The School Curriculum “Every learner is entitled to a curriculum which is rich, varied, challenging and inspiring and which enables every individual to fulfil his or her potential to the highest possible standard; so that all, for the benefit of all, are able to create a better world.” This is what the government says about schools‟ curricula. At Cherry Tree we agree with this. We need to ensure children learn the skills and attitudes that will make our children fully informed adults and able to lead happy and successful lives.
Planning We usually plan our Maths and English curriculum using the Primary Framework which is an enormous document available online (www.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/primaryframeworks/). It shows the steps of progression that children should be making. The class teachers plan what they expect to be teaching each half term and then adapt it weekly to the needs of the individuals of the class. Some children may need to work at a slower pace and some children may need to push on ahead. The other areas of the curriculum are planned for in a Termly topic and Maths and Literacy are also included where appropriate. They are linked together where possible to make a cohesive whole. We try to make the curriculum as flexible as possible to meet the needs of the children in the school and we are looking to develop creativity and independent thinking skills through this work. In September 2008 the school began to use the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) document to plan for children in the Foundation Stage and in September 2009 the school transferred to a „skills based‟ curriculum. Assessment In order to know our children‟s needs we carry out regular assessments. Teachers are assessing children all the time making mental notes of things they find easy and things they have not understood but teachers must also have clear records to show that the children are making progress. The school uses the Assessing Pupil Progress documents in the Primary Framework to ensure that children‟s work is judged consistently. We use the week before each half term to collate this assessment and then record it on a computer programme. This makes it easy to identify those children who are progressing well and those who may need some extra help. In order to help the children move forward we set targets for the next steps in their learning.
We also carry out statutory assessment at the end of each Key Stage (SATs.) and yearly testing in Key Stage 2. For the other subjects we keep a record of the children‟s skill levels and plan activities to develop these skills. We do the same for the „secrets of success‟ skills that we teach. Record Keeping Our record keeping system begins when the children first start school with the Foundation Stage Profile. As the children move through the school we complete the Essex Primary Pupil records and log their attainment in Maths, English and Science on the Target Tracker programme. Teachers keep their own notes on pupil progress which they jot down on their lesson plans. When children reach certain levels with their secrets of succes skills they are awarded a certificate bronze, silver or gold. Teacher keep notes on children‟s skill levels in other subjects in their class assessment folders. Reporting to Parents/Carers Parents can speak to the class teacher at any time by just making an appointment through the school office. At the end of each year the school will produce a written report and this is sent home to parents/carers. Each term there is either an open evening or a parent consultation evening where the children‟s work is on display and parents can discuss their child‟s progress with the teacher. Children‟s targets are also shared at these times. Literacy We follow the National Primary Framework from Yr 1 to Yr 6. This includes speaking and listening, drama, reading (including phonics) and writing skills. There is a special lesson for literacy everyday but it is also taught through other subjects. Reading is a key skill that affects us all our life. We encourage all children to love and use books and texts to become „readers‟. We provide as wide a range of material as we can to interest the children and develop their reading skills. In the Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 we have phonically decodable books to support the children as well as storybooks, poetry books, information books and books the children have made themselves. We also use programmes on the interactive whiteboard to stimulate the children‟s reading skills. Please show your children that you enjoy reading by reading on your own, reading to your children, reading with your children, listening to your children read and discussing books (pictures, plot or other content) whenever you can. A few minutes each day is fantastic. Please record whatever you have done in your child‟s reading record so that we can build on it in school. We really welcome adults reading with children in school too.
Children need to be able to talk about things before they can write about things; so please talk to your children about everything and anything. This helps to build their vocabulary and their comprehension. Children tend to write about things they have experienced. Try and provide a whole range of experiences to write about e.g. visiting friends, going to the park, making jelly, digging in the garden, caring for animals, learning games or making models. All the language you use in a variety of activities will help them with their writing.
In school we often act out our ideas before trying to write them down. We also make comparisons with film directors to encourage our children to become creative authors, together with looking at the techniques famous authors use. Numeracy We follow the National Primary Framework from Yr 1 to Yr 6. This includes number skills, shape, space, money and measures, calculating skills and data handling. There is a special lesson for numeracy every day but it is also included with other lessons. There are lots of things we hope children will develop through Maths work: Life skills so that they can be effective as adults, thinking skills, problem solving skills and a positive view of themselves as mathematicians. We teach maths through practical activities whenever possible so that the children can understand the mathematical concepts that they are learning. We also try to make the activities relevant to the children so that they can see a
practical use for the skills. The statutory tests are set in more of a problem solving context than ever before so it important that the children can relate their maths to real life experiences. We also teach the children mental math strategies so that they can work out simple calculations efficiently in their heads.
Information and Communication Technology We have dedicated ICT lessons for the children to improve their technical skills as well as using the computers to support other areas of the curriculum. We have computers and an Interactive Whiteboard in every classroom as well as the ICT suite and a set of laptops. The computers in school have heavy security so children can not access anything inappropriate. They learn how to use a variety of programmes and how to get information using the internet. We use E-folio in school which is a virtual learning environment for the children (and staff).
Science The science experiences we provide involve the children in finding out more about the world in which they live. We help the children to develop practical investigative skills and to think about ideas and test them out. They need to observe carefully, make predictions, devise experiments, record the results and draw conclusions. They must ensure their tests are fair. Our science is often set in the context of our topic work.
Design Technology Design technology skills are taught throughout the school. Children are able to develop designing skills, making skills as well as their knowledge and understanding of structures through construction kits, junk modelling and specific planned practical activities.
Religious Education and Collective Worship At Cherry Tree School we follow the framework outlined in the County syllabus for Religious Education. We feel it is important for children to develop positive attitudes towards self, each other and their environment. Children are encouraged to be considerate and thoughtful towards each other at all times. They are encouraged to learn about other cultures and faiths, mainly through topic work where opportunities to explore other beliefs arise. A variety of resources are needed to help the children in their work, including artefacts for them to use and handle. Acts of collective worship (assembly) are broadly Christian based. Assemblies are led by staff, visitors and our local church leaders.
Sex and Relationships Education The approach to sex and relationship education at Cherry Tree School is through the social and emotional syllabus pursued by the children in their normal day-to-day work. The school considers that the key figures in helping children to develop physically and emotionally are the parents themselves and that the school offers a complimentary and supportive role with regard to sex and relationship education. This may take the form of building upon children's natural inquisitiveness, helping children with personal issues, undertaking topics within which SRE naturally arises. In years 5 and 6 a more formal approach is taken and specific programmes are carried out in the summer term using media productions, such as the B.B.C. series "Growing Up" which includes the changes that a child may experience in puberty. In all aspects SRE issues will be dealt with at the level of the individual child's understanding and with sensitivity towards their needs.
Art and Design Art and design is a means of communication, creativity and self expression that we consider is vital to a child's development. Art and Design is used as a 'tool' in many other subjects but is always considered an important activity in its own right. At Cherry Tree, we offer a wide range of materials and experiences ranging from drawing, printmaking, batik and embroidery to large scale, three dimensional work. The children are encouraged to learn and select the appropriate material for their task and to be responsible for its care and organisation. For the last few years a class has been able to work with a professional artist in school. Through Art and Design, we hope to encourage children to observe closely, interpret and respond to, the environment around them. Most importantly, we hope to foster a respect and awareness of what looks pleasing and to encourage children to continue to admire the visual aspects of their environment.
Geography The main purpose in teaching geography is to create in our children a knowledge and understanding of the diversity of their own locality, of the British Isles, of Europe and of the wider world. We aim to inspire a sense of responsibility for the environment, understanding how people can improve it and damage it and why we need to look after it. Children develop geographical skills and a sense of enquiry through the study of rivers, coasts, settlements and climate within specific localities including our school, Colchester and Mersea Island, St Marks College and Saffron Walden, the Norfolk coast, a Scottish island and Madagascar. Residential field trips are arranged for older children to St Marks College and Norfolk. Children learn to use globes and atlases, maps and plans of differing scale, to use information books, ICT and photographs and to be able to communicate their knowledge and views appropriately.
Music At Cherry Tree, children have the opportunity to participate in a varied range of musical activities which involve listening, composing and performing. We have a number of percussion instruments and children are encouraged to play them. Children sing together at assemblies and on various special occasions such as at Christmas, Harvest and on other celebratory occasions. The school also likes to participate in local appropriate music events. Music clubs and choir offer extra curricular opportunities at various times of the year. If you would like your child to have specific instrument tuition it can be arranged using the county music service.
History History is mainly taught through topic work, either using a history based topic, or where it is relevant, in other topics. The children are encouraged to look at the past through a variety of resources such as use of artefacts, educational visits, T.V. programmes, drama, recordings from local history archives, and visitors to the school. They are encouraged to recognise changes, to be aware that past events have had a variety of consequences and recognise the importance of social sources. Physical Education We know that a healthy body helps learning and therefore we have very effective PE activities in school. Our P.E. embraces a wide range of activities including gymnastics, games, dance, athletics, outdoor education and swimming for all children. It promotes fitness, co-ordination, teamwork and success at each childâ€&#x;s own level. All children learn how to keep themselves safe and use equipment safely. We ensure children receive their 2 hours a
week entitlement to high quality physical activity not only through discrete PE lessons but also through daily „Brain Gym‟ and „Take Ten‟ activities. We invite a variety of outside expertise from Colchester United, Colchester Cricket, Colchester Institute and others into school to enhance the PE experience. We are also part of the Blackwater Partnership which organises competitive events for local schools including football, netball, cross country and swimming tournaments. We offer a range of after school sports activities which usually vary from term to term. These may include for example netball, football, athletics, cricket, dance and tri-golf. We hold an annual Sports Day in the Summer Term which has both competitive and non-competitive activities.
Modern Foreign Language – Spanish In 2008 the school reviewed the teaching of a modern foreign language in school. The children, staff, governors and parents were consulted and it was agreed that the most useful language for our school would be Spanish as it was felt that this was the language the children were most likely to have a chance to use. All the children have regular lessons in Spanish and class teachers try to use some Spanish in everyday situations. You may notice signs in Spanish around the school as well. Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development At Cherry Tree the curriculum is underpinned by its Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Policy. This policy outlines our belief that every pupil is a unique individual. Children are taught to appreciate and respect the religious and cultural beliefs of others and they are encouraged to build positive relationships as per our Race Equality and Equal Opportunity Policies. We aim to foster the responsibilities of citizenship and help children to strive for truth, freedom and justice, breaking down the barriers of prejudice and stereotypes. We also encourage the children to take an active interest in issues affecting the wider global environment.