Reading, writing, speaking & listening and discussion form the basis of our teaching programme. A daily English lesson is in place in line with government directives wherein the elements of reading, writing, spelling and grammar are taught using the 2014 English curriculum. The ability to read is crucial to a child’s progress in all subjects and much emphasis is to be placed on teaching the child to become a fluent and independent reader able to use and apply their reading skills. Once the children read fluently the teaching of reading does not stop and the skills of finding information, comprehension and literature are developed. Structured reading schemes are used throughout the academy.
Parents have an important role to play in supporting the child’s literacy development and are expected to support reading and related activities at home. Parents are encouraged to note comments about the books shared in a reading diary, which will be taken to and from the academy each day. At all ages children are encouraged to read for pleasure and each class library has a selection of books for loan. The children choose their own books and parents are asked to read with their children and talk about the content of the book. The academy receives a visit from a Book Fair once a year, providing an opportunity for the purchase of books for home reading. Children will write in a variety of genre i.e. for a variety of purposes and audiences (including prose, poetry, fiction and factual). High standards of handwriting and presentation are developed. Spelling and grammar are taught systematically and the skills of editing and re-drafting are taught also.
Read Write Inc – Our approach to reading is based on the Read Write Inc scheme. This phonics-based system was introduced in KS1 and provides accelerated progress in reading. The scheme allows pupils to work in small groups whose membership changes according to how the children are progressing. The learning extends into other areas of the curriculum so that the children can apply the skills they have learned. For more information on Read Write Inc and how you can help your child learn, please visit the Read Write Inc website.
Each class has a daily lesson in mathematics following the objectives of the National Curriculum 2014. They cover a range of topics throughout the year including aspects of number properties, calculation, fractions and decimals, measures, time, shape, position and direction, and statistics. Teachers use a range of strategies to develop children’s conceptual understanding of these areas including models and images, talk and explanation. Some lessons will allow children to practise new skills whilst others incorporate an element of problem solving so that children are challenged and encouraged to think further. Children also have personal ‘key skills’ targets which they work towards. They are expected to perfect and refine these at home as well as in the academy.
The youngest children in the academy approach science from the perspective of ‘Knowledge and understanding of the World’, while in Key Stage 1 and 2 the teaching of science takes place as a cycle of scientific themes which are re-visited and developed as children move through the academy.
Science work is very much of a practical nature and children are encouraged to make detailed observations, pose their own questions, devise experiments, reflect critically upon their results and communicate their findings clearly and appropriately. Children’s’ learning of scientific knowledge through experimentation is supported by teachers guidance and knowledge of scientific theory and is combined with formal teaching where appropriate.
Children are given a number of opportunities to learn about computing. This begins in Reception, where pupils become familiar with I.C.T. equipment including computers, iPads and digital cameras. In Key Stage 1 pupils build upon their knowledge of equipment and learn to use it for specific outcomes e.g. word processing, control of a robot/finding information on the internet. By Key Stage 2 children use their knowledge to solve problems and are encouraged to make choices based on what they know about the positives and negatives of technology. We also use LEGO WeDo to support pupils’ learning in computing and design technology.
Within computing lessons, all pupils are taught age appropriately about the safe use of the internet.
All children receive a broad, balanced and progressive range of experience in athletics, dance, gymnastics plus games, developing life skills such as team work and cooperation.
Key Stage 2 pupils swim at Downham Market Swimming Pool during the course of the year. Transport costs for Year 5 & 6 pupils are met from the academy’s budget but parents of Year 3 & 4 pupils are requested to contribute towards the cost of the coach. Swimming hats must be worn if a child has long hair and these are available from the academy at 60p.
Children will be taught to observe general safety rules with regard to equipment and apparatus; understand the importance of correct clothing and footwear; encouraged to observe the conventions of fair play and develop good sporting behaviour.
PE is a compulsory part of the National Curriculum. All children take part unless there are medical grounds for not doing so, in which case parents are asked to inform the office in writing or by ringing the academy before the missed lesson takes place.
PE kit should be kept at the academy all week and taken home for washing at the end of the week.
Shorts (preferably black), white polo top with logo – all work in the hall takes place in bare feet unless there are medical grounds for not doing so, in which case parents are asked to inform the class teacher in writing. However, children do need to have a pair of indoor plimsolls/trainers.
Clothing as above plus plimsolls or trainers and sweatshirt or tracksuit for cold weather. All children require a named bag suitable for hanging on a peg in which to keep their PE/games kit.
Any other bags should be small enough to be hung on a peg and be of a small rucksack type. Children in Years 3 to 6 have the opportunity to take part in football, netball, cross-country, cricket and rounders as extra-curricular activities/after academy clubs. Pupils who take part are expected to change back into academy uniform before going home. Not only is this good practice with regard to hygiene but usually ensures that the kit is available for the following session.
There is an annual athletics sports event and the academy takes part in inter-school matches around the area as well as the Downham Market cluster of schools which give opportunities to compete at county level.
Children throughout the academy develop an awareness of the past through topic-based work. They are introduced to a range of historical sources, which includes artefacts, photographs and pictures. Pupils are taught about important events and developments in Britain’s past, from Roman times and ancient civilisation. Within the study units there will be the opportunity to investigate local history. Through this work pupils develop a sense of chronology and change over longer periods of time. Visits are incorporated as appropriate in support of this work.
Children develop an awareness of places, their physical surroundings and their inhabitants. Geographical skills of map work and fieldwork are developed later while finding out about places (near and far), climate and landscape, populations and settlements, and environmental issues. Whenever it is appropriate visits are made into the village itself or to other places of interest.
Every opportunity is given for the children to undertake a balanced programme of art and design through the activities of drawing, painting, printing, clay, textiles and construction. They will work in 2 and 3 dimensions and a variety of scales, sometimes individually but also in groups or as a whole class. The children will be encouraged to develop a range of skills and techniques in art and craft and to use them as tools for learning in creating, discovering and recording the quality of things.
The children will also have the opportunity to observe, investigate and discuss the work of artists in a range of styles from a variety of cultures and periods in history.
For art, craft and design work the children are provided with protective clothing. The academy has Artsmark status and children contribute annually to an art exhibition.
Drama provides important opportunities for speaking, listening and role play. Children are able to express themselves, develop characters, and extend language, which helps to develop writing and self confidence.
The children will be given the opportunity to create, compose and record music of their own, as well as performing and listening to music in a variety of styles from different periods and cultures. This is designed to extend their musical experience and knowledge. Private music lessons are also available for those wishing to learn a woodwind instrument from Year 4.
Health and Sex Education
Through their work in many areas of the curriculum, opportunity is taken to make children aware of the need for healthy bodies, the importance of exercise and eating a sensible diet. They are taught the importance of personal hygiene from Reception onwards e.g. washing hands before eating.
Throughout the academy, pupils learn how humans develop from babies to adults. They are also taught about different types of relationships and families. In Year 6 pupils are taught specifically about puberty and the reasons for it. All learning is age appropriate and sensitive to gender, cultures and beliefs. The teaching of sex and relationships has been determined by the governing body alongside the staff. This policy may be viewed at any time. Parents are reminded their child can be withdrawn from all or part of sex education except those aspects included in the science element of the National Curriculum.
Modern Foreign Languages (MFL)
All children in Key Stage 2 must study a foreign language for a cumulative 60 minutes a week. Children will have the opportunity to study a foreign language and develop their interest in the culture of other nations. Children are taught French as this is the locally agreed transition language preparing pupils for high school.
Religious Education and Collective Worship
Religious Education is taught in accordance with the New Norfolk Agreed Syllabus, the aim of which is that all pupils irrespective of social background, culture, race, religion, gender, ability and disabilities have an entitlement to learning in religious education. Collective worship is in accordance with the 1988 Education Reform Act. Parents who wish their child to be withdrawn from either should contact the headteacher.
There is a daily act of worship for all pupils. On Monday’s and Friday’s the whole academy meets together. The assemblies are of a non-denominational, broadly Christian nature. Assemblies provide an opportunity to celebrate the work of the classes and the academy.