The Curriculum at St. Stephen’s
We are a community where:
beauty and trust are treasured,
justice and tolerance are promoted,
compassion and charity are encouraged,
goodwill and loyalty are cherished,
resilience and determination are needed,
forgiveness and love are required,
friendliness and respect are reinforced,
faith and spirit are shared.
Definition and Intent
We define our curriculum at St Stephen’s as the lived experience of a child whilst in our school. It is our view that every encounter, interaction, activity, planned, spontaneous or incidental, are the components of our curriculum. As such, our curriculum intent comes directly from our school mission statement. We firmly believe that, in order for pupils to grow and develop in way that supports their acquisition of skills and knowledge, we need to expose them to a culture within a community which promotes and encourages the values and attributes required to support their academic, physical, social and emotional needs.
Our vision statement therefore requires our community to:
Recognise the beauty of the world around us and in ourselves and trust that God has made us in his image and likeness - treasuring our every move.
Value social justice and work for the common good for all people on Earth and promote tolerance where there are differences.
Show compassion for those in need and encourage charity in our local and universal community.
Display goodwill in our actions and cherish loyalty in our relationships with others.
Support children in their studies – encouraging resilience and determination to succeed.
Know the importance of forgiveness and understand that love needs to be free-flowing.
Advocate friendliness in our relationships and maintain respect between each other.
Uphold the Catholic faith – spreading and valuing the gift of the Holy Spirit.
This is how we have constructed the taught curriculum in a way that reflects our intent. It demonstrates our thinking and decision making around what will be taught, why it will be taught and when. There are several elements that make this up. Firstly, we use the Early Years’ Framework and National Curriculum as our starting point for building the taught curriculum. We also adhere to diocesan guidelines and requirements around Religious Education. Additionally, we give due consideration to the enriched curriculum and how the taught units of learning can be enriched to reinforce understanding, capture and maintain interest whilst making appropriate links to the local and global community. This approach can be seen in how the long-term overview is constructed, particularly with the headings used for each of the subject areas and learning units.
Links to school values – mission statement
Cohesion and linkage across the curriculum, where able
See whole-school curriculum overview
Commando Joe’s – teamwork, leadership and character building
Specific lessons and activities
Agents of Change
Current affairs lessons
Enrichment – visits, visitors, particular activities
Rationale – why this piece of learning, what is it building on and where is it leading to?
Possible key vocabulary
Great consideration has been given to the curriculum overview so that there is a vertical approach (how the subjects and units of work link to each other within each year group) as well as the linear approach which considers the year-on-year development of skills and knowledge across all year groups from EYFS to Year 6. This ensures progression and ongoing incremental challenge and enables children to link and apply learning across curriculum areas. For example, using data handling knowledge from maths and through application in science.
This element is essentially focused on delivery and the day-to-day learning experiences we provide for our children. As mentioned at the beginning of this document, it is the lived experience of each child. Therefore, teachers, although autonomous in how they choose to impart knowledge, select and use resources as well as construct and deliver learning sequences, must, while doing this, strive to do so in the spirit of our mission statement. However, there are some key principles to be considered in short term planning and lesson delivery:
- Ensuring that integration is established
- Authentic outcomes punctuate each unit of study
- Key ‘learning points’ are identified and feed into ongoing curriculum progression
- Study unit intentions and outcomes are summarised in pupil friendly format.
- Connections to school mission and vision are identified and elaborated on where appropriate
- Link, where appropriate, to current affairs so children can become Agents of Change in the community.
As well as the principles above, adults should also be mindful of the agreed policy statements relating to the following:
- Teaching and learning
- Equal opportunities
- Special Educational Needs
- Performance Management
It must also be acknowledged that in curriculum implementation there is the ‘human component,’ which cannot be understated. Again, this refers us back to our school mission statement and also the adult’s recognition of the privileged position of influence he or she holds. It is, after all, the adult who sets the tone and atmosphere for learning, it is the adult who dictates and controls situations.
'As a teacher I possess tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humour, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, a child humanised or de-humanised.'
'I am the decisive element in the classroom.'
Haim G Ginott
Teachers use the long-term curriculum overviews to construct logical and cohesive learning sequences. These sequences may, at the teacher’s discretion, consist of some over learning or repeated learning from previous related learning. Teachers will be aware of what prior learning has taken place and, importantly, will know how current learning is preparing children for future learning. With this in mind, as part of short-term planning, teachers will reference prior and future learning. This effectively ensures progression, appropriate levels of challenge for all pupils and supports the contextual position of the learning within the bigger learning journey. Where necessary, teachers will consult with the SENDCos so as to ensure that learning opportunities for pupils with special educational needs are suitably challenging and meet their needs. Under no circumstances should any child be denied access to appropriate learning activities because planning has not sufficiently taken his/her needs into account.
*Current affairs are taught as and when they occur via Relationships and Health Education sessions, with focus on pupils understanding fundamental British values. Where appropriate, teachers will support pupils support to develop views on global, local and current issues; teachers are encouraged to refer to Picture News and News First.
Teachers and SLT will monitor the impact of our curriculum delivery at regular intervals across the academic year. This will consist of anecdotal evidence gathering based on teachers’ evaluations, internal assessment practices, discussions with children about their learning and progress as well as routine information gathering via lesson observations, Work scrutiny and professional dialogue. Added to this, end of key stage outcomes will be referred to when appropriate and necessary.
At this stage, our curriculum design is at the point of implementation and its full impact is yet to be evaluated. However, although much work has been carried out in refining our approach, seeking to ensure greater cohesion in linking units and essentially securing greater clarity for children and teachers, our core approaches to teaching and learning have not been dramatically changed. With this in mind, it is expected that the level and quality of impact will only be enhanced so that our outcomes will continue to strengthen from already strong starting points (see external data).
It is also very important to refer, again, back to our mission statement. This is a key indicator as to whether we are successfully preparing our children, not only for the next stage of their learning, but whether we are helping them develop the necessary attributes and mindset to help them succeed in making a positive contribution to the local and global community in the 21st century.
This is a working document, laying out curriculum planning for the academic year 2021 onwards. It also serves to capture ongoing evaluations and subsequent adjustments, thus contributing to an ongoing professional discussion in our efforts to build a curriculum for purpose, that being the needs of our children.
The school has a comprehensive curriculum strategy, which is focussed on a series of core texts. The books serve to expose pupils to a range of fiction and non-fiction texts, incorporating many different genres and themes.
The core texts help to:
- underpin aspects of the humanities and science curriculum;
- develop pupils’ understanding of society and the local, national and global community;
- support pupils’ understanding of themselves, their relationships with others and their well-being;
- provide pupils with escapism and content matter that is exciting and engaging;
- regularly expose pupils to high-quality English language, which offers opportunities to address complex vocabulary.
The core texts overview is not exhaustive and remains flexible. The selected books have been purposefully selected to complement other strands of our curriculum offer. The texts are the starting point of pupils’ curriculum journey, and we ask you to visit the subject specific curriculum overviews, available on our website, for further information.
All aspects of our curriculum are accessible to all children, irrespective of their ethnic background, gender, disability, religious or linguistic background. We strive hard to meet the needs of those pupils with special educational needs, those with disabilities, those who are more able, those with special gifts and talents and the children who are learning English as an additional language. We provide a rich, challenging curriculum, which stretches all of our children. Staff are aware of children who have exceptional talents and gifts and monitor or track their progress carefully to ensure their academic potential or talent is continually developed. For further details see separate policies.