At the Abbey School we provide a broad and balanced curriculum which aims to make learning enjoyable and fun for the children, while achieving high standards in all areas. The school meets the statutory requirements of the new National Curriculum, but also designs the curriculum to make it relevant for children in the 21st century with an emphasis on environmental issues, global awareness and information technology skills. Where possible, links are made between different areas of the curriculum to give all learning a meaningful context for the children to give a cross-curricular approach. The curriculum is organised as follows:
- Religious Education
- Art and Design
- Design and Technology
- Physical Education
- Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE)
- Modern Foreign Language – French (Key Stage 2 only)
Through our rich curriculum we promote the British Values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.
The requirements of the National Curriculum are met through a daily English lesson which covers reading, writing (including spelling, grammar, punctuation and handwriting) and speaking and listening. We aim to develop effective oral communication from the first days in school. Confident, clear, expressive speaking is encouraged, as well as attentive listening.
Reading skills are taught through whole class teaching in English lessons, in Guided Reading sessions in a group and through individual support. There is a strong emphasis on the teaching of phonics in the first years at school.
Throughout the school, there is an emphasis on the enjoyment of books, and there is a wide choice available to the children. In addition to levelled reading books, children can choose from class libraries.
Essential Letters and Sounds (ELS) is our chosen Phonics programme. The aim of ELS is ‘Getting all children to read well, quickly’. It teaches children to read by identifying the phonemes (the smallest unit of sound) and graphemes (the written version of the sound) within words and using these to read words.
Children begin learning Phonics at the very beginning of Reception and it is explicitly taught every day during a dedicated slot on the timetable. Children are given the knowledge and the skills to then apply this independently.
Throughout the day, children will use their growing Phonics knowledge to support them in other areas of the curriculum and will have many opportunities to practise their reading. This includes reading 1:1 with a member of staff, with a partner during paired reading and as a class.
Children continue daily Phonics lessons in Year 1 and further through the school to ensure all children become confident, fluent readers.
We follow the ELS progression and sequence. This allows our children to practise their existing phonic knowledge whilst building their understanding of the ‘code’ of our language GPCs (Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence). As a result, our children can tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover.
Children experience the joy of books and language whilst rapidly acquiring the skills they need to become fluent independent readers and writers. ELS teaches relevant, useful and ambitious vocabulary to support each child’s journey to becoming fluent and independent readers.
We begin by teaching the single letter sounds before moving to diagraphs ‘sh’ (two letters spelling one sound), trigraphs ‘igh’ (three letters spelling one sound) and quadgraphs ‘eigh’ (four letters spelling one sound).
We teach children to:
– Decode (read) by identifying each sound within a word and blending them together to read fluently
– Encode (write) by segmenting each sound to write words accurately.
The structure of ELS lessons allows children to know what is coming next, what they need to do, and how to achieve success. This makes it easier for children to learn the GPCs we are teaching (the alphabetic code) and how to apply this when reading.
ELS is designed on the principle that children should ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’. Since interventions are delivered within the lesson by the teacher, any child who is struggling with the new knowledge can be immediately targeted with appropriate support. Where further support is required, 1:1 interventions are used where needed. These interventions are short, specific and effective.
Children are taught to write for a range of purposes and audiences and the children regularly use word-processing skills to present their work. Drafting and editing skills are taught, as well as knowledge of grammatical structures and spelling. Handwriting and correct letter formation are taught from the Reception stage to enable a neat, free-flowing style to develop following the Continuous Cursive style as they move through the school.
In Mathematics, children are taught how to apply and develop their mathematical knowledge through investigation, problem solving and working on practical tasks. Children are encouraged to develop different mathematical strategies to calculate mentally, and to discuss their work. It is expected that children will record and present their findings in a variety of ways.
The school follows the Bedfordshire Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education. The programme of study places a significant emphasis on Christian beliefs, but enables pupils to develop their knowledge and understanding of major world religions during their primary school years, and make meaningful comparisons between them.
Parents have the right to withdraw their children from both Religious Education and Collective Worship. If they wish to exercise this right, a letter of notification should be sent to the Headteacher.