Following a review of the curriculum at High Halstow Primary Academy, leaders made the decision to apply to be a candidate of the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP); to further enrich the learning opportunities currently provided for children. The intention is to ensure that pupils develop as inquirers and deepen their knowledge of the world around them, including their own local area. This approach provides a high level of ambition to our curriculum and ensures that all pupils, including those with SEND and disadvantaged pupils, are equipped with the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life.
The academy has successfully applied to become a candidate school of the IB PYP, a process which will take up to three years to complete.
Our aim is to provide our children with an engaging, exciting and empowering curriculum that equips them for today and tomorrow. At High Halstow Primary Academy the curriculum is designed to recognise children’s prior learning, provide first-hand, engaging learning experiences, allow the children to develop interpersonal skills, build resilience and become creative, critical thinkers.
Every child is recognised as a unique individual. We celebrate and welcome differences within our school community. The ability to learn is underpinned by the teaching of basic skills, knowledge, concepts and values with a vision to prepare them for life beyond primary school. We constantly provide enrichment opportunities to engage learning. We believe that childhood should be a happy, investigative and enquiring time in our lives, where there are no limits to curiosity and there is a thirst for new experiences and knowledge. We use our school values as well as the IB Learner Profiles (inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced and reflective), to promote positive attitudes to learning which reflect the values and skills needed to promote responsibility for learning and future success. Community involvement is an integral part of our curriculum, inviting families and visitors to participate in learning and share experiences such as assemblies, Open Classroom and Parents into Read.
Our aim is that every child leaves High Halstow Primary Academy with a sense of belonging to a tightly knit community where they have a growing confidence and skills to make decisions, self-evaluate, make some connections and become lifelong learners.
The introduction of the IB PYP has ensured that the central idea and lines of inquiry followed by the children provide rich opportunities for deeper thinking, questioning and knowledge acquisition. By guiding the children to come up with the paths of learning they wish to follow, we are empowering them to make decisions, ask questions and feel confident to lead their learning.
The whole school follows the same transdisciplinary theme each term and learner profiles are explored further through assemblies. This is also underpinned by SMSC and opportunities to celebrate British Values within assemblies. All subject areas, if possible are taught as part of this learning journey and enable pupils to deepen their knowledge through thorough research and application. However when necessary Maths and English skills are taught discretely.
Teachers work collaboratively to ensure they are able to pitch subject knowledge at a level which is appropriate to the age of the children, and that any new knowledge is linked to knowledge the children already have; integrating new ideas to those already known. They use opportunities for children to discuss and share their ideas and seek to provide clear explanations when misconceptions are identified.
Reading and phonics remain an instrumental part of our curriculum and the use of texts underpin the majority of lessons. Acquisition of reading skills goes beyond that of phonetic decoding and has to ensure comprehension and inference are mastered by all children.
A recent review of the marking policy, now means that the academy has adopted and implemented a feedback policy. This sets out to ensure that feedback is purposeful and delivered during learning time, when it is proven to have the most impact.
The curriculum incorporates the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum 2014 and other experiences and opportunities which best meet the learning and developmental needs of the children in our school led though the holistic IB PYP approach. An inquiry led approach has been implemented at the school so pupils are an active participant in their learning and to ensure high staff and pupil engagement. This approach enables project based learning, fostering each child’s curiosity and interest throughout each topic and also enabling the achievement of depth in knowledge and skills. Opportunities for child voice are planned at the beginning of each new term when the central idea, taken from the transdisciplinary theme, and this is used to inform the learning for each topic to ensure relevance.
The curriculum provides children with memorable experiences, in addition to diverse and rich opportunities from which children can learn and develop a range of transferable skills. The children’s own community, its heritage and traditions are beginning to be used as a starting point for engaging interest.
The school’s curriculum is continuing to develop to ensure it is always broad and balanced. The school was recently awarded the Silver Arts Mark award for our contribution to developing opportunities within the arts in school. The outdoor environment and the local community are considered an opportunity for active learning for all our children. The school grounds have been developed so they can enrich different curriculum areas and are beginning to be used more richly. Music and performance have a high profile in the school and the school has a specialist music teacher, with each child in KS2 receiving lessons for at least two terms during the year. In addition, KS1 pupils take part in an n eight week music programme with a specialist music teacher. Pupils get the opportunity to perform to their peers and parents. The school regularly takes part in the Choir Carol Service at Rochester Cathedral as well as a performance at The Central Theatre. High Halstow pupils get further opportunities to learn from specialist such as gymnastic and swimming coaches. The school take part in mini-Youth Games which regularly involves over 50 schools as well as Leigh Academies Trust events.
A varied timetable for extra-curricular activities is offered by the school, with clubs that support the core curriculum offer, as well as those which develop specialist skills, such as Irish dancing, football and sign language. A primary focus of our curriculum is to raise aspirations, engender a sense of personal pride in achievement, and provide a purpose and relevance for learning.