Pope Francis said that school should be:
"A path that leads to the three languages that a mature person needs to know:
the language of the mind,
the language of the heart,
and the language of the hands.
All in harmony.
In other words, think of what you feel and do;
listen to what you think and what you do;
and do well what you think and do.
The three languages, in harmony and together.“
Church For Schools Day St. Peter’s Square
13th May 2014
As a staff we are of the belief that the education of a child can be seen as:
OUR SCHOOL CURRICULUM
Christ is at the centre of every aspect of the curriculum at St Mary’s School.
Our curriculum provides opportunities for broad and balanced learning, which is tailored, to the needs of our pupils. We have designed it around Pope Francis’ vision for schools, in that we provide three types of education;
Education of the Mind,
Education of the Heart
Education of the Hands.
Our belief in every child as individually gifted ensures that we seek, through our curriculum to provide opportunities for all children to aspire to be the bes. We strive to help the children develop as responsible citizens with strong sense of their own self-worth.
At St Mary’s we have a responsibility to provide a broad and balanced curriculum for all pupils. The National Curriculum is the starting point for planning the school curriculum to meet the specific needs of individuals and groups of pupils. Together with the wider school curriculum we hope to ensure that pupils develop from an early age the essential literacy and numeracy skills they needs to learn; to foster creativity; and to give teachers discretion to find the best ways to inspire in their pupils a joy and commitment to learning that will last a lifetime.
For each subject and for each key stage, programmes of study outline what pupils will be taught, and attainment targets give the expected standards of pupil performance. The Early Learning Goals set out what most children are expected to achieve by the end of the Foundation Stage.
In KS1 and KS2 the National Curriculum subjects provide opportunities to promote pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. At all key stages pupils learn, practise, combine, develop and refine a wide range of skills in their work. Some of these skills are subject specific, some are common to several subjects e.g. enquiry skills, and some are universal e.g. communication. These skills are essential to effective learning.
As we are a growing school, with a mix of abilities in all classes. To ensure that all pupils are receiving an appropriate level of education and are being sufficiently challenged the school has adopted a number of approaches;
As most classes are whole class discussion based the teacher is able to ensure that all pupils are involved.
The teacher carefully chooses each group when undertaking a class activity to ensure that each pupil is engaged at an appropriate level.
Individual Activities & Tuition
Dependent on need, for small numbers in each class, throughout the school day and most lessons the teacher or a teaching assistant is able to sit down with each child and help them reach their full potential levels.
By consistently monitoring pupils through assessment and individual tuition each teacher is able to identify the appropriate level of homework and extra support each pupil needs.
Ability Appropriate Levels of Homework
The more advanced ability and older pupils are given higher levels of homework to ensure that they are always being sufficiently stretched. There is a high level of expectation with regard to their work. Younger pupils are given age appropriate homework with the expectation level based on their particular age and ability. At all times all pupils are encouraged to believe that they can and will academically progress at a steady and consistent rate.
Role Models & Mentors
We operate a House System throughout school. There are children from Reception through to Y6 in each house. During Pastoral days older pupils are encouraged to help and mentor younger pupils. This gives them a strong sense of responsibility, as well as helping them to embed their own knowledge. For the younger pupil they have the benefit of older role models whom they can look up to and learn from. We try to ensure that each child throughout their time with us experiences the benefits of being both an older and younger member of the school.
Religious Education (R.E)
RE is at the core/heart of the curriculum at St. Mary’s. Our school mission statement:
‘Guided by Faith, Nurtured by Love and Inspired to be the best you, you can be’
permeates the daily life of our school, not just in RE lessons. All classes follow the ‘Come and See ‘programme which has termly topics linked to common themes across the school. Our children are also taught about Judaism and Islam. It is our aim in our RE lessons to develop the children’s knowledge, understanding ad skills appropriate to their age and capacity. We want our children to be able to think spiritually, ethically and theologically, and as such apply this to their own lives. We want our children to be able to engage well with others and have a real love of learning. Most of all we want our children to have a great sense of their own self-worth through their experiences of belonging to a caring, family-orientated school who have their children at the centre of everything they do.
At. St. Mary’s, we celebrate our catholic faith together, recognising the uniqueness and potential of everyone in our school community. Children and adults pray together several times a day. This will be through morning, lunchtime and evening prayers. Time is also set aside for private prayers and reflection. Each class has its own focus table which is prepared to reflect the liturgical year. We have a range of opportunities for whole school worship, such as Pastoral liturgies, classes leading whole school liturgies, class-based liturgies and paired class masses. Our children to have the opportunity to worship with the parish regularly.
PSHE, RSE and Citizenship
Our PSHE also permeates the whole of our curriculum. Topics are covered in a variety of ways, e.g. through themed liturgies, visits from outside speakers and links to our creative curriculum. We have weekly Statements to live by, which give our children the opportunity to reflect on different aspects of how they live their lives.
In our PSHE we aim to promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of our children. We want to provide our children with information about different ways they can keep healthy and safe. We see it as important that we encourage our children to understand that all actions have consequences, helping them to make informed choices to help themselves and others. For our SRE, all classes follow ‘A Journey in Love’ programme.
At St. Mary’s we believe that a quality English curriculum should develop children’s love of reading, writing and discussion. We aim to inspire an appreciation of our rich and varied literary heritage and a habit of reading widely and often so as to create lifelong readers. We recognise the importance of cultivating a culture where children take pride in their writing, can write clearly and accurately and adapt their language and style for a range of contexts. We want to inspire children to be confident in the arts of speaking and listening and who can use discussion to develop their learning.
We believe that a thorough grasp of literacy skills is crucial to a high quality education and will give our children the tools they need to develop as responsible citizens to participate fully as a member of society.
Our English curriculum that provides many purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and discussion so that skills are applied across our wider curriculum. We use a wide variety of quality texts, experiences, enrichment opportunities and resources to motivate and inspire our children. These include: children listening to an adult a class story daily, trips to museums and the theatre, visiting theatre performances, visiting authors, participation in an annual poetry recital, participation in assemblies, and outdoor experiences such as X Platoon.
As a result our children of enjoy showcasing their developing literacy skills. They are confident to take risks in their reading, writing and oracy skills, and discuss and share their ideas. They are able to apply them in a wide range of situations and for specific purposes such as: applications and interviews for leadership roles, writing a blog for an outdoor activity experience, letters to public figures, speaking in front of the school community as well as at local events, representing the school at events, writing and performing poems and songs.
We guide the children to achieve in mathematics utilising a school-wide approach called ‘Inspire Maths’. This gives the children a robust structure at an early age, incorporating best practice principles including effective scaffolding and concrete-pictorial-abstract approaches. The approach incorporates and emphasises mastery. As a school we are committed to inspiring our young learners in all aspects of mathematics by practising the thinking skills necessary to enable them to be confident independent learners. As part of this from 2019 we are developing our focus on mastery, with a view to expanding children’s conceptual understanding. Our approach to mathematics includes a robust focus on arithmetic and mental maths, backed up by a school wide focus on times tables utilising Times Tables Rockstars.
Science teaching at St Mary’s aims to give all children a strong understanding of the world around them whilst acquiring specific skills and knowledge to help them to think scientifically, to gain an understanding of scientific processes, and also an understanding of the uses and implications of Science, today and for the future.
Our school is located close to the largest Enterprise Park in the North East, which includes many large STEM ( Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)based businesses. Historically, these businesses have found that they have been unable to source employees locally, due to the lack of specific skillset needed , and therefore employ staff from other areas of the UK and worldwide. We at St Mary’s, have made a conscious effort to work with local businesses and educational establishments, to try to readdress this. We aim to raise aspiration of all children and provide them with the skills necessary to seek future employment within this area should they wish to do so. As a result, we have endeavoured to make links with many businesses, including South West Durham University Technical College, a purpose built STEM based learning establishment, which in turn filters into local employment opportunities. As part of the Primary Careers Benchmark Pilot, we will introduce a dedicated careers activities for children and parents, aiming to raise a greater awareness of possible employments areas that are available locally, as well as the necessary skills needed to succeed in them.
Scientific enquiry skills are embedded in each topic the children study, and these topics are revisited and developed throughout their time at school. This model allows children to build upon their prior knowledge and increases their enthusiasm for the topics whilst embedding this procedural knowledge into their long-term memory. The implementation of a Biodome has extended this learning further, and demonstrated how technology can enhance plant growth in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. This provides an excellent and tangible pathway for children to discuss such global matters such as sustainability, energy efficiency and global warming, consequently providing them with the necessary knowledge to make more informed judgements and decision making in KS2.
All children are encouraged to develop and use a range of skills including observations, planning and investigations, as well as utilising their natural curiosity of the world around them, helping them to become independent learners in exploring possible answers for their scientific based questions. Specialist vocabulary for topics is taught and built up, and effective questioning to communicate ideas is encouraged. Concepts taught should be reinforced by focusing on the key features of scientific enquiry, so that pupils learn to use a variety of approaches to answer relevant scientific questions and include topic related vocabulary.
We aim to ensure that STEAM ( Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) based learning has become an integral part of our curriculum, and opportunities to demonstrate these skills to others ensure that children embed their knowledge and understanding, making learning purposeful and meaningful.
Further opportunities for STEAM based learning is provided through trips to places as the Life Centre, Hancock Museum, Big Bang Science Fairs and STEM Fairs organised within the local community, as well as Science sessions held at local secondary schools and the UTC.
Our intent is to inspire and ignite in pupils a curiosity and fascination about the world, it’s cultural, climatic and geographical diversity and, of course, its people.
Geography enables children to investigate and discover a range of places, both here in Great Britain and globally and to develop their knowledge and understanding of the Earth's physical and human process. We intend to equip children with opportunities to investigate and make enquiries about their local area so they can develop a real sense of who they are, their heritage and what makes our local area unique and special.
We will provide children with opportunities to be creative and to think critically about the world, enabling them to have the skills to better equip them to make their own way in it. They should feel confident to explore, be inquisitive and not afraid to ask key ‘who, what, why, where and how’ questions: what do you think? Why do you think that way? How can we help to make a positive difference?
Geography is all around us, wherever we are. We should look at how it has been shaped, how it has evolved and changed. Looking at diverse places, people’s resources, the natural and human environment, recognise the effect of climate change and the importance of sustainable development for the future of mankind.
Our intentions are that all children are competent in collecting, analysing and communicating data through an experience of fieldwork that deepens their understanding of geographical processes, to have ‘hands on’ experiences of what is happening around them.
We want our children to be guided to understand that they have a responsibility to care for the world and the people in it, to nurture and care for our wider community, achieving life-long skills required to become life-long learners, who are inspired to make a difference to those around us.
History has always been held in high regard at St. Mary’s, particularly with the schools’ rich history within the local environment. They should be aware of their heritage and be proud of the North East as a whole and the immediately surrounding areas, such as Durham, Shildon and Bishop Auckland. The history curriculum makes full use of resources within the immediate and wider local area.
Topics are informed by the national curriculum and are sensitive to children’s interests, as well as the context of the local area. The history curriculum is carefully planned and structured to ensure that current learning is linked to previous learning and that the school’s approaches of achieving and inspiring are informed by current research and teaching methods.
In line with the national curriculum 2014, the curriculum at St Mary’s aims to ensure that all pupils gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world, which helps to stimulate pupils’ curiosity to know more about the past. Children are encouraged to ask inquisitive and perceptive questions, to think critically, weigh evidence, sift through arguments and develop a reasoned perspective and supportive judgement. This will help to lead to understanding the complexity of people’s lives, the process of change, the diversity of societies and relationships between different groups, as well as their own identity and the specific challenges of their time.
History should stimulate, inspire a thirst for knowledge, curiosity and imagination and provide enrichment, with opportunities to learn in a variety of ways including: trips, visits, workshops and specialists theme days. This will achieve a love of learning and inspire them to share their learning with others. We believe the study of history inspires children’s curiosity, encourages them to ask critical questions and enables them to have a better understanding and appreciation of the society in which they live and that of the wider world. It also helps children to gain a sense of their own identity within a social, political, cultural and economic background. History is the reason we are here; ahead of us is the history that we can make
At St. Mary’s Primary School we believe that The Arts, Art D&T and Music, stimulate creativity, imagination and inventiveness. We believe that The Arts give our pupils the skills, concepts and knowledge necessary for them to express responses to ideas and experiences. It fires their imagination.
“Art is not just a subject to learn, but an activity that you can practise with your hands, your eyes, your whole personality.” Quentin Blake
Art should enable the children to communicate what they see, feel and think. Children should experiment with their ideas, their use of colour, texture, form, pattern and different materials and processes. D&T should enable the children to design and create, applying Maths and ICT skills, to build and create and problem solve issues occurring in their design and construction. Music should enable the children to express themselves, to listen to a wide range of music genre and to appreciate how music affects the way we feel. It can be relaxing, uplifting and a way to release emotions. The children are given opportunities to compose their own music, rewrite songs with their own lyrics and perform to their own class and whole school concerts. Self-evaluation of work is encouraged and children are taught how to be resilience to achieve their goals.
We use sketchbooks to record experience and imagination, to help the children develop their ideas and to show progression in their artistic ability. We encourage children to work on their own and collaborating with others on projects to perform their music and songs, display their art and designs, including using their products to raise money for CAFOD.
As a STEAM School we recognise the importance of the children learning art skills linked to ICT. Opportunities are created for the children to develop their use of a range of tools, media and processes through ICT.
At St. Mary’s Primary School, art is not taught just taught in a designated Art D&T or Music lesson, but wherever appropriate it is linked to topics and the wider curriculum and as it gives children the opportunities to bring a topics to life. Children also explore ideas and meanings through the work of composers, songwriters, artists and designers. We also celebrate and recognise the work children bring into school from home.
Physical Education (PE)
Physical education is seen as a key driver in developing healthy lifestyles for all of our children at St. Mary’s. A broad and wide-ranging curriculum is taught by all teaching staff, and is complemented by our Sports Partnership with Sedgefield. This provides us with access to a variety of activities ranging from bespoke coaching for year groups to introductory sessions on disability sports. Our Sports Premium funding has enabled us to invest in promoting the children’s resilience by supporting whole school activities such as ‘X-Platoon’, whilst nurturing initiatives such as ‘Team up Kids’ promotes their mindfulness and wellbeing.
Children are inspired to achieve through both non-competitive and competitive activities – we attend a number of external events and competitions, whilst also hosting both inter and intra-school competitions. Children are guided to improve their personal best and through a range of after school clubs we constantly strive to increase engagement for all pupils including those with SEND and other targeted groups. Year 6 children are playground buddies to younger children and are skilled up to lead multi-skills activities, culminating in an annual inter-school tournament. The school has two sports captains who lead a School Sport Organising Crew, ensuring pupils have a voice in sports and physical activity provision.
Computing is inherent in all aspects of our curriculum. We use technology to enhance our learning and accelerate progress. We nurture and support our pupils to develop skills such as researching, typing, editing and designing, the results of which can be seen across curriculum areas. We aim to deliver computing skills for life to include use of spreadsheets, slide shows and Word documents, coding and of course being safe online. Our mantra is to guide the children in the safe use of technology, not to avoid its use. We issue termly E-Safety newsletters to parents and children. As a school we have invested in Computing by having available a suite of iPads and laptops as well as a school wide subscription to Purple Mash, enhancing our ability to integrate Computing across the curriculum.
Takes the form of a Topic based grid of a variety of tasks that the child choses to do over a half term period. Each task is given a point score dependent on difficulty. The aim is for the child to complete enough tasks to gain 20 points. Alongside this grid the children are expected to read every night.