St Michael's Curriculum Statement
Following the changes to the National Curriculum from September 2014, we have reviewed our curriculum both to take account of the changes, and to ensure that our school priorities are really clear.
The Curriculum at St Michael’s
At St Michael’s School we aim to deliver the National Curriculum in a way that motivates, engages and stimulates every learner. Of equal importance to the curriculum content are the values and principles which we aim to teach children: these are set out in our ‘School Vision and Aims’.
Child-centred learning: skills-based topic approach
Our aim is for the curriculum to be relevant and meaningful to children. Much of the children's learning is focused around topics, which may last up to a term (6 weeks), or sometimes less; there will be a central theme (e.g. ‘Funky Pharaohs’ in Year 3), and much of their learning will link to that theme. We are very clear about the skills, attitudes and knowledge we want children to acquire in the course of each topic. Some aspects of learning, such as maths, PE, some science and some RE are likely to be discrete i.e. not linked to the theme, but following their own programmes of study.
Topics are enhanced in many ways. Full use is made of the school grounds; the local environment, and trips to Bristol and beyond. Visitors often come into school to talk about aspects of a topic, and children are encouraged to share experiences from home – including parents coming in to school.
Creativity & Enrichment
There are many creative opportunities within the curriculum: through written work; art; DT; music; drama - all of these areas provide children with rich and varied experiences. Art is supported in Key Stage 2 by a specialist teacher, and there are regular whole-school creative projects, often supported by visiting artists. These have led to various murals and art installations around the school. In music, all children have whole-class music lessons (taught in KS2 by a specialist music teacher); in Y2 all have the opportunity to learn the recorder, whilst all children in Y4 learn ukulele. Children who wish may have individual music lessons – as a large school we can offer tuition in most instruments. We also have numerous additional opportunities for music-making, including a choir, school orchestra, and flute and recorder ensembles.
ICT is used in many ways to support and enhance the curriculum, both in school and with home learning.
There are three whole-school theme weeks built into the curriculum: in Terms 2, 4 and 6. These provide wonderful opportunities for children to work with each other across year groups, and to experience a wide range of creative stimuli.
SEE: Spirituality, Enterprise and Environment
Three themes are interwoven through all topics: Spirituality, Enterprise and Environment (SEE). We see these as being key building blocks to help prepare children for the future (as well as providing great learning opportunities in the present!)
Spirituality We want to develop children’s awareness both of themselves and the wider world. Fundamentally that means encouraging children to be thoughtful, reflective and responsive to their own feelings and emotions, and to the world around them.
Enterprise We want children to be enterprising: resourceful, imaginative, able to work well with each other – and above all able to take initiative and put ideas into action
Environment We want children to be very aware of the environment in which they live, but also of their responsibility towards the wider environment. This includes developing their understanding of local and global issues – and also helping them know how they can make a difference.
There are separate pages devoted to each of these themes – please see these for more information.
St Michael’s Learning Skills
Developing learning skills is an important aspect of the broader curriculum. Skills such as questioning; cooperation; resilience; perseverance are not subject specific, but are part of promoting in children a love of learning, and developing a range of skills that will help equip them for the future in a changing world. These skills are introduced to the children by the use of animals: Keep Going Tortoise, Curious Monkey, Brave Lion, Imaginative Unicorn, Team Player Bee, Aim High Giraffe and the Wise St Michael’s Owl.
Spiritual, social, moral and cultural development (SSMC)
Also embedded throughout the curriculum is the development of values and attitudes. There are many opportunities for children to develop their spiritual side, whether more directly through RE and Collective Worship, or through the wider curriculum. Social and moral development is based on four core values: love, joy, hope and forgiveness, which are rooted in Christian teaching reflecting our Church of England foundation. There are numerous charitable events during the year for children to learn about and express their care and commitment towards others. For more detail, see our separate ‘SSMC’ guidelines.
Cultural Development We are very proud of the cultural backgrounds of all our pupils, and seek to utilise these strengths to create a cohesive and embracing environment where all feel valued and respected. This is supported by many opportunities to explore aspects of culture in the curriculum and beyond through history, geography, art, music and the links we have developed with schools in other countries. We are also passionately committed to the development of global citizenship, which aims to give children the understanding and skills to play a full part in an increasingly interlinked world. The school has gained ‘Fairtrade School’ status, reflecting our commitment to a fairer world. French is taught throughout the school, and there are also opportunities to learn about the languages and backgrounds of children in the school through regular sharing days and whole-school events (such as global week and Languages Day).
Sex education and drugs education are taught as an integral part of the curriculum through our Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE & Citizenship) programme and within the science curriculum, as set out in our Sex Education and Drugs Policies. Sex Education forms part of a cross - curricular theme which is covered in our normal classroom teaching. Parents have the right to withdraw children from certain parts of the sex education programme
At St Michael’s we are passionate about the provision of sporting opportunities. All children take part in at least 2 hours high quality physical activity during the school week, and there are numerous sporting clubs at lunchtime or after school every day. Year 4 children go swimming. We have a number of school teams that participate in competitive events, including football, netball, cricket, tag rugby and cross-country. There is an annual sports week, which includes a dance competition; a cross country competition; tug of war; and a sports day with both team and individual competitive and non-competitive events.
Beyond the Curriculum
There are many ways where children can extend and develop their learning beyond the immediate curriculum. We offer two residential visits (‘camps’): in Year 5 for 3 days and in Year 6 for 5 days. Both provide fantastic opportunities for children to develop a range of skills in different challenging situations.
Clubs We offer a very large number of clubs, run by a mixture of school staff and outside agencies (some of these may involve a charge to parents). These clubs cover a whole range of sports, including gym; football (clubs for every year group from Y1 upwards); cheerleading; cricket; girls’ football; table tennis; judo; tennis; basketball, netball, tag rugby, rounders. Other clubs include: orchestra; recorders; science; DT; art; school magazine; ICT; any many more!
Over the last few years we have achieved a number of awards that reflect our curriculum interests and priorities. These awards are:
Active Mark and Healthy Schools status, which means we place the health and wellbeing of our children at the heart of everything we do.
Green Flag Eco Award, which encourages all children to recognise the important of safeguarding our environment.
ICT Mark (the first primary school in South Gloucestershire to do so), demonstrating our commitment to the use of ICT in promoting learning.
Fairtrade School Status
International School (Intermediate Award)
Sing Up (Gold Award)
The curriculum and inclusion
All of the curricular and extra-curricular activities at St Michael’s are fully inclusive for all children, whatever their needs or abilities. Careful differentiation and additional support where appropriate ensure that all types of special need receive appropriate teaching, and there is a programme of development for children identified on the Able, Gifted and Talented register. For further details see relevant policies.
Foundation Stage Curriculum
In the Reception year, the children follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Curriculum. This builds on the child’s previous experiences, with a strong focus on learning through play and the development of the Characteristics of Effective Learning (playing and exploring; active learning; creating and thinking critically).
Children’s learning is developed through the Prime and Specific Areas of Learning:
- Communication and Language
- Physical Development
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
- Literacy (Reading and Writing)
- Understanding the World
- Expressive Arts & Design
During the year children’s progress against these is carefully monitored. Each child builds up their own learning profile, which is shared with parents regularly during the year. Parental involvement is very much encouraged, for example, through parents coming in to school, contributing to the child’s Learning Journey (use of ‘Wow’ slips) or through home-school activities.