Curriculum at St Leonard’s
St Leonard’s curriculum is underpinned by our Christian vision to provide love, care and support for all its families, nurturing children as individuals and as learners, so that they are able to become valuable citizens within wider society; preparing children for “life in all its fullness” (John 10:10)
Our curriculum is designed to meet the unique needs of our demographic and context. We are a richly diverse and inclusive school, taking pupils from all parts of the world, with 29 first languages spoken and a large proportion of EAL pupils. A quarter of our pupils are eligible for the pupil premium and our aim is to ensure that all children are able to flourish, irrespective of background.
Our current priority is that children are emotionally ready to learn, and post COVID-19 we are prioritising a Recovery Curriculum so that all children feel safe and able to access their prior learning. Pastoral care runs alongside learning throughout the school.
We strive to ensure that every child can communicate their thoughts and feelings. Early talk and the development of spoken language skills is a priority, with a whole school focus upon giving children a rich vocabulary with which to express themselves. Our intention is that every child becomes a reader, with phonics and early reading considered essential to giving children the skills needed to access learning and the world around them.
In order to learn deeply we have an evolving, creative curriculum, designed to build upon children’s interests and give all learners, particularly the most disadvantaged and those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life. Taking prior learning as our starting point we ensure that activities give children the opportunity to know more, learn more and remember more than they did before.
To give purpose for learning we complement the core skills of reading, writing and maths with a wide breadth of study in order to develop children’s vocabulary and interest in the world around them. Our pupils will have, by the end of each key stage, long-term retention of an ambitious body of skills and knowledge, and the social skills and responsibility needed to take their place in wider society.
Our curriculum is based upon the National Curriculum 2014 and Development Matters for EYFS. It is topic based and each term children’s learning is based around a central theme. These themes are usually based around the History, Geography or Science curriculum. Current themes include: When is a wood a forest?, Game of Thrones – a comparison of different monarchs, and What a Disaster!
The curriculum offers a wide range of immersive experiences and allows children to be curious learners and question the world around them, building their cultural capital and vocabulary. Although much content is knowledge based, cross-curricular links ensure that learning is interweaved across subjects and skills and knowledge are applied in a variety of contexts, giving purpose to learning and building connections and neural pathways.
It is important that the activities and tasks planned are real and relevant for the children and enable children to know more, learn more and remember more. Learning intentions are based upon the identified needs of the children and lessons always begin with extracting children’s prior knowledge about a concept so that there is a base of prior knowledge to build upon –often referred to as sticky knowledge. Lessons always end with an evaluation of what they have learned throughout the session and how successful they have been, allowing children to become more practised at metacognition.
Children at St Leonard’s are encouraged to share their learning with others. They are able to challenge and support each other’s learning, and sometimes their own, gaining a deeper understanding of the concepts and tasks studied.
To make learning as memorable as possible it is also supplemented by educational visits both local and further afield, residential visits in Key Stage 2, and visitors who include the school nurse, Science Oxford and the local funeral director.
Alongside curriculum delivery, children are also taught how to learn and to develop a growth mind-set. To enable this, we use animal characters in EYFS to recognise and reinforce the Characteristics of Effective Learning and have developed a series of Learning Powers in the rest of the school. These have become a shared vocabulary of learning and our current Learning Powers are: Enjoy Learning, Be Co –Operative, Keep Improving, Use your imagination, Concentrate, Don’t Give up, Be Curious, Have a Go, Keep Flearning – learn from your mistakes, Try a challenge and Be Proud.
To supplement the curriculum, we have whole school themed weeks and terms, these include: Book Week; Science Week; Aspirations Week, International Week and Take One Picture. These provide children with the chance to make connections in learning, and opportunities to share their work with other members of the school community and/or their families via assemblies and exhibitions.
The spiritual development of children is a priority and our school Christian values of Love, Respect, Responsibility run through the curriculum, supported by a varied programme of Collective Worship and Religious Education. Children are encouraged to be tolerant of others’ differences and beliefs and we lay a strong foundation for British Values and participation in wider society.
Within the hidden curriculum we provide Nurture for those children whose emotional or mental health need supporting.
To support and extend the curriculum we offer a wide range of extra-curricular activities at lunchtime and after school, available throughout the year. Home Learning Menus reinforce the curriculum and give children options to develop, extend or consolidate learning completed within the classroom.
For an overview of our curriculum, please see our Learning Journeys on the website – https://st-leonards.oxon.sch.uk/learning/curriculum-information-2/whole-school-curriculum-plan/
Because learning is a change to long term memory, it is impossible to see impact in the short term. We know from cognitive science however that:
- Learning is most effective with spaced repetition
- Interleaving helps pupils to discriminate between topics and aids long-term retention.
- Frequent and regular retrieval of previously learned content increases both storage and retrieval strength.
We use whole class and ‘live’ feedback so that children know their strengths and have guidance on how to improve their work. Formal PiXL assessments facilitate comparative judgement of pupil’s work against 500+ schools nationally and allow us to identify areas of learning in which pupils are relatively strong and others which are areas for development and future learning.
The curriculum as a whole supports children to have the necessary knowledge, skills and attributes to make a successful transition to Secondary School and beyond. It runs alongside our aspirations work with children and families designed to raise ambitions for the future.
To find out more about our curriculum please contact the Deputy Head Teacher, Miss Sarah Moon. E: firstname.lastname@example.org