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.
To obtain additional information about our curriculum, please contact the school office.
Reading & Phonics
At Downsway Primary School, we believe that Literacy and communication are key life skills and that through the English curriculum, using cross-curricular links where appropriate, we provide children with the skills, knowledge and thinking that will enable them to communicate effectively and creatively with the world at large. The intention of all staff here at Downsway is to instil a love of reading, writing and discussion in our children that will have a positive impact on their development during their time here, and a lasting impact on their lives.
At Downsway Primary School, we believe that reading is an essential life skill and we are committed to enabling our children to become lifelong readers.
At the heart of our strategy is our drive to foster a love of reading, enriching children’s learning through carefully designed teaching activities, that utilise imaginative stories and thought-provoking texts.
Reading is a skill that enables children to develop their learning across the wider curriculum and lays the foundations for success in future lines of study and employment. At Downsway Primary School, our intent is for all children to be able to read with fluency and automaticity by the end of Year 2, so that they have moved beyond learning to read and are able to read to learn.
We want our children to leave school with a confidence and love of reading.
Our children begin their reading journey in Foundation Stage, where listening to stories and experimenting with sounds is an integral part of every day. We follow the West Berkshire Phonics Scheme, A Flying Start with Letters and Sounds. This programme is a method of learning to recognise letter sounds and then blend them together to read and segment them to write.
Phase 1 phonics teaching starts from day 1 in Foundation Stage and these ideas and activities continue throughout Key Stage 1. Phonics sounds are introduced from October in Foundation Stage and the children work through Phases 2, 3 and 4 during their first year of school, Phase 5 in Year 1 and Phase 6 in Year 2.
All children across Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 take part in daily, multi-sensory and fun phonics sessions. The groups are mixed across year groups, ensuring that all children are working on the phase and concepts appropriate to their needs. The children in Year 3 who require additional phonics support are also a part of these mixed year group phonics sessions. Regular spelling sessions across all year groups ensure teachers are also regularly recapping phonics knowledge where appropriate.
The phonics scheme is supported by our comprehensive scheme of reading books provided by Phonics Bug and Rising Stars. The Phonics Bug books are predominately used in Foundation Stage, whilst the Rising Stars books are used across Key Stage 1 and 2. Our reading scheme ensures children are offered a range of high-quality books, of different genres, that reflect the diversity of our modern world.
Children work through the wide variety of books at their own pace. Teachers monitor their progress and determine when best for children to move onto the next book band, ensuring that a range of titles have been explored and understood.
English lessons are taught in units that are planned around high-quality, challenging texts. The Downsway Book Spine has been carefully thought out and is displayed in a main corridor for all year groups to see. Each year group learns about, recites and performs carefully selected poems and these are also displayed on the book spine.
As well as a robust phonics and reading programme, we also promote children to read widely through linking text to foundation subjects, inviting authors in, planned guided reading sessions with high quality texts, celebrating World Book Day, and story times / reading sessions throughout the day. By reading frequently throughout the day, we endeavour to increase children’s vocabulary because they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech. Reading also feeds children’s imagination and opens up a treasure-house of wonder and joy for curious young minds.
At Downsway, we believe in early intervention, so children are regular assessed in their phonics and reading. These assessments allow for immediate interventions such as Fresh Air Phonics and Regular Readers to be introduced, to support the children in keeping up rather than catching up.
Not only do the adults read to the children and listen to the children read, we also have Year 6 reading buddies who support some of the younger, more reluctant children with their reading. The Buddies have been trained in how to support children with their reading through the use of games and familiar story books, for example, and are brilliant role models and support networks.
We also have a wonderful library where children can choose a book of their own interest. Each class has access to the library and children are encouraged to share their chosen book during reading sessions in school, and with friends and family at home.
At Downsway Primary School, children are taught to read fluently, understand extended texts (both fiction and non-fiction) and are encouraged to read for pleasure. We believe that regular reading at home is an important tool in developing reading skills and encourage children to read at least 3 times a week.
The impact on our children is clear: progress, sustained learning and transferrable skills. Our children become more confident, fluent readers and they realise the importance of reading for pleasure along with reading for information and knowledge. Children have a love of reading and read confidently to gain new knowledge across the curriculum and of the world around them.
Attainment in reading is measured using the statutory assessments at the end of Key Stage 1 and 2. These results are measured against the reading attainment of children nationally.
Phonics is assessed regularly at different points throughout the year to ensure children are making progress, keeping up and in the correct teaching group. The Phonics Screening Check takes place at the end of Year 1.
The reading impact is measured through hearing the children read and sharing stories with the children, regular reading assessments to ensure children are on the correct book band, PIRA testing (Year 1-6) and previous SATs papers (Year 2 and 6) to measure attainment against a national standardised score. Pupil voice is also carried out to assess learning and engagement and pupil progress meetings take place termly.
At Downsway Primary School we believe that all children should be able to confidently communicate their knowledge, ideas and emotions through their writing. We want children to acquire a wide vocabulary, a solid understanding of grammar and be able to spell new words by effectively applying the spelling patterns and rules they learn through their time here. We also want them to write clearly, accurately, coherently and creatively, adapting their language and style for a range of meaningful contexts, purposes and audiences. Handwriting, spelling and grammar will be explicitly taught to ensure that children are able to understand the conventions of writing and manipulate language to create effects for the reader.
We want our children to be confident writers who apply their skills in a legible coherent way across the curriculum and in later life. They should be able to ‘magpie’ ideas from known stories and be exposed to all text types through their primary career.
Our aim is to provide exciting writing opportunities and experiences that engage and enhance all children and to plan a progressive curriculum to build upon previous teaching, with regular assessment to ensure each child’s needs are met to reach their full potential.
Our children’s writing journey starts early on with fine motor sessions and mark making being introduced in Foundation Stage. The children take part in fun activities such as dough disco to strengthen the muscles in their hands and get them ready for writing. Fine motor activities and interventions continue throughout Foundation Stage and Year 1.
The children learn how to form letters during their phonics sessions in Foundation Stage. Initially we use engaging activities such as glitter in mark making trays and chalk on the playground, before moving on to pencil and paper. They then move on to writing words, phrases and sentences, with the aim of leaving Foundation Stage being able to write simple sentences that can be read by themselves and others. The aim is for children to leave Year 1 writing sentences with capital letters, finger spaces and full stops and then they build on these skills throughout the rest of their schooling.
Long-, medium- and short- term planning and the use of progression maps ensure that a variety of genres are progressively taught and built upon throughout the year and throughout the school. Using a combination of novels, film, poetry and relevant real-life events, learning is fun, meaningful and memorable throughout all year groups. Repeated practice of writing genres ensures that pupils leave our school capable of writing for different audiences and purposes. Teachers also plan writing based on Jane Considine ‘The Write Stuff’ Units, with each class covering at least one a full term. Teachers model the process of writing within every English unit so that children understand the thought process behind writing. During this process, teachers think out loud, edit and demonstrate how and why they have structured their writing in the way that they have.
Writing is also a key focus in with wider curriculum. Children are given the opportunity to transfer and build upon their knowledge of a genre studied during English lessons and apply this learning to a topic focus.
Grammar and Punctuation
In line with the national curriculum, we ensure that each year group is teaching the explicit grammar and punctuation objectives required for that age group. As well as teaching the objectives, teachers are able to embed the skills throughout the year in cross-curricular writing opportunities and ensure that most children are achieving the objectives at the expected level and that some children can achieve at a greater depth standard. Grammar and punctuation rules are taught both discretely and as part of English sequences of work to fit to the writing genre.
Here at Downsway, we also utilise the ‘Spelling Shed’ resource to plan and share spelling tasks at home. This is universally popular with our children, who love the challenging, competitive nature of the online activities. It also allows teachers to track the progress of individuals or groups of children and tailor the content of spelling sessions to suit their needs.
In Foundation Stage, children are taught print letter formation, with the expectation by the end of the year that they can write recognisable letters, most of which are correctly formed. In Year 1, they gradually learn cursive letters and in Year 2 they are taught how to join letters. By Year 6, the children are expected to write legibly, fluently and with increasing speed by choosing which shape of a letter to use when given choices and deciding whether or not to join specific letters.
By immersing children in high quality texts and focusing on skills and the enjoyment of English, children develop an enthusiasm for the subject. They enjoy talking about their favourite books, discussing the stories they’re writing, and sharing their achievements with other children. We aim that by the end of KS2 all of our children have made considerable progress from their starting points in Foundation Stage. By the time our children are in upper Key Stage 2, all genres of writing are familiar to them and teaching can focus on creativity, writer’s craft, sustained writing and manipulation of grammar and punctuation skills.
Children’s books show that they continually adopt new writing skills as they progress through the school while drawing inspiration from the books they read in class.
The impact of our English curriculum is measured through the monitoring cycle in school which includes, lesson observations, book monitoring and learning walks, GAPS assessments, gathering pupil voice, and pupil progress meetings.
Children are also encouraged to assess their own work. Evaluating their own progress often feeds their eagerness to reach new targets and enables children to talk freely and enthusiastically about their next steps.
• Use and understand a wide range of appropriate mathematical language to discuss, explain and justify their mathematical thinking and reasoning
• Explore and deepen their mathematical understanding through a CPA approach, with different representations of mathematical ideas
• Become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics, including through varied and frequent practice with increasingly complex problems over time, so that pupils develop conceptual understanding and the ability to recall and apply knowledge rapidly and accurately
• Reason mathematically by following a line of enquiry, conjecturing relationships and generalisations, and developing an argument, justification or proof using mathematical language
• Solve problems by applying their mathematics to a variety of routine and non-routine problems with increasing sophistication, including understanding the basic structure behind maths problems, and breaking them down into a series of steps and persevering in seeking solutions
• Make rich connections across mathematical ideas to develop fluency, mathematical reasoning and competence in solving increasingly sophisticated problems
• Consolidate learning and concepts through repetition and intervention to acquire sound foundations for fluency of mathematics
• Apply mathematical knowledge across a wide range of activities, within school and, subsequently, adult life
• Develop a positive attitude towards maths as an interesting and attractive subject
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.
Our maths planning is largely based on schemes of learning from White Rose Maths. This ensures a progressive and thorough curriculum in every year group. Within this framework, the 2020 DfE ready to progress criteria are prioritised to focus on the teaching of key mathematical concepts and skills.
In the Early Years, children will take part in practical learning activities focus on developing children’s knowledge of numbers up to 20 and also key concepts within shape, space and measures, 3-4 times a week. White Rose Maths schemes are used, alongside Numberblocks and the accompanying ncetm resources.
Children in Key Stages 1 & 2 have at least 4 dedicated mathematics lessons every week. In Key Stage 1, these last approximately 45 minutes and 60 minutes in Key Stage 2. 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, increasingly, through the use of our outside area, including playground markings, to support children’s understanding and enjoyment of the subject. Activities provided by teachers will be differentiated according to need to enable support to be given to children of all abilities. Staff use a star system, which indicates level of challenge, and children are encouraged to select the star level appropriate to their understanding. All children have the opportunity to develop not only their mathematical fluency, but also their reasoning and problem-solving skills throughout the course of a unit of work, using a range of resources and example questions.
- Children demonstrate a quick recall of facts and procedures, including the recollection of times tables.
- Children are developing the ability to make connections between mathematical topics and are able to independently apply their knowledge to a range of increasingly complex problems.
- Children are articulate in explaining their reasoning about mathematical tasks.
- Children demonstrate flexibility and fluidity to move between different contexts and representations of maths.
- Children are confident and resilient mathematicians, who enjoy the subject and make measurable progress against the National Curriculum objectives.
At Downsway Primary School, we value the teaching of Science and we recognise its importance in daily life. As one of the core subjects, we strive to give the teaching and learning of science the prominence it requires.
The teaching of Science focuses on increasing the pupil’s knowledge and understanding of our world, as well as developing scientific enquiry skills. The aim is to develop a natural curiosity within our children, harnessing a respect for living organisms and the physical environment and to provide chances to respond to questions through working scientifically.
At Downsway Primary School, through following the National Curriculum, we intend to offer pupils Science teaching with opportunities to:
- Develop their knowledge of key concepts linked to the three scientific strands – Biology, Chemistry and Physics
- Advance their awareness of processes and methods, through different types of enquiries that help them to ask and answer questions about the world around them
- Use a range of methods to communicate their scientific findings, including the use of I.T., diagrams, graphs and verbal communication
- Opportunities to work individually and collaboratively when completing practical aspects of the curriculum
- Establish an understand for correct and safe use of materials and equipment needed to carry out investigations
- Foster an enthusiasm and enjoyment of scientific learning and discovery
Children will have weekly Science lessons during their time in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2, whilst in the Foundation Stage Science is taught through learning about the world around us – via direct teaching, through children having access to structured, planned activities and through working ‘in the moment’ and responding to opportunities for learning that may arise throughout the school day.
We strive to ensure that the Science curriculum provided to the pupils gives them confidence and motivation to continue to develop their skills and understanding, both outside the classroom and as part of the next stage of their education.
We are also beginning to work with the local secondary school to ensure the transition in science teaching from Upper Key Stage 2 into Year 7 is
Science will be taught in year group specific units, linked to the National Curriculum with are planned, arranged and taught by the class teacher. Opportunities to problem solve are planned for, allowing children the chance to find out answers and solutions for themselves. During lessons, children are encouraged to ask questions and where possible, the chance to find out the answer through use of their science skills is encouraged. Planning for lessons involves teaches creating engaging lessons, making use of the high-quality resources to aid understanding of concepts before building in opportunity that allows children to explore and investigate this practically.
Through questioning and assessment within the lesson, teachers address misconceptions and identify pupils with gaps in their learning. Assessing during the lesson allows staff to respond to emerging needs and adapting intended planning as necessary. Whole school tracking of progress is collected through the school’s assessment system.
We build upon learning and skill development for previous years. As their knowledge and understanding increases, pupils become more capable in selecting and using appropriate equipment, carrying out investigations with increasing independence and they are able to reach conclusions based on their evidence.
Teachers demonstrate how to use scientific equipment, and the various Working Scientifically skills in order to embed scientific understanding. Teachers find opportunities to develop children’s understanding of their surroundings by accessing outdoor learning. Practical lessons will focus on developing one aspect of ‘Working Scientifically’ for recording and assessing children’s learning within a lesson. Targeting the focus on the lesson, ensures pupils are fully developing the skills required.
Monitoring of Science takes place with strengths and next steps identified. Lesson visits, book looks and pupil voice are used to inform monitoring, assessment and judgements.
Pupil voice is used to further develop the Science curriculum, through questioning of pupil’s views and attitudes to Science to support the children’s enjoyment of Science.
As a school we take opportunities to extend the learning beyond the classroom when they arise, these have included school trips to a nearby working laboratory and visits to the Science Department of the local secondary school.
Our approach to Science at Downsway Primary School means that:
- Children are enthusiastic about their learning and are keen to develop their skills
- There is clear progression in the children’s learning of scientific concepts
- Children’s work shows a range of units and evidence of the curriculum coverage for all Science topics
- Children are becoming increasingly independent in Science, selecting their own tools and materials as well as completing pupil lead investigations
- Children are ready for their next steps in Science learning as they move through school and onto Secondary 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.
At Downsway Primary School, we recognise the importance PE plays in the curriculum and are committed to providing all children with opportunities to engage fully in Physical Education. The aim of our PE programme is to develop children's basic physical competencies, build confidence in their ability and build the foundations for a lifelong love of sport, physical activity and a healthy lifestyle. Our PE lessons encourage children to compete against themselves and others whilst being challenged to improve their physical, social, emotional and thinking skills.
These skills are embedded in the heart of our planning. Our objectives in the teaching of PE align with the National Curriculum in that we aim to ensure all pupils:
- develop competence to excel in a broad range of physical activities
- are physically active for sustained periods of time
- engage in competitive sports and activities
- lead healthy, active lives
At Downsway Primary School, we use the Get Set 4 PE scheme to teach our PE across the school. This scheme ensures that children are given a wealth of opportunities to develop their physical movement skills and we aim to do this by providing quality P.E. lessons for 2 hours each week in each year group.
Every lesson plan has progressive activities that are designed to inspire and engage our pupils, allowing them to explore and develop skills and embed knowledge. The lessons are accompanied by supporting resources including resource cards, skills videos and music. Teaching points appear throughout to help our teachers with their subject knowledge and differentiation tasks provide activities with simple changes to appropriately challenge all of our pupils.
Using PE funding we have employed external coaches to teach tennis, tag rugby, football and cricket. By hiring qualified sports coaches to work alongside teachers we are able to enhance/extend opportunities offered to pupils and teachers learn from the coaches the necessary skills to be able to teach these new sports and physical activities effectively.
We run a football lunch time club free of charge for years 1-6 three times a week to increase engagement of pupils in regular physical activity.
In Year 4, we provide swimming lessons at Bradfield College Swimming Centre where the children will be taught by external instructors as well as 2 teaching assistants from the school that are qualified swimming instructors. The children also learn about safety in the water during these sessions.
In Year 6, children have the opportunity to attend an annual residential visit to the Isle of Wight. They take part in outdoor and adventurous activities, which are organised and supervised by qualified members of site staff. The aim of the trip is to encourage independence, build confidence & self-esteem, enhance team building, develop respect and to learn leadership skills.
Adults across the school act as role models for P.E. by ensuring that children have access to good quality equipment, recognising and rewarding children for development during activities, wearing sports clothing for P.E. and volunteering to take children to extra-curricular festivals and competitions, as well as sports activities off-site. This year, extra-curricular activities/competitions have included football, cricket, rounders, tag rugby, netball and cross country.
Our curriculum is designed so that children are taught a variety of activities throughout their key stage and there is a progression journey through all of these. Each area of PE also has a progression ladder which shows progression from EYFS to Year 6.
Assessment of skills, identified within the P.E. National Curriculum, is carried out lesson by lesson. The Get Set 4 P.E. scheme has clear success criteria for each lesson enabling staff to identify skills acquired and plan future lessons to build on those skills. Children are encouraged to peer assess, offering constructive feedback to aid further development during each lesson.
These judgements will be quality assured by the subject leader using first-hand evidence of how pupils are doing. They will gather evidence from lesson observations, conversations with teachers/external coaches and pupil voice to monitor ongoing progress.
Assessments will inform the curriculum and whether children are ready for the next stage in the curriculum.
- To instil a love of History in all our children through providing an interesting and varied curriculum which interests and intrigues our children.
- To improve every pupil’s cultural and historical understanding of the world around them, including their own heritage, to enable them to learn to value their own and other people’s cultures in modern multicultural Britain.
- To help them develop as curious learners that can reflect on the past and make meaningful links between periods and events in history.
- To have a strong understanding of chronology and to be able to identify aspects of continuity and change between periods in history.
- To provide a history curriculum with appropriate subject knowledge, skills and understanding as set out in the National Curriculum History Programmes of study.
We maintain strong links to the National Curriculum guidelines to ensure all aspects, knowledge and skills of History are being taught across all year groups. We use the David Weatherly ‘Connected History’ scheme of work, with its enquiry-based units of work, as well as local history units in Years 2 and 5, which focus on the history and culture of the Reading area.
The different units will focus on key historical skills and children will pursue lines of enquiry to answer a valid historical question. Children will be taught the key historical facts about a period in history, as well as given opportunities to develop their skills as historians in evaluating evidence, comparing and contrasting different periods and reaching informed conclusions to historical questions.
At the end of each year, the teacher will be able to use their knowledge and understanding of each pupil gained through extensive formative assessment over the previous three terms to reach an accurate judgment of what they now know, understand and can do.
British history is taught chronologically across KS2 to support children’s understanding of cohesion & change.
Wherever possible, we use historical artefacts, visitors, workshops and visits to excite and intrigue our children to find out more about events and people from the past. We aim to give our children as much understanding as possible about what is was like to be around at a particular period in history by having practical and experiential lessons.
By the end of year 6, children will be secure in drawing comparisons and making connections between different time periods and their own lives. They will also have a good sense of chronological understanding of British history from the Stone Age to the present day.
As historians, children will learn lessons from history to influence the decisions they make in their lives in the future.
Children will be able to talk about the skills and knowledge they have acquired.
The National Curriculum states that all children should receive a high-quality music education should engage and inspire pupils to develop a love of music and their talent as musicians, and so increase their self-confidence, creativity and sense of achievement. As pupils progress, they should develop a critical engagement with music, allowing them to compose, and to listen with discrimination to the best in the musical canon.
At Downsway Primary School all children receive complete at least 30 minutes of music lessons each week every other half term using the Charanga Music scheme. Each year group (except year 5) are involved in a musical play and will perform once a year and this is included as one of their music units. We also celebrate musical skills in our annual whole school talent show. In Year 2, children learn to play recorder in weekly lessons with a professional music teacher and we have previously had opportunities for year 4 and 5 to learn brass instruments and ukuleles with a music agency. The children in KS1 begin learning basic skills and techniques which include:
- using their voices expressively and creatively by singing songs and speaking chants and rhymes
- playing tuned and untuned instruments musically
- listening with concentration and understanding to a range of high-quality live and recorded music
- experimenting with, create, select and combine sounds using the inter-related dimensions of music.
- In KS2 the children begin to implement those skills and are taught to sing and play musically with increasing confidence and control. They should develop an understanding of musical composition, organising and manipulating ideas within musical structures and reproducing sounds from aural memory. There are also opportunities to join the school choir in Kst 2 and children are also offered the opportunity for private music lessons.
It will be evident over time that the progress, knowledge and skills of pupils will increase between EYFS and Year 6. When planning, teachers refer to the Long Term Plan and termly units within Charanga which ensures progression across the school. Impact will be assessed through a multi-faceted approach including performances, informal observations in lessons, opportunities through practical music-making, listening to children talking and playing, and watching children respond. Evidence is built up by means of sound and video recordings taken at the beginning and end of units, or when there is something significant to note. These should show development of musical skills, particularly singing, and improvement in social skills such as cooperation and team-work. Pupil voice is also important in the review of provision for music and we have conducted pupil interviews. Evaluations of schools with a strong musical ethos have shown there can be positive impacts on pupil wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem, as well as improved attendance.
Modern Foreign Language
In an ever-changing and diverse world, we believe at Downsway Primary School, that learning a foreign language, along with other cultural and social differences between ourselves and others, is vital in teaching children to become well-rounded individuals and considerate members of their wider community, both local and global. We have a number of children within our school community for whom English is not their first language, and we seek to foster this multi-cultural environment for all of our children whilst encouraging their curiosity and understanding of the world as a whole.
Learning a language will not only prepare them for their secondary education, where they will continue developing on the foundations we help them to build, but also for their adult life where they will experience many different languages and cultures.
The national curriculum for languages aims to ensure that all pupils:
- understand and respond to spoken and written language from a variety of authentic sources
- speak with increasing confidence, fluency and spontaneity, finding ways of communicating what they want to say, including through discussion and asking questions, and continually improving the accuracy of their pronunciation and intonation
- can write at varying length, for different purposes and audiences, using the variety of grammatical structures that they have learnt
- discover and develop an appreciation of a range of writing in the language studied.
At Downsway Primary School, we are lucky to have an experienced language teacher, Mrs Hudson, who teaches all of our Key Stage 2 classes, from years 3 to 6, enabling us to have consistency across the years as our children study and learn a modern foreign language.
The students at Downsway learn French using the Rachel Hawkes scheme of work, adapted to suit the children’s needs and the timetable, having weekly lessons across a term and a half each academic year.
In line with the National Curriculum expectations for MFL, our students are taught to:
- listen attentively to spoken language and show understanding by joining in and responding
- explore the patterns and sounds of language through songs and rhymes and link the spelling, sound and meaning of words
- engage in conversations; ask and answer questions; express opinions and respond to those of others; seek clarification and help
- speak in sentences, using familiar vocabulary, phrases and basic language structures
- develop accurate pronunciation and intonation so that others understand when they are reading aloud or using familiar words and phrases
- present ideas and information orally to a range of audiences
- read carefully and show understanding of words, phrases and simple writing
- appreciate stories, songs, poems and rhymes in the language
- broaden their vocabulary and develop their ability to understand new words that are introduced into familiar written material, including through using a dictionary
- write phrases from memory, and adapt these to create new sentences, to express ideas clearly
- describe people, places, things and actions orally and in writing
We are keen that children enjoy their learning of a foreign language and culture so the children are taught with the following structure:
- A song (or video) to recap on previous learning
- Introduction of new language
- Games to practice new language
- An activity to embed new language
- A plenary to test new language
Language teaching focuses on 3 main areas of learning: phonics, vocabulary and then grammatical structure. The Rachel Hawkes scheme outlines the teaching process as such: “The words are learnt in a multi-layered way through seeing a vivid image, hearing and repeating the sound of the word and doing an accompanying gesture. The three strands of this VAK approach strengthen memory, making the knowledge robust and secure enough for easy retrieval at any time, and more importantly, for application to new words in new contexts.”
At Downsway Primary School, we measure the impact of our MFL curriculum through:
- Observing the children speaking and listening in another language.
- Marking of written work.
- Interviewing the pupils about their learning (pupil voice).
- Annual reporting of standards across the curriculum to parents.
- Learning walks and observations.
- Frequent communication throughout the year between the MFL subject leader and the MFL teacher, including meetings to discuss what works well and what needs to change.
- Regular revision of the teaching and assessment materials with the selection of new resources where others have been less effective for learning.
The MFL subject leader continually monitors the impact MFL teaching is having on the children’s learning, through lesson observations, to ensure the progress of knowledge and skills across the Key Stage. They also ensure the teaching and planning for future year groups allows for knowledge taught to be continually revisited and for the learners to be able to apply the skills they have been taught to a variety of different settings, showing independence with their learning. Impact will also be measured through key questioning skills built into lessons and summative end of unit assessments.
The children at Downsway Primary School enjoy their French lessons: they greet their French teacher warmly each week, are keen to engage with their lessons, and Mrs Hudson receives many positive comments that the children have written on their assessments at the end of the year.
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 knowledge and skills based curriculum. The knowledge and 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.
Within an ever changing and technological world, Downsway Primary School understands and values the importance of teaching Computing from a young age. We acknowledge that future generations will rely heavily on their computational confidence and digital skills in order to support their progress within their chosen career paths.
Therefore, it is our school’s aim to equip children with the relevant skills and knowledge that is required to understand the three core areas of Computing, as outlined in the National Curriculum. These are computer science, information technology and digital literacy. The combination of these areas equips our children with the ability to safely and confidently use a computer/iPad.
Computing is an integral part to a child’s education and everyday life. Consequently, we intend to support our pupils to access and understand the core principles of this subject through engaging lessons and activities. Whilst ensuring they understand the advantages and disadvantages associated with online experiences, we want children to develop as respectful, responsible and confident users of technology, aware of measures that can be taken to keep themselves and others safe online.
At Downsway Primary School, we follow the ‘Knowsley' scheme of work which covers all aspects of the National Curriculum. This scheme was chosen as it has been created by subject experts and it included several engaging activities where the children could learn whilst enjoying themselves.
The scheme of work aims to support educators with the planning, integration and deployment of technology to complement teaching. The scheme provides us with plans to teach skills such as blogging, publishing, programming, film making, animation, music production and graphics – all essential skills for the digital citizens of tomorrow. This links directly to the curriculum which aims to equip young people with the knowledge, skills and understanding they need to thrive in the digital world of today and the future.
The curriculum can be broken down into 3 strands: computer science, information technology and digital literacy.
Information technology is about the use of computers for functional purposes, such as collecting and presenting information, or using search technology.
Computer science will introduce children of all ages to understanding how computers and networks work. It will also give all children the opportunity to learn basic computer programming, from Bee-Bots in Years 1 and 2, right up to creating on-screen computer games and programmes by Year 6.
Finally, Digital literacy is about the safe and responsible use of technology, including recognising its advantages for collaboration or communication.
Our Computing curriculum is high quality, well thought out and is planned to demonstrate progression and prepare children for their life ICT journey. In addition, we measure the impact of our curriculum through the following methods:
- Summative assessment at the end of each unit.
- Images of children’s practical learning in class folders.
- Children’s work saved on individual iPads.
- Interviewing the children about their learning (pupil voice).
- Lesson observations of teachers.
- Skills audits completed by teachers.
All of these will then inform future adaptions of the scheme of work to ensure progression is evident throughout the school.
At Downsway we aim to inspire pupils to be innovative and creative thinkers who have an appreciation for the product design cycle through ideation, creation and evaluation. We want pupils to develop confidence to take risks, through drafting design concepts, modelling, and testing and to be reflective learners who evaluate their work and the work of others. Through the scheme of work from Kapow, we aim to build an awareness of the impact of design and technology on our lives and encourage pupils to become resourceful, enterprising citizens who will have the skills to contribute to future design advancements.
They will also understand how to apply the principles of nutrition and learn how to cook independently. Our aim is for children to become resourceful, innovative and competent young designers, who are given the opportunity to explore their own ideas and develop the creative and practical skills required to solve real and relevant problems.
Through a variety of creative and practical activities, we teach the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to engage in the process of designing and making. Whilst planning is guided by the ‘Kapow’ schemes of work, which is a spiral, progressive scheme of work, this is adapted to the particular needs and requirements of our children ensuring the National Curriculum is followed. Key concepts and technical vocabulary are also included in planning which follows an overall design, make and evaluate structure. Encouraging the use of technical vocabulary during discussion opportunities links to improving oracy skills. Design and technology lessons can also be taught as a block so that children’s learning is better focused throughout each unit of work. Units on nutrition are taught ensuring that children have a growing understanding of where food comes from, its seasonality and the need for a healthy and varied diet.
The impact of the teaching of Design and Technology is assessed in a number of ways.
Formal assessment, careful questioning, photographic evidence and the DT leader will monitor the subject through discussion with pupils (pupil voice) and through ongoing discussion with colleagues.
The children will have experience of;
· How to follow the design, make, evaluate process to meet a goal
· Solving real life practical problems using innovation and creativity, both as an individual and as part of a group
· Choosing from and using a growing range of tools and materials
· Using and understanding richer technical vocabulary associated with DT
· Preparing a range of healthy, varied and nutritious dishes
Children may also get the opportunity to further practise skills during themed weeks such as ‘creativity week’.
At Downsway Primary School, we aim to deliver a high quality geography curriculum, not just through experiences in the classroom, by highlighting cross-curricular links, but also with the use of fieldwork and educational visits, which inspires in pupils a curiosity about the world and its people.
We wish to instil a love for Geography in our pupils and develop their knowledge of the world, as well as their place within it, and encourage them to undertake new experiences throughout their life.
We aim to provide all pupils with opportunities to investigate and build geographical expertise from their local area (Tilehurst and surrounding villages, Reading and the Thames Valley) to the wider world. This includes locational knowledge, understanding of human and physical features and geographical and fieldwork techniques.
We will encourage pupils to ask questions and propose solutions to environmental problems within the local community and the wider world. Increasing awareness of environmental issues and the impact humans have aims to encourage pupils to become reflective members of society who consider their actions/choices and actively invest in protecting the planet. We look to introduce the concept of sustainability and hope that this will become part of everyday life for our pupils.
In the Early Years it is the first opportunity to see how a child interacts with their environment and how the environment influences them. Staff follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Statutory Framework which aims to guide children, to make sense of their physical world and their community by allowing them to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment – this is the first step of becoming a geographer.
In KS1 and KS2, Teachers maintain strong links to the National Curriculum guidelines to ensure all aspects, knowledge and skills of Geography are being taught across all year groups.
Geography lessons are planned coherently, using the skills progressions, to build pupils’ knowledge and understanding of the world and the interaction between physical and human processes through quality first teaching. STEM opportunities that provide cross-curricular links will be utilised to promote the relevance of Geography and to provide enquiry based learning tasks.
Pupils will build geographical expertise regarding their local area to the wider world. This includes locational knowledge, understanding of human and physical features and geographical and fieldwork techniques. Big questions will be asked which promotes enquiry based learning.
Opportunities to develop their skills and fieldwork using maps, atlases (both physical and digital) and globes will be provided for all pupils. Fieldwork allows pupils to apply geographical skills in a real-life setting and explore their local area, starting with the school grounds and the features within it. We will develop deep subject knowledge and key skills while differentiating work for all abilities.
From EYFS up to the end of KS2, pupils will be taught various geographical terms both in our local area and worldwide.
Geography assessment is ongoing and informs teachers with planning lesson activities and differentiation; it will be tracked against the Geography progression of skills objectives.
All lessons are planned using skills progressions so that knowledge is taught across the year group; skills are progressed across the key stage with connections made to prior learning. Pupils will build their knowledge of both physical and human geography having a variety of units taught across each year.
‘Reactive Geography’ informs pupils of worldwide events that are being reported in the news (e.g. natural disasters) and further builds their understanding of physical geography and place knowledge through class discussions, ‘Picture News’ and assemblies.
At Downsway Primary, the impact of quality first teaching in Geography will foster a love and enthusiasm for the subject.
Well-constructed and well-taught lessons provide pupils with opportunities to research and apply skills independently – skills essential for lifelong learning. Book scrutiny indicates high expectations and reflects what pupils have learned to a good/very good standard. All learning builds towards clearly defined end points that are met.
Pupils will leave KS2 with a strong knowledge of their local area and how it compares to other place thereby establishing a strong sense of place. Pupils will develop a confidence of the location of other countries and cities around the world. All pupils will be able to discuss geographical themes considering why and where they happened in the world and the impact they have on both people and the environment. As well as explaining aspects of human and physical geography pupils will be able to confidently use maps and atlases (physical and digital).
Pupils will have developed awareness that all places have diversity in terms of their population, wealth and opportunities and will have a confidence to challenge stereotypes regarding both people and places.
Knowledge and skills will have developed progressively to not only enable them to meet the requirements of the National Curriculum but to prepare pupils to become competent geographers in secondary education. We want pupils to have thoroughly enjoyed learning about geography, therefore encouraging them to undertake new life experiences now and in the future.
At Downsway, we believe that it is important for our children to learn about and learn from religion so they can understand the world around them. RE offers our learners the chance to develop spiritually, morally, socially and culturally and to reflect on their own beliefs and express their own ideas in response to the material they engage with. By having a knowledge and understanding of a variety of religions and by our pupils being curious to ask increasingly challenging questions, we believe that it will allow our learners to engage in informed and balanced conversations, showing a greater awareness and tolerance of others. Through these meaningful discussions and reflections, children will develop respect for those of different faiths and beliefs and develop a moral and cultural awareness of what it means to be human in today's diverse world.
At Downsway, RE is taught weekly using the Pan-Berkshire Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education 2018-2023. We use the Discovery RE Scheme of work as a basis for our curriculum and ensure that children cover Christianity in each year group alongside the main religions of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism. Discovery RE is an exciting and engaging enquiry based approach where each term a key question for an enquiry related to the religion being studied is asked such that it demands an answer that weighs up ‘evidence’ and reaches a conclusion based on this. Our learners will use their subject knowledge and apply it to the enquiry question, rather than this knowledge being the end to the learning itself. Our approach using Discovery RE focuses on critical thinking skills, on personal reflection into our Downsway childrens’ own thoughts and feelings, on growing subject knowledge and nurturing spiritual development.
Our leaners at Downsway Primary School enjoy learning about other religions and why people choose, or choose not to follow a religion. Through their R.E. curriculum, the children are able to make links between their own lives and those of others in their community and in the wider world. They develop an understanding of other people’s cultures and ways of life, extending their own personal knowledge and understanding of religions and beliefs and develop a rich religious vocabulary. Through this, Downsway learners are informed and knowledgeable about the world around them, leading to more understanding, compassion and promoting the virtues of respect and empathy, which are so important in today’s wonderfully diverse society.
Personal, Social, Health Education (PSHE)
Our intention is that when children leave Downsway, they will do so with the knowledge, understanding and emotions to be able to play an active, positive and successful role in today’s diverse society. We want our children to have high aspirations, a belief in themselves and realise that anything is possible if they put their mind to it. In an ever–changing world, it is important that they are aware, to an appropriate level, of different factors which will affect their world and that they learn how to deal with these so that they have good mental health and well-being.
Our PSHE curriculum develops learning and results in the acquisition of knowledge and skills which will enable children to access the wider curriculum and prepare them to be a global citizen now and in their future roles within a global community. It promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils, preparing them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences for later life. Our Relationships and Sex Education enables our children to learn how to be safe, and to understand and develop healthy relationships, both now and in their future lives.
EYFS - In the Foundation Stage, PSHE and citizenship is taught as an integral part of topic work and is embedded throughout the curriculum. Foundation Stage also uses the Jigsaw Scheme of Work materials. (see below)
Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 - At Key Stage 1 and 2, PSHE is taught through a clear and comprehensive scheme of work in line with the National Curriculum. Pupils are taught PSHE using ‘Jigsaw’ which is a spiral, progressive scheme of work, and 'aims to prepare children for life, helping them to know and value who they are and understand how they relate to other people in this ever-changing world’. There is a strong emphasis on emotional Literacy, building resilience and nurturing mental and physical health. It includes mindfulness to allow children to advance their emotional awareness, concentration and focus.
At Downsway, in addition to Relationships Education, we also teach aspects of Sex Education. Alongside this we teach about different kinds of relationships, including same sex relationships, and gender identity because it is important that our children should have an understanding of the full diversity of the world they live in and be prepared for life in modern Britain. The Sex Education aspects of PSHE are taught through ‘Jigsaw’.
PSHE is taught through Jigsaw’s six half termly themes with each year group studying the same unit at the same time (at their own level). This ensures continuity across the school, in a manner that allows pupils to develop upon their learning from previous years and make connections between the Jigsaw pieces.
Autumn 1: Being Me in My World
Autumn 2: Differences (including anti-bullying)
Spring 1: Dreams and Goals
Spring 2: Healthy Me
Summer 1: Relationships
Summer 2: Changing Me (including Sex Education)
By the time children leave Downsway they will:
- be able to approach a range of real life situations and apply their skills and attributes to help navigate themselves through modern life
- be on their way to becoming healthy, open minded, respectful, socially and morally responsible, active members of society
- appreciate difference and diversity
- recognise and apply the British Values of Democracy, Tolerance, Mutual respect, Rule of law and Liberty
- be able to understand and manage their emotions
- be able to look after their mental health and well-being
- be able to develop positive, healthy relationship with their peers both now and in the future.
- understand the physical aspects involved in RSE at an age appropriate level
- have respect for themselves and others.
- have a positive self esteem
Assessment within discrete PSHE lessons, will ensure that pupils are building on their skills and knowledge over time. Predetermined learning objectives allow teachers to be mindful of the assessment elements within lessons and can help them pitch and plan subsequent lessons. In order to be confident in the impact of PSHE across the whole school community, the PSHE leader will monitor the subject through discussion with pupils and through ongoing discussion with colleagues.