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Curriculum Rationale

St Paul’s Curriculum

At St Paul’s we seek to improve learning through opportunities, challenge and enjoyment.  We believe strongly that each hour of each day is an opportunity for a child to learn something new or master a skill.  Learning is a process with a start point and from that any number of end points, depending on what a child is learning and what stage of learning they are at.  Where learning is at its strongest a child is either developing or mastering new knowledge.  Our drive, as a school, is to identify, support and challenge children at all stages of their learning to maximise their individual potentials.

Children learn in a range of different ways.  Some learn by listening, some by seeing and some by doing (visual, audio and kinaesthetic learning).  Most children are a blend and that blend will differ depending on the subject they are learning and who is leading the learning.  As a result our teaching is also a blend.  Within that blend we seek to teach children skills to drive their learning forward and knowledge to help develop their learning.  Ultimately we are working towards a child developing his/her understanding of their learning, whether it is the growing understanding of their place within the world or ability to use increasingly more sophisticated skills. Learning is supported through a range of resources including, where appropriate, IT in the form of tablets and computers. Further to this we aim to take advantage of the great resource that is London itself through educational visits.  School visits can bring learning to life in a way that is not possible in the classroom and is always a fun and exciting thing to do.

We have a range of strategies across the school to meet the demands of the National Curriculum and of our eager learners.  Rather than adopting a fragmented approach to learning, where individual subjects are taught separately, we have adopted an approach that seeks to bridge one subject with another allowing the children become immersed within their learning.  We believe that this is how our children learn best at St Paul’s and have the best opportunity to translate one skill from one subject to another resulting in the potential for higher success understanding.  As a result, our key learning strategies have been developed to support one another to maximise the potential of crossing the whole curriculum.

The heart of our curriculum focus is based on a thematic approach to learning.  You may remember this from your days at school where a core theme acted as stimulus for a period of learning, be that a couple of weeks or half a term. 

We are committed in developing rounded learners and as such are committed to other experiences within the school. 

·         The Christian ethos is core to the school values and personality.  There are many opportunities throughout the year where we work in close partnership with St Paul’s Church and community as we celebrate a range of Christian events.

·         Music is formally taught across all year groups.  Children at St Paul’s have the opportunity to learn how to play within a Samba band, a steel-drum team and within a brass ensemble.  There are also choral opportunities throughout the year, regular school orchestral ensembles and year group musicals every term.

·         Sport has a particularly high profile within the school and all year groups have the opportunity to work with various coaches across a range of sports.  Sport happens throughout the school day including lunch times and beyond the standard school hours.  It is something that the school enjoys regular success in.

A clear focus on learning

Often when you ask a child what they are learning they will describe the activity they are doing. Although it is important that the activity is stimulating and enjoyable it is not the end product and unless it has led to learning it could be argued that it is worthless. In the IPC it is important that we make explicit the learning intentions for;

  • The specific curriculum area
  • Personal development
  • International mindedness

If children do not know what they are learning how can they assess their progress towards it? It is also important to inform parents and carers so that they can support the learning when the children are away from the school environment. 

As well as sharing the learning intentions teachers at St Paul's discuss learning with groups and individuals, allowing them regular time for reflection. This provides children with opportunities to talk about their learning and understand what will help them continue on their learning journey. The teacher carefully records this learning so they can monitor and facilitate progress. These records then inform future planning.

Parents visiting St Paul's will see learning reflected in the wall displays in individual classrooms and the corridors around the school. Through regular home school communication and the letter sent to introduce each Theme the class teacher provides parents and carers with information to help them engage in their children’s learning. 

What is the International Primary Curriculum?

Themes

The IPC is based on the premise that it is important to value the individual subjects of the curriculum whilst at the same time providing a theme which links them together i.e. a multi-disciplinary approach. The themes are carefully planned so as to be interesting and motivational thus inspiring the children to want to learn. An example is the theme of ‘Explorers and Adventurers’ which lasts for approximately nine weeks and covers the following subjects with examples of learning intentions;

Geography                                                                  

Know how particular localities have been affected by human activities

Be able to make simple maps and plans of familiar locations

Understand that the quality of the environment can be sustained and improved

History

Know about the main events, dates and characteristics of the past societies they have studied

Be able to gather information from simple sources

Understand that the past can be considered in terms of different time periods

Science

Know about the principles of magnets and magnetic and non-magnetic materials

Be able to gather information from simple texts

Understand the importance of collecting scientific evidence

Art

Know about some of the work of artists in the host country

Be able to choose materials and techniques which are appropriate for their task

Society

Know that they have rights and responsibilities

International

Know about some of the similarities and differences between the different home countries and between them and the host country

Be able to identify activities and cultures which are different from but equal to their own

The teacher makes it quite clear to the children that they are studying separate subjects using an integrated approach by saying, for example, “we are learning about explorers and adventurers from a science perspective.”

By linking the subjects using an overarching theme it enables the children to see the ‘big picture’ making sense of what they are learning and why. The teachers also make links to previous learning so that children can build on this.