The school offers a broad and balanced curriculum that provides rich, stimulating learning experiences enhanced through first hand experiences, visits and visitors. Wherever possible we make great use of the local area to tailor the curriculum to meet the needs of the children in our area. We provide a curriculum that develops children academically, physically, and socially. As well as teaching key skills in English and Maths, the pupils are encouraged to tackle problems and work independently in all subjects.
All national curriculum subjects are taught. In addition, all children have regular Forest school sessions and swimming lessons are taught as part of the PE curriculum. We follow a rolling programme using a topic based approach that links the different areas of the curriculum. Each aspect of the subject is then differentiated to meet the needs of the children
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Early Years Foundation Stage (for children aged 3 to 5)
This is a stage of education designed for children in the early years. It is a distinct stage and encourages children to develop skills within a play based environment. The curriculum is divided into seven areas of learning and development.
The three prime areas are: Communication and language, Physical development and Personal, social and emotional development.
The four specific areas are Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the world and Expressive arts and design. At Thorncombe we place a great emphasis on speaking, language and listening skills when children join us, so that they have the tools to get off to a really good start.
Children in the EYFS learn by playing and exploring, being active, and through creative and critical thinking which takes place both indoors and outside.
At the end of the EYFS – in the summer term of the reception year in school – teachers complete an assessment which is known as the EYFS Profile. This assessment is carried out by the reception teachers and is based on what they, and other staff caring for your child, have observed over a period of time.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development involves helping children develop a positive sense of themselves, and others; to form positive relationships and develop respect for others; to develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings.
Communication and language involves providing opportunities for children to experience a rich language environment; to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves and to speak and listen in a range of situations.
Physical development involves providing opportunities for children to be active and develop their co-ordination, control and movement through a range of PE activities such as Gymnastics and in the summer the children go swimming. Children should be helped to understand the importance of physical activity and to make healthy choices in relation to food.
Literacy involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. We follow a well-established and successful Early Reading phonic programme that comprises a range of resources, including some from the Letters and Sounds schemes of work.
Mathematics involves providing children with opportunities to develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems and to be able to describe shapes, spaces and measures.
Understanding the world involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment.
Expressive arts and design involves enabling children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials. They also have opportunities to share their thoughts, ideas and feelings through art, music, movement, dance, role-play and design technology.
Our Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 Curriculum (for children aged 5 to 11)
When children go into Year 1 they begin Key Stage 1; which covers years 1 and 2, and from Years 3 to 6 they are in Key Stage 2.
As a school we work hard to devise a meaningful and challenging curriculum for the children that meet the needs of our pupils whilst using local resources and amenities. Some of the curriculum is taught through learning themes and all learning involves the children building upon prior learning through first hand experience.
All children study three ‘core’ subjects: English, Mathematics and Science and nine ‘foundation’ subjects: Information & Communications Technology (ICT), Personal, Social and Health Education, History, Geography, Music, Art, Design & Technology, Religious Education and Physical Education. In addition to the National Curriculum we include many other activities in our timetable to enrich and widen the children’s experiences. Over KS1 and 2 the children use our outdoor space and take part in Forest School activities such as, den building. There are also educational visits, visitors, outdoor pursuits and residential trips.
The Core Subjects
Pupils are taught reading, writing, spelling, grammar and handwriting. Literacy is taught daily, either as a subject in its own right, or through a different subject from the wider curriculum, so that the writing which takes place has real meaning. A wide range of texts, stories and poems are used to support learning. The school follows the Letters & Sounds phonic programme with children also accessing Jolly Phonics and Grammar resources to support their understanding.
We place huge emphasis on reading from the start, using ways which suit your child best to get them enjoying books, using a range of Reading Schemes including Rapid Readers and the Peak Publications Guided reading scheme. We identify children needing extra support very early on, because we monitor their progress at all times and track how they are doing. Where needed we use a number of different interventions to develop early skills and help each child to gain confidence. We have recently invested in additional reading scheme books to support the reading development of our younger readers. To develop their love of books we have worked closely with Dorset Library Service to provide a range of literature in our library.
In class, children enjoy guided reading in small groups with their teachers each week.
Children learn basic skills and understanding of mathematical concepts through a combination of problem solving activities and mental calculations.
We provide our children with the basic skills and an understanding of essential mathematical processes aiming for them to become fluent in using the number system, to be able to reason and solve problems, to enjoy maths and develop the skills to use it as a tool for future life. Our children engage in a great deal of number work and problem solving through the wider application of mathematics. This includes money, time, statistics, data handling, measurement, shape and the ability to use mathematics in everyday life.
We aim, through careful teaching, to help children not only achieve the correct solutions but also to understand and value the process of that achievement. They should then be able to meet new situations and problems in a positive manner, confident in the knowledge that they have the mathematical skills to support them.
Science stimulates and excites children’s natural curiosity about living things, materials and the physical world around them.
Through scientific activities we develop the children’s knowledge, skills and understanding to help them to make sense of familiar events, everyday things and their personal health. Our children are encouraged to investigate questions using a variety of approaches, such as research, exploration, observation, prediction, critical thinking, decision making and discussion. They also learn how to evaluate evidence, explain things and communicate their ideas and findings in a variety of ways.
Other Curriculum Information
HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY
Every term, each class has a different topic to study which includes as many practical experiences as possible. In geography, we ensure that geographical enquiry and skills are used when developing knowledge of places, environment and developmental change. Children learn to communicate using geographical language, read maps and explain issues.
In history, children learn about people, events and places, both from the recent past and the more distant past. We work hard at making the subjects real and full of practical experience. The children enjoy spending days visiting museums and living the past through role play.
Children are taught about a range of faiths and denominations through a range of experiences. Children are provided with opportunities to share their own beliefs in school.
Under the provisions of the Education Reform Act 1988 all parents have a right to withdraw their child from the School’s daily ‘Collective Act of Worship’ or from religious education.
ICT assumes an important role as a key curriculum subject and as an essential tool to retrieve and present information across all curriculum areas. All children have access to a variety of technology, including ipads as an integral part of their studies. Interactive whiteboards support learning across the full curriculum and are used in every classroom. Children are always supervised when using ICT. The school has rigorous safeguarding procedures in place for use of the internet. Details of internet safety are incorporated into our e-safety policy and available to view in the school office or on our website.
All children study music as part of the National Curriculum. They have opportunities for participation in and appreciation of a wide range of music and have the opportunity to sing and play a wide range of instruments. They create music from an early age and learn elements of reading music.
In Dorset children in Years 3 & 4 take part in the Music For All scheme. This scheme allows all children to learn a musical instrument for free over a 10 week period before some of the children are selected to carry on with the lessons which are delivered by a specialist Music teacher.
Across KS2 Children have the opportunity to learn a range of other instruments. A peripatetic music teacher gives lessons in a variety of instruments including piano, clarinet, trumpet, drums and guitar as required. These are additional and optional activities for which parents have to meet the costs of tutoring and, possibly, purchase and hire of instruments. Details are sent out each year or may be obtained from the office.
PHYSICAL EDUCATION, OUTDOOR PURSUITS AND EXTRA CURRICULAR SPORT
Children are offered a range of sporting activities both during and beyond the school day. In addition to the statutory PE curriculum, (striking and fielding, gymnastics, dance, athletics, net and ball games and swimming) pupils are offered additional opportunities through clubs and after school activities such as football, netball, and cricket and through local leagues and festivals. Children also participate in a range on Intra Mat sporting competitions alongside our link schools.
Each class has the opportunity to swim during the summer term in the village outdoor pool adjacent to the school. Families have the option to purchase a key to use the facilities themselves outside of school hours.
In addition to PE lessons that develop teamwork, children experience activities such as orienteering and problem solving in an outdoor setting.
Children in Years 3/4/5/6 have further opportunities during residential programmes.
PERSONAL, SOCIAL AND HEALTH EDUCATION
The school uses Jigsaw learning materials for PSHE.
Health education is a cross-curricular aspect and overlaps with social education. Our children’s health is given a high priority in school. As well as considering diet and exercise, our health education programme includes a programme of sex education, which has been drawn up in accordance with the Local Authority’s guidelines and has been approved by the school governors.
At Thorncombe we actively promote a love of the outdoors. Our outdoor space and the use of a local woodland provides improved opportunities for Forest School and OAA activities, enabling children to learn outside in a range of curriculum areas and alongside others.
VISITORS AND VISITS
We welcome a range of visitors into School to support children in their learning. These include writers, artists, scientists and musicians etc. We also encourage the involvement of parents. We invest in as many visits as we can, so that children learn from real and exciting first hand experiences.
We carefully monitor and assess our children, keeping records on our planning after each lesson, so that we can plan for future lessons based on what pupils need to know next. We use a special online tracker to record end of term assessments, meeting regularly to discuss progress and ensuring that early intervention is put in place where further support is needed.
A Foundation Profile is completed at the end of your child’s first year in School. There are Statutory Assessment Tasks (SATs) at the end of each Key Stage (Year 2 and Year 6).
These assessments are shared with parents on the end of year school report.