IN THIS SECTION

Curriculum

School Ethos

Balsall Common Primary School is ambitious, determined and fully inclusive. The school aims to provide a caring, stimulating and happy atmosphere in which each child may enjoy his/her work and find satisfaction in it, develop positive attitudes, acquire a sense of achievement and develop self-confidence and self-discipline. We believe that Balsall Common Primary School exists to provide every possible opportunity for our children. These opportunities come from an ethos and curriculum that provide maximum learning opportunities for each individual child, no matter what their particular needs may be.

We aim:

  • To enlarge each child’s experience, knowledge, imagination and understanding, thus enabling them to realise their potential for learning and capacity for enjoyment.
  • To help pupils develop lively and enquiring minds, the ability to question, argue develop ideas rationally and to apply themselves to tasks and physical skills.
  • To help pupils become increasingly independent and self motivated, developing learning capacities which will help them to become confident, capable, creative life-long learners.
  • To help pupils develop strategies for self-evaluation and to encourage in them a desire to strive for excellence in all areas of school life.
  • To encourage children to co-operate with each other, to be sensitive to the needs of others and to develop tolerance and understanding of other races, religions and ways of life.
  • To encourage children to be sensitive to the needs of the local environment and to develop links with the community in order that the school becomes an active part of the community.
  • To encourage parents to take an active part in their children’s education and the daily life of the school.

In effect it is our aim to develop the skills, concepts, attitudes and moral values necessary for each child to take their place in the world as an active member of society and a responsible contributor to it, capable of achieving as much independence as possible.

The Curriculum

The curriculum at Balsall Common Primary School Academy is rich, challenging and relevant.  We aim to provide an exciting, stimulating and cohesive curriculum that motivates everyone and enables every learner to enjoy and achieve. 

Our curriculum is thematic and each theme has either an entry or an exit ‘Inspiration Day’.  The learning that takes place during these days delivers the opportunity for real life, hands-on experiences for the topic being studied.  Experiences include undertaking an archaeological ‘dig’, dressing up and spending the day as Tudors, Victorians or Egyptians, visiting the Space Centre, tasting foods from around the world, or creating the Amazon rainforest in the classroom!

We also use Mantle of the Expert strategies, which means that the children learn as part of an imaginary enterprise. For example, they may be running a restaurant, a travel agency, or looking after pets whilst their owners are on holiday! The children love this way of learning and gain a great deal in terms of problem solving and collaborative working.

We ensure that our children are taught the basic and crucial skills of reading, writing, maths and science. These subjects are taught discretely as well as through the thematic teaching of other subjects. French language is taught discretely in weekly sessions from Year 2 to Year 6. All our schemes of work are designed to meet the needs of the children, including the most able.

All children receive weekly PE lessons in gym, games or dance, and swimming lessons take place on a fortnightly basis.  In addition there are sports coaching sessions for children in KS2 who have been identified as particularly talented.

Year 6 take part in an Enterprise Week, which gives the children the opportunity to experience life in the working world. Through links with local business people, the children learn how to set up a company and to sell products which funds their end of year ‘Fun Day’. All our children receive spiritual, moral, social and cultural lessons, which we believe prepares them to be successful citizens of the future.

Throughout the school year, we have many trips and residential visits, which help to develop social skills and independence as well as contributing to the children’s knowledge and understanding in the various curriculum areas. In addition, the school plans numerous opportunities to visit different places of worship.  Children’s knowledge and understanding of different faiths and cultures is explored during lessons and encourages a real tolerance of others. As a result, children have a good appreciation of radicalisation and are being prepared well for life in modern Britain.

We believe in the approach to ‘learning to learn’, espoused by Guy Claxton – Building Learning Power. Through the ethos of the school and our curriculum children are encouraged to develop learning capacities which will help them to become confident, capable, creative and life-long learners.

We offer an extensive range of extra-curricular opportunities including a comprehensive range of sporting activities including – football, cricket, swimming, rugby, netball, rounders, athletics and dance. We also offer drama, ICT, cookery, science, art, chess and gardening.

The curriculum maps for each year group can be accessed through the links below.

Curriculum Maps

Nursery

 

Reception

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

Year 5

Year 6

 

Curriculum Overview of Themes

Year Group

Autumn

Spring

Summer

Nursery *

Marvellous Me

Story Time

Bears

Nursery Rhymes

Farms

Travelling

Reception *

Marvellous Me

Story Time

Bears

Nursery Rhymes

Farms

Travelling

Year 1

English and Maths applied across the curriculum in addition to discrete teaching

Transport

History, Geography

D&T

PSHE

Music

Art

ICT

(Science,

RE)

Festivals

Science

History

Geography

RE

PSHE

Art

Music

ICT

Terrific Toys

Science

History

Geography

D&T

Art

Music

PSHE

ICT

(RE)

Fabulous Food

Science

D&T

History

Geography

PSHE

Art

Music

ICT

(RE)

Year 2

English and Maths applied across the curriculum in addition to discrete teaching

Keeping Healthy and Staying Safe

Science

D&T

PSHE

Geography

Art

Music

ICT

(RE)

Christmas

RE

History

PSHE

(Science)

Our World – then and now (including study of Victorians)

History

Geography

PSHE

Art

Science

D&T

(RE, Music)

Summer Time

Science

D&T

History

Geography

ICT

Art

PSHE

(RE, Music)

Year 3

English and Maths applied across the curriculum in addition to discrete teaching

Land of the Giants (Dinosaurs)

Geography

History

Art

D&T

ICT

(Science, RE, Music)

Food, Glorious

Science

Geography

History

D&T

PSHE

Art

ICT

(RE, Music)

Invaders and Settlers – special focus on Romans,

History

Geography

ICT

Art

PSHE

(Science, RE, Music, D&T)

Mexico

Geography

Science

Art

D&T

ICT

PSHE

(RE, Music, Science)

Year 4

English and Maths applied across the curriculum in addition to discrete teaching

Treasure – Ancient Egypt

History

Geography

Art

ICT

RE

PSHE

(Music, Science)

Electricity

Science

D&T

PSHE

(Music, ICT, RE)

Habitats (Rainforest, Hot Desert, Tundra)

Science

D&T

Geography

Art

PSHE

ICT

(RE, Music)

Tudor Explorers

History

ICT

(Geography,

RE, Science, Music, PSHE)

Art Residential

Art

PSHE

Health and Fitness

Science

ICT

D&T

(RE, Music)

Year 5

English and Maths applied across the curriculum in addition to discrete teaching

Kenilworth

Geography

History

ICT

D&T

(music, RE, Science)

Space

Science

ICT

Art

(RE, Music)

Greece

History

Geography

ICT

Art

Science (link to diet)

D&T

PSHE

(Music, RE)

Rivers

Geography

Art

Science (water cycle)

ICT

History

PSHE

(Music, RE, Science, D&T)

Year 6

English and Maths applied across the curriculum in addition to discrete teaching

Microbes

Science

History

PSHE

Art

Geography

ICT

(ICT, RE, Music)

Travelling

History

Geography

PSHE

RE

(D&T, Music, Science)

Travelling cont..

Art

Government

PSHE

RE

History

Geography

(D&T, Science, Music,

RE, ICT)

Art – Pop Art

Leisure Land

Geography

History

PSHE

D&T

Science

(RE, ICT, Music)

Issues

Geography

PSHE – ‘Send my sister to school’

ICT

Maths

NB: Nursery and Reception operate a two-year rolling programme

Linked subject areas

Subjects not covered by theme and taught discretely.

Phonics

The school teaches synthetic phonics following the Ruth Miskin model, a very rigorous and sequential approach to developing phonics. The Ruth Miskin approach is taught alongside the government recommended programme “Letters and Sounds”. This takes children through 6 phases.

In Nursery children learn to differentiate sounds and to listen to sounds in the environment. In Reception the children learn 4 new letter sounds a week and consolidate sounds with differentiated fun activities. Children learn at different stages but by the end of reception the majority of children will be secure at phase 3.

In Reception, year one and year 2 phonics is taught 4 times a week for 20 minutes. New sounds, graphemes, tricky words and spellings are sent home in Reception and KS1. During years one and two the children move onto phase 4, 5 and 6, revising sounds learnt so far, blending and segmenting a variety of words, learning alternative spellings and endings of words.

The government’s statutory Phonic Screening Check takes place in year one, identifying any children who will need extra support to improve their reading skills. Leaflets are available to parents about what sounds are taught in each phase.

Reading

The school fosters a love of reading from the very beginning with the sharing of high quality texts in nursery and reception, encouraging a love of story as well as of ‘finding out’ from information texts. The sequential teaching of phonics is built on through a system of individual, paired and guided reading throughout the Foundation Key Stage, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.

The school has high quality reading texts for guided reading and guided reading sessions take place both within some literacy lessons and separately. In KS2 whole class texts are studied, rather than brief extracts. In this way the English curriculum exposes the children to the work of a range of high quality writing from authors such as Dick King-Smith, Jacqueline Wilson, Anne Fine, Michael Morpurgo, Berlie Doherty and Ann Turnbull. We also, of course, study a range of traditional and modern poetry and writing in all the non-fiction genres.

Home readers are organised on the ‘Book Band’ system. The children are encouraged to read their home readers frequently – daily in the Foundation Stage and a minimum of 4 times per week in KS1 and KS2.

The school has an extensive library –organised in separate spaces for FS/KS1 and KS2 and run by our school librarian. Children are encouraged to have library books from the school and to read them both at home and at various points during the school day.

The school fosters the love of reading through a system of ‘Book Reviews’ for which the children are rewarded in class and assemblies. There are also several book shops held per year – some through the distribution of Scholastic catalogues and others through book shops held within the school by outside providers.

We also have visiting authors who come into school to share with the children their love of reading and writing – in the past we have had visits from Michael Morpurgo, Kaye Umansky, Jeremy Strong and Anne Fine – who is making a third return visit to us this year. Last year a visiting author worked with year 5 and 6 Gifted and Talented children on their own creative writing.

Our Approach To The Curriculum

We are passionate in our desire to help our children to become real learners, who not only have the key skills of literacy, numeracy, ICT and science, but have a true thirst for learning.  We recognise that in a fast changing world, our learners will need the skill of discernment – there is so much information available to us at the touch of a button; they will also need to be able to work independently and with others; and to have developed a resourcefulness that will see them through periods of challenge or change.

With this in mind, we have produced a curriculum that will promote the development of these capacities. We believe in the approach to learning to learn espoused by Guy Claxton – Building Learning Power. Through the ethos of the school and the curriculum pupils are encouraged to develop learning capacities which will help them to become confident, capable, creative life-long learners.

  • Resilience – absorption, managing distractions, noticing, perseverance.

  • Resourcefulness – questioning, making links, imagining, reasoning, capitalising. 

  • Reflectiveness – planning, revising, distilling, meta-learning. 

  • Reciprocity – interdependence, collaboration, empathy and listening, imitation

Throughout all aspects of school life we believe that we should encourage the children to become increasingly responsible for their own learning. We encourage them, and orchestrate opportunities for them to develop the learning capacities that we all need to thrive as learners. The activities needed to develop these capacities cannot be bought in any scheme or publication; rather they are developed alongside the skills and knowledge which form the content of the curriculum. The development of the capacities accompanies the more traditional lesson objectives, so that each lesson has “dual objectives”.

 

 

Thematic Curriculum

We were keen to develop a curriculum which, whilst ensuring that we met our statutory obligations, inspired and stimulated our learners. We believe that thematic units should involve individual integrated subjects, linked in ways that make sense to our learners and with themes that are truly exciting for them.

 

We wanted learners to be enthused at the beginning of a unit – really motivated to learn more.  We therefore have “Inspiration Days” - time taken off timetable to be involved in something special and different, in order for learners to become excited by the coming unit.
The thematic units include Science, ICT, D&T, History, Geography, Art, Music, PSHE, and Literacy text level work. RE may also be linked to the theme when appropriate. Literacy word and sentence level objectives, Numeracy and PE are taught discreetly, although dance units may be linked to the theme.

 

 

Responses from pupils and parents have been extremely favourable – surveys are almost unanimous in their support.  Comment from a parent, “My child is much more enthusiastic this year. He has thoroughly enjoyed all the topics. This is what teaching and learning should be about at this age”.

 

Key Skills

There is much talk at present of key skills. Certainly there are skills that our learners need to develop. Most people would include in this list the skills associated with numeracy and communication – speaking, listening, reading, writing and use of ICT. We would also wish to include skills associated with scientific enquiry and indeed general enquiry or “research skills”. However, we believe that the learning skills we have previously mentioned  - eg: collaboration, empathy, management of distractions, perseverance, questioning, making links and of discernment are extremely important too. The national curriculum specifies the key skills and knowledge and understanding which learners are expected to develop. Our curriculum is mapped to ensure that all skills are covered, but developed in an exciting and inspirational context.

 

 

Global Education

Our thematic curriculum lends itself to the examination of global issues – those of sustainability and interdependence – for example the study of the biomes in year 4 which looks at the threats to biomes and the effects of climatic changes, global warming etc. The year 6 unit “Travelling” examines the reasons for and consequences of migration during the 20th century and in the present day. The curriculum also lends itself to the examination of methods of government eg: year 6 “Rulers and Governments”.

 

 

Enquiry Based Learning

 

We firmly believe in the enquiry approach to learning in which the learners and the teacher enquiry together. The Mantle of the Expert approach changes classroom dynamics and creates learning opportunities not just for the acquisition of skills and factual knowledge, but in social interaction, imagination, problem solving and in sharing of power within the community.  The effect of this approach has been to enable learners to develop their independence, reasoning, empathy and collaboration.  The Mantle of the Expert works extreme well with our thematic curriculum and with BLP and SEAL values. It is an approach which appeals to children as it encourages creativity and excitement.

ICT

 

 

The use of ICT across the curriculum is intrinsic and goes beyond motivation. It enhances and extends learning, empowering learners to use ICT skills creatively in real contexts for example in producing PowerPoints and animations related to thematic curricular work.  Learners can video conference with museums to learn from experts and hot seat with famous people “in role”. Learners also may produce their own radio programmes, podcasts, and DVDs.  Learners can use ICT to communicate with their peers and teachers, obtain information and extend their learning at home. 

Responding to the needs of our community

We are aware that along with equipping our learners with important skills – including those of collaboration, independence, discernment and resilience, we also need to address specific aspects which relate to the context of the school. Therefore, we are keen to make our learners aware of and able to relate to others in our region, nationally and indeed, internationally.  There are opportunities for this in relation to the thematic curriculum – links can be made with the community through festivals and celebrations in school, visits and visitors.