Curriculum Vision and Intent
...preparing children for LIFE in modern Britain.
We believe that every child should have the opportunity to be extraordinary and future ready through a curriculum which is creative, bold and courageous. This is achieved through our knowledge -engaged, enquiry approach that is rooted in the unique opportunities offered by our local community & expertise, local issues, and the historical and geographical context of our locality. Children have opportunities to look beyond themselves, ask ‘big questions’ and think globally about life and current issues. Our curriculum not only aims to provide children with the skills that they need now, but also the ability to think critically, be flexible, resourceful, reflective and resilient in an ever changing world.
'Big questions are a significant feature of lessons and enable pupils to develop a deep understanding of issues and inequalities in the world. This is evidenced in ‘let’s think’ lessons where pupils are encouraged to respect each other’s opinions by having opportunities to explore emotive and challenging themes... and, as a result, pupils’ spirituality is deepened.' (SIAMS Inspection Report 2022).
All aspects of our curriculum are accessible to all children, irrespective of their ethnic background, gender, disability, religious or linguistic background. We strive hard to meet the needs of those pupils with special educational needs, those with disabilities, those with special talents and the children who are learning English as an additional language. We provide a rich, engaging curriculum, which challenges all of our children.
'The curriculum and extra-curricular activities provide rich, exciting and engaging opportunities to develop strengths and talents in all pupils'. (SIAMS Inspection Report 2022)
If you have any further queries about our curriculum then please contact our school office.
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 includes the ‘hidden curriculum’, what children learn from the school’s values and ethos that guide choices and actions in everything that we do, the way they are treated and are expected to behave.
Our Knowledge Engaged Curriculum:
This approach is a balance between skills and knowledge. We use cross-curricular links to make the curriculum relevant and meaningful to children, whilst maintaining the integrity of each subject, putting knowledge into context and putting it into appropriate sequences of content.
Following on from the curiosity led and child-initiated learning in Early Years, our curriculum is firmly rooted in a set of knowledge and skills which are progressive. It has been developed to allow all children to achieve and flourish in both their personal and academic development.
Each curriculum topic identifies enquiry questions that give our learners the opportunity to engage with the topic and gives them a wider context to explore and consider. Wherever possible, learning is enriched with hands-on exciting learning experiences that bring learning to life and show the relevance to ‘real life’. This could be a visit, a visitor bringing in artefacts, a drama or immersion day. Throughout the topic, there are further careful links to high quality texts and real life maths experiences. We also stretch our learners in the wider curriculum with a big focus on drama, art, music, dance and sport. We provide 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.
Please visit our Curriculum Page for additional information regarding each subject.
Over time, our pupils achieve high academic standards (Please refer to our Performance Data pages). However, being prepared for the next step is much more than academic results: Over their time with us, children take on different roles and responsibilities, learning to take initiative and responsibility, helping themselves and others. Below is an extract from a letter from one of our parents which sums this up:
‘Evie is leaving Four Marks Primary School today, having joined at the end of the Autumn Term in Year 5- a huge decision for us. She had many friends where she was. However, she was not learning and in the end not happy going to school either. After much deliberation and research on other schools, we made the decision to enrol her at Four Marks.
From her very first day everything changed for her. Her strengths and weaknesses were immediately identified and she was quickly encouraged and supported to work on those areas she was struggling with. She felt safe. She felt stretched, but she also felt she could keep asking and keep practising when she encountered aspects of learning that were difficult for her. Evie’s confidence grew, she developed a sense of pride in her achievements and worked hard.
We have recently received Evie’s SATs results. I was overwhelmed by how well she had done. I am absolutely clear that this would not have been the case had it not been for the dedication, inspiration and perseverance of the Year 5/6 team.
This School is not just about results though, and Evie has grown as a young person too, in a holistic way. She has represented the school netball team, raced Goblin cars, been a prefect, shone on stage in the Leaver’s Production and gone into school each and every day smiling and happy to see her friends and teachers. She will go to secondary school ready and prepared to learn and with the key skills she needs to be an effective student and a confident and considerate member of the school community’.
'Pupils engage positively with a variety of extra-curricular and leadership opportunities. Engagement in engineering projects, such as the Goblin Car Club, fosters teamwork and self-confidence. Mixed year groups on Fabulous Fridays enable pupils to develop relationships. In clubs and throughout the school, pupils feel safe to make mistakes and learn from them, developing their character and resilience.' (SIAMS Inspection Report 2022).
Our REACHING Curriculum and Approach to Learning:
Our REACHING Curriculum:
- First hand and ‘real life’ experiences which are reflected in a curriculum that is broad, balanced and varied
- Tasks build upon prior experience and learning in order to extend thinking further allowing children to make links in their understanding
- A range of resources, contexts, experiences and questions to promote exploration and investigation
- Children are encouraged to have control of their learning and be fully active participants. An element of choice in how children show their understanding is encouraged
- Where possible, local expertise, issues, history and geography are used to contextualise learning. This provides a foundation for children to understand wider contexts and issues.
- Active, enquiry based curriculum opportunities
- Skilful questioning supports children to think for themselves to deepen their learning
- Questioning enables all children to be involved using ABC (agree, build on, challenge + reasons)
- Our children are regularly engaged in the ‘Let’s Think’ approach: (Let’s Think in English; Let’s Think Maths; Let’s Think Early Years) This involves open-ended questioning and structured group discussion. The programme systematically develops students’ skills of problem solving, inference, deduction and analysis, increasing their confidence, resilience, understanding and ability to express their ideas. In particular, they provide oral experience in drafting effective evaluation and comparison answers.
Ambitious- excellence for all
- Children set themselves realistic but high goals and can recognise when something is too easy or too challenging
- Higher order thinking questions and tasks (linking to Blooms Taxonomy) challenge children to think in different ways
- Teachers are flexible within a lesson in order to change the pitch or level of challenge if they deem that something is too easy/too hard
- Assessment is crucial – ascertaining what the children already know, understand and can do, what misconceptions they have and therefore identify and provide for their next steps.
- Tracking, subsequent planning and target setting helps children to achieve ARE and beyond
- High quality task design ensures effective pace and progress
- Feedback, which is linked to assessment and success criteria, supports children to make further progress
- Children take pride in their work and are hard-working.
- Activities are linked to children’s experiences in the community, and where possible, local resources, expertise and real issues are used to as a context for learning.
- Children are encouraged to take on and ‘grow’ responsibility progressively, developing a sense of belonging to and contributing to our school and wider community, including their understanding of our School Values and British values,
- Children are encouraged and challenged to make a difference to their community, through learning about school, local and wider issues and considering how to facilitate change.
- Children reflect on the meaning of equality and diversity in school, in the wider world, and in British law. ‘Everyone is an insider, no matter their beliefs, whatever their colour, gender or sexuality’ (Desmond Tutu 2004).
Hard work and Effort
- ‘We strive to do our best in all we do’ (From our ‘Golden Rules’). Children are encouraged to achieve their personal best, and to be in competition with themselves. We encourage them to recognise the hard work and efforts of others too, with a view that healthy competition requires pride in ourselves for doing the best we can, and praising other’s efforts when they have excelled. The idea of our 'REACHING' curriculum and approach to learning, alludes to this idea of striving to do our best.
- Praise given to children in lessons aims to specifically focus on effort and improvement, not just attainment or accuracy of ‘secretarial skills’ or facts (though there is a place for these aspects).
- Teachers will question and scaffold discussions using strategies to enable children to get to the answer through their own work and efforts (collaboratively or independently), rather than using a more didactic and teacher-led approach. Strategies may include: withholding judgement on a child’s response, (using more neutral terms such as ‘interesting’ rather than ‘fantastic’); inviting children to elaborate on their point (explain using evidence, say more about… can anyone add or build on that point?), cue in children to alternative responses (What are the alternatives? Who has a different point of view? Would anyone like to contest this opinion/ answer?).
- Children identify what they wish to know and questions that they want answered
- Participation by all is encouraged through verbal (paired talk) and non-verbal means (whiteboards, show me activities) and a culture of ‘have a go’ and learning from mistakes exists
- Children are encouraged to be independent, reflective and responsible for their learning
- Teachers progressively build strategies to help the children to evaluate their own work and others work so that they can identify their successes and next steps
- Group work encourages all members to have a clear role in order to contribute and engage in the learning process
- Assessment for learning (WALT -What we are learning today/WILF -What I am looking for) and peer assessment
- Activities are linked to children’s experiences and interests and allow opportunities for personalised learning ensuring that all individuals are involved
- Examples of good work are shared as a model to others
- As children get older, they become more involved in creating their own success criteria
- Children are able to work as individuals or with others within investigations and problem solving activities
- Staff actively support learning within the classroom whilst facilitating independent opportunities for children to practise and consolidate their understanding (allowing children to make mistakes) intervening when appropriate
- Children are given responsibilities that encourage a sense of responsibility towards each other, and our older children are regularly engaged in experiences that nurture our younger pupils.
- Our broad curriculum and range of experiences enables all children to find out and develop their interests and passions, whether this is sport, drama, engineering, gardening, debate, music, art, as a leader, or in ‘academic’ subjects.
- In developing a sense of belonging and self-worth, we help to develop the attitudes and skills necessary to be mentally and physically healthy and resilient.
- Adults model kindness and an appreciation for our gifts (‘god-given’, in the natural world, our own abilities and talents, or the material things that we have available to us).
- Children are encouraged to carry out ‘random acts of kindness’, developing their own sense of being thankful & their readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
- Children are encouraged and expected to be responsible for caring for our ‘gifts’, whether this is our playtime equipment, their own belongings, our school and wider environment.
- Children are encouraged to demonstrate ‘stewardship’ in looking after our world and preserving and protecting its gifts for the future.
- Children participate in charity work that requires a real (if small) sacrifice from them- time, effort, money.
Our Approach to Learning: ‘REACHING’
Our learning values help our children become better learners by encouraging good learning habits and attitudes (Responsible; Evaluative; Ambitious, Collaborative; Hardworking; Initiative; Nimble-minded; Gritty) which will enable them to face challenges and difficulties in a calm, confident, positive and creative way. This approach, aims to make children fearless in their learning, willing to learn from their mistakes, helping them know what they can get better at something as long as they practise, keep trying and always have an attitude of ‘I may not be able to do it YET’.
How do we evaluate and monitor the impact of our curriculum?
High quality practice across the school provides a strong foundation for learning along with opportunities for children to collaborate and develop social skills both within and outside school. Our curriculum design also ensures that the needs of all individuals can be met within an environment of quality first teaching, supported by targeted interventions where appropriate.
Enjoyment of the curriculum promotes achievement, self-esteem and excellent behaviour. Children share their learning with each other, their parents and carers and other year groups through assemblies, performances, exhibitions and events involving other schools and local community groups.
Subject leaders monitor their subjects through lesson drop ins, book scrutiny, learning walks, pupil and parent conferencing and discussion with staff about how improvements can be made. This is then shared with the Whole Governing Body who are also invited to share in the learning journey by attending or supporting events. Data analysis is an important and regular contributor to the final evaluation.
Areas for development are subsequently added to the School Improvement plan (SIP), to which all staff contribute. The SIP is reviewed termly by the SLT (Senior Leadership Team) and shared with Governors
The impact is monitored through:
- Improvement in core skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening, maths, IT)
- Improvement in developing links within and across the wide curriculum
- Improvement in caring for themselves, each other, their belongings, and their world.
- Improvement in the engagement of all learners/ the re-engagement of children/ families that may struggle to engage.
Our curriculum is the entire planned learning experience
•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.
A Parent's Guide to the National Curriculum 2014
SMSC (Spritual, Moral, Social & Cultural) Education
'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. Highlights of our Sporting achievement include our Girls Cricket team 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 5 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, children across the whole school will sometimes learn about aspects of the same theme. Themes such as 'Equality' or 'Community' are examples. At the end of this, children in each class present their learning to the rest of the school in a sharing assembly.
Early Years Foundation Stage
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.
Modern Foreign Languages
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.