The Curriculum at Widecombe School
We try to teach our curriculum wherever possible through a thematic topic. This year the children are studying ‘Settlement on the Moor’ as their Autumn topic. We find children quickly become enthusiastic about the topic and we can capture that enthusiasm to develop subject specific skills in a purposeful way. It also enables children to see the connections between the different subject areas. We aim to ensure that in every topic, we start with a really interesting event and include visits and visitors to bring the learning to life. Our topic calendar can be found on the accompanying document below.
Our core teaching in Mathematics follows the Abacus Evolve scheme published by Pearson. We feel that using a scheme ensures a structured progression of maths skills with a consistent approach from year 1 to year 6. The published scheme includes active problem solving as well as book-work and our teachers supplement the scheme with a variety of activities and resources which make the maths learning more lively and connect it with real life experiences. We place a strong emphasis on the learning of key maths facts (addition and subtraction of numbers to 20 , and multiplication facts to 10 x 10) and we ask parents to help with homework practice to ensure that children have instant recall of these facts which they will need for more advanced problem solving. Literacy Speaking and Listening Speaking and listening skills are developed as an integral part of our learning in all subjects. Through our topic work we ensure that children’s vocabulary is developed. Use of talk partners enables children to practise talk and dialogue for learning. We use drama particularly role play to explore different types of talk and our ‘Talk for Writing’ curriculum involves children in learning and retelling stories.
Reading in school starts with a phonic based approach to learning to read. Our reception children enjoy learning the corresponding sound (or phoneme) for each letter through the ‘Letters and Sounds’ approach which uses rhymes, songs and actions to ensure the learning is fast and fun. Reading books are carefully graded with reading based on texts at an appropriate level for the child’s decoding skills. Reading comprehension also starts from the very beginning with guided reading sessions to explore understanding.
Once children have learned to reliably decode print, guided group reading continues Throughout Key stage 2 to explore the skills of:
- skimming and scanning texts to find information
- a deeper level of understanding using inference and deduction an appreciation of themes.
We encourage a love of reading through the reading of stories regularly in class as well as a daily quiet or shared reading time . Children are able to select a wide variety of books from our well-stocked library.
In the earliest stages children are encouraged to breakdown the sounds they hear in words and use their phonic skills to write them as part of their daily phonics sessions. They are taught correct letter formation using the ‘Nelson’ handwriting scheme and encouraged to have-a-go at writing in a variety of ‘play’ settings as well as in guided groups with the teacher. We use class topic work as a focus for reading and writing activities. Our children enjoy writing because of our commitment to a ‘Talk for Writing’ approach which means that children have had lots of oral rehearsal before writing and so feel confident and clear about the content of their writing before they start. Children throughout the school have a weekly ‘Big Write’ session : this is a 40 – 50 minutes session of quiet uninterrupted writing time . As children progress through the school they are encouraged to assess their own work using a ‘VCOP’ mnemonic to remind them to check their use of Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers and Punctuation. We ensure that children have a variety of purposes and contexts for their writing, including Newspaper reports, letters, diaries, reports, biographies, instructions, persuasion, discussion and recounts . Spelling skills and strategies are taught weekly. Children are expected to master the spelling of the main key words by the end of Year 2 . Parents are asked to help children with learning spellings at home as part of homework.
We use an established science curriculum based on QCA units to ensure continuity and progression in our science teaching from year 1 to year 6. Children learn the skills of being a scientist through planning, carrying out and evaluating regular investigations as well as learning about the important science concepts and knowledge.
ICT is an integral part of learning in school we use the computer suite in key stage one and a bank of wireless networked laptops in key stage 2 for research, presentation and communication. Skills are developed systematically through weekly dedicated ICT lessons.
History and Geography
These subjects are taught thematically with a different topic each half-term. We find this approach ensures maximum enthusiasm and engagement from our pupils. We try to start each topic with a visit or visitor to engage children from the very beginning. They quickly become immersed in the topic and we have received some truly amazing project work as a result.
We follow the Devon agreed syllabus for RE in common with all other maintained schools in Devon. This ensures a rich mix of learning about Christianity and other World Religions through themes.
Person , Social, Moral and Health education
Weekly lessons explore feelings, social situations and aspirations through circle time, drama and group activities. We have a whole school planned curriculum which includes progressive and age appropriate learning about drugs, smoking and sex education. Parents have the right to withdraw their child from sex education if they so wish. We are always happy to discuss and share with parents the materials we use for this area of the curriculum and parents are notified in advance when this topic is due to be taught.
Weekly music sessions develop children’s sense of rhythm, timing and pitch through listening and composition activities. We have a wide variety of instruments in school. Children develop singing skills and a love of singing through a weekly singing practice which uses the ‘sing-up’ resource bank. They regularly sing in assemblies.
We are proud of our Artsmark gold award which was earned in part because of our detailed art curriculum developing skills in drawing, painting, and a variety of 3D activities through weekly art lessons. We also hold an annual Arts week in the summer term which gives additional time for children to explore art related activities.
Our design Technology curriculum is linked to our topic and science work . We practise cutting, shaping and combining a range of materials to make puppets, bridges, pop-up cards, slippers, shelters, photo-frames, Egyptian shadufs, Roman shields and much more from our own designs.
Modern Foreign Languages
Children in key stage 1 learn some French vocabulary and phrases mainly through songs, and rhymes. In key stage 2 children begin a more structured approach; learning French phonics and conversational language. They also learn about French culture through eating French food, learning French songs and reading French books. Children also learn some Spanish for one year in Key Stage 2.