What is the purpose to our curriculum?
Our curriculum is driven by our school’s vision and aims so that children can grow to be the best they can be. Each year group follows the aims of the National Curriculum which we ensure is broad and balanced in order to excite and enthuse all pupils. Children are encouraged to challenge themselves to become successful learners and develop key skills for lifelong learning. Our curriculum enables children to learn about and engage with the world around them in order to become responsible citizens.
How do we implement our curriculum?
At Hillside, we are passionate about our children learning through a creative and knowledge-rich approach called enquiry based learning. Every half term, each year group begins with a question for the children to investigate which is based upon the National Curriculum requirements for their age range. Although these questions have an historical, scientific or geographical focus, other national curriculum subjects are woven into the children’s learning.
We also use enquiry work for our children to apply key literacy skills, including reading and writing, as well as mathematics. During each half term, the children gain essential knowledge to be able to answer the enquiry question and, in addition to this, have the opportunity to develop key learning skills such as team work, evaluating, perseverance and the ability to reflect.
The children also participate in special themed events such as Science Week, World Book Day and International Week. Whole school enquiries are also planned across the academic year. Year groups organise enrichment days, including trips to local educational sites and residential visits for our older pupils.
We believe that language and literacy are fundamental to the overall development of the child and their access to the curriculum and the wider world. We aim to deliver first quality teaching of basic and higher order reading, writing, speaking and listening skills, thus enabling children to become confident, successful learners and develop a lifelong love of reading.
We are following the new National Curriculum for English and have designed a range of exciting units to interest, challenge and support the children’s learning.
Speaking and listening are essential to children’s literacy development. They underpin the access to success in reading and writing. Opportunities are planned and developed for across the whole curriculum, these involve:
- Topic talks/show and tell
- Oral story telling
At Hillside we have developed a reading culture throughout the school. We are proud of our beautiful library. Each classroom includes a welcoming book area, a print rich environment, and attractive book displays promoting the written word at every opportunity.
Guided reading plays an important part in our whole school approach to teaching reading. During these sessions children are taught a wide range of reading skills in ability groups, which they can practice when they are individually reading at home and in school.
We work closely with parents/carers to teach reading this involves:
- A beginning of the year reading meeting in Reception and Year 1 to explain how we teach reading in school and to try and ensure the continuity and quality of phonics and reading methods at home.
- Shared use of home school reading records throughout the school to communicate progress and next learning steps.
We formally report progress two times per year in parent consultation evening and send home an end of year written report in the summer. Parents however are encouraged to see their child’s teacher throughout the year if there are any worries.
Children are tracked and their progress monitored. For children not making the required amount of progress there are a number of interventions including Sounds Discovery which reinforces phonic knowledge, Fresh Start which supports children’s comprehension skills and Code X an exciting adventure series which helps children to revisit phonics knowledge and build key reading and comprehension skills.
Our children have access to a wide variety of individual reading books which are book banded according to the level of difficulty. We use a number of different reading schemes to help support the teaching of reading. These include:
- Oxford Reading Tree
- Project X
- Collins Big Cat
- Pearson Bug Club
We are very proud of our new library, which each class visits at least once a week. We hope it further develops the children’s’ love of books and reading.
We have a whole school approach to phonics learning. All teaching and support staff share the same phonics training so there is consistency in understanding and practice. In EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) and KS1(Key Stage 1) we teach phonics using a systematic synthetic phonics system. It is taught regularly, discretely, explicitly and in an agreed and rational sequence according to the programme in Letters and Sounds: Principles and Practice of High Quality Phonics. We also use Jolly Phonics as an effective and interactive way for young learners to recall phonemes and apply their learning in a fun environment. Phonics is also taught in a language rich curriculum where books and stories are shared every day. Phonics tracking ensures that children are carefully monitored so that support can be put in place if necessary. The aims of our approach are to ensure all of our pupils are fluent readers by the time they are 7.
In KS2 (Key Stage 2) some children will require continued support in segmenting and blending and will continue to follow the above programme. Most children will continue to access phonics as well as other spelling rules in explicitly taught spelling and grammar lessons.
Writing is a major part of the curriculum and makes a significant contribution to the development of children as thinkers and learners. Writing involves a set of complex skills that will not develop without structured teaching and practice.
Throughout the school the children use a variety of texts, to gain more knowledge about improving their own writing and to experience writing in different genres, both fiction and non-fiction. They then have the opportunity to apply their writing skills in cross-curricular enquiries.
Grammar, spelling and handwriting are important technical skills, which are developed through specifically taught lessons and applied during the children’s writing. Each year group has a list of explicit terms and definitions the children will need to become familiar with as they progress through the school.
During writing lessons, across the curriculum, the children will be expected to demonstrate their ability and understanding of these skills. They will become confident with using grammar and stylistic features in a variety of ways in order to engage the reader which will ultimately lead to our children becoming successful writers.
Here are some suggestions on how you can help to make reading a positive experience.
- Choose a quiet time
Set aside a quiet time with no distractions. Ten to fifteen minutes is usually long enough.
- Make reading enjoyable
Make reading an enjoyable experience. Sit with your child. Try not to pressurise if he or she is reluctant. If your child loses interest then do something else.
- Maintain the flow
If your child mispronounces a word do not interrupt immediately. Instead allow opportunity for self-correction. It is better to tell a child some unknown words to maintain the flow rather than insisting on trying to build them all up from the sounds of the letters. If your child does try to ‘sound out’ words, encourage the use of letter sounds rather than ‘alphabet names’.
- Be positive
If your child says something nearly right to start with that is fine. Don’t say ‘No. That’s wrong,’ but ‘Let’s read it together’ and point to the words as you say them. Boost your child’s confidence with constant praise for even the smallest achievement.
- Success is the key. Finding the right level
Parents anxious for a child to progress can mistakenly give a child a book that is too difficult. This can have the opposite effect to the one they are wanting. Until your child has built up his or her confidence, it is better to keep to easier books. Struggling with a book with many unknown words is pointless. Flow is lost, text cannot be understood and children can easily become reluctant readers.
Talk to your child’s teacher if you have any concerns about the level they are bringing home.
- Visit the Library
Encourage your child to use the public library regularly.
- Regular practice
Try to read with your child on most school days. ‘Little and often’ is best. Show your child that you find reading an enjoyable pastime. Children often imitate their parents and if they see you reading they are more likely to want to try it for themselves.
Remember that the more pleasure children get from books, the more they will want to read.
Allow your child to join in with your own reading activities such as; websites, shopping lists, letters, newspapers, looking at television listings, reading recipes…
Encourage your child to read print in the environment such as; traffic signs, shop names, billboards, menus, advertisements, the print on cereal packets…
Let us know in the reading diaries how your child is progressing at home.
- Talk about the books
There is more to being a good reader than just being able to read the words accurately. Just as important is being able to understand what has been read. Always talk to your child about the book; about the pictures, the characters, how they think the story will end, their favourite part. You will then be able to see how well they have understood and you will help them to develop good comprehension skills.
- Variety is important
Remember children need to experience a variety of reading materials eg. picture books, hard backs, comics, magazines, poems, and information books.
Sometimes children will want to use picture or reference books in which there is very little text or in some cases no text at all! These books are good for stimulating ideas and discussion and for extending expressive vocabulary. You can share these books, drawing attention to the author, the illustrator, the blurb, an index or contents etc.
Young children enjoy listening to, and later on reading, stories which are familiar to them. They will often want to read books that they have encountered before, either at school or at home, even if the vocabulary is too difficult for them. Do encourage this as their knowledge of a story will help them to ‘guess’ some familiar words and join in with whole phrases or sentences. You can easily supply any words which they cannot manage.
What Should I Do If My Child Gets Stuck?
Your child will make mistakes; we all do when we are learning a new skill.
If your child is having difficulty with a word you could try some of the following prompts, but labouring over one unknown word can cause a great deal of unnecessary misery that could turn your child away from the enjoyment of reading. If a few of the prompts fail, simply give the word yourself and move on with the story.
Let him/her make two or three guesses;
Give him/her a little time to try to work out what the word might be (but not too much time);
Let him/her finish the sentence to see if this will help him/her to make sense of the word;
Discuss what they think the word might be;
Show him/her the first letter of the word and talk about the sound it makes;
Try to help your child to ‘sound out’; unknown words, but don’t get too bogged down in teaching them rules about spelling which might confuse them.
Look at the pictures to give them clues. This is very important as it maintains interest in the story and can prompt word recognition through thought association.
- Allow your child to set the pace;
- Try not to put pressure on your child to read. If they are unwilling, try another time or read to them instead;
- Always be positive and encouraging, however many mistakes your child has made;
- Allow your child to read silently sometimes, if that is what he/she wants;
- Most importantly, have fun.
Useful Reading and Phonic Websites for KS1 Children
Mathematics is essential for daily lives and in many fields of employment and at Hillside we aim to provide all pupils with a high quality maths education. Children (and adults) can find maths difficult because it is abstract. The school is well equipped with mathematical apparatus, such as numicon, so that children can develop their understanding using practical equipment before moving to pictorial representations, and then on to the abstract. This approach promotes a deeper understanding, greater enjoyment and confidence in maths. We adopt cross-curricular approach and place maths firmly in everyday contexts. As a school that advocates growth mindset, children are not put in ability groups but are offered differentiated challenges so they all have the opportunity to reach their potential.
Collective Worship is part of Hillside Avenue’s contribution to promoting the social, moral, spiritual and cultural development of every child. All pupils join in with our daily assemblies. The school complies with the legal requirements as set out in the 1988 Education Reform Act and more details can be gathered from the Headteacher.
Withdrawal from Collective Worship:
Collective Worship is intended to be meaningful and relevant for all pupils and staff, for those with a faith background and those with none. It is therefore hoped that few parents will feel that they have to remove their child from Collective Worship, as this breaks the unity of the experience of school.
Parents do have the right to remove their child from Collective Worship. Those wishing to exercise this right should contact the Headteacher. Arrangements for those withdrawn from Collective Worship are held within Year Group/class planning.
As well as providing pupils with high quality teaching and learning experiences we seek to provide extra-curricular opportunities so that they can engage with sport and physical activity outside of PE sessions. We have a range of lunchtime and after school sporting clubs that children are able to participate in. Through these clubs children are able to take part in intra and inter sporting competitions, such as the KS2 Hockey Competition and various competitions through the ‘School Games’ initiative.
At Hillside, we firmly believe that all children have the potential to be unlimited learners. Our philosophy is that we should all strive to improve ourselves as we learn and grow. The children are shown that this happens through effort, application and learning from our mistakes. They are encouraged to embrace challenge and persevere with every aspect of their learning.
Class music lessons
All children at Hillside receive one specialist curriculum music lesson each week from year 1-6.
The main aim in these lessons is to make music together in every way that we can. It t is a proven fact that participation in such musical activities enhances other skills such as number work and vocabulary. At Hillside we use two great online resources. These are called Charanga and Sing-up. They are invaluable in enabling a great variety of percussion work, recorder, ukulele and singing songs of all types and styles in class. KS1 and KS2 also have a weekly Singing Assembly too.
Peripatetic Music Lessons
There are opportunities to learn a number of different musical instruments in year 4 and upwards from visiting music teachers. These include violin, cello, piano, guitar, flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone and drums. The lessons are part subsidised by the school but charged at a very reasonable termly amount. There are a number of small concerts in break-time and in assemblies from these teachers and their pupils.
There are also a number of extra-curricular music clubs to join in a year:
- KS1 Choir – Wednesday lunchtime
- KS2 Choir – Tuesday lunchtime
- Orchestra – Tuesday after school
+ at certain times of year:
- Ukulele Club
- Recorder club
- Musical Theatre Club
- Scrap Band
There are a number of yearly events that take place involving music at Hillside.
- KS2 Christmas Carol Service at the Church for parents and families
- KS2 Christmas celebration at the church for all classes
- KS1 Christmas Show at the Church
- Norfolk and Norwich music Festival in march
- Spring Concert
- KS2 Variety Show Summer term
- KS1 Talent Show Summer term
- Summer Fete Musical item
In order to provide our pupils with the high standard education that is set out in the EYFS KS1 and KS2 curriculums we look at PE through the holistic approach of Physical Literacy. Physical Literacy looks at teaching PE so that each learner is able to develop skills in 6 key areas:
Our aim is to enable each and every learner to develop these skills, which are fundamental for them to become confident and competent movers and to provide children with the foundations for successful participation in PE and sport now and in the future.
The school curriculum for RE is based upon the framework detailed in ‘Religious Education in Norfolk 2012,’ the New Norfolk Agreed Syllabus. This requires that curriculum is mainly Christian in content but that children are also given an understanding of the other five main world religions. (Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism.)
Withdrawal from Religious Education:
A parent of a pupil may request that their child be wholly or partly excused from receiving Religious Education given in accordance with the Agreed Syllabus.
Any parent wishing to exercise this right should contact the Headteacher.
We aim to provide a practical, questioning approach to meet National Curriculum expectations.
Children are encouraged to adopt an enquiring mind with a constant “WHY?” mindset.
As much as possible, we will practically investigate theories and explore scientific concepts, using the outdoor environment.
We, actively, foster independent thinking, teamwork and initiative, all encompassed with the use and application of prior knowledge to enlighten learning.
FAIL is a mindset we embrace: First Attempt in Learning.
Science at Hillside begins with umbrella questioning, the desire and drive to answer these, and investigation to enable this process.
We enjoy active, fully- embraced learning opportunities.
Sex education is taught within the Science and the Personal Social and Health Education (PSHE) curriculum in Years 4, 5, and 6. The scheme of work used has been presented to the Governing Body and approved.
Parents can request to see the programmes that support this area of the children’s work. Children can be withdrawn from those parts not covered by the National Curriculum.
Should you require any further information about the school curriculum, please contact your child's class teacher or key stage leader.