A curriculum is a programme of content to be taught and learnt – a course of study for schools, colleges and universities. Schools in England follow the National Curriculum – a course of study decided by the Department for Education. (Private schools, academies and free schools are exempt: they don’t need to follow the requirements.) Learn more about the National Curriculum with this overview.
- Read our full Curriculum Statement. This sets out our curriculum intent and how we implement it, with a particular focus on ‘topic’ subjects. It describes our curriculum and age-related expectations for Key Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2) and Key Stage 2 (Years 3, 4, 5 and 6).
Other statements relate to one specific aspect of our curriculum. These complement the full Curriculum Statement: they set out our intent and outline key aspects for implementation, and include age-related expectations:
- Reading Statement
- Writing Statement
- Maths Statement
- Science Statement
- Living and Learning Statement – this relates to Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education
- RE Statement – St James’ CE Primary is a voluntarily-controlled school and therefore we provide a curriculum statement for this subject, too
- For Early Years, learn more about the curriculum and expectations
To meet the requirements of the National Curriculum, all classes in Key Stage 1 and 2 follow some set, pre-planned topics. At St James’ CE Primary, we make sure children learn lots of additional skills, knowledge and understanding, too. For example, we offer a range of after-school clubs and opportunities to learn a musical instrument or try a new sport – these extra-curricular activities go beyond the statutory requirements. (Encourage your child to join in!) Current local / national or international events can also provide a great basis for learning.
The topic plan for each phase is set out below (this is an extract from our full Curriculum Statement). ‘Year A’ are ‘odd years’: 2019-20, 2021-22, 2023-24… and ‘Year B’ are ‘even’: 2020-21, 2022-23, 2024-25…
In our Curriculum Statement, we set out a comprehensive series of age-related expectations (AREs). These expectations are what teachers need to teach and what children are expected to learn, both for the core subjects (English, Maths and Science) and the foundation subjects. The expectations are based very closely on the National Curriculum.
Referring to end of key stage tests (commonly called the SATs), the following links are helpful. Find out more about the Key Stage 1 tests: watch this short video and/or read this booklet. Find out more about the Key Stage 2 test: watch this short video and/or read this booklet.
Our curriculum intent
We have three ‘layers’ of intent.
The ‘base layer’ is that, like all schools in England, we must follow the National Curriculum – it sets out subjects and content which we must teach. Within this, however, there is flexibility so that we can interpret and plan to meet the needs and interests of our children now and for the future.
The ‘middle layer’ relates to our aim in the classroom, in the playground and in everything we do: we want St James’ CE Primary to be a happy and healthy place to achieve and believe. View our whole school aims and ethos.
The ‘top layer’ relates specifically to how we deliver our teaching and learning in each subject, and it’s made up of five specific aims:
We want our curriculum to be challenging.
Our curriculum is implemented in a way that covers statutory requirements of the National Curriculum and our own curriculum age-related expectations; throughout, teachers will search for purposeful, meaningful opportunities to extend and deepen pupils’ learning at the appropriate level for individual children’s needs.
We want our curriculum to be enjoyable.
We want St James’ CE Primary to be a happy and healthy place to achieve and believe. The more enjoyable a topic is, the more engaged our pupils will be, and the more we will be able to meet the needs of all children in our school community. Visits, visitors, themed weeks and other enriching activities help to make the curriculum enjoyable.
We want our curriculum to be relevant.
Ofsted sets out a criterion to judge the quality of education: ‘the extent to which schools are equipping pupils with the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life.’ (School inspection handbook, point 178, p43). The skills and knowledge set out in our age-related expectations for each subject mean our curriculum content is very relevant for our pupils’ present and future lives.
We want our curriculum to be inspiring.
The National Curriculum sets out ‘to engender an appreciation of human creativity and achievement’ (section 3.1, p6). Teachers introduce pupils to British and world-wide achievements, past and present. Further, we want to promote an appreciation and sense of awe and wonder when learning about the natural world.
We want our curriculum to be creative.
A characteristic of effective learning is creative thinking – we want our children to develop this from the outset of their learning journey: our children will be creative in their ideas, in their questions, in their solutions. For our teachers, our curriculum has some flexibility built into it so that they can be creative, linking learning with books that inspire, for example.
Our curriculum topics
To meet our curriculum intent, we deliver much of the curriculum through topics which have four elements:
Each topic has a driving subject – the main focus for teaching pupils the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life. The driver changes with each topic to ensure a broad and balanced curriculum across a two-year planning cycle. Our drivers are Geography and History (both taught across three half-terms in our two year curriculum cycle), and Art, Computing, and Design and Technology (taught across two half-terms in the two year cycle).
An enricher is another subject that may enhance and broaden the learning experiences for our children. Enrichers provide natural links to the topic that may go beyond the statutory elements of the National Curriculum.
Stemming from English and Maths knowledge, the skills of oral and written communication and the application of maths are central to life and central to learning. Also important are supporting skills such as working with others.
Living and learning
We want to promote children’s life skills (eg knowledge of other cultures and their understanding of health and wellbeing) and their learning skills (eg working well as a team). This includes social, moral, spiritual and cultural development, and staying safe.
Our curriculum implementation
A summary about specific ways we implement our curriculum is here; our Curriculum Statement provides a fuller picture.
A two-year cycle
Teachers work in three different phases to plan and deliver the curriculum: Years 1 and 2, Years 3 and 4 and Years 5 and 6. The benefits of this include:
- teachers can share ideas and skills when planning and delivering topics
- teachers can provide different areas of subject expertise
- a common topic creates a talking point or ‘buzz’ for conversations in school
- classes might swap teachers or combine to work with other children
As a result, we operate a two-year rolling programme of topics, with some topics in ‘Year A’, some in ‘Year B’. An advantage of a two year cycle is that children learn some age-related expectations in one year and then secure their learning in the following year – an opportunity to reinforce or to go deeper with the learning.
Foreign Language, Music, PSHE, PE, RE
These subjects are all additional foundation subjects. They can help to enrich any of the topics we implement, but they are also taught in a discrete way. For example, RE (Religious Education) is taught in a dedicated session. We use the agreed syllabus for RE in Calderdale, Kirklees and Leeds, ‘Believing and Belonging in West Yorkshire’ (2019-2024). (At St James’ CE Primary, there is a denominational requirement to provide a certain proportion of teaching from the religious designation because the school is a voluntary controlled Church of England school.)
Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development (SMSC)
The National Curriculum states: ‘Every state-funded school must offer a curriculum which is balanced and broadly based and which: promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society’ (section 3.1, p6). We promote SMSC through our whole-school ethos, effective relationships throughout the school, collective worship, and other curriculum activities. National Curriculum subjects provide opportunities to promote SMSC, too.
Special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND)
Our school is inclusive, committed to meeting the needs of children with SEND (special education needs and disabilities) in the most effective way so that they achieve the best possible outcomes. To do this, we adapt how we implement the curriculum to meet the needs of pupils with SEND so that we can develop their knowledge, skills and abilities to apply what they know and can do with increasing fluency and independence. The adaptations we make are appropriate and reasonable, and are made in accordance with the Equality Act 2010 and the SEND code of practice.
Flexibility and freedom
In specific circumstances (such as where there is a significant event nationally/globally that merits consideration eg a natural disaster in the news), teachers may choose to deviate a little from the topic. This is important as it provides opportunities for teachers to explore other aspects of learning within or beyond the curriculum – learning which is more spontaneous in that it meets children’s questions, needs and interests in a responsive, more ‘organic’ way. This corresponds to two of our specific curriculum aims: to be relevant and to be creative.
In every class, reading has a high profile. This includes a class novel. Our topics are supported and enriched by quality texts. These might be class novels, extracts from quality texts, shorter picture books (a wide variety of ‘mature picture books’ are available), poetry and non-fiction texts. These texts will complement/contextualise the learning of the topic’s driving subject. The topics aim to show children the links between a text and the wider world, and – importantly – promote a love of reading.
Within each topic (and in Science), there are subject-specific words/phrases that we want our children to know.
Challenge and deeper learning
Across all subjects, teachers provide opportunities for challenge and deeper learning. Pupils benefit from this: whoever needs it, in whatever lesson.
Our curriculum expectations
Our Curriculum Statement sets out end of year expectations for science and the foundation subjects, and other aspects of our school curriculum which we consider important, such as online safety. Sometimes, the National Curriculum sets out expectations for each year group; sometimes for a phase (such as Years 3 and 4 or Years 5 and 6). We’ve set out all expectations for year groups – this has meant sometimes simplifying an expectation for the younger class, or sometimes referring to greater detail or amount expected for the older class in the phase.
Reading, Writing and Maths are core National Curriculum subjects with considerably more content. Because of this, we’ve listed the age-related expectations separately – see the Curriculum Statements at the top of this page.
Supporting your child
Referring to English, the National Curriculum stresses the importance of reading for enjoyment and developing vocabulary and breadth and depth of reading, and warns against pupils being pushed to read harder texts if they spend too long decoding new words. Referring to children in Year 3 and 4, but relevant for the majority of primary pupils, it states:
They should be able to read them accurately and at a speed that is sufficient for them to focus on understanding what they read rather than on decoding individual words. They should be able to decode most new words outside their spoken vocabulary, making a good approximation to the word’s pronunciation. As their decoding skills become increasingly secure, teaching should be directed more towards developing their vocabulary and the breadth and depth of their reading, making sure that they become independent, fluent and enthusiastic readers who read widely and frequently.
Referring to Maths, the National Curriculum states:
Pupils who grasp concepts rapidly should be challenged through being offered rich and sophisticated problems before any acceleration through new content. Those who are not sufficiently fluent with earlier material should consolidate their understanding, including through additional practice, before moving on.
Please use the expectations set out here to support your child’s learning by broadening his / her experiences and providing lots of opportunities to apply their skills and knowledge in different situations. For example:
- in reading, find and understand clues and consider the writer’s choice of language in a wider range of texts (such as magazines and comics, non-fiction books, or try out a new genre of fiction which your child doesn’t normally opt for);
- in writing, try to use new vocabulary as much as possible (eg have a word of the week) and develop more formal ways to talk during your child’s Talk Time homework;
- in maths, practise measuring in contexts such as cooking, shopping, DIY…
Most importantly, always remember to keep learning fun as much as possible. Some things – learning spellings and times tables, mainly – might require some effort and hard work, but the rest of your child’s learning at home can be fun, engaging and practical.