Our Values and Vision - The Intent behind our curriculum
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)
In reviewing the intent behind our approach, we looked at a range of aspects that we wanted as the key drivers behind the makeup of our curriculum e.g.
What we wanted to develop a ‘Firs’ Mindset’ (which we defined as the values and approaches to life we wanted our children to live by and hold to).
The knowledge and skills we wished to develop in addition to those set out in the National Curriculum.
The gaps in children’s knowledge, skills or awareness that we perceived, associated with the context of our local environment, location or general pupil characteristics.
Our understanding of what ‘Cultural Capital’ meant to us at The Firs and in each year group, how we could give children the chance to experience it.
To find out more about a 'Firs Mindset' and this work, see our Firs SoW, which is explained and can be downloaded from, the Firs' Scheme of Work page.
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 subjects and areas of learning in early years, are equally important and interconnected and therefore depend upon each other to support a rounded approach to the development of a child. As such in Year R, 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, PSHRE (Personal, Social, Health and Relationships Education) and French at KS2. Religious Education is organised according to the local Agreed Syllabus.
(To download the National Curriculum , click on this green link).
Implementing Our Curriculum
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.)
English Overview - (for more information visit our English page)
The school is a Read Write Inc. school and as such, we have made a commitment to aim for excellence in our pursuit of the vision that all our children should be fluent readers, who can use their skills to develop their learning in all areas of the curriculum and who can experience the joy and enrichment that reading brings to our lives.
The Read Write Inc. scheme is used to teach phonics, early reading skills and writing skills, with the aim being that the majority of pupils complete the programme early in Y2.
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.
After leaving the RWI programme, children move onto the Accelerated Reader (AR) programme. AR is an online tool, which helps teachers manage and monitor children’s independent reading practice to ensure that they continue to make good progress and see themselves as successful and accomplished readers.
For more information on AR, visit our Accelerated Reader page.
The curriculum is designed to provide children with an appropriate range of opportunities to write meaningfully in a range of genres. A great emphasis is placed on using preparatory exercises to generate vocabulary, develop ideas, explore themes (using images, art activities, sound effects, drama and dramatic techniques) etc. in order to ensure that children are inspired and ready to write.
As children progress they are expected to create a wide range of increasingly complex texts in a variety of formats, taking account of purpose and audience. They are expected to become more adept at organising and structuring ideas, employing a range of language for effect and writing with technical accuracy.
Maths Overview - (for more information visit our Maths page)
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 practice key processes, as we develop their learning carefully, moving logically from one concept to another, like carefully placed stepping stones, to help build confidence and enhance accuracy.
A great emphasis is also placed on encouraging children to discuss their work, draw conclusions and explain their methods of working, both to their learning 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.
At the same time, we also concentrate on developing children's maths fluency, so that they develop a good understanding of the number system and place value and can perform calculations in their heads with increasing confidence and efficiency. To this end, we ensure that each maths lesson begins with an oral / mental starter where key concepts and processes can be re-visited and practised regularly.
At The Firs, we encourage children to be inquisitive throughout their time at the school and beyond. The Science curriculum fosters a healthy curiosity in children about our universe and promotes respect for the world around them.
We want lessons to have a ‘hands on’, skills-based focus, with the knowledge and skills being taught, linked to real life situations and applications, making references to the work of scientists and scientific discoveries.
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' link here).
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.
To find out more about our approach to teaching in the Foundation Subjects, select one of the links to the appropriate page below:
- Art and Design
- Design Technology
- Physical Education
- Personal, Social, Health and Relationships Education
- French (MFL)
- Religious Education
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 this page.
To find out about pupil achievement at the end of EYFS, Year 2 and Year 4, visit our Achievement page.