Our curriculum is a creative, skills-based curriculum.
- Creativity = imaginative, purposeful activity + originality + with value
- Core skills = communication + mathematics
- Supporting skills = ICT + improving own learning and performance + working with others + problem-solving
Creativity is important so our children are really engaged in their learning: we want our English, Maths and topic lessons to be inspiring, challenging, enjoyable and relevant to the pupils. Skills are needed so that our children can become effective, life-long learners and successful, happy citizens. The skills feature in all subjects; they are sometimes the primary objective of a lesson whilst at other times skills are developed more implicitly.
Communication is a two-way process. We communicate ‘outwards’ by speaking and writing, and we receive communication by listening and reading. In all our teaching and learning, we aim for our pupils to communicate orally to a high level, and so we place a lot of emphasis on all forms of speaking and listening, as well as reading and writing. In this increasingly information-based world, we also want our learners to evaluate information critically rather than believe everything they come across without questioning. For example, children at St James’ frequently compare different websites or books and decide which are better, and why.
Maths is a key skill. We all need to be able to perform simple mental maths skills; understand functions of a calculator and interpret the results; read and question data we see in tables and graphs; tell the time… There are many areas of everyday life in which we use mathematical skills without realising. In addition to this, Maths gives us the opportunity to develop problem-solving skills and apply logic and reasoning. We don’t think it’s acceptable for anyone to have poor numeracy skills and so we’re constantly thinking about how to develop this core skill in our topics and not just in a Maths lesson. (It’s worth remembering, too, that research shows the better a person’s numeracy skills are, the more likely they are to earn more and manage their finances better!)
As well as dedicated Computing lessons, which form part of the statutory National Curriculum, there are many more lessons in which information and communication technology (ICT) is used as a ‘vehicle’ to learn in other areas. This might be as simple as using a maths game to practise times tables, or something more complex such as entering data from a PE lesson to compare performances.
Improving own learning and performance
At St James’, we recognise that our children must be able to initiate, engage, persevere and reflect in all their learning. We want our pupils to be able to work independently without close supervision. We often, for example, incorporate independent research on a subject that they want to find out more about. Children then might present their findings to others.
Working with others
Working with others is a life-skill that will help to prepare our pupils for their future. Just like adults, children need to be able to cooperate and compromise, agree and sometimes constructively disagree, help others to learn and learn from others.
Problem-solving and thinking skills
Another aim of our teaching is to build children’s confidence to investigate and find solutions to problems and to think for themselves. There are many ways to build up skills in this area. For example, we might do this through lots of positive reinforcement and encouragement, teaching step-by-step problem-solving techniques, and indirectly by using role-play or other realistic problems to reach agreement.