Our Curriculum Statement
The aim of the Withycombe Raleigh curriculum is to deliver excellent opportunities which engage all children in their learning. In order to achieve this, we have developed a structured and clearly progressive curriculum based on a shared understanding of what we want for our children and how we are going to achieve it. Our curriculum has an ambition to challenge all pupils in achieving success.
The curriculum is designed to be engaging, broad and rich in content; providing children with positive and memorable learning experiences, in and beyond the classroom. We intend that our curriculum inspires our pupils to build a wider cultural capital and to succeed academically. We aim to maintain content that is aspirational and relevant. The curriculum provides opportunities which empower our children to become both independent and resilient in their learning; helping them to apply their learning within and beyond the classroom.
The rationale for the curriculum is based on the school’s shared vision: Growing Happy Caring Hearts and Minds:
For us, this means, nurturing every child (within an incredibly positive and caring environment) towards reaching their full potential. We seek to enable them to have the knowledge, skills and confidence to embrace and thrive in the world in which we live. We aim for children to feel: a sense of curiosity as to what they can personally achieve.
Our school’s ‘GRACE’ values (Generosity, Respect, Agape, Courage and Empathy) support children’s spiritual and moral development - these are underpinned by Bible stories. Connections are made to how these values apply in everyday situations and they are explored and reinforced in each of the curriculum subject areas.
It is important to us that children from our school ‘live life in all its fullness’ (Church of England). We ensure that pupils engage and feel a sense of belonging within our school, local and church communities. Where possible, we give back and seek out opportunities for courageous advocacy: caring for and valuing our local environment including beach cleans; supporting our partner school in Kenya; fundraising for charities; and participation in festivals and singing in care homes. We encourage pupils to foster a desire to contribute and influence their local and global communities, acting responsibly.
The curriculum reflects the school’s location (a coastal school), as well as the interests and passions of the staff and children. The activities aim to enrich children’s lives and make them proud of their British values and the diverse society to which we belong and play an active part. Children learn from and about other cultures, respect diversity, cooperate with one another and appreciate and celebrate our differences. Children learn the importance of how to we can live more sustainably, including acting to slow down the various impacts of climate change.
Every class has Nature School experiences throughout the year. We believe that learning outside the classroom is essential for our children's mental health and well-being, to understand their part in environmental studies. The use of Nature School activities support the development of: self-regulation skills, resilience (the skill of coping with risk and failure), self-esteem, problem solving skills, teamwork, overall improved wellbeing and mental health. This provision also allows children to use academic skills in real-life, hands-on contexts.
We recognise the importance our pupils’ mental health and wellbeing principally by making school enjoyable and enhancing a ‘readiness to learn’. We have a wide range of opportunities through our clubs, sporting and musical events, visits and residential. Children are continually taught the importance of a healthy lifestyle and how to keep themselves safe (including on-line). We have introduced the Withycombe 60, a selection of activities and experiences we believe all children should enjoy during their time at Withycombe. There is a strong emphasis on using our local area to develop children’s life skills, cooperation and resilience.
We ensure (follow advice from the SEND Code of Practice) that children with SEND receive a curriculum that meets their needs. Our curriculum also complies with the Equality Act 2010 which states that 'schools cannot unlawfully discriminate against pupils because of sex, race, disability, religion or belief and sexual orientation' we therefore work to ensure all children have access to our curriculum and will make adjustments when appropriate. We recognise each child as a unique individual, welcoming and celebrating differences within our school community.
We understand the crucial role parents have in promoting learning beyond the school gate and ensuring children make the best possible progress. We pride ourselves on being an open, friendly and approachable school that encourages parents to be actively involved in children’s learning. As well as Parents Evenings, we host events and workshops (including Friday sessions for SEND) to inform parents how they can support their child.
Our curriculum programme is regularly reviewed and improved, to ensure compatibility with new initiatives, to keep it current and keep it aspirational.
Within the WRPS curriculum, children are provided with carefully planned opportunities to progress. We seek to widen and deepen the essential knowledge, skills, understanding and learning behaviours that children accrue.
Our curriculum is inclusive and focuses on each child as an individual learner. Challenge is provided at the right level. Our curriculum delivers the key principles outlined in the National Curriculum (2014 framework) which underpin the development of a more inclusive curriculum. Teaching provision includes: suitable learning challenges, effective response to learners' diverse needs and taking steps to overcome identified barriers to learning. Our school intervention programs use carefully chosen programs to ‘close the gap’ in targeted children’s attainment. Work is appropriately challenging and differentiated and children are supported with opportunities which are scaffolded, enabling their success.
We teach children that they have a voice and we foster their confidence in expressing themselves.
Our curriculum links knowledge and skills from one curricular area to another, helping children to make connections and build upon their prior learning. By re-visiting prior learning, this allows children to gradually develop a deeper understanding within subjects, at their own pace and in the best possible way for each individual child.
Dweck’s theories are used to teach and encourage pupils to develop a ‘can do’ growth mind-set and a more healthy self-perception about what they can achieve. At WRPS we believe that ‘Kids do well if they can’ (Lost at School, R Greene 2008); meaning all children want to do well and just need the barriers removed to learning success.
Our teaching embeds the 4 Rules Of Learning: accuracy, fluency, maintenance and generalisation (Bridging the Curriculum Gap, Solity and Bull 1987) as a model to support children in making connections and build schema as they learn (deep processing and semantic memory). ‘Learning is defined as an alteration in long-term memory. If nothing has altered in long-term memory, nothing has been learned’ (Cognative Load Theory, Sweller et al 2011).
Teaching staff continually research and develop metacognitive strategies, promoting self-awareness and reflection in children’s thought processes. For example, children are directed to consider how best they can approach a learning task or use self-evaluation skills when moving towards task completion. Children are helped in their development of executive functioning skills; to plan, organise and become flexible in their approaches to learning.
Staff understand cognitive load theory and provide support and strategies to avoid overloading learners’ short term memories. At the same we employ more long-term approaches to strengthen the working memory, specifically auditory working memory which is generally weaker in boys; enabling pupils to actively listen more successfully ‘hear to do’ (S Gathercole).
Our teachers employ strategies for ‘Retrieval Practice’ – helping children to bring information to mind by strengthening their mental agility, for example, using ‘flash-back four’ and knowledge organisers or by practising working memory games.
Children’s physical and mental wellbeing are as valued at Withycombe Raleigh and considered to be as important as academic development. The spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of our pupils’ development is woven throughout our school’s curriculum. We encourage our pupils think spiritually – our school uses ‘windows, mirrors and doors’ to help our children ‘look outwards’, ‘reflect’ and ‘move forward’ with hope and aspiration.
The WRPS curriculum is organised into immersive cross-curricular topics; this allows us to create exciting learning journeys and respond to the interests of the children.
Mathematics and English are taught daily as discrete subjects that link to the topics, wherever possible, to allow a comprehensive coverage of skills and provide opportunities to apply what has been learnt in different contexts across the curriculum. We place the teaching of reading and the encouragement of a love of reading at the very heart of children’s learning. We consider that reading and the associated development of children’s vocabulary are fundamental for achieving academic success. Concrete models and ‘manipulatives’ support our learners in maths, allowing concepts to be more deeply understood.
The impact of our curriculum is that the school’s Christian Vision and Values will be fulfilled – that the children in our care will be ‘happy and caring’ individuals who have grown academically, spiritually and equipped to become valuable future citizens with healthy attitudes.
As children progress through and move on from our school, they acquire a broad knowledge of the curriculum taken from content that is taught progressively and with strong links made between concepts and also prior learning. Children will understand the relevance of their learning and they are able to apply their knowledge and skills – preparing them for secondary education and to become life-long learners.
Following the principles of the ‘4 Rules of Learning’, our pupils move through the stages - increasingly towards ‘maintenance’ and finally ‘generalisation,’ where they can apply their knowledge and skills and make connections between aspects of their learning while building schema.
Most children attain at least age-related expectations within the statutory curriculum areas at the end of each key stage. We carefully track and assess pupils’ progress throughout their school journey to ensure that pupils reach the expectations of our curriculum.
Pupil voice surveys demonstrate that children are able to reflect upon and discuss their learning. They also show a positive attitude to their studies and present as engaged and willing to learn. Pupils are aware of their own personalised areas of development and understand how to help themselves to improve.
Wellbeing surveys demonstrate that the majority of children feel very happy at school and have developed positive and trusting relationships. Similarly they feel well looked after and safeguarded.
Children leave our school with a love of reading, having experienced and enjoyed a rich and diverse range of genres and reading opportunities. Inspirational books are inter-woven in our curriculum and our school reading spine. Children develop and have opportunities to use a rich and varied vocabulary.
Pupils enjoy and take pride in their learning, as evidenced in the quality of work and further learning outcomes. Examples of a cross-section of excellent work is visible and displayed across the school.