum requirements are met in all areas of learning as a minimum and enhanced through local links and studies, specialist teaching and opportunities to learn through first-hand experience.  Learning is structured so that meaningful connections are made within and across subject areas and a ‘spiral’ approach embeds and deepens understanding and the ability to apply.

Each subject is led by our subject leaders who, in conjunction with others, devise and then revise and monitor our provision.  For example, maths is taught using the ‘Essentials’ teaching strategies developed by Hertfordshire County.  This is designed to develop a concrete and pictorial approach to learning to secure a conceptual development of number.  History and geography draw upon the rich historical heritage found in our local area and more widely in London.  Physical education is given a high profile both within and beyond the timetable and our valuable links with Monks Walk School allow us to offer a huge range of sporting opportunities and experiences. Music is a key part of everyday school life enhancing worship, exercise and activity through dance and gymnastics.  In addition to class based learning we have a team of specialist instrumental teachers and our extra-curricular opportunities are high quality, wide ranging and made available to everyone through financial support where needed.

Formative assessment of attainment and progress is part of daily classroom practice informing next steps and identifying where additional provision is needed.  A clear progression of knowledge and skills forms part of the planning for each curriculum area and this, alongside the national assessment frameworks for all phases, provides the detail and structure for assessment.

Early Years

At Welwyn St. Mary’s, we work closely with all our nursery providers to ensure that transition is smooth and effective.  We have a team of staff who work together within the EYFS, planning together, sharing and moderating assessments and distributing resources across the two classes to maximise the impact for the pupils for example, by grouping across both classes for phonics teaching. Emphasis is placed on the rapid and early acquisition of phonic skills and on the direct teaching of reading by teachers with small groups or individuals. The children have open access to an excellent outdoor learning environment which enhances curriculum provision.

Strong and positive links with families at this formative stage in school life are really important to us and we engage with families in many ways including reading meetings, curriculum workshops, weekly letters and reading records.  We have an open door approach and in addition to this provide written reports on individual pupils at three key points during the year.

Key Stage 1

Our key stage one curriculum design concentrates on embedding and mastering basic skills, the development of a sense of self determination and personal responsibility and the foundation of subject knowledge. The curriculum is focussed on English and maths, with an emphasis on using first-hand experience to engage, enhance and secure understanding.  The use of manipulatives in maths ensures that concrete understanding underpins concept building and leads to fluency and mastery. The curriculum is broad and balanced and encourages pupils to develop interests in specific subject areas such as history or science. Each term for each year group includes a visit or visitor which brings a subject area to life and engages our pupils with real experiences.  As children mature through the key stage they are given opportunities to lead beyond the classroom; Year 2 pupils lead the Christmas production, take their place on the school council and take and increasingly active part in wider school life.  Key stage one has a superb outdoor play area which further enhances physical and social development.

Key Stage 2

During key stage two we recognise that the child is emerging into a young person who can take responsibility both for their actions as an individual and as a learner. We enable our learners to become self-directing through opportunities to edit their own work, identify their next steps whilst listening to guidance and striving for the highest standards.  Growing independence, self-motivation and an understanding of how to stay safe are crucial skills needed for the next stage of school life in key stage 3. We offer musical, sporting, public speaking and leadership opportunities to foster confidence and self-belief and a residential experience during year 6 full of challenge, teamwork and fun.  Home learning increases throughout the key stage to develop study skills and independence.  Many pupils pursue interests beyond the classroom in music, sport, programming and construction.  There are many opportunities to lead – in drama productions, on School Council or Green Group or in a team – and all of these enable pupils to develop in self-confidence, skill and knowledge. As the demands upon the children increase we aim to build resilience and stamina in the amount and quantity of work produced and their expectation of accuracy. We do spend time in Year Six preparing children for their SATs but the year is also rich in experiences and opportunities.

Impact

The impact of our curriculum is that the vast majority of pupils leave Welwyn St. Mary’s equipped for the next stage in their lives with skills and knowledge at least in line with national curriculum expectations in core subjects and across a range of foundation subjects.   Opportunities to learn through direct experience will have added depth and richness of their understanding.  Pupils will have worked and learned in a huge range of teams and groups, all will have learnt a musical instrument at least to a rudimentary level, most will be able to swim at least 25m, ride a bike safely and have a basic knowledge of road safety.  Everyone will have performed on a stage, learned the foundations for speaking French and heard and considered the views of others from around the world.  Pupils will have learnt about and cared for their environment within the Nature Reserve and beyond, some will have initiated charitable projects dear to their hearts and everyone will have been challenged by outdoor adventures and participated in a business project.  All will have had the opportunity to lead and use their voice to shape the school community; acting as representatives, advocates, games leaders and organisers, as part of the worship team or as peer mediators.  Crucially, they will know they are part of the fabric of Welwyn St Mary’s, are cherished, valued and belong in our school family and, as they move on, will carry with them the Christian values in their own lives, understanding how they can live positively in and contribute to the wider community.

Curriculum maps

Termly leaflets