Intent, Implementation and Impact
At Saint John’s School, we recognise that children experience and learn in both planned and unplanned ways. We are intentional in the preparation of our curriculum, but we are fully aware that many lessons are taught unconsciously, particularly the values that our children see and engage with daily in their school life. We hope that, as the pupils grow and develop, they will flourish as our key verse reminds us. A dictionary definition for “flourish” is: To grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a congenial environment. We hope that our children will be healthy, even vigorous, and to grow into mature young people, with us aiming to provide a “congenial” environment!
We want our community to understand the role and purpose of Christian values in their lives. This is not just about learning "about" the values but is also about reflecting on and then living out values. Our aims are to provide a curriculum which ensures our children love learning, to encourage each other to be caring towards others and towards ourselves, to respond positively to challenge, to reach out to others within our community and to recognise and celebrate our citizenship – particularly our diversity - both now and in those communities we will join in the future.
Our curriculum has been designed by the whole staff, as we have worked together discussing and planning what we feel are the learning needs of our pupils at Saint John’s. The EYFS Framework and the National Curriculum are key starting points and, along with the golden threads of our vision and values which run through our curriculum, we have focused on each specific subject, thinking about the particular needs of our pupils, any gaps there might be and what we want them to gain during their primary school education, in particular, the knowledge, skills and vocabulary. There is cohesion across the different subjects with connections between subjects, and with a focus on gaining a deep understanding of a subject area, rather than skimming the surface. With an established sequence of learning provided by the subject lead, there is progression from each year group to the next, sequenced carefully, to ensure we are building on previous knowledge and striving for challenging learning at every stage.
Additionally, our curriculum is designed to fill those gaps which have the potential to alienate our children from thriving in education or which might prevent them from accessing future opportunities. We have a strong commitment to equal opportunities and to providing the best possible chance for a pupil to engage in learning both within and beyond the classroom. Our curriculum embraces breadth and balance, and we are proud to see our pupils excel, not only in the core subjects, but beyond. We have built in particular experiences, such as walking to events and locations in central Cheltenham; physical activities such as riding a bike and swimming; learning to sing and play musical instruments and organising trips further afield to ensure that all rudimentary childhood experiences are given to our Saint John’s pupils. Our intention is to increase the children’s cultural capital as we prepare them for their future.
The whole staff has worked on our curriculum, with themes that reach across the whole school to encourage a sense of working together as a family, building on core values and academic learning, whilst stretching far and wide (like a tree). There is consistency and progression from year to year. Our subject leaders plan and deliver training in their subjects, ensuring that year group teachers are given the guidance and resources needed for high-quality learning. Delivery of each subject is very much aligned with the EYFS and National Curriculum requirements and we use a range of resources to ensure this. Ffor example, the school uses the ‘White Rose’ scheme in Maths, focusing on key principles such as working in small steps, providing a concrete and pictorial approach to support a better understanding of the abstract and 'Deepening Understanding' resources challenge all of our children to apply their knowledge and skills in different context. “Floppy Phonics” is foundational in our development of Reading skills, alongside a daily use of VIPERS and Literacy Shed resources to give a structured plan to reading comprehension, and our weekly plans for reading ensure our children to engage with books for their pleasure. We have both class libraries and a newly refurbished library accessible to all the children on a daily basis. Writing has been a high priority, as we respond to the needs of the pupils in this area, particularly recognising that this was one of the most challenging impacts of the pandemic. We use a variety of resources, alongside high-quality texts, and our lessons have a clear sequence of learning used across the school. Pie Corbett's 'Talk for Writing' structure has ensured that our children really enjoy the writing process, using different learning styles to reach every child, particularly focusing on the oral process before putting pen to paper. Our 'High Fives' strategy for learning the foundational skills of spelling, punctuation, grammar and handwriting feature daily in the children’s learning and make sure that there is challenge for every writer.
Foundation subjects are taught in subject specific lessons, although we recognise that there are links between subjects. These lessons embed understanding of key concepts and we support pupils to transfer this learning as they move between subjects. Science uses a structured programme designed by 'Integra', developed in South Gloucestershire, enabling our staff to take part in hubs and training in the area. We know that links with other schools is fundamental to our community flourishing. History and Geography are the two subjects where teachers have worked together to build a curriculum which draws upon the rich historical links that can be found in the local area and are specific to our children's interests and experiences. For R.E., we follow the Gloucestershire Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education which dovetails with the ‘Understanding Christianity’ resource and with our focus on citizenship, we encourage children to think about the wide range of religions and beliefs within our community. Their learning involves our parents or those in the local community speaking with our children from their expertise and experience. This links with our recognition that belief should connect with how lives are led. The SCARF Curriculum is a basis for our learning in PSHE - Physical, Social, Health and Emotional Education. Clearly, our focus on Caring and Citizenship will be a key part of this subject and the connection with our vision and values is evident in the way children speak, how they engage with each other and in our school environment. In Music, the Charanga scheme allows staff to develop listening, composing and playing skills, as well as knowledge and understanding. We teach recorders in two different year groups and Year 6 have the opportunity to learn a brass or strings instrument, taught by a music specialist; in this way, all children participate in a music group before leaving Saint John's. A music teacher comes in weekly to lead our choir and provide individual music lessons in our library space. “Language Angels” is a KS2 French scheme of work with both written and aural resources; we also add to the classroom experience by having a Language Day when we can practise our French and celebrate the many diverse languages spoken within our school community. We have also been developing connections with local secondary schools when staff and pupils can come and join our language lessons to encourage a high level of skill and challenge with specific language abilities. Our Computing curriculum, using the iCompute scheme, involves regular use of both laptops and ipads for coding, research and writing documents using Word, Powerpoint or Excel. Art and Design Technology are planned and resourced using the 'Kapow' scheme, ensuring cohesion and progression, as well as diversity in the artists and designers studied by the children. Children’s artistic skills are developed sequentially, with Art or DT Shows at the end of different units. In a bid to establish healthy living and recognising the limitations of the school surroundings, Physical Education is given a high profile in the timetable and in extra-curricular activities. We work with Move More to gain expertise and “Get Set 4 PE” planning, resourcing, training and staffing ensure the children experience high-quality Physical Education.
In terms of organisation, we teach subject specific lessons from Year 1 to Year 6, so that children can learn and see themselves as “scientists”, “historians”, “geographers”, “artists” etc. We also plan Subject Days, with a focus on one particular subject across the whole school, and Enrichment Days, where cross curricular links are made with other subjects and additional experiences are added to the "regular" curriculum. This enables links to be made between subjects and ensures that knowledge and skills are embedded through different subjects. Learning is timetabled, so that there is an appropriate balance of subjects, with some subjects being taught every day: Reading, Writing, Maths; whilst other subjects are taught weekly, fortnightly or termly. This enables us to teach “fewer things in greater depth”; subjects are allocated the time needed for them to be taught effectively.
Subject Leads have developed sequenced planning for their subject from Reception to Year 6, with an outline of the knowledge, skills and vocabulary in each area of learning. In this way, teachers, children and parents know what is taught and when. Knowledge Organisers, designed by the Subject Leads working with the class teachers, are used to teach the pupils new knowledge, skills and vocabulary, linking to prior learning and leading towards the next steps for learning. In this way, we can provide both support for those finding learning tricky and challenge for those who need further targets to help them stretch themselves and aim high.
The impact of our curriculum is that the vast majority of pupils leave with skills and knowledge in line with national curriculum expectations, not only in the core subjects but across a range of subjects. We recognise that the Covid pandemic has had a long-term impact on our lives - our pupils, parents and staff, and we have worked hard to close the gap brought about, as well as ensuring that we have responded to the emotional, social and developmental needs of our whole school community. We have reviewed every area of our curriculum, with considerable changes being made as we have considered the best way forward for Saint John's. Staff have worked incredibly hard and the response to these changes has been consistently positive, with children loving their learning and parents feeling that their child is flourishing in every way. The desire to provide purposeful, rigorous and strategically planned learning is central to all we have done, and the impact is evident in how our children skip into school ready to learn, and they leave each day that much more confident about their understanding of their place in the world. There are specific achievements for individual pupils too. Many, if not all, will be able to sing in pitch, play a musical instrument, swim at least 25m, ride a bike and have the foundations of a foreign language (albeit that for many it is their third or fourth language!); they will have experienced gardening, learnt practical DT skills and engaged in water activities. Some will have played sport at a competitive level and others will have performed in a production or presented their ideas to an audience, both within school and out in the wider community. For all their diverse beginnings, our Saint John's pupils will be rooted in their understanding of how much they are loved and valued, through our Christian ethos and values. As part of our family, they will be given the knowledge, skills and vocabulary and the resilience and confidence to grow, to reach up ambitiously and to reach out towards others, contributing to the wider community both during and after their primary school years. We are "like a tree, flourishing in God's unfailing love" (Psalm 52:8)