Our Teaching and Learning Policy
At St. Mary’s we have subject leaders who oversee, develop, monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of their subject across the school. These leaders are encouraged to keep up-to-date on issues that affect their subject and they attend regular training and network meetings to ensure that they have appropriate knowledge and expertise. These leaders provide ongoing professional development for all staff and they ensure that teachers have a good knowledge of the subjects they teach. Curriculum resources are audited every year to ensure that they serve the school’s curricular intentions and enable effective curriculum implementation.
Please click on the links below to see an overview of the topics covered in each year group. We recognise that children’s learning is enhanced by different experiences and have planned educational visits, trips and workshops every term, in every year group, linking to curriculum areas.
- Year 1
- Year 2
- Year 3
- Year 4
- Year 5
- Year 6
Religious Education (RE)
All teachers follow the Margaret Carswell scheme of work for Religious Education. Pupils develop a knowledge and understanding of key topics whilst reflecting on meaning and activities are planned to support spiritual and moral development. Our planning meets the requirements of the Religious Education Curriculum Directory - guidance for the RE classroom curriculum in Catholic schools.
English and Reading are at the heart of our curriculum. High-quality texts (from classic to current authors) provide the driver for units of work (see Curriculum Overviews) and they have been selected to ensure that pupils experience a wide and rich Reading curriculum to promote a life-long love of reading. Identified texts link with our science, geography and history topics to help develop curriculum links. Teachers use the Focus English guide to support them in breaking down the English curriculum so that they can plan for units of work in a manageable way. For each year group, every objective – Reading, writing and grammar - is broken down into steps which indicate the knowledge and understanding required to master the end of year learning with many opportunities to re-visit, practise and apply learning. These ensure that learning is pitched appropriately and that progress is evident from unit to unit of work towards secure and deep learning by the end of the year. Ongoing formative assessment is used to inform future planning and lessons are adapted according to the children’s needs.
There is a sharp focus on Reading and the units offer questions and activities which are used in whole class and Guided Reading group lessons. At the beginning of each unit, teachers concentrate on understanding, responding to and deepening an understanding of the text. This focus continues with on-going reading activities matched to the identified reading objectives.
Grammar and Vocabulary
Grammar and vocabulary work is taught purposefully, in context, so that it can be used in the identified outcomes. Activities are used to revisit and consolidate learning as necessary.
Along with the focus on grammar and vocabulary development to ensure effective and accurate writing, the high-quality texts provide models and scaffolds so that children are enabled to make independent choices about how they write and the effect they wish to create. Pupils are given time to write, evaluate, redraft and proof-read their extended pieces of writing using given prompts appropriate to their needs. This is often done alongside teacher and peer support.
All pupils, in Early Years and Key Stage 1, are taught phonics and how to blend sounds using the Department for Education's 'Letters and Sounds' resources. We also deliver a Phonics Catch-Up Group for pupils in Year 2 who did not meet the government's Phonics Screening Check expected standard.
Once pupils can blend sounds and they are able to read simple words, they are given a book to bring home from the Oxford Reading Tree scheme. Their progress, across this scheme, is assessed by teachers weekly. All pupils, from Year 2 upwards, also have the opportunity to choose an appropriate book from our school library to help develop an interest in reading and a love of books.
Our mathematics curriculum is challenging for all pupils and aligned with end of year curricular expectations. Teachers use the Focus Maths guide to support them in breaking down the mathematics curriculum so that they can plan for units of work in a manageable way. Topics are revisited throughout the year (see Curriculum Overviews) to help develop mastery of knowledge. Teachers flexibly revisit and extend teaching blocks as required. Planning is based on the end of year expectation for different topics highlighting the learning steps that are needed to attain this expectation. Pupils are asked to complete a pre-learning task at the start of each unit of work. These (together with previous ongoing assessments) have been used to help assess whether children are in a place to access learning aligned with the end of year expectations. Pupils, who need it, are given the chance to practise and consolidate learning objectives. Children at this stage of learning will usually be supported by the teacher and guided through the mathematics content in a scaffolded way. There are opportunities for mental and oral rehearsal alongside concrete (pencil and paper) activities. Pupils who have attained learning objectives are given tasks to deepen their understanding, giving particular attention to reasoning and thinking. Activities are planned for pupils working at greater depth to work at a ‘deeper’ level. These are designed to deepen understanding of the end of year expectation rather than move pupils on to learning from subsequent years.
Teachers use the Focus Science guide to support them in breaking down the science curriculum so that they can plan for units of work in a manageable way. There are three units of work for each year group (see Curriculum Overviews). The units ensure that there is a huge focus on working scientifically (with a clear progression of skills) as well as dealing with the specific science knowledge for a particular age group. Natural links have been identified with English and high quality texts are used to introduce topics. For example, in Year 4 ‘The Incredible Book-Eating Boy’ is central to the science unit dealing with the digestive system. Similarly, pupils are given opportunities to improve their writing (including a use of vocabulary) in science whilst holding onto the statutory requirements for science teaching. We have carefully mapped National Curriculum coverage and gaps are covered using PlanBee resources.
The core of our computing curriculum is computer science, in which pupils are taught the principles of information and computation, how digital systems work, and how to put this knowledge to use through programming. Our Purple Mash scheme of work builds on this knowledge equipping pupils to use information technology to create programs, systems and a range of content (see Curriculum Overview for coverage). Pupils are timetabled for one Computing lesson in our computer suite each week as well as an additional lesson for developing their information and communication skills across all areas of the curriculum. Activities are planned to ensure that pupils become digitally literature – able to use, and express themselves and develop their ideas through, information and communication technology. As well as the computer room, the children also have access to computers in every classroom and a class set of iPads. In addition to our annual E-Safety Week, ongoing online safety is taught as a part of every topic, every half term.
History and Geography
Teachers use the Focus Education History and Geography guide to support them in breaking down the National Curriculum requirements so that they can plan for units of work in a manageable way. This curriculum follows the programmes of study for each year group very carefully and provides the right balance between different aspects of both history and geography, e.g. human and physical geography and chronological understanding and historical knowledge.
The starting point for each topic is excellent quality literature to link English learning with a specific history or geography focus. For example, ‘Lila and the Secret of Rain’ is used to focus on a non-European country and compare it with our own town of Uxbridge; the book ‘Viking Boy’ is used to bring the Viking period to life. Every effort has been made to ensure that the integrity of English, history and geography remain whilst providing natural links between them. Pupils are given opportunities to improve their writing (including use of vocabulary) whilst holding onto the statutory requirements for history and geography teaching.
There are three units of work for each year group (see Curriculum Overviews). We have carefully mapped National Curriculum coverage and supplemented planned activities using PlanBee resources.
Fieldwork in the local area is an important part of the geography curriculum and opportunities for local studies have been included on our Curriculum overviews. Trips, visits, workshops and community projects are used to enrich the curriculum.
Art and Design
We aim to equip pupils with the knowledge and skills to experiment, invent and create their own works of art, craft and design.
Topics are taught according to the PlanBee scheme and we aim to ensure that all pupils:
- Produce creative work, exploring their ideas and recording their experiences
- Become proficient in drawing, painting, sculpture and other art, craft and design techniques Evaluate and analyse creative works using the language of art, craft and design
- Know about great artists, craft makers and designers, and understand the historical and cultural development of their art forms.
Design and Technology
Pupils are given the opportunity to design and make products that solve real-life problems within a variety of contexts. They acquire a broad range of subject knowledge drawing on other subjects including mathematics, science, computing and art. Pupils learn how to take risks and develop resilience through a range of problem solving. Through an evaluation of past and present design and technology, they develop a critical understanding of its impact on daily life and the wider world.
Physical Education (PE)
Lessons are taught according to the Rising Stars 'Champions Scheme'. Please view our Curriculum Overviews to see the scope and sequence of lessons taught - allowing a progression of skills taught across the school. Through our PE teaching we aim to ensure that all pupils:
- Develop competence to excel in a broad range of physical activities
- Are physically active for sustained periods of time
- Engage in competitive sports and activities
- Lead healthy, active lives
We have been awarded the Youth Sport Trust Silver Quality Mark for our commitment to physical education (PE) and school sport. Pupils are actively encouraged to take part in a wide range of sports clubs including multi-sports, Rugby Tots, basketball, football, netball and gymnastics. Pupils engage in competitive sports and have the opportunity to represent our school at local, regional and national competitions. This includes opportunities for pupils with special educational needs to participate in inclusive competitions including the annual New Age Kurling Competition.
We are delighted to announce that we have been awarded the School Games Gold Mark Award for our commitment to the development of competition across our school and into the community. Pupils are encouraged to lead healthy and active lives through PE lessons linking with work in PSHE. This is also promoted through our annual Health and Wellbeing Week and through initiatives such as ‘the daily mile’ and ‘Walk to School weeks.’
Our weekly music lessons are taught by our specialist music teacher (see topics in Curriculum Overviews). We aim to inspire pupils to develop a love of music and their talent as musicians.
Pupils are given the opportunity to:
- Perform, listen to, review and evaluate music across a range of historical periods, genres, styles and traditions, including the works of the great composers and musicians
- Learn to sing and to use their voices, to create and compose music on their own and with others, have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument, use technology appropriately and have the opportunity to progress to the next level of musical excellence
- Understand and explore how music is created, produced and communicated, including through the inter-related dimensions: pitch, duration, dynamics, tempo, timbre, texture, structure and appropriate musical notations.
As well as through their music lessons, pupils are taught to sing during our weekly Hymn Practice. The children have the opportunity to play a range of musical instruments including the guitar, piano and violin. We hold various musical events throughout the year including productions, workshops, assemblies and an annual Carol Concert. We hold annual Music Performances giving pupils to opportunity to showcase the work they have been doing in their music lessons.
Modern Foreign Languages (Spanish)
Pupils from Years 3 to 6 are taught Spanish by our specialist Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) teacher (see Curriculum Overviews for topics covered). Our curriculum aims to ensure that all pupils:
- Understand and respond to spoken and written language from a variety of authentic sources
- Speak with increasing confidence, fluency and spontaneity, finding ways of communicating what they want to say, including through discussion and asking questions, and continually improving the accuracy of their pronunciation and intonation
- Can write at varying length, for different purposes and audiences, using the variety of grammatical structures that they have learnt
- Discover and develop an appreciation of a range of writing in the language studied.
Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE)
Our PSHE curriculum aims to develop the knowledge, skills and attributes all pupils need in order to keep healthy and safe and to prepare them for life and work in modern Britain. It provides a framework though which such key skills, attributes and knowledge can be developed and applied to some of the issues facing children today: from mental health to understanding the importance of staying safe online, healthy and safe relationships, making sense of media messages, challenging extreme views and knowing how to live a healthy lifestyle. Links are made across the curriculum and through our Internet Safety and Health and Wellbeing Weeks which includes workshops, assemblies and links with local organisations/agencies. Weekly lessons are taught using a wide range of resources (please see our Curriculum Overviews for a list of the topics covered in each year group). In addition to the compulsory science work on lifecycles, changes and reproduction, we also cover further work in Year 6 on Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) according to the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Short-term Weekly Planning
Teachers adapt their medium-term planning according to the needs of their class. Daily evaluations of lessons are used to inform future planning. This may include planning consolidation activities or challenges for pupils who have mastered key areas of learning.
Equal Opportunities and Inclusive Quality First Teaching
We promote equal opportunities throughout our practice, for all our pupils, in line with the Equality Act 2010. We aim to provide high-quality everyday personalised teaching that effectively includes all pupils. Clear learning objectives are shared with the children and returned to at the end of the lesson; new vocabulary is introduced and explained; we use lively, interactive teaching styles and make maximum use of visual and kinaesthetic as well as auditory/verbal learning. Targeted catch-up provision is used for groups of children to put them back on course. If this doesn’t work for a particular pupil, they may need a deeper intervention offering a more personalised solution. Please see our Equal Opportunities, Inclusion and SEND policies for further details. At St. Mary’s we have the same ambitions for almost all pupils but this may not always be practical for some pupils with a special need and/or disability. If this is the case, the child will follow a highly personalised, ambitious curriculum to meet their identified needs.
Teachers check pupils’ understanding throughout lessons taught, identifying misconceptions and providing clear, direct feedback. Teachers respond and adapt their teaching as necessary. Pupils self-assess their progress, at the end of every lesson, based on a given success criteria (see our Marking and Target Setting Policy for further details).