Curricular Aims and Organisation at St Thomas of Canterbury
Religious Education and Worship Religious Education at the school is in accordance with the Chelmsford Diocesan Guidelines for Aided Schools. Although parents have the right to withdraw their children from RE and worship, our expectation is that all children will participate in the Religious Education and collective worship of the school, as this is a fundamental part of our ethos. Religious Education is taught explicitly, but it is also implicit in everything that is done in school and in all the relationships within the school. The school has very close links with the Parish Church of St Thomas of Canterbury, Brentwood and the Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Brentwood.
Eucharists are held twice termly and parents are most welcome on these occasions. We consider the school Eucharists to be central to our school experience and the children always look forward to them.
Core and Foundation subjects The emphasis throughout the curriculum is on working with meaning and understanding based on a practical approach. Children are expected to use and apply their knowledge in their learning. A thorough grounding in the basic skills of the core subject areas - English, Mathematics, Science and Information Communication Technology, is coupled with the centres of interest approach to ensure breadth of experience with other areas. History, Geography, Music, P.E., Design Technology and Art are regularly encompassed within each centre of interest.
Within the English curriculum all children will learn and develop their skills in speaking and listening, word recognition, structure and spelling; reading - understanding, interpreting and responding to texts; and writing - text structure, punctuation and presentation. A daily reading session with each child is a priority.
Within the Mathematics curriculum all children will learn and develop their skills in counting and understanding number; knowing and using number facts; using and applying maths; calculating; understanding shape and measure; and handling data.
Reception and Early Years Foundation Stage The children in the Early Years Foundation Stage will experience a curriculum which is play based on the six areas of the Early Learning Goals. This will promote their intellectual, physical, emotional, social, spiritual and moral development. It will also prepare children for the National Curriculum as they move into Key Stage One.
During the first weeks, the Reception and Early Years Foundation Stage class teachers will seek to provide a secure, happy atmosphere while they assess the level of learning readiness and social needs of each child. The children's work at this stage is experienced through free and directed play activities with a wide range of apparatus and tools. The basic skills are taught daily - individually or in small groups.
The class will frequently be brought together with the teacher as one unit. The children will learn that there are times when they are expected to be quiet, to listen to the class teacher and to each other. The children will learn to share equipment and care for resources. From their first day in school children will select their own reading book eitherfrom the individual reading shelves in the library at a level selected by the class teacher or from the class library. By choosing their own reading book at this stage, the children begin to learn to make their own choices. Children take their reading book home each evening to share with their parents. Positive comments are invited from the parents in the reading diary which each child will have. Children will be taught letter sounds and names. They will also be expected to begin to learn a bank of sight words.
There is a heavy concentration on the development of handwriting. Children learn basic letter formation before they write sentences. When some degree of mastery is attained and some sight words known, children work with a 'sentence maker' at constructing their own work. From the 'sentence maker' children will graduate to word-books. They will begin to spell words themselves. All children are assessed regularly on sight words, sounds and letter formation.
The early concepts of Mathematics and mental number are practised daily. At this stage the importance of the development and understanding of the language of mathematics cannot be exaggerated, e.g. big and small, more and less, etc.
Information technology skills begin in the Reception and Early Years Foundation Stage. All children will learn to be familiar with the keyboard and the mouse. Modelling and word processing skills will also be fostered. The children's natural love for cutting, gluing and sticking will be encouraged to form the foundations of design technology. Reception children have time each day for P.E., music or dance. All children will undertake an end of Foundation Year assessment in order to establish a Baseline for Y1.
Year 1 The children in this year group will be continuing their grounding in the basic skills but will be expected to be more independent in finding and returning the materials they need. This will continue the training begun in the Reception classes.
Practical experience through free and structured play will continue to form the foundation of the children's learning in all subject areas.
Year 1 children will all have embarked upon the National Curriculum at this stage and be working at the appropriate level through the core and foundation subjects. Whilst still concentrating on the basic skills, study themes which broaden the children's learning and stimulate their interest in the world around them will be introduced half-termly. Children will be encouraged to look for material pertaining to their centre of interest from varied sources, e.g. books, newspapers, libraries and museums, etc.
Inevitably, some children will be needing time and help to develop their fine motor skills and their concentration. These children will receive extra help during Year 1 to reinforce the basic concepts. A sense of achievement is fostered by all staff when children begin to show mastery of new skills.
Year 1 children will continue to extend their knowledge and use of computers. All classes have access to computers and the Internet. They will also be familiar with digital cameras and be able to use the microscope.
Regular assessments in reading, language and maths begun in Reception will continue throughout Year 1.
Year 2 The children will have grown in maturity and confidence by this stage. They will have improved their co-ordination and fine motor skills. They will be used to making choices about the materials they need to tackle a task. They will now be encouraged to make their own decisions when approaching a new problem; to decide where to research information needed, how to record their findings and explain their thinking. They will be confident in predicting and estimating; patient when observing or experimenting. They will be able to work in groups, in pairs or alone. They will also be confident in contributing to whole class discussions and in evaluating their ideas. The class teacher will be assessing and recording the quality of the children's thinking in the core subjects.
Children in Year 2 will be required to assume responsibilities such as register monitors, readers and actors in assemblies and Eucharists. They will be expected to design and produce programmes, posters and invitations etc., for school functions.
They will also take part in School Council elections. Children will be elected from Year 2 to be School Councillors. The Council will meet regularly with teachers to discuss issues which children consider to be important to school life.
All Year 2 children will be expected to take care of the younger children and the school environment whilst setting an example of good manners and courteous behaviour.
Year 2 children will be regularly tested as they progress throughout the core subjects of the National Curriculum. Individual children's teacher assessment results will be reported to parents at the end of the year.
The children in this year group will have the skills and concentration to sustain one or more centres of interest for a half term, exploring thoroughly all subject areas. They will continue to work on the core subjects. Play at this level is complex and more structured as the children begin to make greater demands on themselves and each other, particularly in meeting the challenges posed by mathematical, scientific or technical problems.
All Year 2 children will learn to play the recorder and begin to read music. They will have also experienced the early stages of composition as well as playing percussion instruments and singing a wide variety of songs. They will be confident enough to perform to an audience.
All Year 2 children will be expected to use the computer as another means to develop independent learning skills. They will also be familiar with digital cameras and be able to use the microscope.