- DISTINCTIVE CURRICULUM FEATURES
- ORGANISATION OF LEARNING
- Lower School
- Upper School
- CURRICULUM CONTENT
- Lower School
- Upper School
The Steiner Academy Hereford provides an age appropriate, broad and balanced curriculum for all pupils from 3 – 16. It is based on the understanding that excellent outcomes are achieved by introducing learning at the moment of maximum pupil readiness rather than introducing learning at the earliest opportunity. Thus, in common with many countries in the world, the introduction of formal literacy and numeracy takes places at the age of 6/7 when pupils have had the opportunity to develop strong skills to enable successful learning outcomes. Similarly the introduction of computer technology takes place after the pupils have developed an understanding of a range of mechanical technologies.
Teachers have the freedom to adapt the curriculum to suit the needs of the pupils they teach, and to use personalised differentiation to meet the learning
A key principle that underpins the curriculum is that learning is promoted by:
- curriculum delivery that corresponds with what comes most naturally to children of a particular age and therefore provides age-appropriate method and content;
- providing personalised support within a culture of collaboration, where considerate engagement with others, and by undertaking tasks and activities cooperatively as a group, rather than competitively as individuals;
- academic learning being balanced with opportunities for learning through experience, through the natural world and through artistic activities;
- meeting the needs of the whole child through equal attention being given to the cognitive, emotional, spiritual, moral, social, cultural and physical development and well-being of pupils;
- developing the child’s imagination which holds the key to the development of creative thinking;
- allowing scope for the teacher to interpret and present material in an artistic way that can take account of the particular nature of the group of pupils and their cultural setting
All the strands of the curriculum are interrelated. For example at age 10, in mathematics, children divide the whole and learn about fractions; in music they divide the beat and learn music notation and in English they divide the sentence and study grammar. There is a year on year continuity with the study of each subject building directly on the work of the previous year.
2. DISTINCTIVE CURRICULUM FEATURES
- Innovative specialist subjects feature in the educational programme, such as Eurythmy, form drawing
- Foreign language learning is included from the beginning of school
- The development and use of varied technologies are introduced in the broad context of other disciplines
- The natural world and the sciences are approached from a phenomenological perspective
The Natural Environment
The Steiner Academy aims for our young people to exist in awareness and harmony with the natural world.
The Kindergarten gardens have trees for climbing, places to garden, an outdoor bread-oven and areas for watching wildlife. The children go for weekly walks, build fires in the fire pit and make dens and generally learn about nature.
This experience continues and develops in class 1 and 2. In class 3 there is a whole Main Lesson on farming and food production with the children growing wheat and vegetables. As the pupils get older they participate in an ever-wider variety of outdoor, environment-based activities and weekly Landwork lessons. In Classes 9 and 10 they can opt to continue with weekly Landwork and continue to participate in Festivals and trips which connect them with their physical world.
This form of movement is tailored to each stage of the child’s development, enhancing their coordination, concentration, and spatial awareness. It harmonises their thinking, feeling and willing capacities.
In the younger classes games are always introduced with a story so that the physical activity has an imaginative focus. Around Class 5 the ancient Greek Olympic events are introduced: running, jumping, discus and javelin. Ball games are introduced with rules tailored to the age group. From Classes 7 to 10, there is a more formal games programme, which introduces the pupils to a broad range of activities including: hockey, badminton, swimming, volleyball and basketball as well as some athletics and gymnastics.
Religious education in this school has, at its heart, the aim of cultivating a mood of reverence and appreciation; fostering a sensitivity for the sacredness of life, developing a sense of wonder for the goodness, beauty and truth in the world and nurturing an enduring respect for the spiritual quality of life.
Elements of the educational programme incorporate a Christian perspective that seeks to articulate universal human hopes, needs and values. Christianity is studied from a cultural-historical perspective within the curriculum, as are Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and other faiths.
From Class 1 onwards, the pupils start to learn Spanish through songs, poems, games and cultural activities. Languages can continue to be studied in the Upper School, with the pupils often visiting the relevant countries to experience both language and culture. In the older classes there are opportunities for individual exchanges and visits overseas and pupils from overseas Steiner schools often visit us.
Handwork and Crafts
Handwork is an important part of the curriculum from Classes 1 to 8. Pupils learn knitting, crochet, embroidery, hand- and machine-sewing and make a variety of beautiful and useful articles over the years.
Pupils will have the opportunity to work in the school forge from Class 4, while woodwork starts in Class 6 with pupils learning about different woods and techniques, the use of a variety of hand tools, and convex and concave shapes. Pupils make spoons, small toys with moving parts and some simple joinery. In the Upper School crafts include basketry, willow work, copperwork, pottery and stone carving.
The importance of music in the curriculum is established in the earliest years: the Kindergartens resound with singing and each child from Class 1 learns the recorder. All pupils learn musical notation from Class 3 and are encouraged to play a musical instrument (private lessons are available); ensembles are often formed. From Class 5, pupils join the school orchestra, bringing their own instruments or recorders. There are also school choirs and regular musical performances. Class 7 often performs an opera that has been created to suit the class.
Learning Support and Additional Needs
Equal opportunities and supporting pupils with disabilities is central to the ethos of the Steiner Academy. The Learning Support teachers regularly screen pupils for learning needs. Learning Support lessons, Eurythmy therapy, a visit to the optometrist, school doctor or Local Authority educational psychologist may be recommended. Support may be short- or long-term; the aim is to encourage and facilitate learning and the development of each child’s potential.
If needed, the Academy provides additional support to pupils for whom English is not their first language.
An emotionally literate school
The school aims to produce young adults who have a high level of emotional literacy and to support this emotional development throughout a child’s time with us. To this end, in September 2016 we introduced a number of Restorative Approaches to our classrooms and our school processes. These support listening and communicating which comes from the heart and where every voice is heard.
Trips and off-site activities
These are an integral part of the learning experience that benefits the academic, social and practical education of the pupils. There are many different trips and activities which start with walks in Kindergarten and Class 1 and end with theatre trips and visits abroad in the Upper School.
3. ORGANISATION OF LEARNING
Kindergarten (Pre-statutory, Reception and Y1)
During this period children are taught in a mixed age kindergarten. Each day has a regular sequence with periods of child-led free play alternating with more focused periods of teacher led activity: singing and movement, shared snack, story time. Each week has a pattern of activities: e.g. Mondays painting, Tuesdays bread making.
Pupils have a wide ranging balanced curriculum which is age appropriate, suited to the energies and interests of the age group, containing a wide variety of activities to engage all children, within a secure environment with regular patterns and clear boundaries.
Key principles that underpin the curriculum at this age are based on the understanding that learning is promoted by:
- a broad and balanced range of activities to establish the foundations of an enthusiasm for learning in all spheres;
- activities which develop pre-literacy and pre-numeracy skills;
- activities which develop gross motor skills;
- opportunities to experience the wonder of the natural world;
- opportunities for imaginative play;
- opportunities for child led activities, particularly free play and the use of simple objects as props which create opportunities for the expression of creativity, ingenuity and the power of the imagination;
- opportunities for teacher led activities to develop self-discipline and the ability to cooperate and self-regulate;
- opportunities for collaboration in play, in the sharing of food and other activities to promote social development;
- opportunities to share responsibility for such things as the care of their environment, for cleaning and tidying and for the preparation of food in order to foster a sense of responsibility, independence, self-reliance;
- participation in the celebration of festivals to inspire a sense of awe and reverence and community cohesion
Lower School (Y2–Y8)
The school day starts with a two hour multi-disciplinary Main Lesson taught to the whole class by the Class Teacher. The purpose of the Main Lesson is to allow sustained concentration on a topic for a significant block of time, usually three weeks.
The Main Lesson approach has several benefits: it develops the habit of a sustained concentration on one topic, both over the two hour period and over the three weeks /month, allowing in-depth exploration. The multi-disciplinary approach taken during the two hour lesson has two key benefits: it contains a wide range of variety so that pupils do not get bored and a wide range of ways of engaging with a subject are established. For example: a maths Main Lesson could include dance movement, throwing and stamping out a rhythm , singing, art work, storytelling, mental and written arithmetic. This gives every kind of learner a point of access to the subject. It maximises the chances of each pupil finding something they love and something they excel at in relation to all curriculum content. The variety of approaches within the lesson obviates boredom. The teacher plans the lesson to meet the pupils’ natural energy patterns so that they do not become restless or unfocused.
The pattern of revisiting subjects in time blocks of the Main Lesson promotes long-term retention of the knowledge by engaging the long term memory.
Learning is enhanced as a result of the continuity provided by the block teaching method because the Class teacher who delivers the Main Lesson teaches the same class from Class 1 –Class 7 (Y2 – Y8) – unless circumstances prevent this. This facilitates the successful management of the social and interpersonal issues that relate to the increasing maturity of the pupils.
The lessons after morning break are taught by mainly subject teachers, with two subject lessons before lunch and then two further subject lessons after lunch. All timetables broadly follow this pattern.
Upper School (Y9-Y11)
The aim is for all pupils to have a broad and balanced curriculum, without specialisation, until 16 and in addition for pupils to have the opportunity to study up to 8 GCSEs including the English Baccalaureates subjects.
All teaching is done by specialist teachers. The Main Lesson system continues and covers a wide range of topics delivered in an integrated multidisciplinary approach, but taught by specialist teachers. The Class Teacher is replaced by a Class guardian, who has a pastoral role, and may or may not teach the class.
Mixed ability teaching with personalised differentiation balanced with group activities continues.
4. CURRICULUM CONTENT
Kindergarten (Pre-statutory, Reception and Y1)
One of the key features at this stage is the opportunity for imaginative play. This is seen to be the foundation for the development of ingenuity and problem solving skills. It provides children with complex opportunities for social interactions. It promotes good psychological health by allowing children multifaceted expression using a wide range of materials. In order to support imaginative play, the learning environment has natural materials and simple toys made from natural materials which maximize their potential uses in play. For example a block of wood can be a ship, a telephone, a loaf of bread, etc.
The day has a consistent pattern. For example it may begin with a period of free play alongside an activity that is identified with that day of the week, e.g. baking, painting or handicraft. This will be followed by ‘circle time’ when songs and rhythmical verses are spoken and acted out. Following this the children will get ready for ‘snack time’ around one table where the mood will be relaxed and social. The children will then play outside before coming indoors again to conclude the morning with ‘story time’.
The curriculum at this stage includes the following foundations for later learning:
- Pre-literacy: songs, rhymes, stories, social engagement through play and at snack.
- Motor skills: gross motor skills in dance and movement, outdoor play.
- Fine motor skills: in sewing, finger knitting, baking, preparing snack, painting, drawing.
- Pre-numeracy: counting songs, counting opportunities in play and snack preparation.
- Science: foundations of experiential science through regular nature walks, nature table, seasonal songs and verses, food preparation and seasonal cooking.
- Technology: the use of simple hand tools in craft and cookery.
- Art: painting, drawing, model making.
- Music: daily singing.
Lower School (Y2- Y8)
- Y2 – Introduction to addition, subtraction, multiplication and division
- Y3 – Mental practice and longer exercises, moving on to larger numbers, number bonds, odd and even numbers, columns and carrying over and simple geometry
- Y4 – Practice of all 12 tables continues; long multiplication and long division will be introduced, together with money handling and change, and various forms of measurement involving linear dimensions, liquids, solids and temporal intervals
- Y5 – Introduction of fractions; measurements and area work continue
- Y6 – Compass geometry are introduced, also the decimal system
- Y7 – Percentages, profit and loss, simple interest and proportion and ratio are covered; geometry lessons introduce the use of the protractor
- Y8 – Graphs and algebra, geometry
The study of geography as a separate subject begins in Y5 and starts with a study of the immediate environment, broadening out in the following years to regional, national and global studies. The study of history moves from legends in Y3, through Ancient History and the study of the civilizations of Greece, Egypt and Rome to the study on modern History, so that pupils who embark on GCSE History do so with a strong sense of the chronological context.
- Y5 – Project work based on the study of the geography of the local area.
- Y6 – Geography of the British Isles. History: The culture and religion of early civilisations of India, Persia, Babylonia and Egypt, moving on to classical ancient Greek history.
- Y7 – European physical and human geography. History Roman Empire, Roman Britain; field trip to Roman site, the rise of Christianity, Saxon and Danish invasions of Britain, William the Conqueror.
- Y8 – World geography, including focus on one continent and looking at the cultural, material and economic conditions of specific societies. History: the Middle Ages and the transition from feudalism to the Renaissance, and
the Age of Discovery with the great voyages of the 15th to the 17th centuries linked to the science curriculum studied in that year.
Modern Foreign Languages
From Y2 all pupils a modern foreign language. In Y2 the teaching begins with oral language taught through song and games as well as conversation. Writing and reading are introduced from Y3 but the speaking and listening aspects remain central. By the end of Lower School students have strong language skills.
Technology and ICT
Pupils are introduced to a wide range of soft technoIogies through their practical creative work starting with cooking and sewing. As they get older this develops to include gardening, building, woodwork, pottery and metalwork. In these activities they use an increasing range of hand tools, and learn how mechanical tools function.
RE meets the local Agreed Syllabus, in line with all Academies. The moral and spiritual well-being of the children is nurtured by developing a strong sense of belonging for all children whatever their faith background. This is achieved through a calendar of seasonal festivals which the school celebrates together. A sense of reverence and an attitude of tolerance and respect towards each other is encouraged and modelled by the teachers and reinforced by verses said at the beginning and end of the day.
From Y3 pupils study historic and contemporary religious beliefs from all the main religious traditions. Pupils develop a well-informed understanding of world religions, and a strong sense of the value of community and of the wonder of the natural world.
There is both integrated and discrete physical education. Integrated physical education includes the movement exercises which come at the beginning of Main Lesson to help the pupils to settle their focus for learning. The use of rhythm and movement may come into many lessons, such as maths where pupils, for example may throw and catch beanbags as they recite times tables, or a foreign language, where pupils might follow a sequence of movements when learning parts of the body.
Physical Education as a separate is taught in a) Games lessons when pupils learn a wide range of team games and develop individual sports skills, including, for example, circus skills; b) Eurythmy lesson– a form of movement that is distinctive to Steiner schools intended to develop pupils’ gross motor skills, concentration and sense of spatial awareness through exercises usually accompanied by music.
Music is taught in an integrated way and as a separate subject. Singing and Recorder playing is used in Main Lesson in a wide variety of contexts and all children sing daily. In the weekly music lesson all pupils learn musical notation and pupils have the opportunity to learn other musical instruments.
Art is taught in an integrated way and as a separate subject. Art work is an integral part of the Main Lesson and in a wide variety of contexts. Pupils have opportunities to learn a wide range of art techniques in weekly art lessons.
A wide range of craft lessons is taught throughout as a separate subject. From Y2 a range of handwork skills are taught, including knitting, sewing, clay modelling. From Y7 all pupils have lessons in woodwork, including wood carving; stone carving; metal work, and the use of a forge; ceramics and the use of the wheel and kiln; textiles; weaving; paper making; book binding.
Upper School (Y9–Y11)
Pupils study a wide range of exam and non-exam subjects. All students study all areas of the curriculum to maintain breadth and balance of their education. The level and approach is personalised and differentiated in order to meet the needs and engage the interest of all pupils.
Class 8 (Y9)
- science: human anatomy, chemistry, mechanics;
- humanities: geography, including meteorology; history – western culture from the 17th Century to the present, examining in particular revolutionary periods, including the English Reformation and Civil War and the revolutions in America, France and Russia. Biographies of inventors, industrialists and social reformers;
- English: Individualised study of literature. A major Shakespeare drama production;
- maths: arithmetic, including simple and compound interest, power and roots, algebra, linear and curved graphs, equations, integers;
- geometry: the five Platonic solids, Euler’s Law, Laws of Enlargement;
- computing: pupils are introduced to the working principles of contemporary technological devices through first understanding of their historic roots and their social, economic and cultural contexts. Computer studies are introduced after pupils have been given the opportunity to grasp binary systems and electro-magnetic forces.
In addition there are regular subject lessons in RE, music, art, crafts, games, maths and English
Class 9 (Y10)
- science: physics: electricity and communications; organic chemistry; human biology: lungs and heart/blood circulation; the senses (with focus on the skin); recreational drugs and their physiological effects;
- humanities: geography/geology/geomorphology: the physical earth – plate tectonics, rock types and different landscapes; minerals as a resource; detailed map reading; orienteering; extensive field studies. History, including history of art from ancient civilisations to the Renaissance; 20th and 21st century history: forms of government, major political and social changes; challenges to democracy;
- English: drama and history of drama from Greek tragedy to the present, literature and drama, including their historical development and different genres;
- maths: two and three dimensional geometry.
In addition there are regular subject lessons in Spanish, RE, music, art, crafts, games, maths and English
Courses in the following GCSEs (and vocational equivalents) are offered.
- English language
- English Lit
- Sciences (Physics, Chemistry and Biology)
Class 10 (Y11)
- maths: trigonometry and surveying (including a project on school grounds);
- science: physics (dynamics and gravitation); chemistry of metals; biology: human physiology, anatomy, embryology and sexuality;
- humanities: history – anthropology; culture and the evolution of civilisation; geography: climatology and oceanography; the world’s biomes and modern ecological challenges; globalization; geo-politics; sustainable development;
In addition there are regular subject lessons in Spanish, RE, music, art, crafts, games, maths and English
The GCSE (and vocational equivalent) courses continue from Class 9.