OLD TOWN PRIMARY SCHOOL
What are we trying to achieve with our curriculum?
The experience of life and learning at Old Town Primary will empower children to meet their full potential. This will be achieved by studying a complete and tailored curriculum that has knowledge progression and the sequencing of concepts at its heart.
Our ambitious curriculum extends beyond the National Curriculum, encompassing the bespoke needs of the school community. Pupils, parents, staff and governors have contributed not just to the designing of the curriculum, but to the values and attitudes that extend beyond the classroom and underpin the school community.
In simple terms, we want our children to achieve two things; to have retained the knowledge and skills detailed in the curriculum to enable them to thrive in their next phase of education and to have the strength of character to be able to apply what they have learnt to achieve success.
School leaders understand the importance of the sequence and structure of teaching and learning in enabling pupils to build schema with which they can excel. We do not simply aim to create memories or expose pupils to memorable events, we seek to create a change in long-term memory. Therefore, the school has carefully designed subject-specific whole school progression documents. These documents detail the importance of the development of both skills and knowledge. A child’s schema is an internal representation of the world; an organization of concepts and actions that can be revised by new information about the world. A carefully constructed curriculum enables a child’s schema develop rapidly through a network of linked information. Our curriculum does just that.
Progression documents and subject policies are available on the website. The policies detail the school’s intent, how the school implements this and how it assesses and verifies the impact of each subject.
Old Town Primary recognises the particular importance of learning to read in order that pupils can access the full curriculum and therefore prioritises the learning and love of reading. Please see the Reading Policy for details of how we achieve this.
School leaders have devised a two-year rolling long term plan as the school has mixed-age classes. Blocking and inter-leaving is used to promote the embedding and retention of information and pupils’ ability to recall. This document clearly sets out a curriculum that meets the needs of Old Town Primary’s community including the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum. These documents are available on the school website.
A curriculum for all: Old Town Primary School’s curriculum is informed by principled, inclusive leadership. As such, curriculum intent challenges all learners and sets high expectations.
The school promotes inclusion, independence and challenge for pupils with SEND through adjustments based upon individual needs; these may be to the curriculum itself or to access arrangements. Details of these adjustments can be found in Individual Education Plans or Behaviour Support Plans devised by the school and sometimes with advice and guidance from external agencies.
Please see the Pupil Premium Statement – available on the website – that details how the school supports disadvantaged pupils.
School Leaders monitor the performance of all pupils, including minority groups. Where inequality is found, redress is taken to ensure equality.
Strength of Character
At Old Town Primary, we build positive character traits and resilience. We do this because children face difficulties on a daily basis and resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. If we build resilience and teach children positive and proactive mental and moral qualities of character - including kindness, integrity, generosity, and honesty - we equip them with the confidence to achieve their potential. We create opportunities through sport, physical and creative activities, we enable all pupils to take part in performance, to take responsibility and we support children effectively through setbacks and disappointments.
These opportunities are not restricted to the curriculum but are created in extra-curricular activities, routines, traditions, links to the local and wider communities and through the way in which relationships are formed and maintained across the school community.
Potential Barriers to Achieving our Intent:
The Coronavirus Pandemic and resulting School Closure is having, and will continue to have, a profound effect upon the whole population. Pupils may have experienced a whole range of intense experiences; bereavement, severe illness, anxiety, abuse, domestic violence, online bullying etc etc – the potential lift of effects is huge.
The rise in obesity, prevalence of County-Lines offences and the widespread inappropriate and safe use of technology. The PREVENT agenda and a lack of British Values.
Our Sports Premium Statement – available on the website - shows the specific ways in which we are tackling obesity and the positive impact as a result of actions taken. In addition, Gardening and Cooking is prioritised in the curriculum in order that pupils learn healthy lifelong habits around food. Safeguarding training for staff includes the rise in prevalence of county lines offences. This, the instilling of British Values and the safe and appropriate use of technologies are an inherent part of the PSHE and Computing curriculums in addition to their recurrence in themed assemblies.
Community and Neighbourhood
Old Town is relatively isolated in geographical terms and pupils are not drawn from a rich diversity in culture. However our local area has a national reputation for creativity and its passion for equality, particularly in respect of the LGBTQ+ community.
Our 2019 Electronic Health Needs Assessment survey for UKS2 told us that, in comparison to pupils across Calderdale, our pupils feel safer, are generally happier and have experienced less personal exposure to harmful behaviours. We attribute this, in part, to our longstanding ethos and attitude towards building a respectful and kind environment that seeks to actively improve pupils’ emotional, physical and mental health. The annual eHNA survey will continue to shape the content of this curriculum in line with pupils’ needs although it was not carried out by the LA in 2020 due to the school closures response to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Whilst we are incredibly proud of our Yorkshire heritage, we acknowledge that a Yorkshire dialect can sometimes lead us into an incorrect use of grammar and Standard English.
The school is working hard to meet the needs of pupils and families as a result of the Coronavirus Pandemic. At the time of writing, School Closure is still fully in place. We are constantly risk assessing pupils’ emotional wellbeing through regular contact and taking steps to support children and families where needed. This will continue once the restrictions are lifted. Leaders and teachers are prioritising pupils social, emotional and mental health needs as they could be considerable. The curriculum too is being adapted to take account of gaps in learning. Teachers and leaders are working collaboratively with leaders in education to plan the best possible transition back to structured education.
We may be relatively isolated but the Upper Calder Valley has a reputation for art and creativity as well as tradition and heritage. We make good and lasting links with our local community to draw as much as we can from the wealth of resource. This includes linking with known authors, choreographers, artists, researchers, local historians and visiting local places that enhance the planned learning within our curriculum. These people and experiences are woven though the curriculum and through extra-curricular activities and assemblies and are an investment in our pupils’ cultural capital.
In addition to our knowledge-rich RE and PSHE curriculums, we seek out diversity through the long-established School-Linking Programme. All pupils spend two years of their Primary Education engaged in this project.
Increasing the numbers of children who walk to school is part of our Sports Premium strategy to increase the Health Rating of our school – see the plan on the website for details.
We are one of just two schools in Calderdale who have adapted our PSHE curriculum to incorporate a Pilot Police Education Scheme. We have a keen awareness of how a lack of wellbeing can have a detrimental effect not just on educational attainment but on pupils’ wider lives. Therefore, we work hard to provide pupils with the awareness and the skills to be able to regulate their own wellbeing. Employing specialists to teach PE, gardening, cooking, and music means that children are exposed to not just quality teaching but truly enthusiastic practitioners in their relative fields. Pupils develop a love of these activities which is sustained over time and in their lives outside school. Beyond the curriculum, we support individuals and groups through targeted social, emotional and behavioural interventions. Our parents and children tell us that this system is accessible and effective.
Many of the parental requests had links to the existing National Curriculum and were facilitated by adapting the non-statutory content. This has meant that progression is maintained within the subjects in which they fall – for example the requested “History of Trade and Transport” has been placed across KS2 year groups and can be found within both the Geography and History curriculums. Other requested topics, such as the heritage of Yorkshire Dialect will be introduced to pupils in assemblies.
We celebrate and take pride in our Yorkshire heritage and accent. At the same time we correct pupils’ grammar to ensure that pupils are not disadvantaged.
KS1 to KS2 Progress in Reading, Writing and Maths is below the National Average.
See the School Development Plan for details of how the schools aims to improve.
This policy will be reviewed and evaluated annually
Jo Buckley June 2020