National Curriculum Delivery
At St Thomas’ we follow the Early Years Curriculum and the National Curriculum for England and Wales (2014) published by the DFE. As a Catholic school our faith and adherence to British Values underpin the delivery of all we teach.
It is our intent that we provide a broad and balanced curriculum to all our pupils regardless of ability or any special needs. We strive for excellence in all areas of learning to help children fulfil their potential in a safe, nurturing and challenging environment. Within every subject we teach, we encourage children to acquire skills and develop their knowledge and understanding in order to enable a positive lifelong approach to learning. The curriculum is focused on progression of skills through re-visiting areas of learning as children move up the school. Prior learning is built upon, developed and consolidated using a mastery approach aimed at creating a deep understanding of subject matter.
We endeavour to develop children's love for the outdoors and maximise the use of our extensive outdoor areas for learning, whenever opportunities arise. Through a positive Growth Mindset approach and a key focus on mental wellbeing, we aim to develop children's character through resilience and a positive, healthy attitude to learning. As a faith school, our core values underpin our curriculum; we strive to ensure our children develop respect, understanding and tolerance, ensuring that our children are well prepared for life in modern Britain in a culturally diverse society.
The implementation of the curriculum in laid down in our long term and medium term planning which show how our curriculum is sequenced and developed to allow knowledge and skills to build on previous learning.
The impact of our curriculum is measured at regular intervals – half termly or at the end of topics. Assessment may be through testing or a summative piece of work that allows children to demonstrate new knowledge and skills acquired. We also regularly monitor progression of children within each area of learning to ensure that any gaps in learning or progress can be address with appropriate interventions.
At St Thomas we have mixed year group classes (Early Years – Nursery and Reception; Year 1 and Year 2; Year 3 and Year 4; Year 5 and Year 6) and as a result we operate a two year rolling programme of themes within each subject area (except maths) to ensure there are broad and balanced learning opportunities without repetition of work. Our long-term plans over the next two years can be found on the links below:
Further information around each subject area can be found through the following links:
We use the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework to plan and assess learning in our joint Nursery and Reception class. Learning is divided into the following areas: Communication and Language; Personal, Social and Emotional Development; Physical Development; Literacy; Mathematics; Understanding the World; and Expressive Arts and Design. Each of these areas is assessed against a goal that the children are aiming to achieve by the end of their Reception Year. All Early Years learning is aimed at preparing the children for achieving these goals.
We help children in Early Years to learn through play based activities. All Early Years staff observe children so that they can plan the next-step activities to develop children’s interests and learning further. Each child has an electronic Learning Journal which is regularly updated and shared with parents. Comments and photographs can be shared between home and school.
A more detailed explanation of Early Years can found in our Early Years Policy
As a Catholic school our Religious Education follows the Curriculum Directory for Catholic Schools and Colleges in England and Wales. We deliver this using a published scheme of work – ‘The Way, The Truth and The Life’ (Early Years to Year 6). In addition, we use the "Come and See" scheme to guide our teaching of Other Faiths (Judaism; Hinduism; Islam; Sikhism) and the Caritas 'Rooted in Love' resource to teach about Catholic Social Teaching.
We have a daily act of worship which may be a whole-school assembly, key-stage assembly, class assembly or a hymn practice. We celebrate key festivals in the liturgical calendar and attend masses in school or at local parishes. Through these opportunities we allow children to develop and explore their own faith and gain an understanding and tolerance of those from other denomination or faith backgrounds.
Maths is a skill we use on a daily basis and is an essential part of everyday life achieved through exploration, clarification, practice and application. Mathematics forms an important part of our broad and balanced curriculum and we intend for every child to develop an enthusiasm and confidence in maths that will stay with them throughout their lives and equip them for the future. At each stage of learning, we strive for children to achieve a deep, conceptual understanding alongside fluency in skills and knowledge, that will enable them to reason and solve problems mathematically. Wherever possible, teachers make links between mathematical concepts and children’s everyday lives explicit, in order to make maths meaningful.
This is achieved by teaching the ‘Mastery Approach’ to maths. A mathematical concept or skill has been mastered when a child can show it in different ways (concrete, pictorially and in abstract form), use taught mathematical language to explain their thinking, and can apply the concept in problem-solving situations. At St Thomas’, teachers follow the ‘White Rose’ maths scheme of learning to guide progression and planning from Reception to Year 6 in order to achieve this.
Concrete, pictorial, abstract
When a new concept is being taught, children are encouraged to physically represent mathematical concepts using objects. Once this understanding is secured, pictures are used to represent these objects alongside numbers and symbols. Once teachers feel that children have a secure handle on these, they will move toward an abstract approach whereby children develop fluency and automaticity in that concept.
Concrete – children use concrete objects and manipulatives to help them understand and explain what they are doing, e.g. bead strings, Numicon, a rekenrek, place value counters etc.
Pictorial – children move on to pictorial representations, which can then be used to reason and solve problems, e.g a part-part whole model, bar models and place value charts.
Abstract –children can move to an abstract approach without the need for hands-on experience or need for images to support visualisation of a concept, using numbers with confidence.
We adhere to our calculation policy, published by White Rose maths, which outlines the progression of strategies and methods to be taught. Teacher’s medium-term plans are set out as ‘blocks’ of work in which key vocabulary, sentence stems for explaining mathematical thinking and small steps of learning are identified for individual year groups. Teachers then use these medium-term plans to create short-term and individual lesson plans to suit the needs of their cohorts. In mixed aged classes, the teaching of maths needs to be carefully planned for and adapted with year groups being taught in isolation.
Alongside our maths curriculum, we aspire for all children at the end of Year 4 to be fluent in multiplication tables up to 12x12. We strongly believe that a secure knowledge of multiplication tables and number patterns is essential to the using and applying of mathematics in Upper Key Stage 2 and beyond. Children begin learning their times tables at the most rudimentary level in Reception and build upon this in each year group. See our ‘Times Tables Progression’ document for further detail. The statutory ‘Multiplication Tables Check’ takes place for Year 4 children in June.
Children’s progress in maths lessons, and over time, is measured in a variety of ways including;
- Self and peer assessment as part of a maths lesson
- Formative teacher assessment, monitoring and adapting activities and teaching input throughout a lesson or across a block of learning
- Summative end of unit assessments
- Standardisation Assessment such as Year 2 and 6 SATS and moderated maths activities and assessment tasks across our Academy Trust
- Year 4 multiplication check
A useful website to encourage your child to practice their multiplication tables in a fun and engaging way is Maths Frame
Please also find below activity packs which can be printed at home as additional tables practice presented as puzzles and games as well as repeated formal practice.
2x Tables Booklet
3x Tables Booklet
4x Tables Booklet
5x Tables Booklet
6x Tables Booklet
7x Tables Booklet
8x Tables Booklet
9x Tables Booklet
10x Tables Booklet
11x Tables Booklet
12x Tables Booklet
For a fun approach to learning timetables, why not try some of these popular songs! Each one is a cover of a popular pop song which children are sure to enjoy! Alternatively, there is a playlist of Disney Pixar cover songs for a family sing along.
Children’s English skills are developed through a structured English curriculum based on HfL's Essential English. A well planned English programme is important as we place writing demands on children every day in school. It’s a hugely complex and demanding skill: ‘Children need to coordinate several different processes. For instance, children need to work out what they want to communicate and how, handwrite or type accurately, regulate their own thoughts and behaviour, and monitor their work.’ (EEF, Improving Literacy in KS2, p. 28) . For this reason, we have worked hard to create a curriculum that fosters enjoyment and success in reading and writing. Units of work are delivered according to our two-year rolling programme to ensure full coverage and the development and progression of skills. A broad range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry units provide wide opportunities for both formal and informal writing styles, leading to children having an appreciation for the purpose and intended audience of their writing.
Presentation expectations are high at St Thomas’ and we encourage the development of a fully joined cursive script through the use of the ‘Letterjoin’ handwriting scheme. Early identification of fine motor problems enables us to support pupils effectively.
Reading is a strength in our school. We use a multisensory ‘Synthetic Phonics’ approach using ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’ supplemented by ‘Collins Big Cat' decodable books and resources. Once children have mastered early reading strategies in Reception and Year 1, they will move on to our main reading scheme, which is 'Oxford Reading Tree', although this is supplemented by many other high quality reading materials such as decodable and classic children’s fiction. Early Years borrow books weekly from our library which is also the site of our well-stocked Non-fiction library collections for the other key stages. Younger children have Little Wandle Group Reading Sessions three times per week in school and will take a book home to share with an adult. Older children take part in regular guided or group reading sessions using a range of high-quality fiction and non-fiction resources. They will also take home a book each day matched to their current reading ability and choose non-fiction texts for our Library. See our Phonics and Early Reading Policy
For guidance on supporting Phonics at home, please visit the parent page on the Little Wandle Website
Although reading and writing are important, we believe that good speaking and listening skills enhance progress in these areas. Oracy is a key focus across the school. Oracy is the ability to speak eloquently, to articulate ideas and thoughts, to influence through talking, to collaborate with peers, and to express views confidently and appropriately. We constantly strive to develop and expand children’s vocabulary and confidence as communicators. Opportunities arise in paired/group work, role play, class questioning/debate, presentation in assemblies or school productions and class drama activities.
The Long Term Plans for delivery of the English curriculum may be viewed through the following links:
We teach science over a two-year rolling programme to ensure full coverage of all topics within the National Curriculum. To support the teaching of this we use the ‘Switched on Science’ scheme of work from Rising Stars, supplemented by other resources. Investigation and observation are embedded throughout the curriculum to engage children and develop a ‘hands on’ approach to science wherever possible.
Our extensive school grounds provide fantastic learning opportunities for science by use of our pond, wildlife area, allotments and forest.
In Key Stage 1 history is taught through a series of themes such as famous people, events or the history of our local area. In Key Stage 2 British History is taught sequentially from the Stone Age through to 1066. Children also study several ancient civilizations. Our teaching is supported by the Rising Stars History resources.
We always try to enhance our history teaching with visits to sites or museums or host workshops in school to give children real experiences linked to their learning.
In Key Stage 1 children develop their knowledge about the world, the United Kingdom and our local area. In Key Stage 2 geography is taught using a range of themes to provide a balance of skills including human and physical geography, map work, places and connections and fieldwork investigations. There is key focus around the United Kingdom, Europe, North America and South America. Our teaching is supported by the Rising Stars Geography resources.
We try to enhance our geography teaching with fieldwork using our school grounds, local area and visits to relevant sites such as the Lea Valley navigation system to study rivers or the Norfolk coast to study coastal erosion.
In this rapidly changing area of learning we aim to provide children with a balance of traditional ICT in addition to programming skills which embed a deep understanding of digital literacy (including e-safety). This is delivered using the "Teach Computing" scheme of work.
Children are exposed to a wide range of technology from desktop computers and laptops to iPads and programmable equipment as well as digital cameras and recording equipment.
We are always available to advise/assist parents with their child’s appropriate access and safe use of technology at home.
For years 1-6 computing is taught in individual year groups by a specialist teacher.
We have a specialist music teacher who delivers weekly lessons to all classes. We use an in-house bespoke music scheme, designed specifically to meet the needs of the children at St Thomas. A strong emphasis is placed on the role of music in various cultures, famous composers, music history alongside a basic understanding of musical notation.
Singing is a strength in our school evidenced though our lively hymn practices and active choir who regularly participate in collaborative events with other schools at the Royal Albert Hall or the O2 arena in London. All children participate in musical productions performed to parents at some point during the year.
All Year 2 children have the opportunity to learn the recorder whilst Year 5 children learn the ukulele. Additionally, we offer private piano lessons.
We teach art through a range of media including: painting, sketching, clay sculpture work, collage, printing and photography. Where possible art is linked to other curriculum areas to provide stimulus and relevance. Children are exposed to the work of well-known artists to broaden their awareness of how different ideas can be interpreted and represented.
Our school grounds and forest school provide opportunities for outdoor art experiences. Upper Key Stage 2 visit the Henry Moore Foundation to explore the use of large scale sculpture in the landscape.
Design and Technology
Children have a wide range of experiences to support their learning in Design and Technology. Every class has opportunities to experience cooking using our bespoke facility sited in the dining room. Construction and sewing skills are delivered both in class and through our forest school. Children are encouraged to evaluate their designs and finished products to identify where further improvements could be made.
Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) including British Values and Relationship, Sex and Health Education (RSHE):
Our PSHE is delivered through the "Jigsaw" PSHE scheme of work, which includes a range of themes as follows:
- Being Me In My World (who am I and how do I fit?)
- Celebrating Difference (respect for similarity and difference, anti-bullying and being unique)
- Dreams and Goals (aspirations, how to achieve goals and understanding the emotions that go with this)
- Healthy Me (being and keeping safe and healthy)
- Relationships (building positive, healthy relationships)
- Changing me (coping positively with change)
We deliver age appropriate RSHE within the context of our Catholic ethos
Through the broader PSHE curriculum we help children understand our British Values – democracy is developed through engaging children in group/class decision-making including the School Council, Chaplaincy Team and Sports and Wellbeing Committee. Understanding the Rule of Law in developed though Golden rules and consequences for breaches. We teach children to respect the individual rights of others, developing mutual respect and tolerance for all.
French is taught throughout Key Stage 2 using half-termly themes taken from the Language Angels Primary French scheme of work. Basic vocabulary is constantly reinforced with an emphasis on oral practice. Children will also develop basic reading and writing skills in French.
We offer a wide range of sporting opportunities including: football, netball, basketball, hockey, rounders, cricket, athletics, tennis, dodgeball, handball, cross country, orienteering, gymnastics and dance. Some sports are also offered through after school clubs. We regularly compete in inter-school events and competitions with other schools in the Hertford and Ware Sports Partnership along with other Catholic schools in our Academy. We are lucky to employ a specialist sports coach to deliver PE lessons alongside lunchtime and after school activities.
Weekly swimming lessons are provided to Years 1-4. All children participate in a ‘Weekly Mile’ event on our Multi-Use Games Area.
Upper Key Stage 2 children take part in adventure, resilience and team-building activities during a residential trip to Norfolk.