We believe that learning should be an exciting and motivating experience for all, whatever their learning style or the pace at which they develop. Our curriculum is designed to develop children’s skills and knowledge in all aspects of education; personal, social, physical, spiritual, moral and cultural.
We have a strong academic track record, performing consistently and significantly above National expectations. In the Early Years Foundation Stage children follow the statutory curriculum. Year One and Year Two cover Key Stage One of the National Curriculum. Years Three, Four, Five and Six cover Key Stage Two. This consists of ten subjects some of which are taught through a topic-based approach. These subjects are: Religious Education, English, Mathematics, Science –which are known as the Core Subjects, Art and Design, Design Technology, Geography, History, ICT, Music and Physical Education – which are known as the Foundation subjects. We also teach French and Personal Social Health Education to all children.
The Reception Year is the final part of the Early Years Foundation Stage which starts at three years of age. When children join the school in the Reception Year they follow a curriculum which builds upon their pre-school experience and progresses towards achievement of the early learning goals for the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage. This offers a balanced education through a range of stimulating, creative and challenging activities focusing on:
Communication and language
Personal, social and emotional development
Understanding the world
Expressive arts and design
Our provision ensures a balance of adult-directed and child-initiated learning. Play underpins the delivery of all the EYFS and all development and learning for young children. Children have opportunities to play indoors and outdoors and it is through play that they develop intellectually, creatively, physically, socially and emotionally.
Adult-directed and child-initiated learning are well planned and resourced, following the children’s interests, and support children to thrive in a secure environment with enjoyment and challenge.
Children’s attainment is measured using the EYFS profile, and progression and achievement are tracked throughout the EYFS through whole group, small group and individual observations which create a picture of the whole child.
OfSTED highly praised our EYFS provsion by stating the reception child get a very good start at St Mary's.
Language starts before children come to school and will continue in school at the level the child has reached. Children will have learnt to speak and to listen. Most will have used a pencil (the early stages of writing) and most will have used books and looked at pictures (the early stages of reading). Literacy lessons develop children’s ability to listen, speak, read and write for a wide range of purposes, including the communication of their ideas, views and feelings. Children are enabled to express themselves creatively and imaginatively as they become enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry and drama, as well as non-fiction and media texts. They also gain an understanding of how language works by looking at its patterns, structures and origins. Children use their knowledge, skills and understanding in speaking and writing across a range of different situations.
1 Speaking and listening
Speaking and listening are fundamental to children’s language and social development. It is an essential tool for all areas of the curriculum, as talk underpins learning and thinking. It is vital that its significance is recognised by children, parents and teachers. Children are provided with many and varied contexts for talk and direct teaching in the skills of speaking and listening. Children take part in a range of speaking and listening activities; this involves learning partners, drama, discussions, explaining etc. We aim to enable our pupils to express themselves creatively and imaginatively and to communicate with others effectively, learning to respect and value a range of thoughts.
The ability to read is fundamental to pupils’ development as independent learners. In order to read across the curriculum with fluency, accuracy, understanding and enjoyment, pupils need to orchestrate a range of strategies which will enable them to decode and understand the text. Children are helped to develop a love and respect for books. They are encouraged to read, understand and respond to a wide variety of literature and to make informed choices about reading material. They are taught to read using a variety of methods and a wide range of books, including books from many reading schemes. They learn how to gain information from non-fiction books and to analyse and evaluate a wide range of texts.
In Key Stage 1, children are given a Reading Record where the school and parents maintain important contact. In this record, teachers and parents celebrate good strategies and give targets to improve reading. Throughout the school, children take home a reading book according to their ability. These books aim to build their confidence in reading as well as challenge the child. The school library is well stocked and children have access to this to aid their learning.
Children are taught to write clearly and accurately with good presentation. Great emphasis is placed on talking and generating ideas before putting pen to paper, so that children learn the importance of improving upon their first thoughts and ideas. They learn to write imaginative and descriptive pieces of text, both fiction and non-fiction. They are taught to form the letter shapes accurately and are encouraged to use a flowing, legible style of writing. Children learn to use correct grammatical structures, punctuation and spelling and to correct and re-draft their work where appropriate.
4 Spelling and Phonics
Beginning in the Early Years Foundation Stage, Reception children follow the ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme. Letters and Sounds are a powerful teaching tool which ensures that young children will be well-placed to read and spell words with fluency and confidence by the time they reach the end of Key Stage 1. Phonics is taught each day for at least 15 minutes in a fun way but also with rigorous pace. We follow a progressive phonics scheme recommended by the Local Education Authority which sets out the word families children need to learn in each year group.
At the start of Key Stage 1, Class 1, the English National Curriculum is introduced and followed throughout their time in school. In spelling sessions teachers afford many opportunities for talking about spelling and revisiting and practising strategies. The teaching of spelling aims to develop pupils as independent spellers who take an active part in their own learning. From Year 2 we use a progressive spelling program which moves from phonics into the development of spelling strategies which are built on through the junior years.
Programmes of study designed to take into account the requirements of the National Curriculum are used for Science teaching across the school. This Science is taught weekly in all classes and gives opportunities for children to apply their investigative skills across the different areas of Science: Chemistry, Physics and Biology. These areas consist of life processes and living things, materials and their properties and physical processes.
At St Mary’s, we develop the children’s knowledge and understanding of the major world faiths, and address fundamental questions concerning, for example. We enable children to develop a sound knowledge not only of Christianity but also of other world religions, especially those that are the main faiths of children within our school and local community. Children reflect on what it means to have a faith and to develop their own spiritual knowledge and understanding. We help the children to learn from religions as well as about religions. We encourage children to think about their own views and values in relation to the themes and topics studied in the RE curriculum.
“Standards in religious education (RE) are outstanding. They are in line with standards in the other core subjects which are significantly above the national average.”
Statutory Inspection of Anglican Schools
Art and Design
We place emphasis on art at St. Mary’s; we feel that it is important that children are able to express themselves in imaginative and original ways through using a variety of media. The children are also taught to appreciate and understand art, learning about how artists work and develop their ideas.
Through the study of design and technology, children combine practical skills with an understanding of aesthetic, social and environmental issues, as well as of functions and industrial practices.
Teachers ensure that the children apply their knowledge and understanding when developing ideas, planning and making products, and then evaluating them. We do this through a mixture of whole-class teaching and individual or group activities. Within lessons, we give children the opportunity to work both on their own and to collaborate with others, listening to other children’s ideas and treating these with respect.
Stimulating interest and curiosity in children is crucial to the teaching and learning of History. Through History children learn about events and people of the past, develop a sense of cultural and historical heritage and acquire lifelong skills in investigating, evaluating and problem solving, all of which can be transferred to other curriculum subjects. The children make use of a range of sources of evidence to draw conclusions about the past and understand how this has influenced their lives today.
Our children experience geography as a practical subject, where they investigate their own environment and have opportunities to work outside the school through trips and field studies. As the children move through the school they learn to understand how the geography of a region plays a part in the culture that develops. They are also taught to be aware of the changing world in which we live and of the various factors which influence our environment.
We aim to teach our pupils to be responsible and active participants in a rapidly changing digital world. Children at St Mary's develop their Computing skills across five threads: Programming, Data, Media, the Impact of Technology and Online Safety, broadly following the Integra Computing Scheme of Work. We teach certain skills discretely, such as Programming, but we also integrate skills across the whole curriculum as children use a variety of technology to create texts, artwork, etc.
Online Safety is taught to children in school as part of the curriculum and is reinforced whenever the children access the web. The use of the internet at St. Mary’s is strictly filtered via county servers and the tightest security is in place at all times. We have an E-Safety Policy to support all members of the school community, as well as an E-Safety Digital Leader Team. All children in the school also participate fully in the annual Safer Internet Day.
Music is a highly innovative way for children to access a variety of skills and at St. Mary’s Primary we aim to promote and encourage as many musical talents as possible. Throughout the year the children engage in a diverse range of opportunities. We are well supported by South Gloucestershire Music Hub and other music teachers who come into the school to do various clubs or offer opportunities to the children to learn or just ‘have a go’ on an instrument. All children have the opportunity to learn the recorder and glockenspeil at St Mary's.
The choir is very popular, we perform at the Thornbury Eisteddfod, regularly picking up awards. They also perform at school fairs, in the church, local care homes and in 2016 supported the Castle Secondary School with their production of Joseph.
Our Recorder Club is very strong, they enter local competitions and in recentyears has played at the National Finals in Birmingham.
Various other events take place during the year in St. Mary’s which ignite the children’s interests in music such as the Music Performance afternoon where pupils have the opportunity to perform in front of the whole school and parents. We have joined other schools to take part in an infant music festival and in the past we have enjoyed workshops such as Indian Music and Song, Samba drums and Vocal training.
In 2018 the whole school worked with ISing Pop over a week in school learning some new fantastic Christian songs which they recorded onto a CD. They also performed a concert to the parents in the church.
The Music curriculum is very good, we follow a scheme called ‘Charanga’ which supports the national curriculum expectations, enabling all children to experience music appreciation and composition and learn an instrument.
The children experience a varied physical education programme which includes swimming, dance, games, wake and shake and ‘Speed, Agility and Quickness’ sessions as well as gymnastics. The PE scheme of work is designed to teach children how to assess their skills in PE and games and how to improve them further. There is a range of after school clubs and sporting activities throughout the year and we hold a sports day in the summer.
We strive to deliver PE opportunities to engage children in a range of sporting activities. We do this by inviting specialist coaches who can run in class curriculum based sessions and who may also run after school clubs in their chosen areas. Most recently this has included training in Tag Rugby from member of the Bristol Rugby Club and Cricket from Rockhampton Cricket Club. We encourage a love of sport by taking part in tournaments for sports from Tag Rugby and Football to Boccia and New Age Kurling. After school clubs, which are run throughout the academic year, have included Sports Heroes, Netball, Hockey, Rounders and Football.
In 2019 our excellence in PE was recognised when we achieved the National Gold PE Quality Mark.
In an increasingly diverse world it is important to understand cultural diversity and to be able to communicate across national boundaries. At St. Mary’s we have weekly lessons at KS2 in French where we explore the language and culture of France. We teach in a way that gives children the base for exploring other languages in the future.
Personal Social Health Economic Education (PSHEE)
Our PSHEE curriculum is delivered to all pupils through discrete PSHEE lessons. There is one lesson of taught PSHEE a week. Elements of the programme may be supported through the bringing in of additional expertise such as outside speakers or the use of teachers with a particular interest or knowledge in a specific area. In addition to these discrete sessions, PSHEE is also dealt with across the curriculum (e.g. Social issues through the teaching of English Literature; Health through Biology and PE; Citizenship through History). There are also centrally organised sessions which supplement the delivery in houses, dealing with issues such as bullying, alcohol, sexual relationships and drugs, as well as supporting careers and economic education.
Sex and Relationship Education
As part of the PSHE curriculum, SRE (Sex and Relationship Education) covers subjects such as relationships, keeping healthy, personal hygiene, feelings, naming body parts, appropriate touch and keeping safe. Puberty is introduced in KS2 and sexual intercourse is discussed in Year 6.
Each class has a web page where you can find more about the curriculum overview and exciting developments every term.
What does your child learn at school each day? Find information about our curriculum subjects here.