'Leaders have established an ambitious curriculum for all pupils. Subjects are appropriately sequenced so that pupils’ knowledge builds up across each unit of work, and from year to year. Teachers make sure that they deliver the curriculum as leaders have set it out.'
Inspiring Minds, Achieving Excellence, Nurturing Faith
St Mark’s C of E Primary Academy provides a diverse and inclusive curriculum that strives to prepare learners to succeed in the 21st Century. Christian values are at the heart of our school community and therefore challenge and the promotion of academic excellence is a priority. Equally important, is our commitment to ensuring that our curriculum is exciting, engaging and enjoyable whilst providing learning opportunities that have local, national and international scope.
The curriculum is carefully structured and sequenced to enable children to build on their learning, progressively acquiring the knowledge and skills that they need for each stage of development. This means ensuring children are confident in reading, writing, mathematics and computing, which enables them to access the broader curriculum and enrichment opportunities available. Children are given opportunities to rehearse and embed these skills every day. They are challenged not only to develop their understanding, but to master and articulate it. As a result, our children are successful, highly motivated and independent learners who love learning.
At St Mark’s, our intention is to develop skills that help children to become life-long learners. These skills are embedded in our curriculum and celebrated in all classes, in our Parish and in our wider community.
Using key aspects of the National Curriculum, The Cornerstones Curriculum (Curriculum Maestro), White Rose Mathematics Scheme of Work, The Kent Science Scheme of Work, we continue to innovate and develop a rich, relevant and purposeful educational experience that allows each child the unique opportunity to grow and excel emotionally, socially, mentally and physically. Our curriculum provides learning opportunities that have local, national and international scope.
Each half term, children are immersed in engaging topics. Some subjects are taught discreetly; for example French, Computing and PE. However, throughout our curriculum we also provide:
- Cross-curricular links where they are meaningful
- Resources that are inspiring and motivating and ensure that all pupils learn and progress
- Relevant and rich first-hand experiences including visits and visitors
- An appropriate level of challenge for pupils, no matter what their starting point
- Opportunities for deep thinking, questioning and discussion
- Regular opportunities for parents to be involved in their child’s learning
- Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development through the curriculum
Emotional Wellbeing & Mental Health
The mental health and emotional well-being of our children is extremely important. At St Mark’s, we endeavour to equip them with the knowledge and skills necessary to be emotionally literate, resilient and able to manage their own emotional health and wellbeing. We do this through our bespoke PSHE Association and Lifewise Curriculum. A range of topics such as well-being, Respect and an Anti-Bullying focus, help pupils to build emotional resilience, show kindness and care for others and take personal responsibility for their actions.
At St Mark’s, children are taught to understand their emotions and encouraged to share concerns or worries that they have. Our in-house Counsellor and Mental Health First Aider work collaboratively to teach children how to self-regulate and manage their complex feelings and experiences, by providing them with strategies to communicate their emotions and feelings in a safe, non-judgmental environment. Our Restorative Approach to resolving conflict enables children to practise the strategies that they have been taught by our experienced team.
Playground Champions, Faith Group Leaders and Community Advocates are important in creating an ongoing sense of belonging for pupils and staff alike. St Mark’s is a wonderful community where everyone is welcomed; this ethos of belonging and responsibility has a positive impact on the emotional health and well-being of our pupils, parents/carers and staff.
Overcoming Barriers to Learning
Many of the children at St Mark’s speak English as an additional language and some of them understand two or more languages. We do not view this as a disadvantage but an opportunity grow in a world that (with the development of technology) is increasingly a global village.
Teachers provide effective and personalised support to ensure that pupils acquire English quickly. Modelling grammatically correct spoken English and the use of visuals across the curriculum enables our children at the very early stages of speaking English develop oral fluency along with reading and writing skills.
Some children are from a low socio-economic background and the school has recognised that vocabulary understanding and development needs to be a high priority. Therefore, we have committed to the Nuffield Early Language Intervention programme promoted by the Education Endowment Foundation to give identified children in the Reception Class the best possible start.
Children who have special educational needs and/or disabilities are quickly identified and assessed so that they receive effective support to access the curriculum. As a result, they make good progress from their individual starting points.
Developing High Learning Potential
Our curriculum supports and challenges our children to achieve well-being and high attainment. We know that there are children in our school:
- Who have exceptional abilities
- Who have the ability to achieve; but who, for whatever reason, are not achieving their potential
- Who are dual or multiple exceptional (high learning potential with special educational need or disability)
- Who are profoundly gifted (approximately 0.01% of children)
Therefore we are committed to identifying them so that we can provide them with exceptional learning opportunities.
Phonics and Approach to Reading
At St Mark’s we use Ruth Miskin’s Read Write Inc synthetic phonics programme to teach phonics from Reception through to Year Two. We also use supplementary resources to ensure that phonics is taught in a multi-sensory way. Cursive script is taught from Reception and the children develop early letter formation and writing skills alongside their acquisition of phonics.
Across Reception and Key Stage One, we use reading books that match the phonics knowledge of our pupils.
Throughout the school, we use a range of books to ensure that children develop a love for reading whilst offering challenge and support as needed.
Each year group explores a new text every half term. As a school, we use books that develop:
- children's knowledge of the world,
- knowledge of different people and literature.
- knowledge of literature in English,
- exploring different ways of telling stories,
- exploring points of view,
- developing language.
We have developed a bespoke approach to the teaching of reading in KS2 using the VIPERS (vocabulary, infer, predict, explain, retrieve, summarise) framework; there is a strong emphasis on vocabulary development and understanding.
Each week teachers will focus on explicit modelling of a specific reading skill that has its roots in the National Curriculum Content Domains for Reading. We use a range of strategies to support vocabulary development and this is prominent in all subject areas.
As a school, we value reading as a tool to access learning and as an enriching activity that adds value and brings pleasure. Therefore, every class has daily story time and a weekly DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) session.
Cursive Handwriting at St. Mark’s
A fully joined cursive handwriting script is taught from the Early Years Foundation Stage; this means that the pen or pencil is not lifted at all from the beginning of a word to the end. The reasons for adopting this style are as follows:
It follows natural movement:
- Correct letter formation is taught from the start
- It aids left to write movement
- Every lower-case (small) letter begins on the line
- Every letter has a lead in and lead-out stroke
- Words are seen as separate, whole units
- It improves spelling
- Capital letters start at the top of the letter and are not joined
- Cursive script is easily linked to the teaching of phonics
Please contact the school office should you need any further information about our curriculum offer.