The aims of a programme of education including the knowledge and understanding to be gained at each stage
Our curriculum's aim is to change lives through an outstanding educational experience. It takes its inspiration from, and is a response to, the needs of our community, our duty as a Catholic school and the requirements of the National Curriculum. We have the highest possible expectations of our pupils and staff and aim to develop independent, aspirational, confident and resilient pupils with the necessary learning skills, habits and enthusiasm to be successful citizens who make a positive contribution to society.
Learning has carefully sequenced coverage in all subjects via subject specific threads which build on prior learning and facilitate the future acquisition of knowledge and skills. Equally, we ensure coherence through the whole curriculum through our five common themes, which are implicit in all areas, these being:
This ensures our curriculum is accessible to all - including those with disabilities and special educational needs.
Translating the Intent/aims over time into a structure and narrative, within an institutional context
Knowledge organisers clearly detail what pupils will be expected to know by the end of a unit of work. This forms the basis for all planning. This is assessed before pupils begin and reassessed at the end to measure progress. Progress being understood as what do pupils remember and can do now that they couldn't before. Experts in Music, Art and Computing are employed to ensure the highest possible standard teaching throughout the curriculum.
Although work is differentiated appropriately, we operate a "Challenge Without Limits" approach. All classes are mixed ability and pupils are encouraged, and given the opportunity, to challenge themselves to try the work of whatever degree of difficulty. We believe this removes barriers to their own and our expectations, cultivates self-belief and increases aspiration.
In an area where the opportunity for meaningful outside experiences are more limited due to availability of transport or facilities, we look to exploit all opportunities for our children’s lives to benefit from Learning Outside the Classroom. This includes trips, residentials, visitors, workshops and creative play. Through this approach we provide context to our classroom learning and real, challenging experiences that enable our pupils grow in confidence, independence and resilience. Our own, bespoke LOtC award in each year group recognises pupils’ achievements in this area and brings these experiences together into a coherent and progressive whole.
Independence is developed through a focus on the characteristics of a good learner which are reported on at the end of the year. Namely, pupils are expected to:
Oracy - Speaking and listening opportunities are threaded into lessons and pupils are expected to use Standard English at all times. This is sequenced and cohesive through our carefully planned progression of skills in each year group. This impacts writing standards as well as the pupils’ confidence and ability to express and justify their opinions in a variety of contexts including debating and persuasive writing. Through this, pupils learn the devices and techniques to best present their point of view and contribute effectively to discussion and debate. We keep George Orwell’s’ quote below as our mantra when teaching this.
“If people cannot write well they cannot think well. If they cannot think well, others will do the thinking for them.”
Furthermore, vocabulary provides the tools to speak and write with greater clarity and precision. We know that in certain areas this is more limited than in others. Therefore, we actively seek opportunities to extend the range (number of words) and depth (synonyms and antonyms) of vocabulary of our pupils by the addressing of unfamiliar/challenging words in all lessons and informally whenever practicable. An example of the application of this knowledge is in the pupils’ stories for the annual school book published by Scholastic.
In order to increase the percentage of pupils who go on to achieve higher qualifications and professional occupations our policy of identifying and developing outstanding talent and enthusiasm enables pupils to benefit from additional provision and opportunities. This includes support in applying for the highest achieving secondary schools, attending outside school sports clubs, visiting places of interest and significance, attending workshops and other carefully chosen and planned additional in-school activities. We believe this inspires our pupils to pursue a variety of avenues and potential careers in the future.
To promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, and mental development of pupils and prepare them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life, we enrich our curriculum by building in a number of diverse opportunities for them to learn. To promote British Values throughout school, staff and pupils are asked to exhibit them in their lives and subject leaders identify opportunities in their subjects where these values can be demonstrated. Through a mapped out PSHE provision we seek to address many of the specific needs of our community and respond to national trends in order to best equip our pupils with the skills and knowledge to keep themselves safe now and in the future. Issues such as Mental Health, Diet, Road Safety, Online Safety, Gangs, Islamophobia and the dangers of Drugs & Alcohol are planned for in a variety of ways: through themed weeks; being incorporated into appropriate areas of the curriculum; or in partnership with schools such as the Manchester Muslim Prep and other agencies.
In an area with a significantly higher percentage White British population than the national average, our International Dimension provides exciting opportunities for learning languages (Mandarin and Spanish) and widening pupils’ view and knowledge of the world. Through joint projects with our partner schools in China, Ghana, and Spain pupils learn about the history, geography, life and traditions of their study area; fostering understanding, acceptance, curiosity and friendship. Through our work in this area we have achieved the International School Award.
We believe that a healthy body is essential for a healthy mind and that this is especially relevant in an area where there is statistically poor health. Our commitment to this is evident in the provision of, on average, two hours Physical Education each week for all pupils. We employ a specialist PE teacher and a varied, carefully designed curriculum with supporting processes and strategies to ensure maximum participation while the long-term benefits of regular exercise and a healthy diet are reinforced throughout. The long-term benefits of regular exercise are also repeated and consolidated in PSHE and Science lessons. This approach has enabled us to achieve the Healthy Schools Award.
Creativity is vitally important at St. Francis de Sales and our Arts curriculum has been carefully sculpted to reflect this. This is evident in our Arts Mark Gold Award, which commended the work we have done in Art and Design, Music and Design and Technology. All classes are taught by expert artists and musicians and additional music and choir sessions are available for all pupils free of charge. This forms the basis of our school orchestra and choir who enter local and regional competitions to develop confidence and resilience. The choir is highly committed to performing publicly for the enjoyment of others, both within our local community and beyond. At the end of each term the orchestra and choir perform for the school and the community culminating in an end of year show at a professional theatre.
In addition to all the exciting work done within the curriculum, we also encourage children to engage further with aspects of their choice. Throughout their time here at St. Francis de Sales, pupils have opportunities for enjoyment and the development of further skills beyond the school day through a diverse offering of after-school clubs. The clubs are free of charge and designed to foster, maintain and enhance pupils’ enjoyment of a range of academic subjects, hobbies, life skills, sporting activities and games.
Evaluating what knowledge and understanding pupils have gained against expectations
"Feedback is the rocket fuel that propels the acquisition of knowledge and without it no amount of practice is going to get you there." Matthew Said (Bounce - the myth of talent and the power of practice.)
Throughout, pupils are required to use their acquired knowledge and skills to demonstrate their understanding. This can be through direct questioning, demonstration, or in response to challenging questions which require pupils to justify their responses. This is assessed through both formative and summative assessments.
Formative assessment and Verbal Feedback:
This is the foundation of our assessment strategy and is the engine for driving learning forward. Ideally, formative assessment and verbal feedback on how to improve is given at the point of learning or as as soon after as possible during the lesson. This can be to individuals, groups or the class as appropriate. All lessons are assessed afterwards through a review of the work done and any knowledge, concepts, skills or understanding that need to be readdressed, consolidated or developed are noted in teacher's personal assessment and feedback books, and planning adapted appropriately. This is evident in individual targets for reading, writing and mathematics displayed in class (Hot Spots), which show the next steps in learning for all pupils. These are updated when they have been achieved.
Feedback is given at the start of the lesson (Formative Five) and addresses important points that have been noted from the end of lesson review. The lesson may then develop and address these further depending on the the teacher's informed judgement.
R.E.is assessed and recorded in accordance with Archdiocese guidelines and recorded in keeping with our tracking system.
Pupils complete NFER standardised tests in reading and mathematics at the end of each term. Writing is Teacher Assessed and moderated across the year group as well as by the Writing Leader. Pupils are assessed as Below the Standard, Towards the Standard, At the Standard or at Greater Depth.
This gives us clear, reliable data as to how effective teaching and learning has been and formative analysis of the tests enables us to identify anything that requires particular attention and respond by adapting planning for future learning.
We test the retention of knowledge at the end of the year in each Foundation subject and use this alongside National Curriculum objectives to teacher assess children's attainment and progress. This is done in consultation with the experts employed to deliver those aspects of the curriculum. Pupils are assessed as being Below or At the Standard, and those identified as being particularly talented have further enrichment in that subject the following year to develop their ability and encourage their interest. This is used to monitor and track achievement and progress throughout their time at our school.