In the Foundation Stage (Pre-School, Nursery and Reception) children acquire skills through play. The curriculum is split into seven areas of learning: mathematical; communication and language; literacy; understanding of the world; personal, social and emotional; expressive arts; physical. A rich and balanced programme of activities is provided which gives children first hand experiences of language and thinking skills and awareness of number. We also provide equipment, materials and tools to promote a wide range of physical and creative activities. Children learn through observing, discovering, exploring and experimenting. They learn social skills and how to interact with other children and the expectations of school behaviour and routines. The Foundation Stage curriculum prepares children for the transition to Key Stage 1.
Key Stages 1 and 2
All pupils from the age of five are taught the core curriculum subjects of English, Maths and Science, in addition to the foundation subjects of History, Geography, Technology, Art, Music, PE and Computing, together with Religious Education (RE), Relationships and Health Education (RHE) and Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE). Progression in each subject, through the year groups, is carefully planned. French is taught in KS2.
Our Curriculum Design
Relevant, Meaningful Links and the Importance of Reading
We aim to make learning relevant, creative and cross curricular wherever possible. We also believe that reading (and the use of high quality texts) is one of the most important mediums for gaining and deepening knowledge and understanding of the world and across the curriculum. This means that we make links between subjects. For example, English writing and reading lessons are all based on a canon of texts that we have chosen and refined over time (see our King’s Oak Literature Spine). We have chosen these texts very carefully based on:
Their literary appeal
The suitability and level of language challenge for the age of children
Sometimes their historical context and how they link with our history topics
Sometimes they are chosen for their links with geographical topics or science topics
Sometimes because of their importance in the literary history of our country and the world eg. Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Roald Dahl, classic Greek tales etc.
For each history topic across key stages 1 and 2, we have one or more texts (fiction, non fiction and poetry) that we use in English and guided reading lessons that help children understand more deeply the historical period they are studying eg. in Year 6 they study what life was like for children during the 2nd World War and in their English and guided reading lessons they read ‘The Silver Sword’ about life for children in the Polish ghetto in Warsaw and ‘Goodnight Mister Tom’ about what life was like for children in London and those evacuated to the country. As well as these two main fiction novels, they will read a wide range of poetry and non fiction texts about the war.
In some geography topics across key stages 1 and 2, key texts studied in English and guided reading are linked and will support and deepen children’s understanding. For example, in Year 2 children read ‘Paddington’ and the ‘Snow Queen’ and these novels are used to help their understanding of climate zones in geography – comparing the tropical climate of Peru with the arctic climate of Norway. In Year 5, when studying mountains in geography, children deepen their understanding of mountains by reading about the expeditions of famous mountaineers who have climbed the Himalayas.
In other subjects, links will also be made where possible and meaningful. For example, when studying the Victorians in Year 4, children study pictures by the Victorian artist William Morris and create their own art in his style. When studying the legacy of Tutankhamun in Year 5, children link design and technology by designing and making their own Egyptian tunic. In Years 5 and 6, they link dance in PE to their history topics by learning and performing Tudor dance and the popular wartime dance of ‘The Jive’.
We also learn and practise the skills of reading and writing across the curriculum. For example, in science and other foundation subject lessons, children will read texts and answer questions to gain knowledge of the topic and share their understanding of the topic through writing eg. writing reflections of what they have learnt and understood, writing a newsflash, a report, a poem etc.
As well as teaching maths explicitly every day from Nursery to Year 6, we look for opportunities to teach maths across the curriculum especially when it comes to measure and statistics and particularly in science and geography lessons. For example, in Year 2 geography when comparing climate zones, they compare temperature using positive and negative numbers and rainfall using ml. When learning about light and shadows in science in Year 3, children measure and graph how their shadows change in size as the day goes on.
As a school we are committed to continuous provision within our curriculum as we believe that learning in the context of daily life is really important and is often learning in a way that children can relate to. We have chosen resources for every classroom in the school to enable continuous provision to take place. For example, every class has a calendar which is updated daily with the whole class so that from Nursery to Year 6, children develop an automatic knowledge of the days of the week, months of the year, the seasons and ordinal numbers. Every class has a globe, a world map, a map of Europe and a map of the UK so that in all areas of learning, teachers can continuously reinforce where places are in the world. Every classroom has a historical timeline so that teachers can constantly reinforce and teach chronology and when things happened in the history of the world. We encourage children to learn how to read the time and solve problems involving time by ensuring that every classroom has an analogue clock, a digital clock and a set of mini clocks which can be used any time, any day to reinforce the teaching of time.
How our classrooms are set up to support learning
We believe that classrooms should be set up to support learning so that children have the relevant resources to hand and so that learning is displayed in way that helps to commit to long term memory. For example, each classroom has a ‘discovery corner’ which contains resources that children can access any time to help them with continuous learning eg. dictionaries, French dictionaries, thesauruses, atlases, any relevant textbooks. They also contain resources relevant to that year group’s current topic in history, geography or science eg. non fictions books, artefacts, pictures, useful information and vocabulary.
Most of our displays are ‘working walls’ and they are added to as topics progress – things the children have learnt are displayed to remind them and for them to use in their lessons. For example, on a maths working wall, you might see calculation strategies, times tables they are learning, mathematical vocabulary and its meaning etc. On an English working wall, you might see shared writing or elements of grammar or spelling the children are learning. On a reading working wall, you will see the Tier 2 vocabulary/words that the children are learning from their current text – the children are expected to use this vocabulary in their writing. On a topic or science working wall, you might see helpful Tier 3 vocabulary (words that are technical or specific to that topic), pictures or information. You will also see phonics and spellings that the children have learnt on display and being added to as the year progresses so that children can always use the words to help them spell with the aim of committing them to long term memory.
In addition to our working walls and discovery corners, every classroom has a visual timetable that is updated daily so that all pupils can access information about the day. Every classroom displays our ‘King’s Oak Learning Habits’so teachers can refer to these continuously and children can be reminded of the important skills of learning. Every classroom has a display of our King’s Oak rules, rewards and consequences.
Knowledge, skills and understanding
We believe that the teaching of knowledge and skills are equally important in order for children to gain deep understanding of their learning and in order to prepare them for life and the next stage of their education.
Our curriculum is designed and taught with knowledge and skills at its very heart.
Our subject leaders have worked hard to develop clear skills progression documents based on the national curriculum for their subjects so that teachers know exactly which skills of subjects to teach in which age phases. Some of these documents contain generic skills of learning but they are also very clear about the specific skills needed to become proficient in a subject eg. to be historian you need to be able to critically appraise sources; to be a geographer you need to be able to interpret maps; to be a scientist you need to be able to think scientifically and plan enquiries; to be a musician you need to be able to read and write musical notation etc.
As a whole school we have developed our own ‘King’s Oak Learning Habits’ which we believe are essential skills of a learner and skills for life – these are incorporated into every aspect of our school life from being explicitly taught to being used within all other lessons, to assemblies and in the language of learning that we use with the children in our daily discussions.
We are very clear about the knowledge that we want our pupils to acquire in every subject. We also recognise that what ‘knowledge’ means in different subjects is open to interpretation and can be intertwined with skills of that subject. In subjects such as music, PE, French, art, design and technology – the very specific skills of that subject are the knowledge we want them to learn. For example, in art we want them to know what colours can be made by mixing other colours together – this is knowledge of colour mixing but it is also an art skill. In music, composing music using musical notation is a skill and the knowledge we want them to learn.
In other subjects, the divide between knowledge and skills is more obvious. For example, in Year 5 history when learning about The Reformation during Tudor times, we are clear that we want the children to know the reasons why Henry VIII divorced England from the Catholic Church but we want them to find this out through the skill of studying primary and secondary sources of evidence.
For the reasons outlined above, we have chosen to plan the knowledge progression of subjects in different ways for a variety of reasons. For example:
In the following subjects we use published schemes because we think the knowledge and skills have been very well mapped out and are very comprehensive eg. French, the Kingston syllabus for RE, Jigsaw for PHSCE, the Merton scheme for PE, Charanga for music.
We pay for whole year of music tuition for Years 3 and 4 from specialist music teachers from Kingston Music Service because we believe they can provide a superior music curriculum than some of our class teachers who are not music specialists.
In subjects such as history, geography, art, science and design technology we plan the knowledge ourselves through the use of topic planners (e.g. Year 4 Victorians; Year 5 Mountains; Year 5 Egyptians) because we are hand picking the knowledge we want our children to learn from the national curriculum. We want our pupils to acquire a deep understanding of the topics they study – we do not want their understanding to be ‘on the surface’ which can sometimes happen when trying to cover too much.
The importance and power of words
Throughout our curriculum we systematically teach the children vocabulary – what words mean, how to use them and how to remember them. We believe that having a large and rich vocabulary can make an enormous difference to children’s future academic career and their life chances.
We teach Tier 2 vocabulary (words that are used in books as opposed to every day speech) daily in guided reading – we teach the origin and meaning of words, we play around with them and iron out any nuances, we collect them for display in our classrooms and then we regularly revisit them. The children are then expected to use that vocabulary in their writing in English and in writing across the curriculum. We take these words from the texts the children are studying in English and guided reading.
We teach Tier 3 vocabulary (technical or subject specific words) through our science and foundation stage lessons.
King’s Oak Essential Experiences
Although we believe that excellent quality of learning and teaching in the classroom is the most important ingredient for an outstanding curriculum (semantic learning), we also know that other experiences can enhance children’s learning (episodic learning) if planned well. We have a range of essential experiences that enhance learning across the school:
We have many trips out of school to compliment the learning that the children are doing in school.For example, when studying the Battle of Britain, children in Year 6 visit the Cabinet War Rooms and the Cenotaph in central London to get a real sense of what life was like during the Blitz and to gain deeper knowledge of Winston Churchill. When they return to school, they will use their experience to write in English and history lessons.
There are some cultural experiences that we believe are paramount for our pupils and we therefore endeavour to ensure that every pupil who comes through our school has the chance to:
See a variety of theatre productions including at local theatres, local secondary school productions and a West End production
Visit the seminal museums of London eg. Natural History Museum, Science Museum
Visit places of worship linked to RE learning eg. church, mosque, Hindu temple, synagogue etc.
Visit ‘local treasures’ that link well with our curriculum such as Hampton Court, Richmond Park and Holly Lodge, Kingston Museum
Perform their musical learning in front of a variety of audiences and in a variety of venues eg. at school in front of peers and parents/carers, at local theatres in front of the public, at other schools with and to other local children
A residential trip – this happens at the beginning of Year 6
Visits to places that contrast sharply with the area that they live in eg. the countryside, farms, the seaside
Sometimes we feel that having visiting experts / workshops is just as good or better than going out of school or we feel they can deliver something better than we can ourselves. For example, we have a specialist drama teacher who often comes in and works with year groups on their history topics – he makes them really feel act as though they are part of the time period and explores how real people would have felt during significant historical events eg. a Londoner in the Great Fire of London, a child in the Blitz, a Briton during a Viking raid, a Victorian street child etc. When the mobile solar system comes for Year 5 for their topic on space, they can really lie under the galaxy and see and understand how it works. We work with the Polka Theatre to teach our pupils in Year 4 about different forms of story telling and they create and perform a story to their parents/carers.
We feel strongly that children’s learning should be shared with their parents/carers and so find as many opportunities as possible to do this. Here are just some examples of how we do this:
Weekly class assemblies performed to parents/carers with an opportunity to return to class and join in the children’s learning
Reading morning every Wednesday morning from 8.45 – 9 pm whereby parents/carers are invited into classes to read with their children
Open mornings whereby parents/carers are invited to join their children in their classes for the whole morning
Christmas concerts for all age phases
Year group welcome and curriculum meetings to discuss the learning for that year and how parents/carers can help
Annual key stage two music showcase whereby every group or individual who have been learning an instrument, any child in the choirs or orchestra have a chance to perform to the rest of the school and to their parents/carers
Year group learning showcases or our ‘KOP big outcomes’ whereby children put together all of their learning for the term or from a certain topic and showcase it to their parents/carers. For example, Year 6 have a ‘2nd World War’ afternoon when children perform the Jive, give out rationed biscuits they have cooked, perform songs and poems from the time and most importantly show off their learning in books and projects. Year 5 invite parents/carers to a ‘Tudor Banquet’ whereby they perform Tudor dances they have learned, perform Tudor songs on their recorders, share food they have cooked and share their learning in books.
How your children learn
In addition to the curriculum, we teach children the skills they will need to maximise their learning potential, giving them confidence and strategies to cope with and enjoy new challenges so that they become independent learners:
How to pose questions and seek answers
How to research
How to persevere
How to solve problems
How to self assess, review work, edit and improve it
The Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning
Through our teaching we aim to promote the academic, moral, physical and social development of our children to prepare them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of secondary school, further education and adult life.
Core Curriculum Subjects – English, Maths and Science
English – The English curriculum, known as literacy, covers the three main programmes of study – speaking and listening, reading and writing. Learning in English is largely taken from the New National Curriculum and other work to provide a balanced and challenging programme of study.
Maths – We have adopted fully the New National Curriculum which provides a clear framework for pupil progression with an emphasis on mental calculation and mathematical understanding.
Science – Through our science curriculum, children develop an understanding of themselves and the world around them.
Please ask for more detail about teaching and learning in each subject.
Foundation Curriculum Subjects:
Please ask for more detail about teaching and learning in each subject.
Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE)
At King’s Oak we place great importance on PSHE. Through PSHE our children learn the skills they need to be responsible and responsive members of our school community and society. We use the Jigsaw resource which provides a framework for explicitly promoting social, emotional and behavioural skills, with built-in progression for each year group. We believe that these skills are very important and underpin every aspect of school, community and home life.
Relationships and Health Education (RHE)
RHE is taught progressively and is an integral part of the science and PSHE curriculum covered from Reception through to Year 6. In RHE we aim to prepare children for their lives now and in the future so that they can develop stable and caring relationships. Children learn about the physical and emotional changes of growing up and of human reproduction. Parents/carers have the right to withdraw their child from sessions, although not from those sessions which are taught as part of the National Curriculum. We invite parents/carers to talk to us and see the materials and resources used, before exercising this right.
Religious Education (RE)
RE is taught throughout our school and a school assembly is held every day. This often includes topical aspects or stories from a variety of cultures which investigate moral, social and aesthetic issues. Children will sometimes hear stories from the Bible and the holy books of other Faiths. We celebrate the special holy days of many Faiths and once a week we celebrate achievements and reinforce good attitudes and behaviour. Each class takes a turn to present an assembly to the rest of our school and parents/carers are invited to these assemblies. Parents/carers have a right to withdraw their child from either RE or school assemblies and arrangements can be made for pupils whose parents/carers wish to exercise this right, although we ask that parents/carers discuss this with us first.
We organise swimming lessons for all children as part of the National Curriculum. These take place when children are in Year 4. We make no charge for this activity, but we do ask for a voluntary contribution from parents/carers. We write to inform parents/carers when these lessons are to take place.