The curriculum

Our School Curriculum

In Key Stage 1, the children develop their subject knowledge of each area of the National Curriculum used in England. English and Mathematics are given a high profile and a balanced, subject-based timetable ensures that the children experience a range of exciting learning experiences in all other subjects. The timetable is flexible in providing additional opportunities to support, develop and extend the children’s subject knowledge and understanding. Our aim is to ensure that all children receive a well-rounded and complete primary education, equipping each individual with all the skills needed for a successful academic career and a happy, purposeful life.

High academic standards are important and fundamental in ensuring your child is able to reach or exceed his or her potential. For this reason, our curriculum is designed to support and to challenge each child. We understand the importance of the role we play in the children’s development and do our utmost to instil in them positive attitudes to learning that will benefit them throughout their lives.

In addition to our English and maths lessons, the children explore a variety of topics in science, history and geography which allow them to learn about the world around them; the past, the present and the positive contribution they can make towards the future. In a world of continuing technological advances, we also aim to ensure that our children are equipped to deal with the challenges of an ever changing world. Our computing lessons provide opportunities to explore programming, to become more familiar with computers and to develop and practise problem solving skills.

The children work with specialist art and music teachers who plan lessons that engage and stimulate creative skills. Whether working independently or collaboratively, the children are encouraged to apply their understanding and to be inventive.

Children who have a proficient level of English attend lessons in Dutch twice per week so that they may learn the language that will help them to integrate into Dutch society. We also provide native Dutch lessons for those children who speak Dutch as a home language.

English

The development of language is vital because it enables children to communicate their thoughts and ideas and to make sense of the written and spoken word. A solid foundation in language allows children to develop and employ it at a higher and more refined level later on in life. At the Infant School, we recognise our role in making this happen; we build upon and extend the children’s earlier experiences of speaking, reading and writing in English and provide them with the tools they need to access more complex tasks later on.

In our planning, we are guided by the objectives set out in the National Curriculum in England framework document. Using this, teachers plan a range of differentiated, stimulating and exciting activities to cater for the needs of each child in their class. This includes children for whom English is an additional language (EAL), those who require learning support (LS) and those who are working at a level which is higher than expected of children in their chronological age group.

In both year groups, two periods of every morning are used to teach English and phonics discretely, utilising prime learning time to focus on practising, embedding and extending the children’s language skills. During phonics time, children from across each year group are mixed into smaller groups of similar abilities and are taught using the Letters and Sounds programme. This allows staff to focus on specific skills and to tailor the curriculum to suit the needs of each group, ensuring that all children make maximum progress. Skills and knowledge gained during these sessions are applied and practised during shared and independent work.

We have a context-based approach to teaching English; with a specific topic or theme in mind, a suitable text is chosen and used as a starting point for learning. The children read the text together with their teacher who then uses it as a stimulus for discussion, role play and independent writing. This approach is hugely successful as the children are completely engaged in their learning: they might talk about what it would be like to travel in space, imagine what life was like in Viking times or write a letter to a character in a story. Drama and role play are significant in the development of speaking and listening skills and in stimulating children to come up with ideas for independent writing.

Our children make very good progress with their English reading, writing, and speaking and listening skills due to the variety of different experiences and opportunities we provide for practice.

English as an Additional Language (EAL)

When a child arrives at our school with little or no knowledge or experience of the English language, he or she attends daily English lessons with specialist teachers in English as an Additional Language (EAL). The children are withdrawn by the specialist teachers for part of the morning to work in the EAL room in small groups. Here, they build up basic vocabulary and learn simple words and phrases that will be useful to them in the school environment and beyond. We aim to instil confidence in the children, creating a safe environment in which they can practise and apply their new knowledge. The groups are small to ensure that each child receives as much attention as possible from the EAL specialist.

As each individual becomes more confident and competent in the speaking and comprehension of English, lessons progress to the reinforcement of more complicated grammatical concepts. The lessons then extend to supporting and encouraging children to express themselves in writing.

At all times, diverse activities and stimuli are used to inspire and encourage conversation within the group. These include a wide variety of language games, crosswords, comprehension schemes,online activities, apps, pictures, role-play and an extensive variety of books.

In designing our programme this way, we can ensure support that is tailored to the needs of the individuals within the group.

Mathematics

We begin teaching mathematics in Year 1 by counting, recognising numbers and performing simple operations such as addition and subtraction and move on to more complicated concepts such as multiplication, division and fractions by the end of Year 2. At this age, children acquire content knowledge that they will use as the foundation for the rest of their education. Using the National Curriculum in England framework document, our teachers plan a range of differentiated, stimulating and exciting activities to cater for the needs of each child in their class. This includes children for whom English is an additional language (EAL), those who require learning support (LS) and those who are working at a higher ability level than their chronological age group. The children’s progress is assessed continually by all staff who work with them and appropriate strategies are put in place to support and challenge them at their own level of understanding.

Maths lessons in our school are fun and challenging; we provide children with the opportunity to explore the world of numbers, to notice maths around them and to be comfortable and confident when working with numbers. It is important to encourage all children to develop mathematical habits of mind and to help them to understand what it means to be a mathematician. In the classroom this involves learning rules and facts in practical ways and in meaningful situations. The children are exposed to a range of mathematical experiences: they might gather and record information in charts; explore shape around them; buy items from the shop in the role play corner or investigate addition and subtraction on the interactive whiteboard.

Intriguing and real life contexts are more likely to raise the children’s interest in a task and ensure engagement. This also means they are likely to remember what they have been engaged in and why they were doing it.

Learning Support (LS)

We have a dedicated Learning Support (LS) department comprising three teachers who are there to provide additional learning support to children who are experiencing difficulties with their learning for any reason. This support may be provided in-class when one of our LS teachers will work alongside the child in his or her classroom or via withdrawal groups where focussed support is provided away from the classroom setting.

Our LS team liaise with both classroom teachers and parents to track progress and evaluate the effectiveness of the support in place so that this can be adjusted accordingly.

We also provide additional challenge for those children who may be operating at a higher academic level than their chronological peers. This challenge is provided both by class teachers in the differentiated lessons they prepare and by our LS team who also provide focussed sessions for specific children where needed.

Where children have gaps in their learning or need a little extra help or practice in a specific area, we also run weekly intervention groups which allow children some extra time to practise and develop specific skills as required.

Assessment and reporting

At the Infant School we use a system of continuous assessment where our teaching staff are constantly assessing the children’s learning and using this information to adapt their teaching to meet the needs of the children in their class. This assessment data is recorded electronically and also forms the basis of tracking meetings and discussions with the school leadership to ensure the right level of challenge and/or support is in place for each and every child.

In addition to this ongoing assessment, the children take part in termly assessments in writing and phonics to ensure that they are able to apply the learning that is being built up over the course of the year. This means that we have a very accurate picture of your child’s learning at any given time. We know the next steps for your child and if your child has any learning gaps as well as areas of strength or weakness.

Class teachers meet parents twice yearly to discuss each child’s learning and progress and we produce an end of year report which describes how each child has progressed and achieved over the course of the year.