The new curriculum has clear expectations for all the subjects that we teach and we have reviewed our integrated curriculum to meet the new expectations and to ensure that we continue to offer enrichment to all our pupils. Teaching is carefully planned to follow the learning objectives for each subject. At The Alton we believe it is vital to connect the pupils’ learning and we value our developing cross-curricular strategies and skills, which help to bring learning alive for our pupils. In this way, the natural links and relationships between subjects are made clear to the pupils so that their interest and enthusiasm for learning can be developed in a relevant context. The time allocation of subjects matches the curriculum emphasis and further details are available in school. We have worked hard to make our curriculum relevant to our pupils, developing an approach to all subjects to support our underlying aim to develop English, maths and computer skills and The Alton School follows the national curriculum in all year groups.
English is the thread weaving through every aspect of our lives. At The Alton we aim to give our pupils the very best teaching and learning opportunities, in order that they develop confidence in their ability to communicate and express their feelings, views and ideas creatively and imaginatively. We develop the pupil’s abilities to listen, speak, read and write for a wide range of purposes and audiences. Our pupils are given opportunities to become critical readers of a rich variety of texts – such as stories, poetry, non-fiction and media texts. We use a variety of learning and teaching styles in our English lessons, with first hand experiences to develop pupils' understanding. We value storytelling and give it a high profile at The Alton, as we realise the part it plays in helping pupils to gain empathy with other people, characters and situations. Storytelling leads to high quality work in English for reading and writing, as well as promoting confidence in our pupils.
English lessons include shared activities, focused work, guided groups and independent tasks. In addition, English is studied and practiced through other curriculum areas, which encourages our pupils to apply their learning in other areas of the curriculum. We have a clear focus on spoken language, reading, writing, spelling, vocabulary, grammar and punctuation.
In Early Years and KS1 children are taught phonics through a range of approaches. The Phonics Bug scheme is followed, which is built around the 6 phases of letters and sounds.
We recognise that producing writing of our highest standard can be a complex process but we expect our children to produce their best work whenever they write. Our teaching is carefully planned so that children have the chance to explore the reason for their written piece through a range of strategies including: Pie Corbett’s talk for writing, debate, drama, exposure to real life experiences e.g. (field studies) and analysis of high quality texts. Having fully appreciated why they are writing (the purpose) and who they are writing for (the audience), our children then have opportunities to plan, to draft, to edit and improve, to read aloud and often to publish their writing.
All year groups have regular opportunities to write at length in a range of styles. Every Friday an ‘extended writing lesson’ is taught across the school. Within this lesson children have the opportunity to write an extended piece of writing typically using their current text, cross curricular knowledge or a real life experience as their stimulus for writing. In addition children also have frequent chances to write across the week in a range of subjects.
Parents can support children’s development by encouraging them to write for a range of both real – life and creative purposes at home. For example:
- Letters to friends and relatives
- Stories or poems
- Descriptions of interesting scenes or real life experiences
- Lists for shopping
- Captions for family photo albums
- Recounts of family days out
- Fact files or information relating to current learning in class, or future topics.
Below are some links to websites which support the development of writing skills:
http://pobble.com/ A fantastic publishing site with great ideas for children to use as a stimulus for writing.
http://100wc.net/ A wonderful weekly challenge for children to produce creative writing.
http://brian-moses.blogspot.co.uk/#! A BlogSpot with fantastic poetry writing ideas by the well-known children’s poet.
Spelling and phonics
Spelling is taught daily in the Early Years and in Key stage One as part of phonic lessons. The Phonics Bug scheme is followed, which is built around the 6 phases of letters and sounds. Spelling continues to be taught regularly in Key stage Two where spelling rules are taught and investigated. Helpful strategies for learning words are taught across the school. A list of words to learn and other spelling homework is sent home on a weekly basis.
Download information about writing assessment here, including spelling lists.
Being able to speak and write accurately in Standard English is vital for our children’s life chances. At The Alton we teach grammar discretely where appropriate but always study further examples of grammar in the context of our own reading and writing.
Below are some links to a website which supports knowledge and understanding of grammar.
Key Stage 2: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ks2/
Key Stage 1: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ks1/
Handwriting is an essential skill for children and adults. At the Alton we develop children’s handwriting through discrete teaching and modelling of good handwriting by our teachers and support staff. We have high expectations of handwriting and presentation across all subjects. In years five and six children can apply for a pen licence when their handwriting is of a suitably high standard on a consistent basis.
At The Alton we are passionate about reading. It is our aim for all of our children to become confident, enthusiastic readers who appreciate the importance of reading as a skill for life.
We teach and raise the profile of reading through a variety of strategies:
- A rich diet of high quality literature which has been mapped across all year groups. These texts form the basis of all our English planning.
- Every child has a ‘book on the go’ which is placed in their table basket, ready to be enjoyed at various points in the day.
- A beautiful, well stocked library. Our library is open every lunch time and after school every day from 3.30pm-4pm.
- Special reading pods have been placed in the corridors for children, to provide an exciting reading space at lunchtime.
- Daily discrete reading sessions in years 1-6.
- Phonics is taught daily in Early Years and Key Stage 1.
- Attractive book corners in every classroom brimming with exciting texts.
- Each class has a suitcase containing ‘challenge reads’ for able readers.
- Special reading events, such as author visits and World Book day events, are an integral part of The Alton calendar.
- A range of reading volunteers and members of staff guide those who need support with their reading individually.
- Reading buddies from years 5 and 6 give up part of their lunchtimes to support younger readers.
- Fantastic stories and poems are read aloud by teachers to their children every day.
Download information about reading assessment here.
In Early Years and Year 1 children have daily discreet phonics lessons for up to 20 minutes. Pupils learn phonemes (sounds) and their corresponding graphemes (letter groups) to help them decode and spell words. We use Phonics Bug Teaching resources, which follows the Letters and Sounds programme. What is learnt through these lessons is applied in speaking, reading and writing across other curriculum areas.
At The Alton the learning of mathematics is given a high priority across the whole school. Competency in mathematics is a key life skill and during the daily mathematics lesson, pupils learn a range of mathematical skills through a mixture of whole class teaching, group work and individual study. We develop pupils' mental strategies throughout the school to help them build on previous knowledge and to tackle new mathematical problems independently. Much of our class work is of a practical, investigative nature and opportunities for using and applying mathematics are taken across the curriculum. We use a system called ‘Maths No Problem’ to embed and consolidate mathematical concepts. We believe it is vital for pupils to be fluent in mathematics as well as then using their knowledge to reason and solve problems.
Our aim in science is to stimulate and excite pupils’ curiosity about the world around them. Pupils are encouraged to question and discuss science based issues and to develop an understanding of the contribution to technological change and improving the quality of life. Aspects of science, such as the human body, plant growth, weather, electricity, sound, light, magnetism and movement are covered at a level appropriate to the ability of the pupils, whilst maintaining high expectations. Pupils develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding of all the scientific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics.
ART AND DESIGN
We believe that it is an important aim to develop art and craft skills, together with an appreciation of the aesthetic aspects of life. At The Alton, our pupils experience of a range of artistic styles and they learn to observe closely and develop an awareness of colour, pattern and shape. The pupils work in a variety of media and sketch books are used throughout the school. We visit galleries and hold our own art exhibition in alternate years. We learn about artists and genres of art as the new curriculum requires, enriching it with our own expectations.
Our aim is for the pupils to be digitally literate so that they can use, express, create and develop their ideas using information technology. They will create programs using their knowledge and apply this in other areas of the curriculum, such as mathematics, science and design and technology. The school has two class sets of Microsoft laptop computers and one class set of Apple laptop computers. In addition to these, all pupils are well served with an interactive whiteboard in each of their classrooms and further laptop computers. The school has a website and digital and video cameras, for pupil and staff use. The teaching of computing skills forms an integral part of our teaching across the whole curriculum. Pupils are taught computing skills both directly and discretely, through other subjects. We seek to enhance pupils' confidence and learning by developing their skills and encouraging them to use these skills widely.
At the Alton we have invested in new technology and software, which enables us to teach students the new computing curriculum. We are supported by the CLC, who are the centre of excellence for teaching ICT in Wandsworth. The CLC help us develop and teach a curriculum that is purposeful by making links with other subject areas. For example, children learn computer science through projects linked to their topics. They use various programmes to produce media to communicate to other classes and schools, to design and create products, and to input and analyse data.
We use a range of software and some of it can be downloaded for free! See links below:
Google SketchUp – make a 3D model of anything
Google Earth – explore anywhere in the world
Prezi – create a presentation
Weebly – design a website
Scratch – Programming
Kudo – Game Programming
DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY (DT)
Our work in design and technology links other subjects such as science, mathematics, computing and art and design. Pupils design, make and evaluate their work, using their technical knowledge. Pupils will experience working with a range of construction materials, mechanisms and structures and will be taught how to consider their most suitable application to make products to solve problems, as well as learning to use tools safely and confidently.
Our pupils’ geography work gives them the knowledge to understand their place in the world, through the study of people and their environments and the effects that people have on the environment. This includes study of our local area as well as different cultures and societies across the world, and learning is extended through considering environmental issues. Our pupils develop knowledge about globally significant places and understand how to use their increasing geographical skills to analyse data and other sources of information such as maps, aerial photographs, globes etc. to deepen their understanding.
Our history curriculum stimulates pupils’ curiosity about people, places and events in the past and helps them to develop their understanding of society today. Through visits, visitors, drama and a range of resources and sources, children learn that the past can be represented in different ways. Pupils learn chronologically about Britain, ancient civilizations, empires and the achievements and mistakes of societies. They learn about the lives of key individuals and events, using the skills of historic enquiry to interrogate evidence and contrast arguments.
French is taught at The Alton to deepen the pupils' understanding of the French language and culture. We teach French in Key Stage one and two and provide practical opportunities for the pupils to communicate. Pupils focus on the spoken language and develop their vocabulary through songs and literature. They develop their understanding into writing and use this to present their ideas.
Music is taught to engage and inspire the pupils' knowledge and to foster a love of music. Pupils learn about music from different traditions and times, as well learning about composers and musicians. We are continuing to raise the profile of singing at The Alton, so every member of the school community will be a confident singer by the end of the school year.
PHYSICAL EDUCATION (PE)
All pupils benefit from our range of PE resources, our large hall and spacious site. They are taught the knowledge, skills and understanding of key elements of PE through dance, games, gymnastics and athletics. We focus on a sport for the whole school each half term and end with a competitive Whole School Tournament, including a Y6 vs. Staff match. Pupils learn to swim in Year 4 at Ibstock Place School.
Competitive events are regularly arranged, such as friendly and league matches in football at Dover House Road.
PERSONAL, SOCIAL, AND HEALTH EDUCATION (PSHE)
The teaching of personal, social and health education, along with citizenship, is a planned and integral part of pupils' work. Through a range of activities our pupils develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to help them lead happy, confident and healthy lives, both at school and throughout life. They learn to make safe and informed choices. We make close links to our E-Safety education and our sex and relationship education. We work closely with Place2Be to support our work in this area.
RELIGIOUS EDUCATION (RE)
We follow the Wandsworth and national guidelines for Religious Education, which is taught to promote pupils' understanding of spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. During RE lessons, we aim to develop an awareness of the pupil’s own worth, while creating an understanding of others, fostering the realisation that we all have a place and that it matters how we behave and what we do. This helps to encourage a sense of belonging to the school and the wider community. The major world religions are taught, emphasising similarities and common threads between faiths, beliefs and religions. We do not promote any religion above any other. Any parent who wishes to discuss the Religious Education curriculum is welcome to make an appointment with the Headteacher.
SEX & RELATIONSHIP EDUCATION
Sex and relationship education is a key part of the school curriculum and it gives our pupils important opportunities to learn how to make responsible and well informed decisions about their lives. Our scheme helps our pupils to learn respect for themselves and others and to move with confidence from childhood to adolescence. The curriculum is tailored to meet the age, emotional and physical maturity and understanding of pupils. It closely follows the KS1 and KS2 science curriculum. Sex and relationship education is taught directly and in all lesson these issues are handled sensitively by staff, that are known by the pupils.
We will liaise closely with parents, particularly over the materials being used. Parents are invited into school to view the lesson plans and any materials that we will be using beforehand and they are always informed when sex and relationship education is taking place, so that they can be prepared to answer questions within the cultural and moral setting of their home. Parents have the right to withdraw their child from sex and relationship education, please speak with the Headteacher about this.
Our youngest pupils in Nursery begin their learning using the Early Years Foundation Stage guidance within which the three prime areas are:
• communication and language
• physical development
• personal, social and emotional development.
There are seven areas of learning altogether and the other four are:
• understanding the world
• expressive arts and design
The use of computers is introduced in Nursery and becomes an integral part of each pupil’s learning throughout the school. This level of skillful teaching continues into the Reception class. Both Nursery and Reception classes share classrooms and the outdoor space during the school day.
Within the Foundation Curriculum, much of the learning is through play and is flexibly structured, in order to cater for all pupils. Pupils enter The Alton at very different stages in their learning and we aim to cater for a wide variety of differing needs. Pupils who already have a grasp of reading, writing and counting will be challenged, while other pupils will need to be guided initially to a degree of independence and sense of security. Our team of teachers and nursery nurses work hard to create a happy, purposeful and stimulating learning environment, where all pupils are guided into achieving their best, by the end of their first year in school