To meet the requirements of the National Curriculum, all classes in Key Stage 1 and 2 follow some set, pre-planned topics - many of these are whole-school themes and some are specific to a class or key stage. Our overviews indicate when the whole-school topics begin. (We also offer after-school clubs and other extra-curricular activities – encourage your child to join in!)
The ‘topic-based’ approach to the curriculum which we follow at Sacred Heart means that wherever possible, we group our subjects around a broad theme. The topics we choose depend on three factors:
- the content set out in the National Curriculum for each of the subjects
- the interests and needs of the children
- the core values of our school
For example, our topic ‘The World at War’ covered lots of History in the National Curriculum and provides opportunities for our pupils to develop skills in other subjects. In Literacy for example the children kept WWII diary’s and wrote letters to Winston Churchill, in Art they created images of London during the blitz, our school trip so them leave school as evacuees on the Bolton-Abbey Steam train, in Numeracy they taught skills to look at rationing in Science they created parachutes whilst investigating wind resistance. The topic can be used to develop and encourage the children’s skills and talents in a real life setting.
The National Curriculum sets out the minimum content. At Sacred Heart, we make sure children learn lots of additional skills, knowledge and understanding. For example:
- we offer a range of after-school clubs and opportunities to learn a musical instrument – these extra-curricular activities go beyond the statutory requirements
- if a class or group show an interest in a particular subject, teachers will try to include this in the school year – a recent Year 6 class wanted to learn more about Artic Explorers
- current local / national or international events can provide a great basis for learning – Our recent whole school theme on the Pendle Witches is a good example
- importantly, higher attaining children are not restricted by the National Curriculum – in Numeracy children are encouraged to use their maths skills to solve problems related to theme.
We follow The Lancashire CHARANGA music scheme http://www.lancashiremusichub.co.uk/scheme which develops the children's skills across the school using a wide range of approaches and techniques.
Contact school for any specific, up-to-date information which you require.
An overview of the PE Curriculum. Follow the link to see an overview of the school's approach. PE Curriculum.
Our curriculum aims
Like all schools in England, we must follow the National Curriculum – it sets out subjects and content which we must teach. Within this, however, there is flexibility so that we can interpret and plan to meet the needs and interests of our children now and for the future. The key aim for all our teaching and learning is to provide opportunities for all pupils to learn, to enjoy and to achieve.
We want our children to be happy, enthusiastic and committed learners
We encourage and stimulate the best possible progress and the highest attainment for all our pupils. Our curriculum builds on pupils’ strengths, interests and experiences and develops children’s confidence in their capacity to learn and work independently and collaboratively.
We want to equip our children with essential skills for learning and living well
We place great importance on the skills of literacy, numeracy, information and communication technology and problem-solving. We promote skills that help our learners to improve their own learning and performance and that help them to work well with others. (See separate section below.)
We want everyone in our school community to be happy and healthy
We place a high priority on developing pupils’ physical skills, self-esteem and emotional well-being. We encourage them to recognise the importance of pursuing a healthy lifestyle and keeping themselves and others safe. We promote happy, effective relationships that are based on respect for themselves and for others.
We want to promote our pupils’ sense of faith and identity
We do this through teaching knowledge and understanding of the spiritual, moral, social and cultural heritages of Britain’s diverse society and of the local, national, European, Commonwealth and global dimensions of pupils’ lives. We want everyone in our school to understand and appreciate their own and different beliefs and cultures, and how these influence our communities.
We want our children to be reflective, expressive, independent and appreciative
We provide rich and varied contexts for pupils to acquire, develop and apply a broad range of knowledge, understanding and skills. Doing so enables our pupils to think creatively and critically, to solve problems and to make a difference for the better.
We want to prepare our pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life
All our children are unique. Our role is not to simply prepare children for the economy but to develop and nurture their skills and talents. We promote pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and, in particular, the differences between right and wrong, and that we have rights but also responsibilities. We want everyone in our school to be responsible and caring citizens who make positive contributions to communities.
How we deliver our curriculum
There are some key principles on which we’ve based our curriculum:
A two-year cycle
The delivery of the curriculum is based on your child’s own class: most subjects and skills are taught by the same class teacher. However, many of the topics we’ve planned are shared across two ‘partner classes’ in school – Years 1 and 2, Years 3 and 4 and Years 5 and 6. This means that teachers can share ideas and skills when planning and delivering topics, and sometimes means that classes swap teachers or combine to work with other children. To share topics and avoid repeating them each year, we operate a two-year rolling programme of topics, with some topics in ‘Year A’, some in ‘Year B’.
Sacred Heart is very much a community: everyone knows everyone else. This lends itself to supporting and sharing in so many ways, from playing to learning. To build on this, we’ve planned some topics under the same heading for everyone, from Reception to Year 6. This doesn’t mean children will learn the same skills or content regardless of their age, but does mean that children can support each other and share what they’ve learnt with each other more easily.
We prefer to set start and end dates for most of our topics, and we do this by planning topics with a specified length (‘Big Topics’ last for eight weeks, for example). This is so that we can ensure a broad and balanced curriculum, and so that our whole-school topics start at the same time – often with a launch assembly – and end at the same time – with some sort of reflective activity to share learning with others. It also means that we can embed whole-school themed weeks into the school year without these interrupting a topic.
Learning from others
Occasionally children learn with children from other classes or different members of staff. For example, older children might support younger children (under supervision) in reading or PE games. Not only does this help younger children to acquire new skills, but older children’s social skills and self-esteem can improve, too. We also make use of many visitors to school who have particular skills or interests, especially in Drama and PE.
Our curriculum is a creative, skills-based curriculum.
- Creativity = imaginative, purposeful activity + originality + with value
- Core skills = communication + mathematics
- Supporting skills = ICT + improving own learning and performance + working with others + problem-solving + working with others
Creativity is important so our children are really engaged in their learning: we want our English, Maths and topic lessons to be inspiring, challenging, enjoyable and relevant to the pupils. Skills are needed so that our children can become effective, life-long learners and successful, happy citizens. The skills feature in all subjects; they are sometimes the primary objective of a lesson whilst at other times skills are developed more implicitly.
Communication is a two-way process. We communicate ‘outwards’ by speaking and writing, and we receive communication by listening and reading. In all our teaching and learning, we aim for our pupils to communicate orally to a high level, and so we place a lot of emphasis on all forms of speaking and listening, as well as reading and writing. In this increasingly information-based world, we also want our learners to evaluate information critically rather than believe everything they come across without questioning.
Maths is a key skill. We all need to be able to perform simple mental maths skills; understand functions of a calculator and interpret the results; read and question data we see in tables and graphs; tell the time… There are many areas of everyday life in which we use mathematical skills without realising. In addition to this, Maths gives us the opportunity to develop problem-solving skills and apply logic and reasoning. We don’t think it’s acceptable for anyone to have poor numeracy skills and so we’re constantly thinking about how to develop this core skill in our topics and not just in a Maths lesson. (It’s worth remembering, too, that research shows the better a person’s numeracy skills are, the more likely they are to earn more and manage their finances better!)
As well as dedicated Computing lessons, which form part of the statutory National Curriculum, there are many more lessons in which information and communication technology (ICT) is used as a ‘vehicle’ to learn in other areas. This might be as simple as using a maths game to practise times tables, or something more complex such as entering data from a PE lesson to compare performances.
Improving own learning and performance
At Sacred Heart, we recognise that our children must be able to initiate, engage, persevere and reflect in all their learning. We want our pupils to be able to work independently without close supervision. We often, for example, incorporate independent research on a subject that they want to find out more about. Children then might present their findings to others.
Working with others
Working with others is a life-skill that will help to prepare our pupils for their future. Just like adults, children need to be able to cooperate and compromise, agree and sometimes constructively disagree, help others to learn and learn from others.
Problem-solving and thinking skills
Another aim of our teaching is to build children’s confidence to investigate and find solutions to problems and to think for themselves. There are many ways to build up skills in this area. For example, we might do this through lots of positive reinforcement and encouragement, teaching step-by-step problem-solving techniques, and indirectly by using role-play or other realistic problems to reach agreement.