At St Nicholas, all children are taught within the framework of the National Curriculum and we ensure that children follow a broadly similar path through the school. The way that the curriculum is delivered is derived from the school’s aims and our approach to learning. These are embodied within our policies and our planning. The children study the core curriculum subjects of English, Mathematics and Science and also cover, through the International Primary Curriculum, the subjects of Art, History, Geography, Music, Physical Education, Religious Education, Computing and Design and Technology. Key Stage 2 children also study a Modern Foreign Language (French). In addition, children will explore issues which will develop their understanding of personal relationships, health issues, citizenship and sustainability.
International Primary Curriculum
As a school, we use the International Primary Curriculum (IPC), a comprehensive, thematic, creative curriculum for 3-11 year olds, to enhance our curriculum. IPC is effective in enabling pupils to apply skills and knowledge acquired in English, Maths, Science and other curriculum areas in a purposeful and concrete way with a clear process of learning and with specific learning goals for every subject, for international mindedness and for personal learning. The school has linked all topic areas to the key skills children should learn in Science, History, Geography, DT, Computing, Art and Music/Dance. To learn more about the IPC please click here.
Phonics & Reading
Phonics at school
Here at St Nicholas, phonics is taught daily to all children in Reception and Key Stage One. We use the Letters and Sounds Programme to teach children the letters of the alphabet and their matching sounds.
The children are taught to read words by blending, which means pushing all the sounds together to make a word. The children are taught to spell words by segmenting, which means sounding out words and writing down the sounds they can hear.
By the end of Reception children are expected to know all Phase Three sounds. By the end of Year One all children are expected to know all Phase Five sounds. When finishing Key Stage Two, most children at St Nicholas are secure in Phase Six sounds. This phase moves away from learning sounds and focuses on spelling rules and patterns.
If you want to look at the sounds in each Phase we teach please click here. This is also a good website for playing phonics games.
At the end of Year One all the children in the country take part in the national Phonics Screening Programme. They have to read 40 real and nonsense words. We call the nonsense words ‘Alien words ’ and the children practice reading them every day.
To see an example of the screen click here.
If you have any questions or would like any further support please come and speak to your child’s class teacher.
Reading at school
At St Nicholas we want our children to become enthusiastic, engaged readers and to develop a life-long love of books. We introduce the children to a range of good quality fiction, non-fiction and poetry books through our whole-class, core-text approach to teaching reading, and during their weekly guided reading session.
In the early stages of reading, we teach children to decode words using phonic skills as their main approach, alongside which we teach sight vocabulary. Once grasped, the focus for developing reading is on understanding and comprehension. Your child will read with their class teacher once a week during their guided reading session, then independently supported by teacher set activities during the rest of the week.
Reading at home
Developing readers will bring home levelled books (according to their stage of development), and a picture book each week. Independent readers will bring home a self-selected book from their class reading corner. Please encourage your child to change their book regularly so they can read each evening; speak to the class teacher if this is not happening.
Your child should be reading at home for 15 minutes or more each day. Your support is hugely important for developing their reading skills, confidence and understanding. Even if your child is an independent reader, it is still important for you to read with them, listen to them and discuss the books they are reading.
How to support developing readers at home
- Try to listen to and read with your child regularly, 10 minutes a day is better than a longer session once a week. It can help if a regular time is set aside so that it becomes part of a routine.
- Find a quiet place to share books where you can feel comfortable and relaxed – learning to read needs to be a positive experience – build their confidence by praising their efforts.
- Encourage your child to have a go at reading words, by using phonic skills to read any unfamiliar words, and by working on building up their sight vocabulary.
- Talk about the meanings of words to help to develop your child’s understanding and use of language.
- Encourage your child to read a range of texts such as stories, newspapers, comics, labels, poetry, non-fiction, tickets, signs, leaflets etc.
- Read books to your child as well; if they see you enjoying a book it will encourage and motivate them to want to learn to read.
- Ask them questions about the text to develop their understanding.
Questions to Develop Understanding
- Where/when does the story take place?
- Who are the characters in the story?
- What happens in this part of the story?
- Tell me one/two things that the main character does in this part of the story?
- Can you retell the story using your own words?
- Tell me what this character was like?
- Tell me the most interesting/ exciting/ funniest/ your favourite part of the story? Why?
- What do you think the character feels about&hellip? How can you tell?
- What do you think would have happened if…?
- What do you think is going to happen next?
- Which part of this book did you like best/least? Why?
- How has the author used words/phrases to make this character funny/ sad/ clever/ frightening/ excited etc?
- Why is … a good title for this story/book/chapter/play?
- Do you know any more stories like this? Tell me how they are alike.
- Do you know another story with similar characters in? Tell me how they are similar.
- What do you think this story is trying to tell us?
- Has anything like this ever happened to you?
- Tell me two things you found out that you didn’t know before.
- What does this part of the text tell us about …?
- Which part of the text tells us about …?
- Why are some words in bold?
- How does this text/ layout help the reader?
- How does (a diagram/picture/caption) help you to understand the information on this page?
- If you have any questions or would like any further support please speak to your child’s class teacher.
The Foundation Stage
The curriculum that we teach in our reception class meets the requirements set out in the Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage. Our curriculum planning focuses on the Early Learning Goals and on developing children’s skills and experiences, as set out in this document. Children in our Reception class follow the Foundation Stage (FS) curriculum and receive a balance of play based activities (structured and free play) and more structured learning in small groups – especially in Communication Language and Literacy and Mathematical Development. Learning is themed and the children offer a direct input into their learning experiences. Staffing levels are kept as high as possible in the Foundation Stage. Our school fully supports the principle that young children learn through engaging well-planned structured activities. Teaching in the reception class builds on the experiences of the children in their pre-school learning. We do all we can to build positive partnerships we hold with Abacus Nursery and other pre-school providers in the area. Play opportunities are also provided across KS1.
School follows a broad PE scheme which covers elements of ball games, athletics, dance and gymnastics.
Swimming is a statutory requirement and the school recognises the importance of all children being confident in water, particularly due to our coastal location. Since September 2010, all children in Year 4 have swimming lessons at Hythe swimming pool with the qualified instructors in groups of 14, travelling by minibus.
Sex and Relationship Education
Aspects of sex and relationship education are covered in the Science curriculum and Personal, Social and Health Education programme. It is the policy of the Governing Body that sex education should not be taught as a specific aspect of the curriculum. However, any questions concerning sex and relationships will be answered sensitively and honestly and in a way that is appropriate to the emotional maturity of the child.
In Years 5 and 6 children will receive a talk with regard to growing up and the onset of puberty. (Please see school sex and relationship policy for further guidance.)
Assessment and Record Keeping
The school follows the Early Years Framework 2012 and teachers make judgements against 17 goals in the following areas; Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Communication and Language and Physical Development and also Maths, Literacy, Expressive Arts and Knowledge of the World. For each goal, teachers determine whether children are meeting the expected levels, exceeding them or below them.
In Year 2, (at the end of Key Stage 1), all children undertake written SATs tests in Reading, Writing and Mathematics. The child’s teacher also makes an assessment of their level of attainment in Science.
In Year 6, (at the end of Key Stage 2), the children will take statutory written SATs tests in English, Mathematics and Spelling and Grammar. The children’s teacher will also Teacher Assess their work in English, Maths and Science. The results of these statutory tests and teacher assessments are sent to parents at the end of the summer term.
Teachers assess children throughout the year at the end of each piece or unit of work. In Years 3, 4 and 5 pupil’s progress is assessed against national expectations. The outcomes of assessments are recorded and discussed with parents at two consultation evenings during the year. They are then recorded in the child’s annual report and passed onto the next teacher.
Parents will receive an annual report on their child’s progress during the academic year.
Parents have an opportunity to meet class teachers to discuss their child’s progress and learning targets on a formal basis throughout the year. However, parents are encouraged to make an appointment with the class teacher immediately if they have any particular worries or concerns.
Educational Visits and Charging Policy
It is a requirement of the National Curriculum that the children undertake fieldwork away from the school premises. Visits away from the school premises are always well planned and comply with both the school’s Offsite Activities Policy and the requirements laid down by the Kent Education Committee.
Educational visits will fall into one of two categories – local and those further afield. Local visits would include those within walking distance of the school and might include such activities as a visit to the church, surveys of traffic and buildings, map making and reading etc. At the beginning of each school year parents will be required to sign a permission slip to cover all such local activities.
Visits further afield will require transport and possibly admission costs. Specific parental permission will be sought, wherever possible, at least two weeks before the visit is planned to take place. These visits will almost invariably require a voluntary contribution from parents to cover costs; if such contributions are not forthcoming it is unlikely that the visit will be able to go ahead. However, no child will be excluded from taking part in a visit through reasons of financial hardship and any parent experiencing difficulty in making the voluntary contribution is invited to speak to the Headteacher in confidence.
Getting the balance right with homework is never going to be an easy matter! Some children thrive on additional challenges and ‘home learning’ opportunities, whist for others, even the mention of home learning can create ‘tears before bedtime’.
Here at St Nicholas, whilst we recognise that homework can offer an extra opportunity to practice, develop and share new ideas learnt in school, many parents welcome help in developing this area as they move through the school.
Each class teacher in July at Meet the Teacher and again in September will outline the approach to be found in that class. Obviously, early literacy skills practiced in Reception will not be needed (hopefully!) in the run up to Year 6 SATS.
The weekly diet of language & maths activities, spellings and tables offered by the school, and the importance on reading (and being read to) is augmented with website links and extra learning ideas linked to the termly plans and shared with parents at the start of each term. The home/school contact book and homework diary is a way in which you can keep in touch with the school on what you and your child are learning together at home and any difficulties (or joys) you come across.
Please contact your child’s teacher if you, or they, have any queries about their home learning. We always enjoy hearing about their own out of school visits and achievements, as learning does not stop at 3pm!