• Be challenging and dynamic
• Ensure that children are secure and confident
• Build on what children already know and extend and enrich their interests
• Contain varied approaches and teaching methods
• Encourage children to think and learn for themselves
• Be dependent on teachers, pupils and parents working together
• Be respectful of cultural differences and abilities of all children
• Recognise feelings and involve other people
The Curriculum in primary school divides pupils into three groups known as Key Stages. Foundation Stage relates to the entry year ages. Key Stage 1 covers infant Years 1 and 2, pupils aged 5-7. Key Stage 2 covers the junior age band 7 -11, Years 3, 4, 5, 6. The National Curriculum provides programmes of study and arrangements for assessments in all subjects.
Information & Communication Technology
Modern Foreign Language: French
Personal, Health, Social & Citizenship Education (PHSCE)
This does not mean that the timetable has been wholly divided into separate subjects. As in all good primary schools, much of our work is cross-curricular and supports our thematic approach. The core and foundation subjects do not form the complete curriculum. We aim to give all children a broad and balanced education that seeks, above all, to treat each child as an individual and to prepare them for life.
We believe that children should be taught the skills and knowledge that give them an understanding of their world and equip them for later life. We focus on key subject and learning skills and are careful to ensure that knowledge taught is relevant and useful.
Religious Education encompasses every aspect of school life, contributing to the ethos of the school and affecting relationships with, and attitudes towards, others. Whilst the majority of the content of Religious Education is Christian, the children are helped to become aware of, and respect, other beliefs and faiths.
The aim is to develop a strong foundation of literacy skills that can be transferred to other subjects and areas of life.
Speaking and Listening
Listening and talking are important parts of a child’s language development and these skills are encouraged through stories read by the teacher or other pupils, class and group discussions, mime, drama, taking part in school assemblies and group presentations.
Reading is taught carefully and systematically. We teach the children to read using 'Letters and Sounds', a phonic approach, alongside exposure to real books and texts. The children are able to choose from a wide variety of books, which help them to develop the skills and enjoyment needed to read fluently and with understanding. We recommend that children should read at home, every night. In the early stages of reading your child will bring home books with only a few words. The object is for parents to share the book and discuss the illustrations, thus increasing vocabulary and developing a sense of story and understanding. Further help and guidance is given to new parents in our Starting to Read booklet. It is worth noting that reading is not just from books, but from a wide variety of other sources.
With an older child or fluent reader, this sharing of books is very important. Older children still enjoy being read to and having the opportunity to read to a parent. Every effort should be made for children to join the local library. The use of the reference section should also be encouraged.
The school libraries are well stocked with a wide range of books for children of all ages. At St Mary’s we teach our children to respect and value books. They learn that books are for information and enjoyment.
Children are encouraged to express themselves for a variety of purposes using different styles. Handwriting is one part of the curriculum and is practised regularly by all children. A cursive script (joined up writing) is used from Foundation stage through to Year 6.
Writing develops across all curriculum areas. Children write on a wide range of topics both imaginative and factual, either by hand, by using a word processor, or in the early stages dictating to an adult. They are encouraged to discuss ideas and to communicate clearly with others in both speech and writing. Phonics and spelling are also taught in a systematic manner. We encourage our children to use a multi-sensory approach: Look, Cover, Write, Say and Check.
A large part of mathematical work is practical or of an investigative and problem solving nature as this helps children to understand mathematical ideas and thinking. Children are introduced to a wide variety of mathematical concepts and experiences through a range of teacher produced materials supported by externally produced schemes of work eg the Abacus scheme.
Number work is regarded as important and is linked with measurement, shape and graphical representation. We seek to provide an environment that will kindle a lively interest in all areas of the subject and which will lead each child to understand basic mathematical structures and content, thus laying a firm foundation for further maths work and progress.
Mental maths is a large part of the daily Numeracy Lesson. Number bonds and tables are taught at the appropriate stage of each child’s development. Reinforcement of tables – played on occasions as a game – is encouraged as part of homework.
The teaching of science provides an opportunity for the children to develop an interest in and enthusiasm for the living world: to explore the local environment using skills and techniques appropriate to their abilities.
Primary school science, especially in the early years, is concerned with the development of skills, processes, observation and perception. To support this, the children are actively involved in a wide range of practical activities.
The school has banks of laptops and computers are linked to interactive white boards in each classroom. All machines in the school are linked to a firewalled (protected) internet access. Classes are timetabled for sessions, both to learn new skills and to use as a tool to enhance their learning in any other subject. At other times children work as groups or individuals to carry out research or use software specific to their learning.
History and Geography
History and geography are taught using themes that stretch over a term. This allows children to look at a broad area of information supported by in-depth study of specific aspects. Teachers help pupils develop their natural curiosity, encourage logical thought and an ability to evaluate work critically.
Children are introduced to reference books and other research materials. Study skills and organisation techniques are developed. Older children are taught to plan their work carefully and present it in a variety of ways.
Through design technology children learn to plan, test and evaluate ideas. They handle a range of materials and learn to use tools appropriate to their age and development. Safety codes are strictly adhered to.
Food technology is an important aspect of this subject and children are taught the rules of hygiene as part of the subject.
All children have regular teaching of French; junior children through formal lessons of up to an hour; infants in shorter sessions.
All children participate in musical activities that include performing, creating and listening to music. Activities take place in small groups, class groups and as part of whole school assemblies and stage performances. Instrumental tuition is available for individuals. Charges are made for tuition fees (details from the school office.)
Children’s skills and knowledge of art are enhanced and developed as they move through the school. They are taught the elements of art and how to use a wide range of media. Children are given the opportunity to study the work of a range of artists and to learn how their styles and techniques differ.
This can be divided into the following headings and all children are taught these areas, sometimes in ‘discreet’ lessons, at other times through other subjects: healthy lifestyles, keeping safe, my relationships, growing and changing, making a positive contribution, my feelings, and medicines and drugs.
Philosophy for Children
P4C is developing across the school. It helps children to think deeply about their own ideas, listen to and challenge the views of others, and develop successful communication skills.
Values for Worship
The daily assembly is an important part of the school day for everyone. We take one ‘Value’ that is our theme for each half term and this is used in conjunction with aspects of the Christian and Church calendar.
On Monday, the Headteacher leads the school and on Tuesday we celebrate together by singing hymns. Wednesday is a time for individual class and Key Stage Assembly. On Thursday, the clergy welcome the pupils to St. Mary’s Church and every Friday a different class celebrates pupil achievements. The parents of these children are invited to attend these assemblies.
The main Christian festivals are also celebrated and special services are held in the Church at the end of each term. The children take an active part in all these services. The junior children have a Eucharist Service each term and some attend preparation for Confirmation, while the Infants celebrate Communion once in the Spring Term.
Assessment for Learning
Probably more important than the ‘summative’ assessment of learning though is on-going ‘formative’ daily assessment: this should ensure that teaching and learning is appropriately challenging. We try to involve children in their own learning, making the aims and expectations as explicit as possible. They should also be clear about their short term targets for a lesson (success criteria), as well as longer term goals.
Children are encouraged to evaluate their own and others work and look for ways to improve it. Throughout the year, all pupils, are engaged in the assessment process and encouraged to self-assess their own work. A simple traffic light system is one method of raising pupil awareness of target setting.
Standard Assessment Tests (SATs)
Pupils in Year 2 and Year 6 undertake SATs in the Summer term of each year. Results of Standard Assessment Tests at both the Key Stages and their National Comparative tables for the previous years are available on the website. Pupils consistently achieve outcomes well above the national averages at both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.
Sex and Relationships Education
At St Mary’s, we believe that sex education is only a part of a wider policy aimed at developing children’s Personal, Health, Social, and Citizenship education (PHSCE). The Governing Body has agreed that any specific formal sex education, which happens in Years 5 and 6, should always be preceded by consultation with parents. Classroom work often prompts discussions of an informal nature and a less specific kind, which serve as natural introductions to the subject. Relationships are discussed within a Christian context.
The monitoring and assessment of pupils’ work is a vital part of our work at St Mary’s. Over the year, all pupils are assessed in English, mathematics and science against the school's assessment indicators. Assessment is ongoing, based on the day-to-day work achieved in class and in assessment tests. At the end of each year, parents are informed in the child is either 'working towards the expected standard', 'working at the expected standard' or 'working at a greater depth within the expected standard'. The assessment indicators being used by the school are below.
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
The EYFS is made up of seven areas of Learning and Development. All areas of Learning and Development are connected to one another and are equally important. All areas of Learning and Development are underpinned by the principles of the EYFS.
The areas of Learning and Development are:
Personal, Social and Emotional Development
Communication and Language
Understanding the World
Expressive Arts and Design
Learning and Development
The seven areas of Learning and Development together make up the skills, knowledge and experiences appropriate for babies and children as they grow, learn and develop.
Although these are presented as separate areas, it is important to remember that for children everything links and nothing is compartmentalised.
Personal, social and emotional development
Self-confidence and self-awareness
Managing feelings and behaviour
Communication and language and literacy
Listening and attention
Moving and handling
Health and self care
Shape, space and measure
Understanding the world
People and communities
Expressive arts and design
Exploring and using media and materials
At St Mary’s we offer a wide range of extra- curricular activities designed to promote both excellence and social interaction. These activities take place during the lunch hour and before and after school hours and are organised by staff, parents and selected outside agencies.
Sporting Aims and Achievements
Our staff arrange a broad and rich variety of sporting activities for the children to participate in over the year within school time. Other opportunities arise through after school clubs and national competitions. Sporting opportunities include football, basketball, netball, cross country, swimming, athletics, rounders and cricket. At St Mary's we try to achieve a mix of 'sport for all' in addition to the competitive element that leagues and rallies offer. To support this we are part of the Top-sport programme. Added to this, all Year 3 children have weekly swimming lessons at Shenfield High School in the Summer term. Outward bound activities are encouraged through our residential field studies.
Music and Performance
At St Mary’s there is a strong tradition of music and performance. Pupils are offered a wide range of musical opportunities including a school choir, orchestra and recorder groups. Within school time a number of children undertake instruction in a variety of paid performance lessons: violin, keyboard, piano, guitar and voice. Regular concerts take place and pupils are encouraged to develop their creative talents. Please ask for more information about peripatetic teaching.
Pupils are encouraged to take part in art and creative writing competitions from time to time and the school always gains a high level of participation in the Essex Library Summer Reading Programme.
Essex Education Authority provides schools with regulations for the financial organisation and insurance aspects of visits. Sometimes it is more sensible to transport small groups of children in parents’ cars. When this happens, we ask the drivers concerned to confirm that they have suitable insurance cover and seat belts and child seats are fitted for all children being transported.
Throughout the year, a variety of visitors are invited to the school for special "themed days". For instance, the school has been transformed into Ancient Greece, Egypt and Jerusalem in the days running up to the crucifixion. Pupils have also experienced a Diwali day or have been inspired by visiting authors or poets.
As part of our aim to educate children about the world around them, developing tolerance and an understanding of people with different cultural, religious and socio-economic backgrounds, we are seeking to develop and extend links with other schools.
Pupils of all ages participate in field trips to support classroom topics and other extra-curricular visits such as theatre trips. We consider it is very important that children should visit places of interest as this furthers understanding. Recent visits have included the local nature reserve, historical sites of interest and Abberton Reservoir. Full details of all outings are sent to parents in advance, requesting written consent.
In addition, Year 5 pupils attend a three-day residential trip at Flatford Mill, to support their studies in geography and science. Year 6 pupils take part in a five-day outward bound activity residential trip. The activities undertaken include orienteering, abseiling and canoeing. Participation in such activities encourages personal growth as well as supporting the outward bound aspects of the National Curriculum Physical Education Programme of Study.