Our curriculum is designed to ensure all pupils leave Vale School at the end of Year 6 as:
- Have enquiring minds and are creative, resourceful and able to identify and solve problems
- Have the essential learning skills of literacy, numeracy & IT
- Communicate and collaborate well
- Enjoy learning and are motivated to achieve the best they can now and in the future
- Have a sense of self-worth and personal identity
- Become increasingly independent, are able to take the initiative and organise themselves
- Make healthy lifestyle choices
- Take managed risks and stay safe
- Recognise their talents and have ambition
- Are willing to try new things and make the most of opportunities
- Respect others, act with integrity and distinguish right from wrong
- Understand cultures and traditions, and have a strong sense of their own place in the world
- Challenge injustice and are committed to human rights
- Sustain and improve the environment locally and globally
We aim to:
- enable children to be motivated, effective and independent lifelong learners
- provide an environment which caters for the needs and talents of the individual child, nurturing their all-round development and enabling them to play a positive role in the wider community.
- provide a stimulating and enjoyable curriculum which is broad, balanced and relevant, which shows progression and continuity.
This is achieved by Valuing All Learners Equally
We recognise the importance of knowledge acquisition as a key driver in raising attainment for all pupils, especially pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. Therefore, we have designed a curriculum that identifies the knowledge pupils should acquire in each year, whilst also recognising the importance of developing pupils’ skills, understanding and attitudes. E.D. Hirsh said,
“Breadth of knowledge is the single factor within human control that contributes most to academic achievement and general cognitive competence. Breadth of knowledge is a far greater factor in achievement than socioeconomic status. Imparting broad knowledge to all children is the single most effective way to narrow the gap between demographic groups through schooling.”
Our intention is that by enabling pupils to become successful learners (acquiring the knowledge, skills, vocabulary and understanding required), they will in turn become confident individuals (who have a positive personal identity), resulting in them becoming responsible citizens.
At Vale School we recognise that everything we do, say and model impacts our pupils and therefore forms part of our holistic curriculum. At the core of our curriculum is the desire to see all pupils become successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens, as well as young people who demonstrate in thought, word and deed our values.
We are honest & true.
We aim to go beyond our best.
We appreciate others, what we have and the world around us.
We respect adults and celebrate our differences
More can be achieved together than on our own.
The National Curriculum is used as the foundation for the teaching of subjects, but we recognise that other opportunities children experience have a significant impact on their development. Therefore, we seek to provide varied experiences, activities and events to supplement and enhance the more traditional subjects studied at school. Here are a few examples:
Before and After School clubs and activities (Sport, Cultural, Academic)
Visits and Visitors for each Year Group (e.g... Mary Rose, Theatre Companies)
Local Visits (Cisbury, South Downs, Coast)
Residential trip in Year 6
Special Days and Weeks (e.g.. In Your Shoes Week – Focus on disabilities)
Singing together weekly as a whole school (developing a sense of community)
Swimming in Year 4
Learning a musical instrument (All children learning recorder in Year 3 & 5, with opportunities to learn other instruments)
Food Technology – 12 sessions a year, culminating in Year 6 running a cafe
Production and Concerts (All year groups have opportunity to perform every year)
Behaviour Plan that has clear rules, rewards, consequences and as its focus:
“Catch them being good.”
School Council, providing opportunities for pupils to develop as Responsible Citizens
We seek to use our local environment and history as a stimulus for learning, including our close proximity to the South Downs National Park, and ancient hill fort, windmill, beach, places of worship and our local shopping precinct.
The teaching of Reading, resulting in pupils becoming confident readers who enjoy a wide range of texts. is a major priority throughout the school. The children’s journey to becoming fluent, proficient readers starts in our Early Years and Year 1 where we use the Read, Write Inc. programme of phonics teaching. We heavily invest resources and adults into these initial years at school to ensure all pupils, no matter their starting point, make rapid progress in becoming an independent reader. Pupils then progress to more challenging texts and teachers use a wide range of teaching strategies to challenge all pupils to make progress, whilst retaining an enjoyment and love of books. Teachers use whole class texts (alongside the children’s individual reading) as the basis for much of their teaching to ensure all pupils are exposed to good quality texts and vocabulary. We recognise the importance of developing good reading habits at home and encourage parents to take an active role in helping their child develop the knowledge and skills to become a competent reader.
As a school we recognise that the skill of reading is essential for children to access the wider curriculum and to prepare them for secondary education. therefore, in all year groups, Reading and the teaching of Reading remains a strong priority across all subjects. We provide children and parents with a list of 100 recommended books across 2 years (Key Stage 1, Lower Key Stage 2, Upper Key Stage 2) and encourage the children to read from this list as it guarantees quality, progression and a wide range of genre.
Our intention within the Mathematics curriculum is for all pupils to attain the knowledge, skills and understanding to be able to reason and problem solve both within Maths and across other subjects. We recognise that for children to be able to achieve this, they need to develop fluency and confidence across all aspects of mathematics, particularly with number, place value, and quick recall of number facts (like number bonds and times tables).
We also focus on developing the children’s formal written methods for calculations alongside more practical exploration of maths through concrete and pictoral representations of their thinking.
As a school we have identified, for each curriculum subject, the key concepts, skills and vocabulary we expect all pupils to learn and understand. Pupils prior learning is also listed in each unit plan to ensure teachers know what has been taught in previous years and how the new learning builds and links to this previous work. Understanding pupils’ possible misconceptions about the theme being studied is also an important consideration that teachers must make to ensure, where at all possible, misconceptions are not allowed to form in a child’s grasp of a concept, knowledge, understanding or skill.
To ensure progression, teachers have made sure there is continuity, progression and challenge in each unit plan, with knowledge, skills, and understanding developing year on year.
We recognise the importance of revisiting concepts and knowledge regularly and use a wide range of strategies to accomplish this:
- Quizzes – repeated retrieval improves long-term retention. In 2013, five cognitive scientists [Dunlosky, Rawson, Marsh, Nathan & Willingham] collated hundreds of studies looking at memory retention and showed that practice testing is the most successful tool for improving retention and learning than other techniques.
- Low-Stakes Testing – Retrieval practice has many benefits for memory and motivation. It:
- Improves long-term retention
- Identifies gaps in knowledge
- Causes pupils to learn more from the next unit of work
- Produces better organisation of knowledge
- Improves transfer of knowledge to new concepts
- Provides feedback to teachers
- Encourages pupils to study
- Vocabulary – identifying, using, and in many cases, pre-teaching key vocabulary supports understanding. Word-poor pupils are at a significant disadvantage to pupils who are word-rich. Therefore, we select class texts that provide pupils with more complex and challenging content to widen their vocabulary knowledge. Using subject specific vocabulary by teachers and pupils in all lessons is also expected from Early Years to year 6.
- Reading – Reading quality texts is key in improving vocabulary learning. We provide pupils and parents with a list of 100 books that we encourage them to read over a 2 year period (KS1, Years 3&4, and Years 5&6). These books offer a range of genre, styles and topics, but are all selected for the impact they will have on increasing a child’s knowledge of literature and to aid them on the journey of becoming word-rich.
- Knowledge Organisers – These are single A4 sheets that contain the key knowledge, vocabulary, etc. that pupils need to acquire to be a successful learner in a particular unit of work. Year groups build on previous organisers to further extend children’s grasp of a subject.
- Re-visiting themes - units within a key stage are revisited to secure understanding and to embed learning.
As a school, we follow the National Curriculum 2014. The requirements for each subject within each Key Stage are grouped together, where applicable under a Theme heading. This theme is often underpinned by a core text and subjects that naturally link together are taught within the theme. Other subjects, that don’t easily fit the theme, are taught discretely.
We believe that for young children to thrive at school, they need to develop a positive, strong relationship with their class teacher. Therefore, in all year groups, the class teacher teaches their class for the majority of the time (including English and Maths). As pupils progress through the school, year teams play to their strengths so that all 3 classes are taught by one teacher for a subject they specialise in e.g.. Spanish. Subject specialists are used to ensure high quality provision is offered to all in the following subjects: PE, Art, Food-Technology & Music.
In Phonics (Year 1) we do group the children according to their ability to ensure the texts they are reading are decodable by the child and that they get challenged appropriately whilst also having success. In Maths all classes (except Year 6) are taught in mixed ability classes. In Year 6 we set the 90 children across 4 ability sets.
During the year and across subjects, teachers will make decisions to ability group pupils for a limited time for a specific activity, lesson or intervention, but our priority is to keep the class together as much as possible across all lessons.
Our teaching of the curriculum is based on 6 pedagogical principles: Challenge, Explanation, Modelling, Deliberate Practice, Questioning, Feedback. These principles are taken from “Making Every Primary Lesson Count.” (Jo Payne & Mel Scott – Written by a previous and current teacher at Vale School)
- Concise learning objectives, success criteria and feedback are used to provide challenge for all
- Children are expected to develop their knowledge and skills during lessons
- Formal, subject specific, academic language is modelled by teachers and expected from children
- The expectation is high for all children
- Appropriate support and scaffolding are in place to enable all children to achieve expected outcomes
- Examples of excellence are shared, discussed and deconstructed with the class
- A Growth Mindset will be developed in all children.
- Teacher’s Subject knowledge is essential.
- Children are encouraged to visit the ‘struggle zone’
- Children’s prior knowledge is used to ‘hook into’ new knowledge
- focus on key learning points, success criteria and subject specific knowledge
- are made concrete and credible (demonstration, visual images/video, practical) using stories and emotion where applicable
- generate curiosity and identify children’s gaps in learning
- are clear and concise.
- are used to identify and address common misconceptions
- All learning is carefully modelled
- Examples of work are shared and deconstructed. “This is great because….” “This needs improving because…”
- Children are introduced to subject specific vocabulary
- High quality language is used when modelling
- Modelling is scaffolded to maximise the learning for all children
- Questioning is used to check understanding
- A three step progression is used when modelling:
I do; you help
You do; I help
You do together
You do independently
The teacher demonstrates the learning
The teacher works with guidance from the pupils.
Pupils work with guidance from the teacher.
Pupils work in pairs or small groups.
Pupils work on their own.
- Practice makes permanent
- Children are given time to practise new knowledge and skills
- The teacher identifies mistakes, intervenes when necessary and so ensures that practice is perfect
- Mistakes are used as a key aspect of learning
- Scaffolding and support are removed when appropriate
- Key skills and knowledge are practised regularly to improve retention
- Homework, IT, Knowledge Organisers and Pop Quizzes are used to support deliberate practice.
To support our view that deliberate practice is important, every week all children in KS1 & 2 receive a Deliberate Practice and Computing session, led by a designated member of staff. During this time, class teachers are released to work with individuals and small groups to revisit previous learning or deal with identified misconceptions .
- Questioning both deepens and develops thinking and checks for common misconceptions
- The teacher develops children’s responses by asking more complex follow-up questions
- Insufficient responses are expanded by further questioning
- Children answer in full sentences when appropriate
- Children respond to each other’s contributions in lessons
- Children ask questions, and seek clarification if they are unsure
- The reward for right answers is deeper questioning
- We have a “no opt out” policy. If a child doesn’t know:
- Ask another child, then return to the original child to repeat the answer.
- Give a couple of options from which they can choose
- Give them the answer and ask them to explain why it is correct
- Give children time to think before they answer.
- Use Talk Partners to Think-Pair-Share
- Cold Call, so you can target specific children and show you want to hear what they have to say.
- Use a variety of ways to randomly select pupils ( no-hands approach; lolly sticks)
- Closed and open questions are used to elicit knowledge and deepen understanding.
- Children give feedback to their peers and teachers
- Feedback is timed right so that children have enough ‘struggle time’ before being supported
- Children know what they have to do to achieve
- Children understand and reflect on the feedback given by the teacher. They respond when appropriate.
- Teaching is flexible, based on the feedback from the performance of children
- Self-assessment strategies such as proof-reading, editing and redrafting are used to aid children’s thinking and learning
- Feedback is:
- effective when it is timely, (not too late after the task), frequent and acted on (not ignored).
- used to identify the ‘learning gaps’ of individuals.
- specific and clearly focused on learning.
- focused on what children are getting right – so they can continue to do so.
- not an add on. It is an ongoing and essential part of excellent pedagogy, used to deepen learning and improve teaching.
- Feedback will be different for different subjects.
- Feedback should encourage pupils to aspire to excellence.
- Feedback should be high impact but manageable and sustainable for staff.
Planning starts at the whole school level. Our Whole School Curriculum Document shows, by subject, the objectives taught in each year group. Our Curriculum Overview shows how these objectives are taught in each year group across each half term.
Unit Plans are then used to ensure all teachers deliver the core content, building on children’s prior knowledge. These plans include:
- National Curriculum requirements (Learning Objectives)
- Prior Knowledge – What has been studied in previous years
- Key Concepts, Vocabulary and Skills – using common language across the school.
- Content of lessons
- How learning is going to be checked
- Knowledge Organiser – To assist both teachers and pupils in identifying the key knowledge etc. to be taught.
English is taught in mixed ability classes using Curriculum Themes or Core Texts as a stimulus for the curriculum. We aim to improve all children’s knowledge of vocabulary, enabling them to become word-rich. Therefore, we have a strong focus on identifying, teaching and assessing children’s acquisition of new vocabulary.
Read Write Inc. is used to teach phonics and spelling.
To encourage pupils to read a wide range of genre and authors we provide them and their parents with suggested reading lists: 100 books for KS1, Lower KS2 and Upper KS2. This ensures pupils do not get stuck reading one author. It also ensures they are challenged to read classics and other genre they would not normally chose.
Class texts are selected to further extend children’s reading skills, comprehension and vocabulary acquisition. Teaching Reading as a whole class activity also ensures all pupils (whatever starting point) access good quality texts.
Writing is divided into 4 purposes which are taught at an age appropriate time during KS1 & 2.
A continuous cursive handwriting script is taught from the beginning of Early Years, and all year groups have high expectations that pupils will produce neat, legible handwriting.
To ensure pupils are taught, and can demonstrate mastery of the writing curriculum assessment tracking sheets are used similar to the end of Key Stage writing assessment sheets.
We use “Inspire Maths” (Oxford University Press) as our core textbook for teaching Mathematics. This is based on the Singapore Curriculum and has a strong focus on developing children’s confidence in Maths through the use of the Concrete, Pictorial, Abstract model. Opportunity to use concrete equipment, represent their thinking using images (particularly bar model), before moving to the abstract helps ensure misconceptions are less likely to form.
Times tables are initially taught through skip counting and using songs. We aim for all pupils to know all of their times tables facts (up to 12 x 12 and 144 ÷ 12) by the end of Year 4. With Deliberate Practice as one of our key principles, we use IT as a tool to help pupils learn their key number facts and review learning in Maths.
- Systems: A system is a collection of parts that work together and influence each other. E.g.. Solar System, Digestive System.
- Cycles: A cycle is a series of connected events that repeats. E.g.. Life Cycle, Water Cycle
- Constancy: States that do not change. E.g.. Equilibrium
- Change: Reversible or irreversible change. E.g.. Rust forming, Water becoming ice
Skills: Asking questions; Planning enquiries; Identifying & Classifying; Performing tests; Using equipment; Observing & Measuring; Gathering & Recording data; Reporting, Presenting & Communicating data/findings.
- Line: A mark on a surface
- Space: Area inside or between shapes
- Shape: Formed by a line or when lines cross to make an enclosed space
- Form: a 3-dimensional shape
- Texture: How an object feels when touched
- Value: The range of darkness and light
- Colour: Spectrum of light
Skills: Drawing; Painting; Printing; Constructing; Observing; Analysing
- Program: Sequence of instructions
- Communication: Sharing information
- Data: Information stored or used by a computer
- Algorithm: A method to solve a problem
Skills: Modelling; Programming; Design; Test; Debug
- Design: Plan what is required to meet brief
- Make: Develop range of skills to construct designs
- Evaluate: Look at existing products and own creations - assess strengths and weaknesses.
- Technical Knowledge: To know specific knowledge for area of study. E.g.. Food tech
- Place: Part of earth’s surface
- Environment: Living and non-living surroundings
- Interconnection: Everything is connected by physical process or human
- Sustainability: Something remaining into the future
- Scale: Ranging from personal to global
- Change: Physical and Human change over time
Skills: Map skills; Field work; Comparing & Contrasting; Analyse; Cause & Effect
- Perspectives: Different points of view
- Cause & Effect: Why something happened and what the consequences have been
- Empathy: Ability to walk in someone else’s shoes
- Evidence: Primary and Secondary sources
- Continuity & Change: What has changed and what has stayed the same
- Impact: What effects did the event have on people at the time and into the future.
Skills: Observing; Questioning; Recording; Communicating; Concluding; Researching; Analysis; Reflecting; Responding
- Listening & Comprehension: Able to listen and understand others
- Speaking: Able to communicate in spoken for
- Reading & Comprehension: Able to read and understand
- Writing: Able to communicate in written form
- Duration: Length of a sound
- Pitch: How high or low a sound is
- Dynamics: How loud or quiet a sound is
- Tone Colour: Sound characteristics of an instrument or voice
- Texture: How sounds are combined
- Structure: How sections of music are put together
Skills: Perform, Compose, Listen
- Activity: body movement produced by muscles
- Exercise: Planned, Purposeful activities you do that improve fitness
- Fitness: General well-being of body for daily living
- Health: Overall physical, mental and social well-being
Skills: Co-ordination, flexibility, balance, muscular power, muscular endurance, throwing, catching, kicking, hitting, tactics within a game
- Identity: Personal qualities, attitudes, skills, attributes and achievements
- Relationships: Who they relate to and the different types of relationships
- Healthy Balanced Lifestyle: Exercise, rest, diet,
- Risk: Managed safely, not avoided
- Diversity & Equality: Respecting differences and treating all equally
- Rights, Responsibility: I have rights, but these come with responsibilities as a citizen.
- Consent: Giving permission to others in different contexts
- Change & Resilience: Recognise when change can be managed and when it cannot. Develop skills, strategies and “inner resources” to face change
- Power: How it is used – persuasion, bullying, negotiation
Skills: Self-reflection, learning from experience, making decisions, self-management, Resilience, Self-regulation, Self-organisation, Listening, Empathy, Enquiry
- Identity: How faith provides a sense of identity within a religious framework
- God: Deity that is worshipped
- Worship: Giving something or someone all honour, focus
- Community: A group with shared interests or beliefs
Skills: Enquire, Contextualise, Evaluate, Communicate
Leaders review the implementation of our curriculum through a wide range of monitoring activities. These include:
Scrutiny of children’s work
Interviews with pupils
Review meetings with Year Leaders
Reports to Governing Body
To ensure all teachers are developing their subject knowledge, and understanding of pedagogy, they receive dedicated CPD time to explore a particular aspect of their own practice. This will include:
Reading educational research and publications
Observing other teachers
Videoing their own teaching
Reflecting on their practice
Presenting findings to the teaching team
To ensure progression in each year group and subject, our Unit Plans include prior learning and clear expectations about skills, vocabulary and knowledge to be acquired by pupils. To ensure pupils make appropriate progress, examples of work that meet the expected standard are used to support teachers’ judgments and assessments.
The impact of our curriculum is measured in the following ways:
- Assessment Information
- Feedback from Parents
- Feedback from local Secondary Schools
We use assessment information to:
- Monitor and record the attainment and progress of individuals, groups and cohorts.
- Use attainment and progress information to guide teachers’ planning, strategies and use of resources and plan intervention.
- Inform parents and the Governing Body about progress and attainment.
- Ensure a consistent approach to measure progress towards and against national standards.
- Enable pupils to reflect on their own progress, understand their strengths and identify what they need to do to improve.
This enables us to measure the impact of our curriculum and to evaluate if we have achieved our goal of producing successful learners, when they leave the school at the end of Key Stage 2.
Forms of Assessment
In-school Formative Assessment This is the ongoing, day-to-day assessment carried out by teachers and other staff. It is key to effective classroom practice. Formative assessment is used by teachers to inform planning, resources and support in order for all children to progress. At Vale School, pupils and teachers carry out ‘Assessment for Learning’ activities which identify any gaps between where a child currently is in their learning, and where they need to be.
Children learn best when:
- they understand clearly what they are trying to learn, and what is expected of them
- they are given feedback (by word of mouth, marking etc.) about the quality of their work
- they are given advice about how to make improvements
Teachers use ‘learning objectives’ and ‘success criteria’ in the classroom which are designed to allow the children to understand what they are learning and how they can achieve success in every task.
These success criteria are not a simple fix-it list, but aspects of the task the child needs to focus on. When providing feedback on children’s work, the teacher will refer back to the Learning Objective of the lesson, the success criteria and sometimes to a specific target a child might be working on. Engaging children in their own learning process using Assessment for Learning is also a key factor in raising children’s attainment. The children are encouraged to assess their own work against the success criteria and also collaborate with a partner to improve their work.
In-School Summative Assessment Children are assessed periodically and attainment data is recorded and analysed. A range of materials are used to support teachers with accurate teacher assessment judgements. These assessments are carried out throughout the year and are used to monitor the performance of individuals, groups and cohorts as well as identifying gaps and next steps for planning.
Materials we use:
- PUMA (Maths) & PIRA (Reading) tests each term
- RWI Phonic Assessments each term
- End of topic or unit tests/tasks
- Weekly quizzes and tests including knowledge organisers
- IT software programs
Nationally Standardised Summative Assessment
At key points, children are assessed against national expectations. These are:
- End of EYFS
- End of Year 1 (Phonics Screening)
- End of KS1 (Year 2 SATs & Phonics Screening)
- End of KS2 (Year 6 SATs)
The impact on our pupils’ outcomes at these national assessments demonstrates that academically children are reaching expectations in line with their peers, and at the end of Key Stage 2, they are reaching higher standards than their peers nationally.
For details of assessment information for 2017 follow this link.
Non Academic Curriculum Impact on Pupils
This is measured through our monitoring program which identifies the impact our holistic curriculum is having on pupils:
- Presentation in books
- Wearing of uniform
- Attitude towards our values, including equality and diversity
Through this monitoring we can evaluate if our curriculum is resulting in pupils becoming successful learners, confident individuals & responsible citizens.
Parent Feedback through our yearly survey provides us with essential information about the impact our curriculum is having in developing pupils holistically, including their academic success.
A significant measure of the impact of our curriculum on pupils’ holistic development is through feedback we receive from the feeder secondary schools. Each year we receive extremely positive feedback from staff at the local secondary schools about our pupils, their readiness for secondary education, behaviour, attitude to learning and academic success. This demonstrates that pupils leaving Vale School at the end of Year 6 truly have become successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens, demonstrating through their conduct, that our values and wider curricular provision have had a significantly positive impact on them as learners and young people.