Our Values and Vision
The intent behind our curriculum is underpinned by our core values and the vision we have for putting those values into practise. We actively encourage all our children to approach their learning positively, using their ‘Growth Mindset’ to ensure they ‘achieve their best’. We also help our children to care for and work with others successfully, developing a strong moral code and an appreciation of being part of a community. In promoting an awareness of personal responsibility and sensitivity to others, positive attitudes of courtesy, consideration and care are developed as part of the core values of the school:
For more information on our Values and Vision click on the green link.
We also think about our A B C...
In addition, as a Forest School, we greatly value opportunities for children to learn outside the classroom and the importance of ensuring that children develop an understanding of the natural world and a respect for the need to safeguard it. (To find out more follow this link - Forest Schools)
The EYFS Framework is used as a basis for our own curriculum in YR. The curriculum is organised into seven areas of learning:
· Communication and Language Development
· Personal, Social and Emotional Development
· Physical Development
· Mathematical Development
· Understanding of the World
· Expressive Arts and Design
At the Firs Lower School we recognise that children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates, and that all the areas of learning and development are equally important and inter-connected and therefore depend upon each other to support a rounded approach to the development of the child. As such we aim to deliver opportunities that develop a number of competencies, skills and concepts across several areas of learning, through planned, purposeful play, with a balance of adult led and child initiated activities.
(For more information about the curriculum in Pine (Year R) click on EYFS Framework )
From Year 1 onwards children follow the National Curriculum (2014). The curriculum consists of the core subjects of English, Mathematics and Science and the foundation subjects of Computing, History, Geography, Design Technology, Art, Music, Physical Education, PSHCE (Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education -incorporating Relationships and Sex education) and French at KS2. Religious Education is organised according to the Bedfordshire Agreed Syllabus.
(To download the National Curriculum , click on this green link).
The work is planned to provide a broad and balanced curriculum which also fulfils the requirements of the National curriculum. A high priority is given to English and Maths. All subjects are taught as distinct areas of learning, with the key concepts, knowledge and skills of each particular subject area being developed through termly or half termly blocks of study. (Where appropriate, links are drawn between different subject areas.) For more information on RWI, see our 'RWI' page by clicking on the green link or select it from the list at the top left of this page.
We are passionate about developing children’s reading skills as we know how critical this is in opening up the full range of possibilities the curriculum has to offer children. We also want children to develop a love of reading to unlock all the pleasure and personal development reading offers.
As a Read Write Inc. school, children from YR onwards follow the carefully designed synthetic phonics programme it incorporates. Children learn the 44 common sounds in the English language and how to sound-blend words for reading (decoding) at the same time as developing writing skills and spelling (encoding).
As part of the RWI programme, children are assessed every 6 weeks and the detailed knowledge of where they are, allows us to place them in small groups. Highly focused teaching, based on the latest educational research, moves children on rapidly from their starting points. This allows our children to make rapid progress.
After leaving the RWI programme, teachers concentrate on further developing children’s fluency and reading stamina. Children enhance their comprehension skills, learning for example, to ‘read between the lines’ and answer inferential questions, comparing the work of different authors etc. Above all, we support children in learning to appreciate the love of reading!
We aim to make children competent, confident writers, to enable them to use the written word fluently and flexibly. Children’s progress is tracked carefully to ensure that they are progressing well and that high standards are being maintained. Teachers ensure that children are well aware of how to be successful in lessons and how to assess their work and the work of their peers against the success criteria. The Curriculum is designed to provide children with an appropriate range of opportunities to write meaningfully in a range of genres. Feedback is used to guide children in how to develop their writing, creating opportunities for pupils to develop their learning in response.
We aim to provide opportunities for all children to experience and acquire the key mathematical concepts, skills and language, in a stimulating, challenging and supportive atmosphere. The introduction of mathematics in the early years is initially developed through practical activity, stories, songs, games and imaginative play. Throughout the school, children are encouraged to use visual images and practical apparatus, to support their working and to help to cement key concepts in their mind.
As they progress through the school, children follow a structured programme designed to increase children’s understanding of the number system and their confidence when performing mental and written calculations. A variety of teaching strategies and approaches are employed, including the traditional teaching of tables and the setting of homework.
In maths lessons, children learn how to 'conjecture', making logical deductions from what they know, that they can then go on to test. They solve problems and undertake investigations, with a particular emphasis on children deciding for themselves how to organise their working and how to record their responses. A great emphasis is also placed on encouraging children to discuss their work, draw conclusions and explain their methods of working, both to their talk partner and sometimes to the class as a whole. We make a very full use, across the school, of maths resources and visual images to help children understand mathematical concepts and master key processes.
Science and the Foundation Subjects
As part of our work on the Primary Science Quality Mark, we established our principles for the teaching of science:
'All our young scientists at The Firs will have fun developing powers of observation, enquiring minds and a natural curiosity about extraordinary things in our world.'
To find out more about science at the Firs, click on the 'Science at The Firs' link here or from the list on the top left of this page.
We have identified 4 additional strands of learning we want to pursue with our children, to reinforce and to compliment the work on the National Curriculum. We have named these strands the Firs' Themes.
Our 4 themes are:
Healthy Bodies and Minds (HBM)
Developing Me! (DM!)
Forest Schools and the Environment (FSE)
Our Community (OC)
To find out more about our Firs' Themes, click on the 'Firs' Scheme of Work' link here or select it from the list at the top left of this page.
Knowledge and Skills Maps in science and the foundation subjects.
We have created Knowledge and Skills maps for science and each foundation subject, to indicate what we want children to know and be able to do within the coverage of the National Curriculum.
This is to ensure that the curriculum is planned and sequenced well, with staff being able to see where the current lesson is rooted in the sequence of learning from the previous year, later in the current year or into the next year.
Our knowledge and skills maps can be found in the Firs' Scheme of work. Click on the 'Firs' Scheme of Work' link here or select it from the list at the top left of this page.
Assessing the impact of our curriculum
Teachers carefully assess children’s learning as part of their work each day in the classroom. This assessment is not only used to inform them about the individual child and how they are progressing but also to guide them in the planning of the next steps in learning in future lessons.
To find out more about assessing pupil learning. Follow the green Assessment link or select the link from the list at the top left hand corner of the main 'Our Learning' page.
To find out about pupil achievement at the end of EYFS, Year 2 and Year 4, visit our Achievement page.