All children have a right to a broad balanced and relevant education which provides continuity and progression and takes individual differences into account.
Our school's ‘curriculum’ is all the planned activities that we organise in order to promote learning, personal growth and development. It includes not only the formal requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum and the National Curriculum 2014, but also the various extra-curricular activities that the school organises in order to enrich the children's experience. It also includes the personal development curriculum – what the children learn from the way they are treated and expected to behave. We want children to grow into positive, responsible people, who can work and cooperate with others while at the same time developing their knowledge and skills, in order to achieve their true potential.
Our curriculum is broad and balanced, providing a wide range of knowledge, skills and experiences, giving each skill based theme sufficient time to contribute to the children’s learning. Our curriculum takes into account the key skills and knowledge required within each subject by the National Curriculum as well as children’s interests. The main emphasis is to make the curriculum relevant to the child’s learning by making explicit cross curricular links.
At Downsway, we promise that each child, in addition to statutory curriculum opportunities, will be given additional opportunities to:
- Take part in a residential visit
- Learn to play an instrument
- Represent the school – academic or non-academic event
- Take part in a fund raising activity each academic year
- Visit a place of interest each academic year
- Take part in Bikeability
- Take part in a competitive sports day
- Take part in inter-house competitions
- Participate in at least five different sports
- Take part in national days/events
- Learn the skills linked to our core values
- Contribute to whole school development
- Learn with others from across the school
- Take part in a range of extra-curricular clubs
- Take part in a production at least six times during their time at Downsway
- Take part in specialist workshops
- Learn about recycling
- Learn basic road safety
- Put themselves forward to be considered as a house captain or school council member
To obtain additional information about our curriculum, please contact the school office.
At Downsway, English is taught daily and reading and phonics are taught in accordance with the National Curriculum, with work appropriately differentiated to match all abilities. We aim to foster in the children a love of literature and language and the confidence to continue reading and writing throughout their lives.
Therefore in partnership with parents and carers, we expect our children to be able to:
- Speak clearly and confidently in any situation
- Listen actively and respond appropriately, developing knowledge and opinion
- Read fluently for both pleasure and information
- Write clearly and with confidence in any given genre
- Use spelling rules, phonics and grammar accurately
- Be able to proofread their own work and make amendments and improvements
Each child’s reading journey begins in EYFS where phonics is introduced using the Jolly Phonics scheme and 'Letters and Sounds'. Initially children's listening skills are developed through the use of music, environmental sounds and rhyme. In Foundation Stage, children are introduced to phonemes (sounds) linked to the letters of the alphabet, as well as one way of spelling each of the other 16 phonemes used in the English language, such as 'igh' and 'ch'. Children are taught to sound out and blend phonemes to read a variety of words and segment or break down the sounds in simple words for spelling. Jolly Phonics gives children an action for each sound, which supports children who learn in an active way.
In Year 1, children learn more about the variety of ways in which each phoneme can be spelled and they also learn about the different pronunciations made by different letters or groups of letters, such as 'a' in 'ant' and 'was'. At the end of Year 1, children will be tested on their phonics knowledge, using a national test featuring 20 real words and 20 pseudo-words. From Year 2 onwards, children consolidate their phonics knowledge, learning when to apply different spelling rules as well as how to spell plurals and different verb tenses.
As children progress through school and their phonetic awareness develops, children can choose from a variety of reading books. The reading books we use are colour banded and, as children become more confident and able readers, they will take home books from different colour bands. The books in the first few colour bands are primarily phonics based, allowing children to apply their phonics knowledge. Once children become fluent readers, a greater range of books is provided to allow children to engage in more lengthy discussions about the content of the book. The reading scheme is later supplemented with books from our well-stocked library. If children continue to struggle they will have a reading intervention strategy in order for them to get back on track as soon as possible.
Children also participate in guided reading sessions in small groups applicable to their ability, where they can apply their phonic and reading skills to a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts.
We encourage children to read at home to an adult every day. In Foundation Stage, children begin by taking home wordless books, to allow them to spend time talking to a parent about the book, without being constrained by the necessity to read words. Once children have a good understanding of how books work and have gained some phonics knowledge, they begin to read books containing simple words which can be blended or sounded out.
The main reading scheme used at Downsway School is Reading Planet.
As with reading, the alphabetic code is embedded first, so that children can write simple consonant-vowel- consonant words early on and build on their success. The children write every day, rehearsing what they want to say orally and composing, sentence by sentence, until they are confident to write independently. They write at the level of their spelling knowledge, that is, they use their knowledge of the alphabetic code and the ‘tricky’ words they have learnt. In every lesson, they are rapidly building up their knowledge, so that they are soon able to spell more complex words confidently, accurately and fluently. The children can use adventurous vocabulary in their writing because they have encountered such language in their reading and they have talked about what the words mean.
At Downsway Primary School we aim to:
- Develop a positive attitude to maths as an interesting and attractive subject in which all children gain success and pleasure.
- Develop confidence, willingness to learn and interest in the various aspects of mathematics.
- Develop mathematical understanding through systematic direct teaching of appropriate learning objectives.
- Encourage the effective use of maths as a tool in a wide range of activities within school and, subsequently, adult life.
- Develop children’s ability to express themselves fluently, to talk about the subject with assurance, using correct mathematical language and vocabulary.
- Develop an appreciation of relationships within maths.
- Develop ability to think clearly and logically with independence of thought and flexibility of mind.
- Develop an appreciation of creative aspects of maths and awareness of its aesthetic appeal.
- Develop mathematical skills and knowledge and quick recall of basic facts in line with recommendations.
The Maths Curriculum is delivered using the National Curriculum 2014 and the Early learning Goals are followed to ensure continuity and progression from the Foundation Stage through to the National Curriculum.
Children in Years 1-6 have daily maths lessons between 45 minutes- 1 hour. A range of resources are used to help children understand new concepts and ideas, including apparatus and pictorial representations and models. Maths is taught within the classroom and we are also developing the use of our outside area and playground markings to support children’s understanding and enjoyment of the subject.
Science is an important part of the curriculum at Downsway. Children take part in Science lessons at least once a week but depending on the class’ current topic, the frequency of these lesson can be more. Not only do we endeavour to broaden the children’s scientific understanding through imparting knowledge, we also aim to enhance and improve the pupil’s investigational skills.
Our science lessons are often hands on and involve the children exploring, using equipment and experimenting. We make the most of the school environment and classes can often be seen using the field, playground and nature area during their science lessons. Many classes have attended workshops led by visitors to the school which has consolidated and complimented the learning that has taken place in the classroom.
Whilst the primary focus of our lessons is to build science knowledge, we also try to provide opportunities for cross-curricular links particularly with Mathematics and English, for instance through measuring or writing the method for an experiment they have carried out.
Our aim is to engage and inspire pupils during their science lessons in order to foster and encourage any budding scientists here at the school.
Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural (SMSC) Education
How do with enable children to develop their self-knowledge, self-esteem and self-confidence?
We help children to develop their self knowledge, self esteem and self confidence in a variety of different ways both inside and outside the classroom. This is achieved through homework and extended learning tasks in the classroom. We have a system of praise and rewards including certificates for both academic achievement and social performance which are presented in assembly and house points. Our rich extracurricular provision includes an array of after clubs and school sports teams. The school council and house system provides opportunities for children to take responsibility and to work collaboratively and in support of each other. As a school, we value the Arts and place emphasis on performance of speech, music and drama. Through teaching our Core Values, we encourage children to develop good character traits for life.
How do we enable children to distinguish right from wrong and respect civil and criminal law?
At the start of each academic year, the class teacher develops a code of conduct through discussions with the children. Through Personal, Health, Social and Emotional lessons, (PHSE) and RE lessons children develop an understanding of right and wrong. For example, in literacy lessons the behaviour and conduct of a book character is analysed and discussed.
Staff have high expectations of the children in terms good behaviour and conduct. This is routinely modelled to the children by both Staff and visitors to the school. These behaviours are extended to extracurricular activity and school trips where the children are reminded that they are ambassadors for the school and behave accordingly.
The older children have ‘First News’ delivered weekly and children are encouraged to comment on the stories within the paper. Topical concerns are shared and discussed through assemblies and pre-planned discussion time. We have a thriving school council who represent the schools views and concerns. This group goes to the Houses of Parliament to experience ‘real law’. We have regular contact with our local MP, Alok Sharma, who has attended school voting and discussion sessions. We also have good relations with the local Police Community Officer who visits school to talk to the children on a range of subjects.
How are children encouraged to accept responsibility for their behaviour, show initiative and understand how they can contribute positively to the lives of those living and working in the locality in which the school is situated and to society more widely?
Through high expectations and consistent application of these, our children are very aware that they are responsible for their own behaviours. We organise a range of Charity Events, Young Enterprise activities and provide support for the Friends of Downsway (FOD) events. These activities teach our children about other children in difficult situations, the value of money and gives them an opportunity to work as a team in support of others.
We visit elderly residents in our local area at Christmas, sing Carols at the local supermarket for Charity and engage in local and National events and competitions.
How do our children gain a broad general knowledge of public institutions and services in England?
Through our International Primary Curriculum (IPC) topic work, children experience a range of public institutions and services, e.g places of worship, factories, and businesses. We encourage them where applicable to write to local institutions for support in school. Through homework and attendance in local trips, e.g Waitrose, ASK and Pizza Express, children gain a range of experiences and an understanding of how the enterprise works.
How do our children acquire an appreciation of and respect for their own and other cultures that promote tolerance and harmony between different cultural traditions?
Through our Collective Worship and RE syllabus, the children are exposed to all Religions. We encourage contribution from all faiths in topics eg. All about Me, Food, Places of Worship and People who help us. Our Values education, emphasises the importance of tolerance and harmony through stories, displays, writings, drama and music. We adopt a particular value each term where the children can earn certificates through demonstrating the value in their everyday life. Children are encouraged to be respectful of the views of others and to conduct themselves with care and consideration at all times.
What priority is given to PHSE and SMSC?
These are planned for throughout the year, but in addition we address issues as they arise. As a Values school we place a high importance on SMSC provision through all that we teach and our expectations of behaviour and conduct. We are an inclusive school and as such we welcome all denominations, and abilities. Through our PHSE and SMSC provision, we use every opportunity to prepare our children to live in a multicultural world with a mixed society.
Downsway Primary School recognises the value of Physical Education (PE). We fully adhere to the aims of the national curriculum for physical education to ensure that all children:
- develop competence to excel in a broad range of physical activities
- are physically active
- engage in competitive sports and activities
- lead healthy, active lives
PE is taught at Downsway Primary School as an area of learning in its own right as well as integrated where possible with other curriculum areas. It is taught at a minimum of one PE session a week, and two sessions per week wherever possible.
We teach lessons so that children:
- Have fun and experience success in sport
- Have the opportunity to participate in PE at their own level of development
- Secure and build on a range of skills
- Develop good sporting attitudes
- Understand basic rules
- Experience positive competition
- Learn in a safe environment
- Have a foundation for lifelong physical activity, leaving primary school as physically active.
PE is taught as a basis for lifelong learning, where the children have access to a wide range of activities in the belief that if taught well and the children are allowed to succeed, then they will continue to have a physically active life. A high-quality physical education curriculum inspires all children to succeed and excel in competitive sport and other physically demanding activities. At Downsway, we provide opportunities for children to become physically confident in a way which supports their health and fitness. Opportunities to compete in sport and other activities build character and help to embed values such as tolerance and co-operation.
The history curriculum at Downsway is carefully planned and structured. In line with the national curriculum 2014, our history curriculum 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.
- Are encouraged to ask perceptive questions, think critically, weigh evidence, sift arguments, and develop perspective and judgement.
- Begin to understand 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 challenges of their time.
Our History curriculum aims to excite the children and allow them to develop their own skills as historians.
The National Curriculum for music aims to ensure that all pupils:
• Perform, listen to, review and evaluate music
• Be taught to sing, create and compose music
• Understand and explore how music is created, produced and communicated.
At Downsway Primary the intention is that children gain a firm understanding of what music is through listening, singing, playing, evaluating, analysing, and composing. Our objective at Downsway is to develop a curiosity for the subject, as well as an understanding and acceptance of the validity and importance of all types of music. We are committed to ensuring children understand the value and importance of music in the wider community, and are able to use their musical skills, knowledge, and experiences to involve themselves in music, in a variety of different contexts. The music curriculum ensures children sing, listen, play, perform and evaluate. For music, we use the Charanga scheme.
In addition, our Year 4 children learn to play a musical instrument as a whole class through Berkshire Maestros, all Year 2 children learn to play the recorder and the school choir get opportunities to perform in the community such as at the O2 as part of Young Voices, The Hexagon as part of the music festival or a local organisation to raise money for charity. Furthermore, all year groups (apart from Year 5) put on a production to parents/carers every year which involves singing, dancing and acting and all year groups have fortnightly singing assemblies.
Modern Foreign Language
A high-quality language education should foster children’s curiosity and deepen their understanding of the world. At Downsway we are committed to ensuring that competence in another language enables children to interpret, create and exchange meaning within and across cultures. It also helps children develop skills that will open further opportunities later in life.
A Downsway we teach French in Key Stage 2 (juniors). The teaching of French, by a specialist French teacher provides an appropriate balance of spoken and written language and lays the foundations for further foreign language teaching at secondary school.
Art & Design
At Downsway Primary School we believe that art is a vital part of children’s education and has a significant and valuable role in the taught curriculum. Children will develop their understanding and knowledge of art with effective teaching and considered sequences of lessons and experiences. Art skills (e.g. drawing, painting, collage, printing and 3D) will be developed by providing an art curriculum which builds year on year. Our art curriculum contributes to children’s personal development in creativity, independence, imagination and self-reflection. However, most importantly, the knowledge we hope to imbed is so that our children are not just experiencing art- they are active participants in this subject.
At Downsway Primary School we teach art through a skills-based curriculum. The skills are developed and built upon each year so that progression can be seen clearly across the school. We have captured snapshots of this in our Art and Design portfolio.
During art lessons at Downsway, teachers choose:
- One skill to focus on and teach over a series of lessons, allowing pupils to develop these skills over time (referring to the progression document for support).
- One theme- often our art sessions are cross-curricular linked by theme- for example, links to the current history unit such as the Stone Age or Geography unit focusing on Seasons-Winter.
- One artist/artwork- alongside the skill taught teachers inspire pupils by sharing artwork from an artist linked to this skill, theme or topic. Through exposure of a range of artworks pupils gain an appreciation of human creativity and achievement of a diverse range of artists, supporting pupils’ cultural capital.
- One outcome- after a series of art sessions pupils will often create a final outcome linked to the skill taught and afterwards, through a range of assessment techniques, reflect on their creation.
Teachers are not prescribed to a set list of artists, outcomes or skills they must focus on at certain points in the academic year. We try to keep this fluid, so that it can meet the interests of our pupils, for example current events that are far more relevant to our children.
Throughout each year, in our art sessions, all children are exposed to a range of media giving them the opportunity to explore, develop and embed their skills and understanding of that media. This is true from our youngest children in Foundation to our eldest in Year 6.
Art at Downsway is assessed in a range of ways, both summative and formative. Above all however, it is incredibly important, that our children feel empowered and open to making mistakes. After all in art there is no right or wrong, as it is all a matter of interpretation. Having said that, teachers and support staff are able to make suggestions and refer back to previous modelling to support the children, if needed. Some of the most successful formative assessment methods include self-assessment (where pupils can celebrate their achievements) and also peer assessment (where other pupils have the opportunity to celebrate and comment on others artworks).
Coordinated whole-school creativity weeks will ensure that art is given high status in the curriculum which enables further focus on children’s artistic skills, knowledge as well as cross-curricular links. Our art curriculum is supported through the availability of a wide range of quality resources, which are used to support children’s confidence in the use of different media.
At the end of each year the children will have been exposed to a wide variety of media, giving them the opportunity to use it in a different way or purpose and develop a range of skills. Our lessons are accessible to all and gives pupils the opportunity to reflect and be proud of what they have achieved. They are able to look back at their earliest work in their sketch books and see the progress they have made. As we move up through the school the children will begin to develop their own preferences of media, tools and styles as they will have been exposed to them frequently throughout their time in school.
Furthermore, our approach of being open and accepting of mistakes will not only help to develop our children’s creativity within Art but will hopefully extend to other areas of their lives. There are many key life skills that will be developed through our attitude and teaching of art -which will support our children as they move on after Downsway. Such skills could include respecting others and their work (even if we don’t like it personally), or persevering after something goes wrong or doesn’t turn out how it was planned- after all, resilience is a key skill our children will need throughout their lives.
For computing, our aim is to provide a high-quality computing education which equips children to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world. By the time children leave Downsway, children will have gained key knowledge and skills in the three main areas of the computing curriculum;
- computer science (programming and understanding how digital systems work)
- information technology (using computer systems to store, retrieve and send information)
- digital literacy (evaluating digital content and using technology safely and respectfully)
The objectives within each strand support the development of learning across the key stages, ensuring a solid grounding for future learning and beyond.
We have a bank of iPads to ensure that all year groups have the opportunity to use a range of devices and programs for many purposes across the wider curriculum, as well as in discrete computing lessons. Employing cross-curricular links motivates pupils and supports them to make connections and remember the steps they have been taught.
As our curriculum ensures a balanced coverage of computer science, information technology and digital literacy, the children will have experiences of all three strands in each year group. The subject knowledge imparted becomes increasingly specific and in depth, with more complex skills being taught, thus ensuring that learning is built upon.
At Downsway, we encourage children to use their creativity and imagination, to design and make products that solve real and relevant problems within different contexts, considering their own and others’ needs, wants and values. Through a variety of creative and practical activities, we teach the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to engage in an iterative process of designing and making.
Our DT curriculum enables the children to design, make and evaluate and our aims are:
- To develop imaginative thinking in children and to enable them to talk about what they like and dislike when designing and making;
- To enable children to talk about how things work, and to draw and model their ideas;
- To encourage children to select appropriate tools and techniques for making a product, whilst following safe procedures;
- To foster enjoyment, satisfaction and purpose in designing and making.
We believe that Geography helps to provoke and provide answers to questions about the natural and human aspects of the world. Children are encouraged to develop a greater understanding and knowledge of the world, as well as their place in it. The geography curriculum at Downsway enables children to develop knowledge and skills that are transferable to other curriculum areas. We seek to inspire in children a curiosity and fascination about the world and its people. Our curriculum is designed to develop knowledge and skills that are progressive, as well as transferable, throughout their time at Downsway Primary.
At Downsway we use Discovery RE which is an enquiry approach to Religious Education. Our belief is that, using an enquiry-based model well, children’s critical thinking skills can be developed, their motivation to learn increased, and their knowledge and understanding of, and empathy with people and their beliefs, religious or otherwise, will be enhanced. This approach takes the philosophy that children are free to make their own choices and decisions concerning religion and belief. RE does not try to persuade but rather to inform and develop the skills with which evaluation can take place.
In addition, SMSC (Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural) opportunities are identified in each enquiry. Furthermore, British Values are also linked. Religious Education is a key player in engendering knowledge and understanding which can lead to tolerance and respect for others and their beliefs.