A curriculum designed for
St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Christchurch
A curriculum that promotes the school’s culture and aims
“The Christian life is a call to a deeper communion with God and with one another, and this finds particular expression in our schools, which are rightly recognised as being families themselves, where no one is a stranger and where everyone, whatever his or her background or academic ability, is welcomed, treasured, supported and helped to become the person whom God calls them to be.” Bishop Malcolm MacMahon.
The school’s direction stems from its Mission Statement: ‘to provide a Catholic Christian education based on the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, in which the values of the Gospel underpin all aspects of school life; to provide an environment in which the dignity of each person as a child of God is recognised and developed; and to promote the full potential of each child through a curriculum which develops spiritual, academic, social and emotional growth’.
At St Joseph’s, our aims are:
– to provide a Catholic Christian education based on the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, in which the values of the Gospel underpin all aspects of school life;
– to provide an environment in which the dignity of each person as a child of God is recognised and developed; and to promote the full potential of each child through a curriculum which develops spiritual, academic, social and emotional growth;
– to provide a curriculum which is enriching and challenging, where children experience the opportunity to learn in a wide range of contexts.
Curriculum Intent – how we designed our curriculum
As a Catholic school, the precepts of Catholic education remain at our core. This includes the pursuit of excellence and preparing our children as world citizens of the 21st Century. In order for this to be achieved our children need high levels of literacy and numeracy. We recognise R.E as a core subject, so we adhere to a diocesan-wide curriculum, ‘God Matters’. We also recognise that parents are the primary educators of the faith and we work closely with the local parish and community in embedding these strong links with our parish and our local community we foster an ethos of serving both individuals and society. Charitable links and service remain a focus of our termly enrichment weeks, as does seeking awe and wonder. The school recognises that science is both an exciting academic subject and another area where children can develop a sense of awe and wonder.
When planning a curriculum, St. Joseph’s has had to recognise the very wide social and economic backgrounds of our families. The school is on the Somerford Council Estate – which according to Public Health England using indicators for socio-economics, is in the lowest 7% nationally, whereas Christchurch is in the highest 10%- hence our deprivation figure does not reflect the extreme poverty and issues arising for some of our families. The school has a falling roll of Catholics (EYFS 40%) and increasing number from Somerford. (32% of school families from Somerford, with 57% of EYFS living there).
Hence school has a significant minority of families who require a lot of support, sign posting and care. Within PSHE and citizenship, account is made of the socio-economics of the area and we recognise that the children need both a sense of valuing themselves, and developing aspirations for their future and for their community. We have designed our termly curriculum enrichment weeks to provide a breadth of experience within a subject area, drawing on outside speakers, involvement of parents and developing a sense of curiosity. Careers advice often features within the curriculum enrichment weeks and enables visitors (including parents) to meet with the children and expose them to life outside school, providing them with ideas for their future. We are passionate that all children realise that it is a big and wonderful world out there that they can play an active and positive part in. To do this not only do we pursue excellence but ensure the children are equipped with the correct skills in which to do this, for example we have links with a local luxury hotel that brings its Front of House to show children how to use a range of cutlery and order from a menu. We play an important part in providing the means for social mobility. We also plan opportunities for the children to know about keeping safe, linked to the KCSiE document. We also plan for and promote British values, (Democracy, Rule of Law, Individual Liberty, Mutual Respect and Tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs) ensuring that children are aware of their rights and responsibilities as a UK citizen.
Pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is outstanding. (Please refer to the bottom of this page for more detail). Pupils show themselves to be deep thinkers. They are able to empathise with the feelings and actions of others, seeing points of views and beliefs other than their own. Particularly in RE and PSHE, they show a keen interest in ethical issues and are able to apply their personal values to situations, giving reasons for their decisions and actions. They are ready to question arguments and situations. “The school embraces every opportunity to nurture spirituality and give Christian witness.” (Ofsted Section 48, 2015)
In recognising the development of the whole child the pastoral support given to children so they can access the curriculum is strong. Nurture group sits at heart of our school and is mentioned within the curriculum page as this allows vulnerable children to access their learning and curriculum entitlement. The school has various systems which support the emotional and mental well-being of children and provides signposting to their parents.
Sport has remained central to both our curriculum and extra-curricular provision and also in recognising that there are 60% of boys in the school (with some classes being over 80% boys), we know this is hugely beneficial to all our children. We have invested heavily with the P.E. and sport provision, with inclusion for all and this has been evident through being recipients of the School Games Gold Award which reflects the effective sport provision. The school believes that this is an area of excellence and parent surveys also convey this.
Staff annually review their medium-term planning to ensure topics are relevant to the children’s interests and needs. Subject leaders are currently working on curriculum coverage on foundation subjects, e.g. Geography and History, with all middle leaders being aware of the curriculum expectations and in turn working towards planning the skills within their respective curriculum areas. The curriculum is designed to ensure: deep learning, with focus made on extending those who are working at a greater depth within the curriculum areas; engagement with their learning and initiating the direction of the units of study, particularly in the foundation subjects along with breadth and balance. Not only do staff review the actual curriculum regularly, but also the principles for learning and teaching.
Our Principles for Learning and Teaching
- All children are entitled to be engaged in their learning and to be active learners; discovering and finding out.
- All children are entitled to understand what they have achieved and know what to do to make progress.
All children are entitled to be independent, enthusiastic and self-motivated learners; raising their own questions.
All children are entitled to time to evaluate and reflect on their learning.
All children are entitled to have their different learning styles recognised.
All children are entitled to teaching that inspires their learning.
All children are entitled to teaching that encourages them to be creative.
All children are entitled to be challenged and enjoy learning, as well as encouraging problem solving.
All children are entitled to develop spiritually, morally and as members of their community and the wider community.
(Devised and last reviewed January 2018)
The school is currently organised into 7 classes. In KS1, 21 hours is spent each week on teaching the curriculum and in KS2, 23.5 hours.
The school curriculum overview for each year group follows:
We teach phonics through the Letters and Sounds Scheme. This is used throughout the school particularly in the foundation stage and key stage one. We use a wide variety of reading schemes, covering fiction and non-fiction, including Rigby Star and Oxford Reading Tree. More confident readers are able to choose from class readers and a well stocked library. The scheme is continued at home. We encourage children to read daily at home and this is monitored via a home-school communication book.
The school gives additional booster provision to our younger children who may need it and in Year 3 every child is re-assessed on their phonics knowledge so teachers are able to adapt plans accordingly.
Impact our curriculum is having on standards of teaching and learning
The curriculum at St. Joseph’s is well planned and thought-through to enable a wide range of engagement, not only within class but in providing out of class opportunities to enable children to develop themselves as learners and encourage each child to be as independent as they can be. Questionnaires to the pupils and parents allow the staff to regularly review and assess the impact that the curriculum is having. We have had many positive responses from the children to this effect:
“I like learning”, “Maths is fun”, “I enjoy learning new things”, “I enjoy school and get a good education”, “My teachers help me in everything and are a great help”, “It is quiet and we can focus in lessons”, “I learn a lot from lessons” and “We learn lots and have lots of choice in what we’re learning”.
We strongly feel that the discussion including termly pupil coaching that we have with children is effective, which highlights their awareness of the adjustments that are made to enhance their learning, “The teachers and adults are interested in my views and ideas and listen to me”.
Following a recent parent survey (January 2018), we received acknowledgement that we continued to be successful in our approach to learning:
“I really feel like I know what my child is learning and can clearly see their progression.”
“We are always informed whether anything is wrong or needs doing with regards to how my child is getting on in school.”
“After starting half way through the year, my child has excelled in all aspects of education, relationships and nurturing.”
“Communication with parents is excellent!”
“The children are very happy experiencing new things and enjoying their learning.”
“The children are offered fantastic learning experiences, particularly within the curriculum enrichment weeks.”
Challenge is integrated within the curriculum with striving for every child to produce their absolute best, “Teachers support well when a child is struggling but when doing well they will also give additional challenges.”
“When children are doing well they are praised which makes them feel valued and they continue to work hard.”
Assessing our children’s learning within the curriculum
At St. Joseph’s we ensure that the children are regularly assessed against the relevant frameworks across the breadth of the curriculum. Within the assessment policy we have a feedback section whereby we measure the assessment against, including coding within books or the level of independence and verbal feedback being issued to support the learning. This results in each child receiving personalised learning and in turn increases their awareness of their next target(s).
Again, within our assessment policy (which can be found on our website, Policies and Forms, it highlights the various ways in which we assess the children, both formatively (on a daily basis) and summatively (end of a unit of study or tests) and even the children self and/or peer assessing.
“We are kept up-to-date with the information that we receive in reports and feedback at parents’ evenings.”
”I can speak with the class teachers at the end of the day, who are professional and sensitive and make themselves available at a convenient time to discuss the progress of my child”.
Recognition is also taken account of in terms of the individuality of the children:
“The pupils’ own skills and talents are considered”.
We are extremely proud of the achievements of the children in our school. Academic data proves that our attainment and progress, which is a culmination of hard work, determination and high expectations expected from all at St. Joseph’s has led to successful learning and performance. Further information can be found in the ‘OFSTED and Performance’ section of our website.
There is a regular half-termly cycle of monitoring and assessment which provides data; this is collected, analysed and utilized for providing interventions, support and a reviewing of planning. In addition to this, the teachers meet with members of the leadership team to discuss each pupil’s progress to find out the reasons behind their current attainment.
“Senior leaders have successfully introduced a new approach to tracking pupils’ progress. They scrutinise pupils’ progress very carefully and use their analysis to provide teaching that meets individual pupils’ needs.” – Ofsted February 2015
Supporting your child at home
Have a look at these useful guides as to how you can help your child:-
Have a look at this guide to what you can expect at Parents’ Evening:-
Have a look at the following guides to what is different under the National Curriculum and how you can support your child’s learning at home:
A curriculum for the whole child
“A good school provides a rounded education for the whole person. And a good Catholic school, over and above this, should help all its students to become saints….” Pope Benedict XVI, 2010
The spiritual development of pupils is shown by:
•Pupils’ ability to be reflective about their own beliefs, religious or otherwise, that inform their perspective on life and their interest in and respect for different people’s faiths, feelings and values
•Their sense of enjoyment and fascination in learning about themselves, others and the world around them
•Their use of imagination and creativity in their learning
•Their willingness to reflect on their experiences
The moral development of pupils is shown by:
•Pupils’ ability to recognise the difference between right and wrong, readily apply this understanding in their own lives and, in so doing, respect the civil and criminal law of England
•Their understanding of the consequences of their behaviour and actions
•Their interest in investigating and offering reasoned views about moral and ethical issues, and being able to understand and appreciate the viewpoints of others on these issues.
Every Christmas the children support Operation Christmas Child.
The social development of pupils is shown by:
•Pupils’ use of a range of social skills in different contexts, including working and socialising with pupils from different religious, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds
•Their willingness to participate in a variety of communities and social settings, including by volunteering, cooperating well with others and being able to resolve conflicts effectively
•Their acceptance and engagement with the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs; the pupils develop and demonstrate skills and attitudes that will allow them to participate fully in and contribute positively to life in modern Britain.
The children enjoy getting involved with national celebrations:
Our school displays represent national celebrations:
The cultural development of pupils is shown by:
•Pupils’ understanding and appreciation of the wide range of cultural influences that have shaped their own heritage and that of others
•Their understanding and appreciation of the range of different cultures within school and further afield as an essential element of their preparation for life in modern Britain
•Their knowledge of Britain’s democratic parliamentary system and its central role in shaping our history and values and in continuing to develop Britain
•Their willingness to participate in and respond positively to artistic, sporting and cultural opportunities
•Their interest in exploring, improving understanding of and showing respect for different faiths and cultural diversity and the extent to which they understand, accept, respect and celebrate diversity, as shown by their tolerance and attitudes towards different religious, ethnic and socio-economic groups in the local, national and global communities.
For an outline of British values and the new curriculum, please look at our overview: Overview of British Values and the New Curriculum
Sex and Relationships Education
At St Joseph’s, sex and relationships education is taught through a whole school policy and, where possible, is integrated into other areas of the curriculum such as religious education, science and PSHE. It is always taught within the context of the church’s teaching on sexual relationships. In Years 5 and 6, parents are informed prior to any lessons from the class teacher and workshops from the school nurse relating to this area of the curriculum. Parents are given the opportunity to discuss what their child will be learning so that they can support their child’s work at home. Any questions that children ask are answered sensitively and in a caring manner. Lessons and resources are always chosen to suit to the age of the children.
One of our greatest innovations is our Curriculum Enrichment Week, held termly covering a wide variety of subjects. Children experience the opportunity to learn beyond the classroom. The whole school moves away from the usual timetable and the learning is focused around a given theme or subject for the week. These weeks involve workshops, parents and other visitors, the children working alongside older or younger children and can involve the local community. Please take a look at our photos to see what the children experience on our Curriculum Enrichment Weeks.
At St Joseph’s, the children experience a variety of educational visits, which prove to be valuable learning experiences. In Years 5 and 6, pupils take part in residential visits. Many of our visits and visitors are celebrated on our website.