Curriculum & Learning
Academic Excellence, Creativity and Social Intelligence are at the heart of everything we do at Priestmead. We give each of these values equal weighting and through a knowledge-rich curriculum, engaging teaching, great relationships and strong partnerships, we work hard to ensure that Priestmead is the best possible primary school experience for every child. We make our curriculum accessible for those with disabilities or special educational needs by complying with our duties in the Equality Act 2010 and the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014.
Priestmead follows the National Curriculum and Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Framework for all areas of the curriculum. The children are taught in year groups with one teacher per class. Reception classes also have one Early Years Practitioner per class, making a ratio of 15 children per adult.
The National Curriculum covers the three ‘core’ subjects of English, Maths and Science, as well as the ‘foundation’ subjects of Design Technology (DT), Computing, History, Geography, Art and Design, Physical Education (PE), Foreign Languages (MFL) and Music. Teachers make ongoing assessments of all children in order to help them better plan the next unit of work.
Children are assessed at the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage (Reception class) against the Early Learning Goals. We also report on assessments achieved in other year groups. Teacher Assessment levels indicate a more rounded view of your child ’s progress over the year.
All children in Year 1 sit a phonics screening check. From 2020, Y4 will sit a national times table test.
Knowledge helps develop well-rounded, empowered citizens and widens opportunities and life chances. The specifics of what we want children to learn are important. Skills, vocabulary and conceptual understanding are forms of knowledge. Skills such as critical thinking and problem solving need to be taught within specific subject contexts. Pupils are empowered through knowing things and acquiring powerful knowledge.
We believe that children learn best when:
- Subjects are taught discretely, so that both the knowledge and skills of the subject can be explicitly taught
- Schemes of work are planned in advance and fully resourced so that learning can be carefully sequenced and a variety of learning activities included
- The curriculum provides a clear progression model, supporting the layering of new knowledge on secure foundations and enabling children to build secure schema
- Units of work are supported by knowledge organisers that detail the facts and vocabulary to be learned.
- Explicit vocabulary instruction is included in all subjects. We believe that strong language skills underpin all learning.
- Each year group has an enrichment programme including music lessons with our resident music teacher, specialist PE and MFL teachers.
- Curricular visits are planned to deepen, enrich and build on classroom learning as well as giving children opportunities for personal development.
The implementation of our curriculum is greatly supported by carefully structured unit plans, leading pupils through component knowledge and skills to composite knowledge and skills in all subjects.
Our pedagogical approach is based on Rosenshine’s Principles of Direct Instruction. The brilliant clarity and simplicity of this approach supports teachers to engage with cognitive science and the wider world of educational research.
- The Principles of Direct Instruction
- Daily Review
- Present new material using small steps
- Ask questions
- Provide models
- Guide student practice
- Check for student understanding
- Obtain a high success rate
- Provide scaffolds for difficult tasks
- Independent practice
- Weekly and monthly review
We believe that children learn best when:
- Teachers have high expectations of all children’s learning and provide appropriate scaffold to support all children to achieve.
- Lessons begin with a recap of prior learning. This may be through quizzing, a short writing task or a quick classroom discussion.
- New learning is then presented in an engaging and creative way, in small steps and through carefully planned explanations
- Pupil participation in learning is maximised through a range of strategies: no hands-up, mini whiteboards, effective questioning and lesson delivery that is concise and engaging
- Lessons are shaped according to the needs of the children: sped up or slowed down or levels of support adjusted following in-lesson assessment
- Opportunities to practise new learning are embedded so that new knowledge is
internalised and new skills become fluent and automatic
- Practice is guided initially, with levels of support being gradually withdrawn to foster pupil independence.
Look at the Curriculum Gallery section of our website for more information about individual subjects in our curriculum.
Look at the Curriculum Map for an overview of subjects, year by year.
Look at the Curriculum Newsletters for Parents/Carers to see termly information about our curriculum and how parents/carers might support children with their learning at home.
Educational visits Priestmead places great emphasis on the value of first hand experiences in children’s learning. The purpose of educational visits is to extend the work undertaken in the classroom. Day trips are organised throughout the year. Previous trips have included:
- Natural History Museum
- Science Museum
- Tower of London
- Local places of worship
- Go Ape
- Kew Gardens
- Theatre Visits and many more
In addition to day trips, we offer residential trips across the school. Your child will have the opportunity to take part in the following as they move up in the school:
- Y1 Movie Night
- Y2 School Sleepover
- Y3 Gordon Brown
- Y4 YHA Castleton
- Y5 Kingswood Centre
- Y6 PGL