St Michael's
Church of England Primary School

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Enabling every child to flourish in their potential as a child of God



Our approach to teaching and learning

“Commit yourself to lifelong learning. The most valuable asset you’ll ever have is your mind and what you put into it.“ Brian Tracy

At St Michael’s our aim is to provide a caring, exciting and inspiring place to learn, where children feel safe and nurtured. We want our children to become resilient learners, with a growth mindset, who are willing to try new things, learn from their mistakes and reflect on their learning. We want our children to grow into independent and confident young people, well prepared for the next stage in their education.

Collaborative learning opportunities are encouraged at our school. ‘Kagan’ strategies are embedded to promote engagement in learning and instill the values of sharing and co-operation. Mixed ability groupings are used as far as possible and children have the opportunity to work with different learning partners throughout the year.

At St Michael’s we designed a bespoke curriculum, based on the National Curriculum, with a strong knowledge focus. By instilling integrity and good values and equipping children with a knowledge-based curriculum, we enable our children to thrive in the 21st century. Although there is a strong focus on key information, we balance factual learning with its application, using practical skills. Currently we are creating ‘Knowledge Organisers' (KO) for all subjects in the curriculum. A Knowledge Organiser is the ‘go-to’ document, outlining the ‘powerful knowledge’ that children need in order to truly understand concepts. It also enables them to recall and apply this knowledge, offer informed explanations and further their understanding.


Whole School Curriculum Map

"We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience." John Dewey


English

“The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.” Brian Herbert

Why do we teach English?

English sits at the heart of the primary curriculum and at St Michael’s we value our children’s right to be literate and to enjoy literature. Children should be taught to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and be able to listen and respond when others communicate with them. Reading in particular, helps children to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Reading not only enables pupils to acquire knowledge but develops knowledge, as it helps the children to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to fully participate as a member of society and therefore we aim to equip our pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, as well as develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.

What do we teach?

Spelling, punctuation, grammar and handwriting:

A consistently high standard of joined up handwriting and neat presentation are promoted across the whole school, which all children and staff recognise, understand and follow. In Reception, letter formations are taught alongside phonics and once the children have learned their letter formation and sounds, joined up handwriting is encouraged. From Year 1 onwards, all classes begin the day with handwriting practice.

We follow a structured spelling scheme. In Early Years and Key Stage 1, phonics lessons are planned using the Letters and Sounds framework and delivered using the Tower Hamlets approach. In Key Stage 2, a spelling rule is introduced at the beginning of each week. The children practise their spellings for the week by writing these words in the daily handwriting sessions, using the ‘Quiz, Quiz, Trade’ strategy, and revising at home. At the end of the week, the learning is assessed by a spelling test and dictation.

STM spelling overview (link)

Grammar and punctuation learning opportunities are weaved into the literacy lessons, but also taught discreetly at times.

Grammar overview (link)

Writing

Writing is taught through ‘talk for writing’ (T4W) – this approach develops speaking, listening, grammar and children’s creative writing skills. As a result of this approach, the children are developing into successful storytellers and the quality of writing across the school is impressive. The method focuses on children learning quality texts off by heart so that rich language and sentence structures are embedded and built upon every year. A range of fiction and non-fiction genres are taught, to ensure children are aware of the features of different text types. The three stages of T4W are immersion in the text, innovation and independent application. Alan Peat’s ‘exciting sentences’ are taught discreetly, equipping the children with a bank of varied sentences they may use in their writing to engage the reader.

T4W overview (link) and Alan Peat checklist (link)

Reading

To develop their reading skills in Early Years, a structured phonics approach is embedded and every child receives 1:1 reading opportunities. In Year 1, daily guided reading sessions are held, with a focus on word reading and comprehension. From Year 2 upwards, reading is taught using a whole class teaching approach. In dedicated reading slots, the teachers use a range of strategies to aid comprehension and encourage reading with meaning. The sessions incorporate whole class modelling prior to the children applying these skills through partner and independent work. The children are frequently reminded that to be a good reader, they should read each day. Therefore, in addition to the dedicated teaching of reading, opportunities for ‘reading for pleasure’ are built into the timetable and children are always encouraged to read at home.

Our expectations (Impact)


Maths

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” Albert Einstein

Why do we teach Maths?

At St Michael’s, we believe that a high quality education in Maths not only provides vital tools for understanding the world around us, but also helps develop broader problem solving skills. It also stimulates a curiosity that allows children to thrive in all areas of their learning.

Maths is all around us - we use maths skills and capabilities every day, from estimating and making calculated choices, telling time, handling money to following a recipe and measuring accurately. Everyone requires some level of specific mathematics knowledge! In most professions a sound understanding of maths is a key requirement and the stronger it is, the better the individual is able to perform in their role. The children of St Michael's are encouraged to develop their mathematical understanding to its full potential to prepare them for their future in the world.

What do we teach?

To ensure we embed the fundamentals in Maths, all Maths lessons begin with the structured approach of ‘CLIC’, which provides the children with basic number skills appropriate for their age. These skills focus around counting, recall (learn its), making links (it’s nothing new) and calculation strategies. Through embedding these basic number skills, children develop their mathematical competency and as a result they have greater freedom to explore more complicated mathematical concepts through problem solving and reasoning. We encourage children to learn from mistakes and develop the values of perseverance and resilience, as well as recognising the importance and advantages of working collaboratively.

STM Maths Overview (link)

Our expectations (Impact)


RE

“All religions, cultures, and beliefs deserve the same amount of respect, even if they are different from your own.” “If you are unable to love and respect someone because they don’t believe as you do, maybe you need to have another look at what it is that you believe in.”

Why do we teach RE?

Religious Education (RE) plays an important role in reflecting and conveying the distinctively Christian character of the school. With the school’s vision statement of 'enabling every child to flourish in their potential as a child of God', the child’s sense of own identity and worth as well as their personal beliefs and values are developed through the teaching of RE. Embedding core values will help the children to make reasoned and informed responses to life issues and moral choices. The RE curriculum helps children to develop both knowledge and understanding of Christianity as well as the other major world religions, including Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism. We want to give the children a platform to develop deeper thinking and reflect on truth, belief and faith. Religious Education is also an opportunity to foster children’s feelings of awe, wonder, joy and mystery and to extend their natural curiosity in God’s world.

What do we teach?

Our expectations (Impact)

See Expectations in RE (information to follow soon)


Science

“Science is simply common sense at its best” Thomas Huxley

Why do we teach Science?

  • To provide our children with a framework of knowledge: Science is a way of helping the brain grow by discovering new knowledge and developing an understanding of how the world works.
  • To learn how to solve problems and make informed decisions: Scientific experiments follow a structured method: 1. Combining a scientific question with research, 2. Conducting experiments to test the hypothesis and 3. Evaluating the results to draw conclusions. Every decision we make in everyday life is based on the structure of a scientific method: curiosity leads to asking questions (what is the problem?), constructing a hypothesis (how do I solve it?), testing it with evidence and evaluating the result (did the solution work?), and making future decisions based on that result.
  • To develop and maintain curiosity: We believe that studying science will help to spark imagination, fuel curiosity and nurture inspired and confident young scientists. Without curiosity and wonder, children lose their natural inclination to observe the world, ask questions of it and investigate to find answers.

What do we teach?

Our expectations (Impact)


History

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.” George Orwell
“People without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots”

Why do we teach History?

  • To provide us with the framework of knowledge: We need knowledge to build our entire lives. Learning about History is learning about people’s stories ("His…story") …
  • To develop our sense of identity: We learn who we are and how we came to be; who we are (in terms of human progression and development) from the first human until today. A lack of historical knowledge prevents people from truly understanding the world they live in.
  • To motivate and inspire: History inspires us through bravery and courage of our forefathers. History teaches us that a single individual with great convictions or a committed group can change the world. It is from numerous acts of courage that human history is shaped. Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the life of others, or strikes out against injustice, he or she sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
  • To learn from it: History has the largest reference of mistakes. As we learn from the successes of our ancestors, we can also learn from their mistakes to prevent us from making them again.
  • To develop critical thinking: History helps us to look beyond the headlines, to ask questions properly, and to express our own opinions. History trains our minds and teaches us to think and process information.

What do we teach?

Our expectations (Impact)


Geography

“I began studying geography because I wanted to learn more about the world I live in.”Alice Hyde
“It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it.” Isaiah 45:12

Why do we teach Geography?

Many people immediately think of maps when they hear the word ‘Geography’, however, as a subject , Geography is so much more than that. Geography is the study of places, landscapes, environments and people - and how they have affected each other over time to become what it is today. It combines natural sciences (physical geography) and social sciences (human geography).

We teach Geography as it develops a better world view – it helps the children to gain an appreciation for the world that goes beyond the borders that they live within and develops their understanding that they are part of a global community.

“The study of geography is about more than just memorising places on a map. It’s about understanding the complexity of our world, appreciating the complexity of our world, appreciating the diversity of cultures that exists across continents. And in the end, it’s about using all that knowledge to help build bridges and bring people together.” Barack Obama

What do we teach?

Our expectations (Impact)


PE

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live”. Jim Roh

Why do we teach PE?

Physical Fitness is not only one of the most important keys to healthy body, but it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity’ John.F.Kennedy

We teach PE to encourage children to become actively involved in sports as well as to recognise the benefits of health and fitness. Physical Education gives us the perfect chance to build on children’s ability to be part of a team and additionally to support the building of individual character. Physical Education is also the ideal opportunity to solidify our school rule of respect as children learn the values of fairness and respect within sport.

An opportunity to succeed and excel in competitive sport , learn how to deal with the highs and lows of winning and losing is also a reason for teaching PE. It is of great importance to s that children experience the enjoyment of PE and how it can help us to feel good about ourselves , consequently gaining skills that last a lifetime.

Lessons involve a range of team work predominately in houses -led by House Captains in upper juniors-paired work and some individual activities.

At St Michael's we are committed to provide opportunities to learn to swim. Swimming is the only sport which can save a child's life... drowning is still one of the most common causes for accidental death in children, so being able to swim is an essential life-saving skill.  Swimming also keeps children's heart and lungs healthy, improves strength and flexibility and it increases stamina, balance and posture.  Another great thing about swimming, other than the fact that it is lots of fun, is that children of any age or ability can take part in this form of exercise.

Click here to see more information about our 'Walk-a-Mile' initiative.

What do we teach?

Children learn a range of sports - see STM curriculum map (link)

Our expectations (Impact)


Art & Design

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” Scott Adams

Why do we teach Art & Design?

  • To develop imagination, creativity and expression:  Art allows children to explore, build upon and record their own creative and imaginative ideas. Making pictures allows children to express their feelings and ideas, both as a means of self-expression and to communicate to others. Older children may use pictures for more conceptual purposes, expressing their concerns and worries.
  • To develop visual thinking and observational skills:   Pictures encourage us to think about and understand the world visually, instead of restricting learning and the acquisition of knowledge to words and numbers alone. Making pictures helps children observe more closely and therefore become better observers of detail in the world around them.
  • To develop critical thinking, problem solving and analytical skills:  Children gain an understanding of art and design. Pictures enable children to explore and test out ideas, while making decisions on how they choose to depict them.
  • To develop autonomy: A child’s picture is his or her own. It has worth in its own right, without having to be measured or judged by others as right or wrong. The child has the authority to say what the picture is of, or what it communicates, building up their confidence and self-esteem.

What do we teach?

STM art & design scheme (information to follow soon)

Our expectations (Impact)

STM art & design expectations (information to follow soon)


Music

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” Victor Hugo

Why do we teach Music?

Music is a universal language that embodies one of the highest forms of creativity – it is a key part of our lives and therefore we recognise its value at St Michael’s. We believe it offers children something that is emotional, imaginative and fun. Other reasons for teaching music are:

  • To develop creativity: It builds imagination and self-confidence.
  • To improve academics: Music helps the body and the mind work together. Research has shown that it develops areas of the brain that pertain to language and reasoning. Learning songs can improve children’s memory skills.
  • To develop children socially, culturally and spiritually: Music teaches children a variety of cultures and helps people to connect. Children are naturally very social, and it's important to encourage them to build relationships by providing them experiences to share with each other. Music can also play a part in spiritual development and therefore music is an integral part of St Michael’s; during Collective Worship we expose children to a range of beautiful songs, which are uplifting and an opportunity to appreciate and enjoy the wonder of music.

What do we teach?

Our expectations (Impact)


Computing

“Whether you want to uncover the secrets of the universe, or you just want to purse a career in the 21st century, basic computer programming is an essential skill to learn.” Stephen Hawking

Why do we teach Computing?

  • To prepare our pupils for today's world and the future.  It is a key skill required in their future workplace and to be active participants in a digital world.
  • To provide a framework of computing knowledge: The core principles of information and computation, how digital systems work and how to utilise this knowledge through programming.
  • To teach analytical and problem solving skills in computational terms: It allows pupils to solve problems, design systems, and understand the power and limits of human and machine intelligence. 
  • For pupils to become digitally literate: enabling children to use technology, to express themselves and develop their ideas through information and communication technology, teaching children to be responsible digital users and to understand how to keep themselves safe online.

What do we teach?

See STM computing scheme (information to follow soon)

Our expectations (Impact)

See STM computing expectations (information to follow soon)


MFL: Italian

“Calma, dolce e gentile” Calm, gentle and kind.  “When in Rome, does as the Romans.”

Why do we teach Italian?

There are many good reasons for learning a second language; research has proven the cognitive benefits, such as memory improvement and longer attention span. The world is changing quickly and learning a second language could potentially improve an individual's employment prospects. More companies than ever are managing business in several – often dozens of – countries around the world, but they are unable to do this without hiring globally-minded people able to speak at least one foreign language. If an individual makes the effort to learn another language, rather than expecting the world to accommodate their own language, then it makes that person more interesting. If there is one culture that you’d like to understand better, or even one person in your life you’d like to know better, one of the best ways to start is by learning to speak their language.

What do we teach?

STM curriculum map (information to follow soon)

Our expectations (Impact)

STM MFL expectations (information to follow soon)


RSE (Relational & Sex Education)

“Relationships are like birds, if you hold tightly they die, if you hold loosely they fly, but if you hold with care they remain with you forever...”

Why do we teach ?

Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) is a lifelong learning process of acquiring information, developing skills and forming positive beliefs and attitudes about sex, sexuality, relationships and feelings. Parents/carers have a major responsibility to help children cope with the physical and emotional aspects of growing up, however, the intent of the school is to support parents in this task. We believe effective RSE could make a significant contribution to the development of the personal skills needed by pupils if they are to establish and maintain healthy relationships. It also enables young people to make responsible and informed decisions about their health and well-being. Consistent with the Church School ethos, we base the teaching of RSE on the premise that all life is from God and we are created in the image of God.  We are called to love, as God is love.

What do we teach?

See RSE scheme (information to follow soon)


Values Education

“Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s the same, but you leave them all over everything you do.”

Why do we teach Values?

Even though the world is changing, the values that children need to develop do not really change over time - it is the application of these values that changes. ‘Values’ are the long-term underlying principles used in deciding what is right and wrong, good or bad and helps children learn and practice healthy attitudes and behaviour, such as respect, trust and resilience. Our values education underpins everything we do and encourages the children to make a positive contribution to the development of a fair, just and civil society.

What do we teach?

Our one school rule is respect.  We expect children to demonstrate the value of respect by respecting themselves and their learning, respecting their peers, respecting the staff and community, respecting the school environment and ultimately respecting God. In addition to the value of respect, the school has adopted 6 further key values we actively teach and promote - love, hope, peace, joy, trust and resilience.

We teach the British Values to nurture our children on their journey through life so they can grow into safe, democratic, tolerant, responsible and respectful individuals who make a positive difference to British society and to the diverse world we live in.  We encourage our children to be creative and open-minded, respectful of themselves and of others in our school, our local community and the wider world.


Let's Talk (PSCHE)

“The biggest problem is that we do not listen to understand.  We listen to reply.”

Why do we teach the 'Let's Talk' curriculum?

We want our children to become healthy, independent, reflective and responsible members of society, who will make a positive contribution in the wider world.  Our fully planned and resourced 'Let's Talk' program develops the children's knowledge and skills which they need to manage their lives, now and in the future.  The children have the opportunity to learn how to stay safe and healthy, build successful relationships and develop the attributes they need to prepare them for life and work in modern Britain. 

What do we teach?

During 'Let's Talk’ time, we cover the following four core themes:

1.  Health and well-being

2. Being safe in the school and beyond the school gate

3. Relationships

4. Living in the wider world

Within these themes, the lessons include discussions about British Values, global citizenship, personal safety, health and mental well-being.


Homework

Why do we give homework?

The children's days are filled with ample, quality learning opportunities at St Michael's.  Therefore, when children go home, we would like them to be active and have time to play in the garden/park, participate in sport and socialise with friends (... and preferably not via a video game!).  However, it is also important that children develop skills in using their time wisely and extend their learning beyond the school gate.  Home learning improves children’s thinking, memory and study skills which will serve them well in secondary school and throughout their life.

What homework do we give?

In addition to daily reading and termly projects, here are the weekly home learning expectations that we have at St Michael’s:

  • Reception: Phonic sounds strings, learn its
  • Year 1: Phonic sound mats, learn its, weekly spelling test, mathletics, spellodrome
  • Year 2: Phonic sounds strings, learn its, weekly spelling test, mathletics, spellodrome, reciting their timestables (x10; x5; x2) (SATS practice closer to May)
  • Year 3: Weekly spelling test, mathletics, spellodrome, reciting their timestables (x3; x4; x8)
  • Year 4: Weekly spelling test, mathletics, spellodrome, reading comprehensions fortnightly, reciting their timestables (x6; x11; x12)
  • Year 5: Weekly spelling test, mathletics, spellodrome, reading comprehensions fortnightly; reciting their timestables (all)
  • Year 6: Weekly spelling test, mathletics, spellodrome, weekly mental maths, weekly reading comprehensions, reciting their timestables (all); SATS practice.
  • Please remember to sign your child’s reading log at least three times a week in Key Stage 1 and once a week in Key Stage 2 as a record that they are reading at home.