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Curriculum

Curriculum

The curriculum at Almondbury Community School embraces all the learning opportunities a pupil can experience. It includes what is offered in formal, timetabled lessons as well as homework and the wealth of extra-curricular activities and experiences provided or supported by the school. 

Aims

Our curriculum should enable all our pupils to become:

  • successful learners who enjoy learning, make progress and achieve
  • independent learners who can think critically and communicate clearly and effectively
  • confident individuals who are able to lead safe, healthy and fulfilling lives
  • responsible citizens who are willing and able to make a positive contribution to society.

To achieve these aims we must provide a range of stimulating, challenging and supportive learning experiences which will develop and extend pupils to enable them to achieve their potential in all areas of school life. Pupils need to be engaged and involved if they are to be as successful as we want them to be. We need to talk to our pupils about their learning experiences and to take into account their feedback when planning further learning experiences. The effectiveness of teaching and learning will be the main focus of quality assurance throughout the school.

Principles

A wide range of learning experiences will be provided for all pupils. The curriculum will:

  • be well planned and co-ordinated
  • provide breadth, depth and balance
  • be relevant to pupils’ needs
  • acknowledge the need for progression and continuity in order to build on prior learning
  • promote the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of all pupils
  • promote the physical and mental well-being of all pupils
  • encourage links with the wider community of the school.

The curriculum will include all pupils by:

  • implementing the National Curriculum and meeting all statutory requirements
  • responding to the wide diversity in prior attainment amongst pupils on entering the school
  • taking into account the needs of individual pupils and ensuring that high quality learning experiences are not denied to pupils because of their age, gender, ethnic background or disability
  • offering breadth, balance and choice.

The school day consists of 6 lessons of 50 minutes each. There is also a morning registration of 5 minutes and a period of reflection time for 20 minutes. In reflection time pupils will focus on individual learning and progress, discuss current affairs and read. Timings for the school day can be found on the school’s website.

The curriculum is enhanced by a stimulating cross-curricular week at the end of the academic year. All pupils and staff will be engaged in an impressive array of activities and experiences which enrich learning and encourage pupils’ social, spiritual, cultural and moral development. Groupings will be flexible, allowing pupils to work with pupils in other year groups as well as others of their own age.

It is the aim of the school to promote the personal and social development of all its pupils and for pupils to be effective citizens. Personal Skills (PSHCERE/Citizenship) is an integral part of all aspects of school life, both inside and outside the classroom, as it is concerned with qualities and attitudes, knowledge and understanding and abilities and skills in relation to oneself and others. All adults throughout the school are involved in encouraging pupils’ effective personal and social development.

Homework is an important part of our curriculum which is covered in a separate policy. The school’s homework policy outlines the types and purposes of homework as well as the amount of homework set for pupils of different ages. Guidance is also given to help parents and carers to support their children with homework.

 

Engagement Phase (Nursery – Year 4)

The emphasis in this phase is on readiness for learning and on making learning engaging and fun. Engagement Phase pupils are based at the two centres: Nursery, Reception and Years 1 and 2 are taught at the Greenside Centre; Years 3 and 4 are taught at the Fernside Centre. Pupils at the Fernside Centre have the opportunity to be taught by specialist subject teachers as well as their class teacher.

We are proud to be the starting point of each child’s Learning Journey through our school and are committed to providing the very best for all children. We believe it is essential that the first experiences of school are happy, engaging and enriching as these experiences lay the foundations for future success. We are committed to working in partnership with parents and welcome feedback and comments to ensure we keep the needs of all our children at the heart of the stimulating experiences we provide. A warm, caring, nurturing ethos underpins everything that we do.

In the Early Years Foundation Stage at Almondbury Community School the education of our children is based upon the following principles:

1. A Unique Child – every child is a competent learner from birth who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.

2. Positive Relationships – children learn to be strong and independent from a base of loving and secure relationships with parents and/or a key person.

3. Enabling Environments – the environment plays a key role in supporting and extending children’s development and learning.

4. Learning and Development – children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates; all areas of Learning and Development are equally important and inter-connected.

These principles form the basis for learning. The Early Years curriculum may be defined as the whole of the child's experience in the learning environment.

In Nursery and Reception, children follow the Early Years Foundation Stage framework (EYFS).  Our Early Years Curriculum is underpinned by exciting, engaging, play-based activities which are carefully developed through the interests of the children. Children engage in planned adult-led and child-initiated play activities in the continuous provision, both indoors and outdoors.

There are three prime areas and four specific areas of learning in the Foundation Stage framework curriculum:

Prime Areas

  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSE)
  • Communication and Language
  • Physical Development.

Specific Areas

  • Literacy
  • Maths
  • Understanding of the World
  • Expressive Arts and Design.

In addition, children take part in daily phonics activities.

Each of the Prime and Specific areas is further broken down to create a total of 17 areas of learning. Children are assessed against criteria in each of these areas at the end of the Reception year. These are called the early learning goals (ELGs).

Our curriculum in Years 1 to 4 is topic-based and underpinned by the National Curriculum. Where possible, learning is put into a meaningful context in order to engage children and make learning fun. We have a cross-curricular approach and seek to link subjects where there is a natural connection. Where this is not possible, subjects are taught discretely. Our curriculum and topics are enhanced each term as much as possible through ‘Inspiration days’, which include visits, workshops and theatre trips.

Subjects covered within the curriculum are:

English, Mathematics, Science, Computing, History, Geography, Music, Physical Education, Art and Design, Design Technology and Religious Education.

The development of basic skills is necessary for children to be confident, independent learners. In Years 1 and 2 reading is developed through the ‘Oxford Reading Tree’ scheme and supplemented with ‘real books’. In Years 3 and 4 more in-depth reading skills are developed through daily ‘Book Study’ sessions. In Reception to Year 2 phonics is taught daily using ‘Letters and Sounds’ along with ‘Jolly Phonics’. ‘Read Write Inc’ is used in Years 3 and 4 for pupils who require further phonic support. We have adopted a cursive script which is taught and practised through daily handwriting sessions.  

Our Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education (PSHCE) curriculum is woven through all subject areas and aspects of school life, using Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) as the basis for this. Through this, children develop a strong sense of moral purpose and a respect for and understanding of people who have different characteristics from themselves, regardless of their age, disability, gender, race or sexuality.

In addition, pupils begin to learn Spanish in Year 3 which is then continued throughout their school journey at Almondbury Community School.

Year 4 also participate in weekly swimming lessons in our on-site swimming pool.

The long-term planning for our curriculum can be found on the school website. We send out a curriculum newsletter each half-term about our new topics and they are also available on the school website.

 

Co-operation Phase (Years 5 – 8)

This phase provides continuity from the Engagement Phase and ensures that all pupils are ready for the challenges of the Aspiration Phase. The close partnership between home and school which was created in the Engagement Phase is maintained and pupils get the benefit of best practice from the primary and secondary curriculum and learning models. Pupils will have the opportunity to experience an exciting and creative curriculum which will enthuse and inspire them to become successful and independent learners. We aim to ensure academic success whilst continuing to provide nurture and support. This will enable our pupils to become confident and responsible individuals who are well-prepared physically, mentally and emotionally for the future ahead of them.

Pupils in Years 5 and 6 have specialist teaching in some subjects whilst still being provided with the nurturing environment which is fundamental to primary education. This is excellent preparation for the next stage in their education.

Pupils in Years 5 and 6 complete the KS2 curriculum. As a minimum, they will be taught by the class teacher for the following lessons:

  • Literacy and Book Study (10 lessons)
  • Topic – History, Geography, Science, Art and Design and Technology (5 lessons)
  • Personal Skills (1 lesson)

Pupils are organised into sets for the following:

  • Numeracy (7 lessons)

The remaining lessons in Years 5 and 6 may be taught by the class teacher or by specialist teachers of the relevant subjects:

  • PE (2 lessons)
  • Spanish (1 lesson)
  • Computing (1 lesson)
  • RE (1 lesson)
  • Music (1 lesson)
  • What’s in the News? (1 lesson)

Brief details of some of the subjects are given below. Further details can be found on the school’s website.

Literacy: our literacy hour combines reading and writing to improve writing skills. Models are shared and deconstructed, elements are identified and practised and children are given chance to create pieces of effective writing for a specific purpose and audience.

Book Study: once children have sufficient phonics skills, they will then join a book study group. These groups build on reading skills, develop comprehension and vocabulary and develop an awareness of writing intent. We aim to promote a love of reading.

Numeracy: our numeracy planning has clear progression from year to year. To allow consistency and improved progress, Big Maths as a support for planning has been introduced. The scheme gives clear steps and support for teaching and learning mental and written mathematics strategies.

Topic: every 8 weeks a new topic theme is introduced, combining learning objectives from the National Curriculum to develop knowledge and skills. Where possible this is done in a cross-curricular approach to enhance links between Science, Art, DT, History and Geography.

Pupils who join us in Year 7 will enter a well-established phase where staff already know a lot of the pupils very well, so they are able to spend more time getting to know new pupils.

In Years 7 and 8 pupils study the following subjects:

  • English (5 lessons, including a library lesson)
  • Maths (5 lessons)
  • Science (3 lessons in Year 7; 4 lessons in Year 8)
  • MFL – Spanish (3 lessons)
  • Geography (2 lessons)
  • History (2 lessons)
  • Design Technology (2 lesson)
  • Art (2 lessons)
  • PE (1 lesson in Year 7 and 1 lesson of swimming; 2 lessons in Year 8)
  • Computing (1 lesson in Year 7 only)
  • Music (1 lesson)
  • Religious Education (1 lesson)
  • Personal Skills (1 lesson)

Pupils are put into sets in English, Maths, Science and Spanish. This could happen at different points in Years 7 and 8 and is determined by the Achievement Leaders for the relevant subjects.

 

Aspiration Phase (Years 9 – 11)

Pupils effectively begin studying for GCSEs in Year 9. All GCSE subjects are taught by subject specialists. Options choices are limited to subjects that we think will allow pupils to be successful and we guide pupils towards the most appropriate subjects for them. Achievement Leaders research the best specifications and keep pupils and parents fully informed about the requirements of the courses chosen.

All pupils will take a minimum of 8 GCSEs so that Progress 8 can be reported on. More detail about this can be found in the options handbook and in the options area of the school website.

In most subjects there is a smooth progression from the end of Year 8 into Year 9 but in other subjects there is a significant change. As more time is given to options subjects in Year 9 than in Year 8, pupils are able to study these subjects in greater depth. In February of Year 8 the process for making options choices begins. It is expected that all pupils who are suited to the EBacc will complete it. More detail about this can be found in the options handbook and in the options area of the school website.

All pupils study the following core subjects at GCSE:

  • English Language and English Literature (5 lessons)
  • Maths (4 lessons)
  • Science GCSE (Double – 2 GCSEs) (4 lessons in Year 9; 6 lessons in Years 10 and 11)

Pupils will continue be taught in sets in the above subjects.

Pupils also have a choice of one of the following options at GCSE (3 lessons):

  • History
  • Geography

Pupils also currently have a choice of two of the following options at GCSE (3 lessons):

  • Art
  • Child Development (final entry 2017)
  • Business Studies (2017 onwards)
  • Food Technology
  • Graphic Design (2017 onwards)
  • PE
  • Spanish*
  • Triple Science

* Pupils will be given clear guidance on whether or not to take Spanish at GCSE. Most current year groups and all future year groups will have studied this in Year 8, although French is being studied by some current year groups.

Additional options will be added as numbers in the school grow.

Pupils whose first language is not English will be strongly encouraged to take a GCSE in their first language.

Pupils will also select an Enrichment option (2 lessons). These options allow pupils to pursue interests which will not necessarily lead to GCSEs, although additional qualifications can be taken. The emphasis in Enrichment is on pupils enjoying a range of experiences, gaining confidence and preparing for life after school. Educational visits, visiting speakers and some work experience are also possible in Enrichment. The following Enrichment options are currently offered:

Healthy Living (PE)

Healthy Living (Food)

Sports Leadership

Expressive Arts

Business Enterprise

Latin and Roman Studies

GCSE Art (for those unable to select it as part of the GCSE options process)

STEM (a range of activities linking Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths)

Pupils additionally study the following subjects:

  • RE/Citizenship (2 lessons – Year 9 only)
  • PE (2 lessons)
  • Computing (1 lesson)
  • Personal Skills (1 lesson)

Careers Education, Information and Guidance (CEIAG) becomes more prominent in Personal Skills as the phase progresses. All pupils in Year 10 undertake a week of work experience at the end of the academic year.

There are some pupils whose needs cannot be met by the curriculum we are able to offer in school. In such cases alternative provision is found which best suits the needs of these pupils. Because of its nature, alternative provision may differ greatly from one pupil to another.