‘Working Together as One – With God All Things are Possible’
Through our ambitious curriculum, we strive to support all pupils in gaining the requisite skills to be successful, independent and motivated learners, developing well-rounded individuals who will aspire to aim high, respond to challenge and be life-long learners. Building on the development of a positive attitude to learning, we offer a programme which is broad and balanced and covers the breadth and depth of the national curriculum, whilst also considering the interests of both children and parents. We understand that – whatever their starting points – pupils should be exposed to sequential learning, with prior knowledge and experience underpinning new knowledge and skills. Subject leaders have an in-depth understanding of how knowledge and skills must develop throughout early years, key stage one and key stage two, ensuring that learning builds over time. We foster an environment where children can excel and improve on their individual skills and talents and we equip them with the skills required to progress beyond key stage 2. As a school, we strive to promote a sense of democracy, celebration of diversity and mutual respect in our pupils, building on a foundation of key Christian values. We hold the highest expectations of all children, constantly promoting well-being and positive mental health, alongside opportunities for physical development.
What is it like to be a child at St. Wilfrid’s?
From the very moment that our children enter the school environment in the morning, they are greeted with warmth and shown respect. For some, this entails a warm breakfast in our before-school club, allowing the children an opportunity to interact, promoting a need to be in school on time and supporting parents by extending the school day. For others, it is being positively greeted by name in the school playground, with staff taking an active interest in the well-being of pupils and their families.
Upon entry into the classroom, pupils receive a broad and balanced curriculum from the outset.
- In EYFS, parents are encouraged to accompany their child into the classroom, gaining insight into their child’s learning and building a strong relationship between home and school.
- In EYFS and key stage one, children quickly access ‘Read Write Inc.’ phonics, linked directly to their individually assessed starting points. Children are taught in small targeted groups, and are constantly assessed to identify progress and next steps required. Where appropriate, a small number of key stage two children still access the phonics programme and are monitored closely for impact; where phonics sessions are no longer felt to be supporting the specific needs of these children, alternatives are sourced, such as precision teaching.
- In key stage two, the day begins with early morning work which focuses predominantly on developing spelling, punctuation and grammar skills alongside mental maths knowledge. Both pre and post teaching approaches are utilised, introducing new skills and knowledge whilst continuing to revise and embed the ‘sticky’ knowledge that children require to progress well.
The structure of the school day ensures that the acquisition of mathematics, reading and writing skills is balanced with cross-curricular opportunities and non-core subject knowledge and skill development.
- Maths sessions follow the ‘Abacus’ scheme of work, yet are supplemented with mastery resources and opportunities for all groups of children to access reasoning tasks, including challenges for children working at all abilities. Work supports individual needs of pupils, whilst ensuring that expectation is high. Focus is also on the development of key mental maths skills, including recall of key facts (particularly number bonds and times tables).
- English sessions follow a cyclical process to ensure that skills are modelled, developed and practised before children are expected to apply them independently. Children begin with a ‘cold write’ where they demonstrate their understanding of a genre, thus allowing the teacher to identify current skills and knowledge, and to identify next steps required in teaching. The following teaching sequence then submerges the children within the genre, exposing learners to the grammar, punctuation, vocabulary and structure required to successfully complete a piece of writing. Modelled and shared writing are precursors to independent writing known as a ‘hot write’. Children are then given the opportunity to edit their writing – after targeted written and verbal feedback – and complete a third piece of work in the chosen genre around an area of personal interest. This piece allows them to apply the skills taught with increasing independence, embedding ‘sticky’ knowledge and skills to build upon.
As a Church of England school, the social, moral, spiritual and cultural aspects of our pupils are enhanced through daily collective worship and celebration. Services are guided by key Christian values, and children are given the opportunity to reflect, share their understanding and enter into prayer. Services also allow the children to join together in song, celebrate individual and team success through team point assemblies focused on promoting good behaviour and to receive individual rewards and certificates, including the opportunity to share achievements from beyond school life. Attendance rewards are prioritised as this is ongoing key focus for St. Wilfrid’s.
During lunchtimes, sports coaches are employed to provide the children with quality outdoor provision, allowing the children to access a range of sports including football, tennis and cricket and encouraging them to follow rules and show respect for their peers. Within this time, children also participate in the mile walk, ensuring that physical well-being is prioritised. Upper key stage two children are given the opportunity to volunteer as monitors, supporting in the dinner hall and within the school library. Expectations of behaviour are high throughout the dinner hour, reinforced by senior leaders and support staff.
Once the pupils return to the classroom after lunch, each class enters into the guided reading cycle, ensuring that teachers and teaching assistants develop reading knowledge through in-depth questioning. Focusing on word reading and comprehension skills, the carousel is developed by each class teacher to meet the needs of the individuals within their cohort. This cycle includes access to ‘Bug Club’, targeted comprehensions that are both supported and independent, and follow up tasks that allow learners to apply their newly acquired knowledge and skill. Guided reading texts are often cross-curricular, linking to current topic and science work and allowing children to apply the ‘sticky knowledge’ between lessons and year groups.
Foundation subjects focus on acquisition of key skills and knowledge, as outlined by our ‘St. Wilfrid’s School Curriculum’, based around the objectives from the national curriculum. As the pages for each individual subject on our school website demonstrate, subjects focus on developing key skills and independence, building new understanding on skills introduced within previous year groups. For example, within our science curriculum, in year 1 children identify and describe the basic structure of common flowering plants; in year 2 they find out about and describe what plants need to survive; in year 3 they further investigate the requirements of plants and how they vary between species. At each stage, vocabulary will be introduced and revisited, prior knowledge recalled and built upon, greater levels of independence expected and ‘sticky knowledge and skills’ embedded.
To further embed key skills, and to provide the children with an opportunity to apply new and ‘sticky’ skills, we are also introducing ‘Skills Showcase Weeks’ from December 2019. We are passionate about allowing the children to lead aspects of their learning through their own interests – in line with the EYFS ‘In the Moment’ approach – therefore are implementing weeks where children can apply key skills from across the curriculum around a topic area of their own interest. For example, whilst a key skill focus for year 1 may be to make marks using different tools, one child may apply this skill through a piece linked to space, whilst a second may link it to princesses. Research supports our view that allowing an element of autonomy encourages a child to create their best work and successfully showcase their skill. We believe that this will also encourage more reluctant writers to create extended pieces of writing, drawing on their own areas of interest for inspiration.
At St. Wilfrid’s we seek to provide our pupils with every opportunity to develop as well-rounded individuals. We prioritise academic skill and knowledge development, whilst also ensuring that our children gain life experience through visits, trips and activities. Current and upcoming examples include whole school Chester Zoo workshops and trips, visits to the recycling plant, Christmas workshops and pantomimes, forest school trips and reward trips. Our children are warm and enthusiastic, and are keen to share their knowledge and ideas with others. They are a credit to St. Wilfrid’s and represent their families and the local area beautifully.
We constantly listen to our stakeholders and strive to support all individuals linked to our school. For example, parental feedback revealed that parents would benefit from a before and after school club, therefore, senior leaders and governors are taking steps to provide this service within coming months.