Avening Primary School

Our Curriculum

“By teaching children how to think, by helping them develop their emotional intelligence as well as their cognitive intelligence, by developing their creativity and communication, by focusing on how and not just what we learn, by all these things you end up with children who are better at learning as well as who actually enjoy the process…” Ian Gilbert

 

Choreographing a Creative Curriculum Pathway

 

At Avening Primary School, we see the National Curriculum as a framework on which to build a dynamic curriculum that is meaningful and motivating, which supports individual progress and which allows for opportunities to celebrate success. Our aim each term is to ‘choreograph’ a creative, cohesive and thematic pathway through lessons, where fluid links between subjects encourage children to make connections in their learning, so that the basic skills, knowledge and understanding of every child is built upon and extended.

 

In the Early Years Foundation Stage, the Early Years Foundation Stage document (EYFS) shapes curriculum content. From Year 1 – 6, the National Curriculum is divided between terms over a two-year rolling programme, which also includes the Gloucestershire Agreed RE Syllabus and Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship education, so that we can be sure of breadth, balance and coverage (click on the link to see an overview of National Curriculum objectives for each year group).

 

We then build upon the National Curriculum by considering how learning can be made meaningful: by utilising our local links; by drawing on our own interests and the interests of our classes; and through topical events. When planning each topic, we consider carefully how to involve parents, how we can enrich the experiences of the children through visits and visitors, how to ignite the learning, and how to share and celebrate our successes at the end. – The start of a new theme is always an exciting prospect!

Years 1 and 2 topics include ‘Have I Got News for You!’, ‘Dens and Dandelions’ and ‘I Like to Move It!’. In Years 3 and 4, topics include ‘The Savage Stone Age’, ‘Curtains Up!’ and ‘Le Tour de France’. In Years 5 and 6, topics include ‘We are the Future’, ‘Muck, Mess and Mixtures’ and ‘Hola Mexico!’ (Click here to view the rolling programme of curriculum themes at our school.)

As we aim to create a school full of self-motivated, resilient learners, learning to learn always features in our curriculum planning too. We like the children to ‘work their learning muscles’, developing skills such as ‘managing distractions’, ‘noticing patterns’ and ‘being logical’, found in the ‘Learning Gym Bags’ of our resident superhero animal learners. We look for opportunities to reinforce these important skills through our themes. For more information about Bonnie the ‘engaged’ bunny, Sherlock the ‘aspiring’ spider, Honey the ‘collaborative’ bee and Casper the ‘hopeful’ caterpillar, and how they help us with our learning, take a look at our Learning Zone!

 

Our approach to planning revolves around a five-stage cycle:

ENGAGE

 

 

DEVELOP

Acquire knowledge   

Refine

INNOVATE

Apply

Practise

EXPRESS

Deepen

Extend

CELEBRATE!

 

In order to ensure that our expectations are sufficiently challenging, we use progressive success criteria, ‘Steps to Success’, which are shared with the children. In Maths and English, these are drawn from the National Curriculum requirements. In other areas of the curriculum, they are based on a set of milestones which define expectations at the end of Year 2, Year 4 and Year 6. Progressive success criteria provide us with a ‘Learning Journey to the Stars’, so that, as our vision states, ‘Together we’ll fly!’

 

Learning starts from the moment the children arrive at their desks in class. Early morning activities, ranging from responding to marking feedback, cursive handwriting practice, maths challenges, reading and thinking skills, are carried out before the register.

 

Following the register, on most days, pupils from EYFS to Y4 then have a short Phonics session, where reading and spelling strategies are taught. We group our younger children according to the phase of the Letters and Sounds programme they need to follow. For more information about Phonics, please see the Phonics Zone.

 

The rest of the morning is generally taken up with Reading, Writing and Maths, and links are made to the class theme where appropriate. – We believe that our topic books should be full of learning showcasing basic skills and meaningful cross-curricular links. Other subjects are often blocked, so that we can immerse children in developing certain knowledge and skills. In this way, we like to think that the movement and links between subjects is like a dance – carefully choreographed by teachers and children!

 

We constantly reflect on the content, relevance and effectiveness of the curriculum, through regular book looks, lesson observations, pupil conferencing, questionnaires and learning walks.  If we think we can do something even better, we change our practice!

 

If you require further information about any aspect of our curriculum, please do not hesitate to contact the school office. In addition, more information on our approach to reading, writing and maths can be found by selecting the tabs in the Learning Zone.