Our curriculum is designed to be broad, relevant and engaging to meet the needs of all our pupils. We place a high emphasis on personalised learning, basing our topics around the children’s interests, to ensure all pupils from a wide range of backgrounds and abilities find school enjoyable but challenging.
Children in the Nursery and Reception classes follow the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum. Details can be found by following the link on the left.
In accordance with the National Curriculum, the children in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 study the following subjects:
- Religious Education
- Art and Design
- Physical Education
- Design Technology
- Personal Social and Health Education
Whilst the majority of the curriculum is taught with a single subject focus, teachers take every opportunity to link curriculum areas where this is considered appropriate. For example, much of the material used within the study of non-fiction reading and writing in Literacy will be drawn from other curriculum areas.
The use of computing for all children is embedded within the curriculum. Its delivery includes the direct teaching of specific skills and knowledge as well as practical application within the children’s work.
Early Years Foundation
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is the time in your child’s life between birth and age five. We believe that every child deserves the best possible start in life. Their early years’ experience should be happy, active, exciting, fun and secure and support their development, care and learning needs.
In our Early Years Foundation Stage classrooms, we strive to provide rich experiences for all children that stimulate and challenge them to reach their full potential. The area is organised into a nursery class, two reception classes and a large, secure garden. We encourage ‘free flow’ through the learning bays and outdoors, to enhance opportunities and provide access to a range of high quality activities and resources.
Starting school is an important milestone in every child’s life and we strive to make the transition from home to school as smooth as possible. In order to do this, teachers complete baseline assessments on all children on entry to the foundation stage. These assessments are used to plan next steps and personalise learning for individual children and groups, based on their interests. We recognise that children enter Nursery and Reception with a variety of experiences, knowledge and skills and we value input from parents as part of our baseline assessments.
Areas of Learning
Well-planned play underpins everything we do in the foundation stage. Throughout the day, children take part in a balance of adult-led activities and child-initiated activities, all of which take place inside and outdoors. Our curriculum follows a legal document called the EYFS framework. This promotes teaching and learning to ensure children are ready for Key Stage 1 and gives children the broad range of knowledge and skills that provide the right foundation for good future progress through school and life.
The framework sets out 7 areas of learning and development (3 prime and 4 specific). The prime areas are;
- Personal, social and emotional development
- Physical Development
- Communication and Language
The specific areas are;
- Understanding the world
- Expressive arts and design
We positively promote independence in all of our children. As part of our daily routines, we encourage children to be independent in both thoughts and actions. All children are expected to take responsibility for choosing self-initiated activities, indoors or outside, during the day. Each class operates a self-registration system, as well as a self-service snack area where children are encouraged to recognise when they are hungry or thirsty and act upon this. We believe that by building children’s confidence in their own abilities we are fully preparing them for the next stage of their education.
Please explore the different areas to find out about our curriculum.
Key Stage 1 and 2
Year 1 and Year 2 make up Key Stage One, and Years 3 to 6 are Key Stage Two.
We follow the National Curriculum which sets out the subjects and content in which we must teach. The delivery of the curriculum is based on the child’s own class and our creative, skills-based curriculum is planned by teachers to meet the needs and interests of our pupils. We also make use of visitors to school who have particular expertise, skills or interests in various curriculum areas.
English provides the communication skills fundamental to functioning effectively on a personal, social, educational and professional basis. In recognition of this, English provides the backbone of the school curriculum at West Thurrock Academy.
Pupils experience English teaching throughout the day, as it is integral to the the teaching of every subject. Topics covered within English are specifically selected to reflect and sustain pupil interest to optimise their learning, and extend and consolidate the basic skills covered in literacy.
The English curriculum has three distinct strands. Spoken Language Reading Writing Our commitment to the teaching of speaking and listening, reading and writing skills throughout the school reflects our belief that all children should have the tools necessary to progress their own learning at school and beyond. Our aim is for all pupils to become confident, fluent readers who can write imaginatively using grammatically correct English, correct spelling and a neat, fluent handwriting style.
Where children experience difficulties in mastering these skills, they are provided with additional support through individual and small group work. Spoken Language Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. We ensure the continual development of pupils’ confidence and competence in speaking and listening skills.
Pupils are given opportunities to prepare their ideas before they write and are encouraged to develop effective communication skills in readiness for later life. The school encourages children to speak to an audience in a range of settings throughout the school year which include assemblies, class sharing assemblies, performances within the community, the Reception nativity, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 concerts. Pupils are also provided with opportunities to improvise, devise and script drama for one another.
Phonics is taught using the synthetic phonics approach, based on the ‘Letters and Sounds’ program. It is used daily from the Early Years Foundation Stage, throughout Key Stage 1 and into lower Key Stage 2 (if appropriate) in a structured way. ‘Letters and Sounds’ provide an understanding of phonics, keywords, and their use in reading and writing. Children in Reception and Key Stage 1 also use ‘Jolly Phonics’ to support learning.
Our daily phonics sessions in the Early Years and KS1 are fun, involving lots of speaking, listening and games. The emphasis is on children’s active participation. They learn to use their phonic knowledge for reading and writing activities and in their independent play. Reading Children take part in a range of guided, shared and comprehension reading activities at school on a daily basis, and are encouraged to borrow multiple texts to read at home.
We provide exciting and challenging shared reading books by well-known children’s authors to promote pupils’ understanding and enjoyment of reading. We encourage parents to read, share and discuss these texts with their child. Pupils have individual books from the school’s reading scheme, the ‘Oxford Reading Tree’, which they read at home daily. Parents are encouraged to comment on their child’s progress in their Home/School book.
Once children have finished the reading scheme, we encourage them to become ‘free readers’ and choose their own books. Children are also encouraged to borrow additional books from their class and the school’s main library. Writing At West Thurrock Academy we develop writers and all children are given the tools to independently write from the Foundation Stage.
The school uses a range of shared writing, guided writing and independent writing opportunities and children are taught to recognise the viewpoint of a text, identify the purpose, structure and style of a piece of writing. Basic skills are taught within Literacy, Guided Reading, Letters and Sounds and Early Morning Work and are referred to and applied across the curriculum within the Foundation subjects.
We are committed to ensuring that children become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics. We aim to develop each child’s conceptual understanding of mathematics so that they have the ability to recall and apply their knowledge rapidly and accurately, are able to reason using mathematical language, can solve a variety of problems by applying mathematics and are able to persevere when seeking solutions. The mathematics curriculum covers many different strands of mathematics including numbers, measurement, geometry and statistics. The school uses the 'National Curriculum: Mathematics Programme of Study' to provide a thorough delivery of the full width of this curriculum area. We are particularly committed to enabling children to apply their mathematical skills and knowledge within problem-solving situations from an early age. This reflects our belief that learning is more meaningful for children where they can see a purpose for it.
Science is an important subject which is studied throughout the school. We teach essential aspects of the knowledge, methods, processes and uses of science.
Through hands-on learning experiences, children develop their understanding of scientific theories and engage with the process of scientific inquiry; children are encouraged to understand how science can be used to explain what is occurring, predict how things will behave, and analyse causes.
In the Early Years Foundation Stage, science forms part of the work covering ‘Knowledge and Understanding of the World’. In this area of learning children develop the skills and understanding that help them make sense of the world. They do this through exploration, observation, problem-solving, prediction, critical thinking, decision making and discussion.
These early experiences and skills are developed as children move through school where the emphasis continues to be on developing scientific thinking through practical and investigative work. The school has a wide range of resources available to support teaching and learning in science and teachers make use of the outdoor environment to aid learning.
At West Thurrock Academy, we believe a sound grasp of Computing is essential in modern society. Computing is taught as a discrete subject and information technology is also used to enhance teaching and learning in other curriculum areas.
Computing ensures that children become digitally literate, are able to use, express and develop their ideas through, information and communication technology at a level suitable for the future workplace and as active participants in a digital world. The school is fortunate to be extremely well resourced with regard to information technology. We have a purpose-built ICT suite containing thirty networked workstations and a digital projector. All pupils work in the ICT suite for at least one session a week.
Classes are equipped with interactive whiteboards which are connected to the internet and the children have access to wireless-enabled ipads for use in all areas of the school. Other ICT resources are also used on a daily basis. History Children study a wide number of different historical periods within the school to gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world. The different units of work studied are all designed to make history ‘come alive’ for the children. Key strategies include the use of educational visits, visitors to school and high-quality resources. An important focus throughout the school is developing children’s skills as historians to ask perceptive questions, think critically, weigh evidence, sift arguments, and develop perspective and judgement, with a particular focus on using different sources of evidence.
Geography equips children with knowledge about diverse places, people, resources and natural and human environments, together with an understanding of the Earth’s key physical and human processes. Children’s growing knowledge about the world helps them to deepen their understanding of the interaction between physical and human processes, and of the formation and use of landscapes and environments.
Geography work covers a wide range of studies including: the study of globally significant places – local, national and international; the study of human impact on the environment; the development of geographical skills including map work and field study work; the study of themes such as water, rivers, settlement and environmental issues.
Design and Technology
Through Design and Technology, we offer opportunities for children to nurture creativity and innovation and to develop their designing and making skills. Children design and make products that solve real and relevant problems within a variety of contexts, considering their own and others’ needs, wants and values. Children work with a range of materials including food, textiles, construction materials, electrical resources and mechanical components. Children are encouraged to evaluate their work in order to develop their reflective and critical skills and so enhance subsequent learning in this area.
Art and Design
The intention in this area is to stimulate the imagination and develop new skills. Children are taught the knowledge and skills to experiment, invent and create their own works of art, craft and design. Children undertake a variety of activities to create both two and three-dimension pieces of work, using a wide variety of materials. Children are taught to think critically and develop a more rigorous understanding of art and design.
Our sporting aims are for all children to develop physical competence and gain satisfaction and pleasure from skilful physical activity and competitive sport, whatever their age or physical ability. All children learn a range of techniques and develop their understanding of specific skills across a variety of invasion, net and wall, striking and field games. We aim to improve the provision of P.E. and sport for the benefit of pupils so that they develop not only their sporting prowess, but healthy lifestyles through high-quality learning and teaching of Physical Education.
We are fortunate enough to have access to a range of quality resources that support the learning and teaching of a variety of sports. Lessons in P.E. and games take place for all classes in the school hall, school playground and field, and in our Multi-Use Games Area. In addition to these lessons, the teaching staff and sports coaches within the local community provide various extra-curricular activities for children throughout the school day. These clubs introduce children to new and often unfamiliar sporting activities and promote the importance of participating in physical activity. Children in Year 6 also take part in swimming lessons each year.
Music lessons are an important feature of the school curriculum which develops children’s love of music and their talent as musicians increasing their self-confidence, creativity and sense of achievement. Lessons provide children with the opportunity to make and respond to music and to develop skills, attitudes and attributes that can support learning in other subject areas, for example, listening skills, the ability to concentrate, creativity, intuition, aesthetic sensitivity, perseverance, self-confidence and sensitivity towards others. Classes are taught by the class teachers and by additional music specialists employed by the school. A number of children also receive instrumental tuition from the peripatetic music service. Additional information about this can be obtained from the Music Leader in school.
The school follows the Thurrock Agreed Syllabus for R.E. which provides opportunities for children to develop their knowledge and understanding of Christianity and to understand and respect other religions, beliefs, values and traditions. In the Foundation stage, R.E. is included in the topic ‘Knowledge and Understanding about the World’. The school has close links with St Clements Chapel, West Thurrock, and visits are made as part of the R.E. work. Our Vicar also visits the school regularly as part of the children’s R.E. activities. Parents have the right to withdraw their children from all or part of R.E. if they prefer.
Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education
Personal, social, health and economic education are taught throughout the school. PSHE aims to give children the knowledge, skills and understanding they need to lead confident, healthy and independent lives, and to become informed, active and responsible citizens. Relationships Education is taught as part of the PSHE programme, as is Drugs Education. Parents have the right to withdraw their child from all or part of the sex education programme that we teach in our school. This should be discussed with the Headteacher. Children’s awareness and experience of their role as participating, responsible citizens is encouraged through our active School Council in which every child in the school participates.
The School Council meets on a regular basis and makes an important contribution to school life. Spanish In Key Stage 2 Spanish lessons are taught, on a weekly basis, both as a single subject and through other areas of the curriculum. The teaching of Spanish offers children opportunities to communicate in another language and provides the foundation for learning further languages.
British Values and Extremeism
Promoting British Values at West Thurrock Academy
We value the diverse ethnic backgrounds of all pupils, staff and families and undertake a variety of events and lessons to celebrate these. We teach our children to be tolerant and respectful towards others, embracing the differences in our community and the wider world. At West Thurrock Academy these values are reinforced regularly and in the following ways:
Pupils have the opportunity to have their voices heard through our School Council. The whole school take part in the School Council meetings every half-term and these meetings are chaired by Year 6 School Council representatives. In these meetings the children are able to discuss themes and issues which affect their life within the school. The School Council are able to genuinely effect change within the school.
- The Rule of Law:
The importance of Laws whether they be those that govern the class, the school or the country, are consistently reinforced throughout the school day, as well as when dealing with behaviour through school assemblies. Pupils are taught the value and reasons behind laws, that they govern and protect us, the responsibilities that this involves and the consequences when laws are broken. Visits from authorities such as the Police and Fire Service are regular parts of our calendar and help reinforce this message.
- Individual Liberty:
Within school, pupils are actively encouraged to make good choices, knowing that they are in a safe and supportive environment. As a school we educate and provide boundaries for young pupils to make choices safely, through of provision of a safe environment and empowering education. Pupils are encouraged to know, understand and exercise their rights and personal freedoms and are advised how to exercise these safely, for example through our E-Safety and PSHE lessons. Whether it be through choice of challenge, of how they record, of participation in our numerous extra-curricular clubs and opportunities, pupils are given the freedom to make choices.
- Mutual Respect:
Our school ethos and behaviour policy revolves around mutual respect. During class discussions and assemblies children reflect on the meaning of respect and how it is shown. Our ethos promotes respect for others and this is reiterated through our classroom rules, as well as our behaviour for learning policy.
- Tolerance of those of Different Faiths and Beliefs:
This is achieved through enhancing pupils understanding of their place in a culturally diverse society and by giving them opportunities to experience such diversity. Assemblies and discussions involving prejudices and prejudice-based bullying have been followed and supported by learning in RE and PSHE. Children visit places of worship that are important to different faiths.
At West Thurrock Academy we will actively challenge pupils, staff or parents expressing opinions contrary to fundamental British Values, including ‘extremist’ views.