When a child leaves St Mary’s Catholic Primary School at 11 years old, we ask ourselves what has their experience been, have they enjoyed school-life and their learning, and how have we impacted on each individual’s life? Have we prepared the children academically, socially, morally, and spiritually for the next step of their journey? Have we fed their curiosity in order for them to become life-long learners? More importantly, have we set them on the right path, forward in faith, following in the footsteps of Jesus?
As a school community we reflected on the above questions with the intention of creating an authentic curriculum that is personal to the unique needs of the children in our school, whilst also being in line with national expectations. We decided that having key threads running through our topics as a backbone to how and what we teach was essential. These would ‘drive’ learning forwards and become the ‘drivers’ for St Mary’s curriculum.
Our curriculum is underpinned by a Catholic education based on the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, in which the values of the Gospel underpin all aspects of school life. We insist on the highest standards of academic achievement so that our young people leave us as ‘agents of change’ – educated and caring people who have the qualifications, knowledge and skills they need to flourish as human beings and make the world a better place. We are committed to our mission and to raising standards in order to provide an excellent Catholic education for every child in our care. We work together as one Trust, one family of schools, a community inspired by a vision for excellence.
At St Mary’s Catholic Primary School we offer a curriculum which is broad and balanced and promotes a positive attitude to life-long learning. It builds on the knowledge, conceptual understanding and skills of all children, whatever their starting points, as they progress through each Key Stage in readiness for their next stage of education.
The knowledge of our children and the context in which they live have shaped what we believe is an exciting, innovative and creative curriculum, providing equality of opportunities to counter relative disadvantage/different starting points and meeting the needs of all our learners. Our curriculum has high expectations to combine transferable skills, demonstrate a breadth of vocabulary and develop strong cross curricular links. Inviting classroom environments to stimulate and engage quality thinking and reasoning.
We offer a range of lunchtime and after school clubs, plus a range of additional curriculum events which further extend our children’s learning opportunities.
We believe our children possess unique talents, skills and qualities. As such, they have the right to succeed, the right to recognise their own greatness and the right to develop who they are in a respectful and nurturing environment. Our school ethos is firmly rooted in our values with a love of learning being the foundation of everything we do.
- Promotes our Core Gospel Values which underpin all aspects of school life
- Promotes stewardship enabling our children to develop an awareness of the wider world and their role as global citizens
- Provides opportunities for our children to be agents of change and to make a positive difference to the world in which they live
- Balances academic success with wider attributes & provides for learners’ broader development enabling them to develop and discover their interests and talents
- Supports our children to develop their character and help them to keep physically and mentally healthy
- Has an uncompromising focus on the development and application of reading, writing and mathematics skills
- Plays a major role in developing our children’s love and passion for learning using Hooks and Celebrations as motivational tools
- Celebrates equity and diversity supporting the pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development
- Develops children as leaders by valuing children’s voices and individual contributions and offering a range of opportunities to develop their leadership skills e.g. roles of Prefects; Schools Council; Sports Leaders; Librarians and through responsibilities given in their class.
In order to empower excellence in children, we believe that we need to work in partnership with parents and the community to achieve this. Parents, stakeholders and community members are invited regularly into our school to celebrate the children’s work. We also engage local and wider community members as ‘experts’ to support thematic learning experiences; this provides the children with a meaningful audience and also celebrates with the wider school family the excellence that has been achieved.
The curriculum is delivered through a variety of teaching and learning styles to ensure that the learning experience is motivating and challenging. In this way each child has the experience of working independently and co-operatively in a variety of situations and is given the opportunity to reach their fullest potential.
As a Catholic school, Religious Education at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School forms an integral part of our overall curriculum, in addition to being a subject taught in its own right. In essence it is at the core of all we do and what we are about.
The subjects detailed below give you a whole school overview of the curriculum areas that are delivered throughout your child’s schooling. Each Class Teacher provides a curriculum newsletter to provide you with more detail about the content of the teaching and learning. You are welcome to talk to your child’s class teacher if you wish to receive further information about the curriculum we are delivering.
Religious Education and Worship
St Mary's Catholic Primary School places great emphasis on establishing a caring community of faith in which each individuals can receive and live the Gospel message, they can learn to love God and consider and care for others as they care for themselves.
The pupils follow a Catholic religious education programme called “Come and See”. In addition to this there are daily acts of collective worship, regular masses and children’s liturgies. Children of other faiths feel happy to take part in a range of prayerful activities and forms of worship. Children take a very active part in Mass. There are also opportunities for class assemblies throughout the year. Parents and friends are always invited.
In association with their own parish, the children are prepared for the sacraments of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion in Year 3. Parents are expected to attend parish based meetings and preparation masses to show their commitment to supporting the development of their children’s faith. The school co-operates closely with the local parishes and the clergy make regular visits to the school. In addition, we employ a trust chaplain who ensures the integration of faith within the school, being available to the children across our trust.
As part of our teaching we also encourage the pupils to show respect and understanding for those who practice other faiths and beliefs. This is demonstrated with visits to other places of worship, such as the local synagogue, as well as visits by individuals practising other faith denominations.*
Literacy forms the core of learning and embraces the development of spoken English, reading, listening skills and writing. The children are taught in accordance with the National Curriculum, which ensures that reading and writing are taught on a daily basis.
Being able to read is the most important skill a student will learn. Reading has far reaching implications for lifelong confidence and well-being. At St Mary's we aim for the children to become fluent, independent and comprehending readers who truly enjoy their experience with books. We are aware that learning to read is challenging for some of our pupils and as a result have introduced Read, Write Inc. a synthetic phonics programme that provides a systematic approach to teaching reading in Key Stage 1.
As a school we also ask that parents play an active role in the development of their child's reading by listening to them frequently, this is rewarded through our weekly reading raffle. Each child has a Reading Record Book and we ask that parents record details and comments on the reading that has taken place at home. Hearing your child read is beneficial throughout their primary education, not just for the first few years.
We have a good selection of books in the school library, which offer all children the opportunity to read a range of lively and appropriately challenging materials with fluency, accuracy, understanding and enjoyment.
The development of writing is equally valued within the school. From Year 1 onwards, children are taught the principles of Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPAG) to provide the technical foundation of their writing. This is then applied through a variety of genres to develop a broader knowledge of styles and features. In addition, St Mary's have recently been focusing on children developing their cursive handwriting to ensure children write accurately and coherently.
Skills taught within literacy are reinforced and consolidated throughout all curriculum subjects.
Mathematical skills are taught in a structured way on a daily basis. We aim to cater for the individual needs and abilities of each child by providing them with the necessary knowledge, skills and understanding so that they may confidently come to terms with the mathematical needs of the future.
Pupils are helped to develop skills and knowledge with the emphasis on: practical application, especially in the early stages; a positive attitude towards mathematics as an interesting and attractive subject in which the children will gain success and pleasure. It is our aim to support children in becoming fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics, through varied and frequent practice with increasingly complex problems over time. The children are encouraged to solve problems by applying their mathematics to a variety of routine and non-routine problems on a regular basis and in different contexts. It is important for pupils to develop the ability to think logically, clearly and to work systematically. At St Mary's we feel it is important to involve parents by providing differentiated homework when appropriate.
At St Mary's, science is about developing children's ideas and ways of working that enable them to make sense of the world in which they live through investigation and using applying process skills.
We mainly teach science through units of work and cross-curricular links, placing a great emphasis on practical hands-on experience. Children are taught the skills of observation, measuring, predicting, hypothesising, experimenting, communicating and interpreting through a variety of scientific explorations. All work is approached through topics at each Key Stage and where possible links are made with other aspects of the curriculum. Throughout their time at St Mary's children will regularly build on their knowledge across the four main areas of science:
- Scientific enquiry, which is taught through contexts taken from;
- Life processes and living things
- Materials and their properties
- Physical processes
Fun and relevant experiences allow pupils to plan their own investigations, in order to become familiar with the principles and procedures of scientific experiments.
From Summer 2019, St Mary's will be delivering a new school curriculum. We have chosen to redesign our own Connected Creative Curriculum using the published Cornerstones materials. This gives us the flexibility to tailor our programmes of study to meet our pupils' needs and interests, still ensuring structure, progression and broad coverage - all in line with the statutory requirements of the new National Curriculum. The Cornerstones Curriculum takes a holistic approach to learning, supporting the pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, as well as their awareness of British Values. This complements our own Catholic School ethos and values.
The Cornerstones materials include a very broad range of exciting and inspiring 'imaginative learning projects', with cross curricular themes and creative learning opportunities. Pupils will be learning in a very 'hands on' style. They will be given opportunities to develop and practise essential skills and then apply these skills in a range of different contexts. This will enable pupils to see the relevance of what they are learning and feel the satisfaction and buzz when they know they are succeeding!
The Cornerstones philosophy is based around: engaging, developing, innovating and expressing - and we will be doing this with our pupils through learning projects such as: Scrummdiddlyumptious!, Alchemy Island, A Child's War and Gallery Rebels. Expect to hear all about them, all the 'WOW' moments and amazing projects from the children, or speak to class teachers. You may also like to look at the Cornerstones website: www.cornerstoneseducation.co.uk
The school curriculum includes the following elements:
This starts in the pre-school year and continues into the Reception year and is organised into the following areas of learning:
Three Prime Areas: Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Communication and Language.
Four Specific Areas:
Mathematics, Literacy, Understanding the World, Expressive Arts and Design
Years 1 to 6:
From Year 1, every child follows the National Curriculum, which includes:
English, Mathematics, Science, Information and Communication Technology.
Art, Design Technology, Spanish (Years 3 - 6), Geography and History, Music, Religious Education, Personal, Social & Health Education and Physical Education.
Drugs Education - We recognise that we have a crucial role to play in warning our pupils of the dangers which drug misuse poses. We therefore provide an effective drugs education programme within the curriculum as part of our aim to be a health promoting school.
Sex and Relationships Education - Our aim is to develop children’s awareness of the needs of their bodies through correct diet, healthy lifestyle and acceptable personal habits. Sex Education Sessions are given to Year 5 and 6 pupils with a programme arranged with the School Nurse.
PSHE - Within our school we use the JIGSAW scheme of work for our PSHE sessions.
Children with Special Educational Needs
Some children may require extra help at specific times during their education, either with learning or behavioural issues. We have effective systems in place so that specific needs can be identified as soon as possible and appropriate support given.
St Mary's Catholic Primary School aims to ensure that all our pupils can understand and apply the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science, including abstraction, logic, algorithms and data representation. They are encouraged to analyse problems in computational terms, and have repeated practical experience of writing computer programs in order to solve such problems. It is our ultimate aim to enable children to be responsible, confident and creative users of information and communication technology. We achieve this by delivering the Purple Mash Scheme of work.
Music is delivered on a weekly basis to all classes by a specialist music teacher.
We seek to develop both appreciation and creativity in the children’s experience with music in the school. We have a choir who represent the school at various events during the year. The school is able to offer violin tuition for pupils in Key Stage 2, through Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts (NMPAT) we offer a progressive and interactive programme of study learning to play instruments. Year 4 and 5 children are also involved in a Ukulele Project in the summer term, which is also provided by Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts (NMPAT)
Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) and Citizenship
We believe that children should be encouraged to behave responsibly, to work and play co-operatively and have a respect for the people around them and the world in which we live. We want the pupils to lead confident and independent lives. Pupils are taught a range of concepts to promote their knowledge and understanding of what is acceptable and not acceptable within society, through a variety of topics.
The school holds a regular 'STARS' assembly to celebrate Spiritual, Trustful, Aspirational, Respectful and supportive behaviour.
Pupils are encouraged to take part in a wide range of activities that contribute to the wider school community, preparing them for the responsibilities of citizenship. We have a School Council and they regularly discuss and co-ordinate events and activities which contribute to the development of the school, such as fundraising for specific school equipment requested by the children.
We also offer a range of trips and excursions for pupils to participate in, recent trips have included:
- A residential trip to Walsingham
- Theatre trips
- Visits to local Residential Homes
- Cathedral/Church visits
- Walks to the local shops/parks
- Museum visits
At St Mary’s we aim to encourage physical activity and a healthy lifestyle as well as a sense of motivation, fair play, following rules and working as a team.
We offer physical activity through a varied programme of PE. This encompasses games, athletic skills, gymnastics and dance. Children in Years 3 and 4 also participate in swimming. Each year we compete in sporting events against other schools in the county, these have included football, basketball, netball, rounders, gymnastics and indoor athletics.
We want all children to experience achievement, satisfaction and enjoyment from Physical Education. The school also strives to celebrate pupils’ achievements through an annual sports day.
There is a formal programme of sex and relationship education at St Mary's Catholic Primary School. The content of the programme adheres to the teaching of the Catholic Church and the requirements of the National Curriculum. Parents are kept informed and the policy is regularly reviewed. Materials used are shown to parents before the course begins.
Parents have the right to withdraw their children from Sex Education lessons except those which form part of the National Curriculum science requirements.
The children learn about human and animal life processes and life cycles. We encourage an awareness of the need to care for and respect our own bodies and seek for children to develop positive attitudes towards themselves and other people as a foundation for healthy future relationships.