Foundational text: ’I pray that you……may have the power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ’
Countess Anne School
A Church of England Academy
School Lane, Hatfield, AL10 8AX
Tel: 01707 262840
Chair of Governors: Mr Murray Gifkins Head Teacher: Mr David Lodge
Curriculum Statement for Countess Anne School
At Countess Anne School we accept the widest possible definition of the word curriculum “All that is experienced in school, whether planned or unplanned”. This definition encompasses concepts such as ethos, crucial to our definition as a church school, and holds the school accountable for the conscious and unconscious lessons it teaches the children in our care.
Indeed the nature of our school curriculum stems from our foundational biblical text of Ephesians 3:18:’I pray that you……may have the power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ’. We hope that as the pupils journey through the school they would begin to understand God’s heart for them, to know that His love is both wide and deep, that he delights in their very being.
To this end our curriculum has been constructed in such a way that it recognises that for the majority of our pupils there is an experience gap which has the potential to alienate them from thriving in education, challenges their self-worth and which prevents them from accessing future opportunities.
We have a strong commitment to equal opportunities, providing the best possible chance for a pupil to thrive and to engage in learning both within and beyond the classroom. We’ve had to build in compensatory experiences such as ‘owning’ a story Pie Corbett style, an extended early years approach, additional swimming, learning to sing, trips to mountains and woods and riding a bike to ensure that none are bereft of rudimentary childhood experiences. Our curriculum embraces breadth and balance and we are proud to see our pupils excel not only in the core subjects but further afield.
This commitment to ensuring that all experience a breadth of education is matched by ensuring that all understand the role and purpose of Christian values in their lives. That living through these values will help them to appreciate how to become a successful individual within our community and as such best prepare our pupils for engagement in the world.
How each subject is planned and delivered is led by our subject leaders. Delivery of the core subjects is very much aligned with the national curriculum requirements for example the school uses the Dfe approved ‘Maths No problem’ scheme to provide a concrete and pictorial approach in support of a better understanding of the abstract. As an academy though we have exercised our ‘freedoms’ in designing other subjects around what we believe to be appropriate for our pupils. Music for example is approached using the Voices Foundation model, Humanities draw upon the rich historical links that can be found in the local area and in a bid to combat childhood obesity Physical Education is given a high profile both within and beyond the timetable. Our planned spiral curriculum of the foundational subjects ensures that there is the opportunity to embed understanding of key transferable concepts supporting pupils learning as they move between subjects.
Formative assessment based upon Bloom’s Taxonomy directs the pathway of pupils’ achievements and the clearly defined next stage descriptors insist on provision for all subjects to be aspirational. Approach and style do though differ as a child progresses through the school – clearly defined stages are tailored to provide age appropriate provision:
Early Years Plus phase:
At Countess Anne, contrary to most common practice our early phase consists of Reception and Year One. Across these two years the principles of excellence in early years’ education hold sway. Preference is given to key worker groups and short whole class carpet teaching sessions followed by group work in ability based groups with continuous learning available for all other children. Both year groups have access to excellent outdoor learning environments which mirror the indoor environment in terms of curriculum coverage. Emphasis is given to early phonic skill acquisition, and on the direct teaching of reading by teachers with small groups or individuals has proved very beneficial; Year One phonetical development is well above expectations. During Year One we gradually transfer from the Early Years Curriculum into the National Curriculum at a rate largely defined by the child’s maturity. By the summer term of Year One however the transfer to more whole class teaching has taken place and all assessments are in National Curriculum format.
Phase One (Years 2 and 3):
Our phase one spans traditional Key Stage One/Two boundaries consisting as it does of Year Two and Three. We recognise the pupils of this age range are more than just the middle of the school, acknowledging their maturity from the early years by providing their first overnight residential and giving them the responsibility of producing the school’s Easter production. The curriculum design for this age group is based on two over-riding principles: a concentration on embedding and mastery of basic skills coupled with subject led acquisition of knowledge. The curriculum is focussed on English and Maths, with an emphasis still on first-hand experience and story ownership preceding writing tasks and on the use of manipulative materials in maths to ensure concrete understanding precedes conceptual understanding. The curriculum is broad and balanced and begins to allow pupils to develop interests in specific subject areas such as Science and Technology.
Phase Two (Years 4, 5 and 6):
It is in this phase that we recognise that the child is emerging into a young person who can take responsibility for their own actions as an individual and a learner. We expect our learners to become self-critical, equipped to edit their own work accepting direction and debate as a means to further improvement. Growing independence and of how to keep oneself safe is a common element of this phase and a crucial characteristic needed for secondary school. The school uses residential and musical opportunities in yr 4 and 6 to foster confidence and self-belief and a Read and Response and project approach to homework in order to develop self-study. Many ‘grow’ interests beyond the classroom such as in gardening, music and sport and become confident enough to take lead roles in productions and school council roles. In Phase 2 the demands upon the children for both stamina in the amount and quantity of work produced increases and is matched only by an expectation of accuracy in all the skills taught in years before. We do spend time in Year Six preparing children for their SATs but the phase is rich in experiences providing pupils a plethora of childhood memories.
The impact of our curriculum is that the vast majority of pupils leave with skills and knowledge in line with national curriculum expectations, not only in the core subjects but across a range of subjects. Many if not all will be able to sing in pitch, play a musical instrument, swim at least 25m, ride a bike and have the rudimentary beginnings of learning a foreign language; they will have had experiences of woodlands, mountains and caves and paddled in the sea. Some will have hosted our termly science museum and others will have played sport at a competitive level or have made films and have seen these shown at the Odeon. For all their differences the pupils know that they are loved, they are familiar with our Christian values, and as such show appreciation of others and have an understanding of how they can contribute to the wider community.