The curriculum: Lower School (Class 1 – Class 7 / Year 2 – Year 8)
From Class 1 (Y2) the emphasis is on developing pupils’ artistic expression and social capacities to foster creative and analytical modes of understanding.
The core subjects of the curriculum are delivered in the Main Lesson, a two-hour lesson at the beginning of each day that focuses on one topic continuously for usually three weeks. This develops the habit of sustained concentration on one topic, both over the two-hour period and over the three weeks and allows in-depth exploration. The Main Lesson contains a wide range of activities and ways of engaging with the subject. 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. The rhythm of the Main Lesson aims to meet the pupils’ natural energy patterns so that they do not become restless or unfocused.
The Class Teacher who delivers the Main Lesson teaches the same class from Class 1 – Class 7 (Y2 – Y8) – unless circumstances prevent this. This continuity means the Class teacher knows each pupil and the social dynamic of the class very well and so can facilitates the successful management of the social and interpersonal issues that relate to the increasing maturity of the pupils.
The school day starts with a two hour multi-disciplinary Main Lesson taught to the whole class by the Class Teacher. 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.
- Class 1/Y2 – Introduction to addition, subtraction, multiplication and division
- Class 2/Y3 – Mental practice and longer exercises, moving on to larger numbers, number bonds, odd and even numbers, columns and carrying over and simple geometry
- Class 3/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
- Class 4/Y5 – Introduction of fractions; measurements and area work continue
- Class 5/Y6 – Compass geometry are introduced, also the decimal system
- Class 6/Y7 – Percentages, profit and loss, simple interest and proportion and ratio are covered; geometry lessons introduce the use of the protractor
- Class 7/Y8 – Graphs and algebra, geometry
Literacy (under revision)
A rich immersion in the humanities begins in Class 1, as each day children listen with rapt attention as the teacher tells a fairy tale or nature story. Progressing through the classes, the children absorb the legends of saints, multicultural folklore, Native American tales, Norse mythology and sagas; stories of Ancient India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece; the History of Western civilization from Rome through the Middle Ages, the rise of Islam, the Age of Exploration, the Renaissance and Reformation. In the early years, by “living into” these cultures through legends and literature, children gain flexibility and an appreciation for the diversity of mankind.
The study of geography as a separate subject begins in Class 4/Y5 and starts with a study of the immediate environment, broadening out in the following years to regional, national and global studies.
- Class 4/Y5 – Project work based on the study of the geography of the local area.
- Class 5/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.
- Class 6/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.
- Class 7/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
Modern Foreign Languages
From Class 1/Y2 all pupils a modern foreign language. In Class 1/Y2 the teaching begins with oral language taught through song and games as well as conversation. Writing and reading are introduced from C2/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 simple 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. E-safety and computer technology are introduced towards the end of the Lower School when the pupils have developed an understanding of a range of mechanical technologies in the broad context of other disciplines.
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 that 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 Class 2/Y3 pupils have a separate RE lesson each week where they learn about 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.
Weekly games lessons include a wide range of team games. 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.
Weekly Eurythmy lessons to develop pupils’ gross motor skills, concentration and sense of spatial awareness through exercises usually accompanied by music.
The natural environment
The curriculum respects the restorative benefits of the natural world and the outdoor programme includes land work, farming, and a range of science main lessons, field trips, as well as well-planned outdoor spaces for playing, and opportunities to hold lessons in outdoor classrooms. Science is introduced through a series of Main Lessons, starting with Man and Animal in Class 3/Y4.
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. Artistic 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 Class 1/Y2 a range of handwork skills are taught, including knitting, sewing, clay modelling. From Class 6/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.