What drives our curriculum?
At Four Marks, we are passionate about preparing children for life in modern Britain. This is what drives our curriculum- the framework for the aims of our programme of education.
As a Christian school our curriculum is founded on our four core values: Love, Integrity, Forgiveness and Equality (LIFE). We explicitly plan opportunities to develop children's understanding of what these mean. We aim for our children to be able to reflect on these values and apply them to different situations and dilemmas, so developing their own reference points and a strong understanding of right and wrong that will guide them through life.
In preparing children for life in modern Britain, we also recognise the need to ensure that children have experiences beyond school: We want our children to develop a strong sense of what 'community' means; thus our curriculum is designed to take advantage of the unique opportunities offered by our local community, rooting it in local expertise, issues, and the historical and geographical context that our locality offers. These experiences allow children to compare and contrast the factors that shape our community to wider (and different) contexts.
We seek to identify and develop the unique skills of every child and encourage them to use these skills to serve others, enriching the community to which they belong. We do this through providing children with planned opportunities to take on a variety of leadership roles, charitable work and local debates, as well as participation in local and national competitions and sporting events.
We, at Four Marks Primary School, are passionate about offering our children an exciting curriculum that provides rich and relevant learning experiences to prepare them for life. Opportunities are given for children to follow lines of enquiry that appeal to them and to enjoy compelling learning. This creative curriculum motivates children whilst offering challenge at all levels of ability. The progress of every child is monitored carefully to ensure that teachers are aware of, and cater for, the needs of individual pupils.
The curriculum is all the planned activities that we organise in order to facilitate the development of our pupils, their learning and personal growth and understanding of British values. It includes not only the formal requirements of the National Curriculum, but also the range of enrichment and extra-curricular experiences planned in order to benefit the learning and development of all pupils. It also includes the ‘hidden curriculum’, what the children learn from the school’s values and ethos, the way they are treated and expected to behave.
•hobbies and pastimes
• lessons, events, routines, clubs, responsibilities and leadership
We are all committed to the principles of the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child, especially Article 28: Every child has the right to an education.
From September 2014, we have been teaching the new primary National Curriculum.
Our Early Years and Foundation Stage departments follow the Statutory Framework for the curriculum.
In preparation for the new 2014 Primary Curriculum, we have collaborated to make sure our curriculums:
meet statutory requirements
are broad and balanced
offer first-hand experiences
offer opportunities to explore spiritual, moral, social and cultural experiences, ideas and issues.
have clear skills progressions
allow pupils to apply these skills
encompass the arts
support vulnerable groups and individual needs
foster pride in our community
promote health and well-being
fulfill the requirement to promote British values
support children’s place in a multicultural society
provide opportunities for children to reflect on their spirituality, through experiencing moments of awe and wonder and a range of emotion.
We share high expectations of our pupils and our staff, our curriculum has a common approach to assessment for learning and we all aim for high standards in all areas.
The school has been awarded the Gold Sports Mark and the Schools Music Mark that recognises excellent provision in these aspects of the wider curriculum and our commitment to providing broad and balanced experiences.
'One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who
touched our human feelings.The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth
is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.'
What We Learn In School
Our School Curriculum follows all the requirements of the National Curriculum but we are proud to offer a much broader curriculum than that, making the most of many and varied opportunities to broaden and enrich the curriculum for our children. Our school curriculum is driven by our core values and we aim for all our children to develop the qualities and capacities detailed in our vision statement.
The National Curriculum provides the school with the outline of knowledge, skills and understanding that we are required to cover in school. We choose to teach much of this through creative, cross-curricular themes where children learn different strands of the curriculum from a range of subjects, all within one common theme for a term. These themes are taught through key questions that provide the basis for the children to explore different concepts, knowledge and skills. The children are also encouraged to generate their own learning questions that may be explored and answered through their studies. Our curriculum theme titles are shown in the table below. In Year R, the Early Years Foundation Stage is used to scaffold the curriculum the children follow. The approach to the curriculum in Year R is generated each half term, using the children's interests. (Please see further details below). An overview of our topic cycles (so far) are below. Please note that the Year R curriculum is for guidance only, and parents will be advised of topics of interest each half term.
In addition to delivering the statutory national curriculum we have a strong wider curriculum, and actively promote school sport, music, art and drama as focus areas. We offer a wide range of sporting opportunities, encouraging our children to participate in competitive sport at some point- some of our teams have proved to be very successful. In 2016 our Girls Cricket team were particularly good achieving beyond expectations by reaching the county finals, and being named Youth Team of the Year in Autumn 2017. We have been awarded the Gold Sports award for the last 3 years.
We also offer a good range of dramatic and musical opportunities. All children learn to play a musical instrument through the specialist tuition of Hampshire Music Service. The school choir and singing is a key part of school life. Children can also access peripatetic drama lessons at the school, and each term a different phase takes the lead in putting on a school performance.
We also regularly take part in Art Competitions and display our work in the community. We are regular prizewinners at the annual Alton Art Exhibition & the Rotary Photography Competition. Our participation in the village Horticultural Competition involves a range of entries, often including craft work such as origami, embroidery and felting. We have also taken part in the 'Take One Picture' national competition, run by the National Gallery.
In helping to prepare children for life in our modern, cosmopolitan world, each year the whole school celebrates an 'Focussed Fortnight' where children across the school learn about aspects of the same theme,. Themes such as 'Equality' or 'Community' are examples. At the end of the fortnight, children in each class present their learning to the rest of the school in a sharing assembly.
At Four Marks C of E Primary School we believe it is crucial to provide children with a solid foundation in Reception in order to enable them to achieve their full potential and have the very best start to their educational journey. Our Early Years Foundation Stage is child-led with continual ‘in the moment’ learning that follows the children’s interests. This instils positive attitudes towards learning, building confidence and resilience where children’s natural instincts to discover and explore are encouraged.
Using the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum, ‘Development Matters’, we are able to tailor every activity and line of enquiry to the children’s current interests and fascinations. Our planning is based on observations and assessments of each child in a spontaneous cycle. This allows us to provide an individualised learning experience which celebrates and values diversity and the unique child. Some examples of lines of enquiry that have been developed by the children and enhanced by adult provision include ‘Changing and growing’, ‘Under and over the Sea’ and ‘The Seasons’. The length of time spent exploring these interests depends upon the depth of the children’s interest and engagement. Some lines of enquiry may last for a week, while others may continue over several weeks.
By providing opportunities for children to achieve an early mastery of essential skills, we aim to ensure all pupils successfully access the wider curriculum as they progress through the primary years and beyond. Initial reading and writing skills are taught using the Government’s Letters and Sounds synthetic phonics scheme which provides pupils with a rigorous and thorough grounding in reading and writing. Opportunities for writing are developed through the children's interests and are designed to engage and motivate all children across all areas of learning.
We feel children learn and develop well in enabling environments, in which there is a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and carers. We are lucky enough to have an exciting and engaging outdoor teaching and learning area which includes a woodland space. The children have access to the outdoors in all weathers, helping them to develop a strong understanding of the world around them and build the necessary skills to become independent life-long learners. We provide parents and carers with as many opportunities as possible to share their knowledge of their children and engage in their learning. Our ‘open door’ policy also includes ‘Come and Play’ sessions, Workshops on Phonics, Writing and Tapestry, and access and contributions to children’s Tapestry learning journals.
Our Religious Education curriculum follows the Hampshire ‘Living Difference’ syllabus which reflects the mainly Christian traditions of Great Britain, and the Christian ethos of our school, whilst recognising and celebrating the diversity of the other principal religions represented in the country.
Great importance is attached to enabling our children to become fluent readers. The school follows the progression of the ‘Letters and Sounds’ program, followed by 'Support for Spelling'. Detailed information about the phonics scheme, and materials to support your child at home can be found on our 'Supporting Learning' section of the website . Reading comprehension skills are taught widely and children receive focused tuition in guided reading sessions each week. All the children are required to read independently on a regular basis. Their progress, as independent readers, is tracked through personal reading journals. Please see our 'Reading Widely and Often' page for ideas on how you can help to support your child's reading development.
The school predominantly uses the Project X and Oxford Reading Tree scheme to help emerging fluent readers. When children are confident and fluent they are encouraged to use the library regularly to change their books. The school provides a variety of incentives and competitions throughout the year to celebrate children’s reading achievement.
Children are taught to write in a variety of styles including prose, poetry and reporting, and to suit different purposes and audiences. The purpose and audience for children’s writing is central to our English program of study. There is an emphasis on children publishing their work for someone to read, and we have our own school magazine, as well as contributing regularly to the village magazine, The Four Marks News. As a child progresses, an increasing emphasis is placed on the correct use of spelling, grammar and punctuation. Spelling and grammar knowledge is taught in discrete sessions each week and children are encouraged to apply taught spelling and grammar rules whenever they write. A whole school policy for handwriting is aimed at children progressing towards a cursive style and being able to write smoothly, legibly and neatly.
Speaking, listening and performing skills are promoted throughout the school through storytelling, discussion groups, drama lessons, and role play. Such opportunities, as well as whole school assemblies, provide a valuable means of building confidence and developing the ability to listen to, and appreciate the efforts of others.
The school aims to give all children a thorough understanding of number, geometry, measurement, statistics and algebra. A strong emphasis is placed on investigative and problem solving activities to achieve this. Individual mathematical concepts are taught in an extended series of lessons that aim to deepen and embed children’s understanding through a range of representations and routines. Children are taught to reason mathematically using appropriate vocabulary. Mathematical language is taught explicitly.
The ability for children to know and manipulate age appropriate number facts is a key focus of our Mathematics teaching. Daily mental recall and memorization sessions are delivered to ensure that children secure and retain number facts such as times tables. Children also regularly play mental mathematics agility games.
Our school Science curriculum is taught through key concepts which have been carefully mapped. Children are taught to observe, discuss, classify, compare, set up fair tests and record and interpret their findings. Through their investigations children are given the opportunity to learn about life processes and living things, materials and their properties and physical processes. Activities will take place in the context of the study of themes laid down in the National Curriculum and concepts will be revisited every two years as the children develop and deepen their understanding.
Computing is a new program study in our school curriculum. The children are taught to design and write simple computer programs, explain algorithms and understand computer networks and the internet. Computer programing is taught through software such as Scratch, Lego Mindstorm and Kodo. Our program of study also includes the use of Microsoft Publisher, Prezi, Pixlr and Weebly website software. During their computer studies the children are taught to use the internet safety. There are also opportunities for the children to use media devices to record sound and images.
The school’s program of study in History examines the Romans, Ancient Greeks, Anglo Saxon and Viking invaders, Ancient Egyptians, Victorians and Mayan civilization. There are also British studies of the Stone age and Iron age periods as well as a local history study.
The school’s program of study for Geography compares settlements and cities around the world. The children study the formation of rivers, seas, volcanoes and beaches. Children learn to use maps and compass directions accurately. This includes practical field trip experiences and orienteering. The program of study also includes metrological, conservation and ecology work.
The school's program of study of Art is centred on developing the skills of drawing, painting, sculpture and collage. Our curriculum includes opportunities for children to learn about modern artists and to make jewellery, pottery and textiles.
The school's program of study for DT links closely to our topics each term. The children learn to construct a variety of different objects that build key skills. We also teach food technology which involves a wide range of cookery and food preparation skills.
At Four Marks we teach the children French. Children are taught to speak, read and write basic French. Children learn practical conversational French which they can use in a variety of situations.
Children are taught to sing as well as play instruments. The whole school is taught singing each week in assembly, and children in KS2 are introduced to playing a wide variety of musical instruments through the Hampshire Music, Listen 2 Me, program.
The school's PE curriculum carefully balances the tuition of games, gymnastics and dance. The children are also taught a wide variety of sports which include: Football, Cricket, Hockey, Tennis, Netball, Rugby, Athletics.
The school has a detailed program of personal and social development which is based on the Hampshire Local Authority scheme. The program looks specifically at developing key life skills such as healthy lifestyles, safe choices, road safety, sex education, drug education, citizenship, diversity, prejudice and democracy. The school frequently explores bullying and cyberbullying, and how to tackle these issues.
The school's RE curriculum explores all the major world faiths through a variety of concepts such as 'Freedom'. The school holds themed weeks that explore concepts in more depth, for example, through our Intercultural Week & Equalities week. We follow the Hampshire RE syllabus, 'Living Difference 111', which fulfils statutory requirements, and uses a philosophical approach.