What is the intent of our curriculum?
The intent of our curriculum at St Meryl is to:
1. Enable children to see themselves as learners, to love learning, to take risks with their learning and to challenge themselves.
What does this look like in practice?
On entry to school in our Nursery or Reception class children are told that they are learners and taught how to interact with their peers effectively. They talk with their teachers about what they are learning and how. This continues during their time at the school. We teach them about 'learning powers' and how to ignore distractions. Pupils learn how they learn best. We use choice of challenge to ensure that pupils take responsibility for their own learning. We teach them about the importance of having a growth mindset and that if we aren't feeling challenged we aren't really learning. Right from the start children are invited to contribute to the planning process and be involved in curriculum design. Mechanisms such as 'News and Views' assemblies ensure that children always have a voice. Our teachers are positive and enthusiastic about learning themselves and as such provide great role-models for their students.
2. Ensure that children are taught both skills and knowledge.
What does this look like in practice?
We believe that both are important and necessary in order for children to make great progress and be successful in their learning in and outside of school. To this end the schemes of work for each subject have been carefully planned and place an equal emphasis on skills and subject content. Skills are re-visited so that they become embedded. Excellent cross-curricular links mean that children are able to use and apply skills within and across different subjects so that they become embedded. We have very clear expectations in terms of what children should achieve at the end of each year group and key stage and assess pupils against these expectations.
3. Teach children to and support them in developing their speech and language skills. We do this because we know that the ability to articulate oneself is a vital life-skill.
What does this look like in practice?
On entry to Nursery and Reception there is a heavy emphasis placed on developing speech. Practitioners model language and expose children to lots of talk and discussion. We guide and support children to talk in sentences and verbalise their thoughts. As children progress through the school they are given lots of opportunities to present their learning verbally and to talk about what they are doing. Our schemes of work reflect this commitment to developing speech and language with opportunities for talk and oral communication built-in to curriculum plans.
4. Ensure that pupils receive a broad and rich curriculum offer that enables them to be creative and develop their talents and abilities in the arts as well as in the core subjects of english, maths, computing and science.
What does this look like in practice?
Teachers place as much emphasis on planning for the arts, cultural learning and physical activity as they do on the core subjects. Through the arts curriculum we teach children about artists and artforms. Year 3 visit an art gallery every year. Year 5 learn about the opera Carmen. We integrate art, music, dance and drama into other subjects. We believe that children should be exposed to beautiful things and learn to appreciate the creative process and this is reflected in the wide range of extra-curricular opportunities we plan for them. We plan a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) week every year which helps to maintain the profile of these subjects and provides opportunities for pupils to engage in sustained projects covering these subjects. Our arts ambassadors take a lead on arts projects within the school. We are an artsmark Centre and as such pupils are able to work towards and gain arts awards.
5. Teach children to respect their rights and those of others, to be tolerant and respect and value diversity.
What does this look like in practice?
As a UNICEF Rights Respecting School we teach children about the articles contained in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The children develop their own class charters based on these rights and this means that there is a clear understanding of how we behave and interact with one another at school. Much thought has gone in to our RSHE (relationships, Sex and Health Education) policy and scheme of work so that we can be sure we are teaching children about how to keep themselves safe including on-line and how to form and maintain positive and supportive friendships and relationships. Our diverse community is reflected in in assemblies, circle time, RSHE lessons and the wider curriculum. We use Philosophy for Children to teach children to think about and reflect upon their beliefs and values and those of others so that they can make informed decisions about their lives and the actions they take. Every other year we plan a Diversity Week so that we can learn more about and celebrate the rich and varied cultures and faiths represented by our pupils.
More information about each subject can be found under the relevant subject heading and schemes of work can be accessed here:
The Early Years Foundation Stage
The Nursery and Reception class together make the Early Years Foundation Stage or EYFS. In the EYFS children follow a carefully planned programme of learning experiences which lead towards the achievement of the early learning goals. This includes coverage of 7 areas of learning and development. There are 3 prime areas:
- Communication and Language
- Personal, Social and Emotional development
- Physical development
There are also 4 specific areas through which the prime areas are consolidated and applied. These are:
- Understanding the World
- Expressive arts and design
Practitioners plan and provide rich and exciting learning experiences carefully matched to the needs of the children and to reflect the characteristics of learning which are:
- playing and exploring
- active learning
- creating and thinking critically
A typical day in the EYFS will consist of child initiated learning, where the children choose what they would like to do from a range of activities and adult-directed activities led by an adult. Children are given the freedom to choose their own learning pathways and to explore all of the resources provided for them. There is continuous outdoor provision and children go out in all weathers! Our EYFS curriculum is play-based and our philosophy is to take the learning to the children rather than the other way round. We find a way in with each and every individual. Assessment is on-going and used to inform next steps for learners and future provision.
We are passionate about high-quality early years provision-as reflected in our Herts Quality Standard award. We know that if we get the foundations right, the rest will follow.
English and Maths
These subjects are taught discretely, as individual subjects, but we also make cross-curricular links that enable children to apply skills in other areas. In English, children are taught to read fluently and to love books. We encourage children to write neatly and legibly and for a variety of purposes. We understand the importance of speaking and listening and so provide opportunities for children to talk and express themselves.
In Maths children are taught to become mathematically fluent in the fundamental skills and then apply these to problem-solving and investigative work.
Click on the links below to find out more about our approach to teaching Maths and English.
Science, Design Technology and Computing
Through our Science curriculum we aim to teach the children to develop scientific skills such as questioning, predicting, hypothesising and making conclusions. Children learn about plants, animals and humans, seasonal changes, materials, rocks, light and sound, electricity, forces and the earth and space.
All pupils have a dedicated hour of computing each week in our computing suite. Here they learn how to code, create electronic talking books,
Through design technology we aim to develop creative, technical and practical expertise in making models and products for a range of uses and users.
Modern Foreign languages
At St Meryl we learn Spanish. We are lucky to have an excellent Spanish teacher who teaches this subject throughout the school. In the Early Years this starts off with learning Spanish songs and listening to stories in Spanish.
By the time children leave us at the end of Year 6 they are able to hold a conversation in Spanish and write in Spanish.
Through our Geography teaching we aim to inspire in pupils a curiosity and fascination about the world and its people. Children learn about the world on a local, national and global level and about the human and physical features that shape the way we live. Mapping and fieldwork skills are developed and a wide range of sources are used including IT.
Through our History curriculum the aim is for children to develop a good knowledge and understanding of Britain's past and that of the wider world. Children develop the skills they need to understand how historical events and people have influenced the world today.
We follow the Hertfordshire agreed syllabus for R.E. Children learn about religion and they learn from religion. We encourage children to reflect on their own beliefs and values and to acknowledge that others hold beliefs different from their own. The principle religions studied are Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism.
The arts at St Meryl
The arts at St Meryl School are taught as discrete subjects but teachers also develop them across and throughout the rest of the curriculum. Through art and design we aim to engage, inspire and challenge pupils, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to experiment, invent and create their own works of art, craft and design. Children learn about artists and their work and are taught to be proficient in drawing, painting, sculpture and other art forms. We aim to develop a love of music in our children. They are given opportunities to sing and create and compose their own pieces of music. Peripatetic teachers give children the opportunity to learn to play the recorder, keyboard, violin or guitar. In Year 4 every child learns to play the Djembe drums. Drama is used throughout the curriculum to enable children to express themselves articulately but also to develop confidence.
St Meryl School has been nationally recognised for its arts and cultural provision through the achievement of Artsmark.
This is a group of pupils, passionate about different art forms that meet with Mrs Geddes regularly to look at ways in which we can develop and use the arts even more at the school. Most recently they have been involved in setting up and running an art gallery having visited Mardlebury Art Gallery to learn about how they work.
Through our P.E curriculum we aim to inspire all pupils to succeed in competitive sports and other physical activities. Children learn gymnastic and dance skills and how to play a range of games such as cricket, basketball, rounders, football and hockey. We have a very successful football team and netball team who compete with other local schools.
In 2015 we were awarded the Sainsburys School Sports award for our sporting provision.
We use our sports premium to employ a specialist trampoline coach. Every child in year 2 has the opportunity to learn to trampoline once a week for a year and we also run trampoline clubs to make this accessible for other pupils too.
Every child in Years 3 and 4 have a swimming lesson at our local pool once a week for two terms each year and in Years 5 and 6 this happens every week for one term each year.
Our extra-curricular sporting activities include basketball, football, cheerleading, netball, Tae Kwon Do and streetdance.
See the 'important information' section of the website for more information about the sports premium funding.
Relationships, Sex and Health Education.
St Meryl is a 'Healthy School'. Not only are we the proud holders of the Healthy Schools award but have also been awarded the Healthy Schools Plus accreditation. This is in recognition of the way we work to actively create and promote a positive environment which supports health and wellbeing and provides our children with the skills they will need to be successful citizens in an ever-changing world. This is achieved through our R.S.H.E curriculum as well as through P.E. We use S.E.A.L (social and emotional aspects of learning) to support children in becoming confident and developing good self-esteem. We use a scheme called 'Jigsaw' to complement our planning for R.S.H.E.
Click below to see our scheme of work for R.S.H.E.
At St Meryl we teach children to have a growth mindset and about the power of 'yet.'
We believe that children need to be resilient and to enjoy being challenged. We teach them that's it's ok to make mistakes as long as we learn from them. We teach them that it's good to be 'stuck' because that means we are exercising our brains and learning!
We explore with children the difference between having a 'fixed mindset' and a 'growth mindset.' The characteristics of each is listed below.
People with a fixed mindset:
- like their work to be easy
- don't like new challenges
- want people to praise them for how clever they are
- don't like making mistakes
- give up easily or only persevere with things they are good at
- don't respond well to feedback
- often believe that intelligence is fixed and that they can't change how clever they are
People with a growth mindset:
- never give up
- bounce back from setbacks
- like their work to be difficult
- love challenges
- respond well to being praised about the effort they have put in to something
- believe they can get more intelligent by working hard
- learn from mistakes
- respond well to feedback and use it to get even better at things
So we teach children that by having a growth mindset they can grow their brains and intelligence.
Click on the links below to find out more about this approach and how we are teaching growth mindsets at St Meryl.
Growth Mindset at St Meryl.mp4
Mindfulness at St Meryl
At St Meryl we recognise that in order to learn well we have to be happy on the inside as well as on the outside. That's why we take moments throughout the day to stop, be quiet and take notice of our surroundings. We call these 'Mindful Moments.'
We teach the children techniques and strategies that they can use to help them be calm and manage any anxiety they may have.
Learning to Learn and Philosophy for Children
At our school we are committed to developing life-long learners equipped with the skills they need to be good citizens. To this end we have embedded the principles of 'Learning to Learn' in our provision. All teachers are trained to teach philosophy which is taught discretely as a subject in its own right but also woven through other areas of the curriculum.
Click on the links below to find out more.