At St Francis, our curriculum takes into account the needs of different groups, including the most able and pupils with special educational needs and disabilities. We provide an inclusive curriculum that offers challenge and success in fair measure to all children.
At St. Francis de Sales Catholic Infant and Junior Schools Federation we attempt to follow the guidance given to us by St Francis, who said, “Be who you are and be that well.” So as a Catholic school, we encourage our children to be unique, creative, open-minded and independent individuals, respectful of themselves and of others in our school, our local community and the wider world. We seek to develop the whole person and to nurture our children on their journey through life so they can grow into safe, caring, democratic, responsible and tolerant adults who make a positive difference to the wider community. This philosophy gives rise to our mission statement…
“At St Francis de Sales every child will achieve their own personal excellence by making outstanding progress in their academic, social and spiritual development. This will enable them to excel at secondary school and then attend a further educational institution should they choose.”
Children have an entitlement to achieve well academically and at the same time to grow in equal measure in understanding Gospel values and living a rewarding Catholic life. The aim for our children is that when they leave in Y6, they are equipped to excel at secondary school and build the foundation for success in the world of post compulsory education. When they arrive in society with positions of power and authority, will be prepared for those positions by the values instilled in them during their time at the school;
In addition to the schools focus on these values for learning, in November 2014 the Department for Education published guidance on promoting British values in schools to ensure young people leave school prepared for life in modern Britain. All schools have a duty to ‘actively promote’ the fundamental British values of:
The rule of law
Mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith
At St Francis de Sales we embed these by providing our children with an inclusive and cross curricular based curriculum that effectly promotes all four values, holding SMSC morals at the heart of all that we do. Thus creating a values driven school that achieves outstanding results for our pupils, stakeholders and for the wider community.
Our Beliefs about Learning:
We strongly believe that every child – given the right conditions – can make outstanding progress. To ensure we put the right conditions in place, we always use research evidence to guide the decisions we make about how we deliver the curriculum.
Our research has shown us that the following approaches really support pupil learning…
Our systems for praise and rewards focus not on the best work done in the class, but on the efforts pupils put into the work. Research shows that pupils who are praised for the effort they put in always try hard at their work – and consequently do much better than pupils who are praised for being clever.
The Learning Pit:
Learning something new or hard causes every person to be confused, worried and anxious – in other words, they go into ‘the pit’. To get out of the pit you need to show resilience.
At St Francis we acknowledge that ‘the learning pit’ is an important part of everyone’s learning and it cannot be avoided. What you have to keep trying and never give up. With lots of effort you can get out of the pit to your ‘eureka moment’ – and you have learned something new!
Ways to get out of the pit are;
Think about what I know already
Use resources / books
See if a friend can explain
Ask the teacher for support
Arranging your thoughts and structuring ideas can be a difficult thing to learn. Our ‘thinking maps’ help learners to organise, understand and present their ideas.
The Thinking Maps model programme consists of eight maps that correspond with fundamental thinking processes.
The Circle Map is used for defining in context
The Bubble Map, describing with adjectives
The Flow Map, sequencing and ordering
The Brace Map, identifying part/whole relationships
The Tree Map, classifying/grouping
The Double Bubble Map, comparing and contrasting
The Multi-Flow Map, analyzing causes and effects
The Bridge Map, seeing analogies
These maps are a "common visual language" for students in all subject areas.
Philosophy for Children (P4C):
The term "philosophy" is the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, and comprises ALL areas of speculative thought, including the arts, sciences and religion.
This year, all of the children at St Francis de Sales have been developing their thinking skills through a new approach to learning called, Philosophy for Children. P4C is about getting children to think and communicate well; to think better for themselves. Through these sessions children are encouraged to create their own philosophical questions through enquiry, dialogue and shared reflection. The children have been embracing the opportunity to share their ideas and discuss a range of interesting and thought-provoking questions. These lessons not only develop their creative and critical thinking skills, but they also allow children the opportunity to discuss topical, relevant and global issues.
In our Reception and Nursery, we recognise the importance of giving our children the best possible start to their education by planning and implementing teaching and learning opportunities that supports them ‘to be the best that they can be’. We know that our children enter the Nursery and Reception classes with varied life experiences and we aim to plan teaching and learning opportunities which takes this into account.
We recognise that parents are the first educators of their children, and through a positive partnership, the Early Years educators will continue to build on these foundations for the child’s learning journey.
We aim to provide children, with a well-structured, safe, active learning environment both indoors and outdoors. This will enable them to develop the skills, attitudes and understanding that will form the basis of lifelong learning and encourage them to become useful, active members of a diverse and constantly changing society. We are committed to a play-based learning approach as we believe that this is the way to spark children’s natural curiosity and develop language skills, emotions and creativity, social and intellectual skills.
The Early Years Foundation Stage Profile 2021 sets out the end of Reception year expectations for the children. Development Matters and Birth to 5 Matters, provides guidance for us to meet the needs of our children.
It is our intention to provide, within the context of our Mission Statement, a broadly enriched, rounded and stimulating learning environment where children can work with adults and peers in a climate of mutual respect to develop;
- Confidence in their ability to learn.
- The social skills necessary to learn.
- The emotional capabilities to enable them to understand their feelings and to solve problems
- The spiritual development to learn to be aware of and comfortable with qualities such as respect, responsibility, and reverence for self and others.
- A unique child.
Children learn through access to an enabling environment and carefully selected adult-activities.
Each area of learning and development is implemented through planned, purposeful play, and through a mix of adult-led and child-initiated activities. Staff members respond to each child’s emerging needs and interests, guiding their development through warm, positive interactions.
We believe that the environment plays a key role in supporting and extending the children’s development, where the children feel confident, secure and challenged. The children have daily access to an indoor and outdoor environment that is set up in discrete areas of learning with planned continuous provision, reflecting the child’s interests, passions and abilities. We use materials and equipment that reflect both the community that the children come from and the wider world. We encourage the children to make their own selection of the activities on offer, as we believe that this encourages independent learning.
Children are provided with plenty of opportunities to engage in outdoor learning.
We aim to provide a safe, stimulating outdoor learning environment in order to enhance teaching and learning in engaging, problem solving, investigative and explorative ways. Children have daily opportunities to access the outdoor environment which also enables them to increase their levels of physical activity. Children’s learning is enabled within the outdoor learning environment which is seen as an extension of the classroom. Children are encouraged to use and apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills through outdoor learning opportunities that also engages them in a positive way with their local, natural environment.
Staff members continuously observe and record the children’s progress and significant moments on Tapestry. These observations are fed into weekly planning in order to ensure that the individual needs of all the children are met.
As in the Nursery, activities are planned to cover the areas of learning. Each classroom is organised into specific areas with relevant resources and equipment for children to develop and extend their play. The outdoor area is also used throughout the day in the same way as Nursery.
Children learn through a balance of child-initiated and adult-directed activities and challenges. The weekly timetable is carefully structured so that children have daily directed teaching in Literacy, Mathematics and Phonics. We also ensure regular carpet time sessions to focus on Communication & Language and Personal, Social and Emotional development, and Topic sessions to focus Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design in our weekly timetable. These sessions are followed by group work where children work with a member of staff to develop their individual targets. This focused group time enables the teacher to systematically check for understanding, identify and respond to misconceptions quickly and provide real-time verbal feedback which results in a strong impact on the acquisition of new learning.
Children are provided with plenty of time to engage in child-initiated learning throughout the variety of experiences, which are carefully planned to engage and challenge them in the provision. The curriculum is planned for the inside and outside classrooms and is planned in a cross-curricular way to enable all aspects of the children’s development including Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design as well as to promote sustained thinking and active learning.
From Year 1 to Year 6 the school offers a rich and varied curriculum through incorporating the requirements of the national curriculum for English and Maths. Whilst we follow these requirements, this is by no means the totality of our school curriculum. We firmly believe in creating memorable learning experiences in which our children have the opportunity to experience the extraordinary - the awe and wonder of learning.
This year we have designed our own curriculum based around the interests of our pupils here at St Francis. The curriculum has been designed to be cross curricular to encourage the transference of skills across subjects. This cross curricular approach has also ensured full coverage of the humanities and science elements of the curriculum.
We believe that the ability to read fluently is the doorway to almost all other learning. Consequently, learning to read and then reading regularly and widely is at the heart of our curriculum design.
Systematic Phonics Teaching
We use Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised as our systematic, synthetic phonics programme to teach early reading and spelling. The progression has been organised so that children are taught from the simple to more complex GPCs (Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence), as well as taking into account the frequency of occurrence in the most commonly encountered words. All the graphemes taught are practised in words, sentences, and later on, in fully decodable books. Children review and revise GPCs and words, daily, weekly and across terms and years, in order to move this knowledge into their long-term memory.
Children need to learn to read as quickly as reasonably possible, so they can move from learning to read, to reading to learn. Our expectations of progression are aspirational yet achievable by maintaining pace, practice and participation by all children. Children who are not keeping up with their peers are rapidly identified, and given additional practice immediately through keep-up sessions.
During the summer term in Year 1, children nationwide are tested on their phonic knowledge. It is designed to give teachers and parents information on how your child is progressing in phonics. It will help to identify whether your child needs additional support at this stage so that they do not fall behind in this vital early reading skill.
The test is very low-key and the children are not aware that they are being tested. Parents are informed as to whether their child has achieved the national expectation within the child’s end-of-year report. Additional tuition in phonics will be given to those children who have not met the expected standard, before they are tested again in Year 2.
We use Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised approach to reading to cover our reading requirements in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 as needed. Once our children have completed Phase 5 with Little Wandle, they begin whole-class Destination Reader sessions. Additionally, they complete a Star Reader Assessment on a termly basis which determines the pupils’ reading age and range, allowing children to engage with texts that are appropriately challenging for them and make accelerated progress in reading.
Destination Reader is used to deliver whole-class daily reading lessons from Year 2 (children who are secure in Phase 5) to Year 6. It is a reading initiative developed by the Hackney Learning Trust which aims to build firm foundations and develop thinking and understanding around texts. Not only does it promote a love and enjoyment of reading through a careful choice of quality texts, but also develops their comprehension through explicit teaching of the following reading strategies:
- Making Connections.
Through these lessons, we help children develop positive learning behaviours such as:
- Supporting and actively listening to others
- Discussing and explaining their ideas
- Taking responsibility for their/others’ learning.
All children are expected to read at home every day, including Saturdays and Sundays.
All children are given the opportunity to visit the school library at least once a week to read for pleasure and choose their Reading for Pleasure book to take home. Additionally, they will take home either a Little Wandle reading book or an Accelerated Reading book matched to their reading ability.
Children who are reading Accelerated Reader books return these once they have completed Accelerated Reader quizzes which assess their understanding and comprehension of the texts read.
All St Francis readers have access to a digital MyOn library where they can choose from thousand of books from a wide range of genres.
Teaching for Mastery in Mathematics
We are in the process of implementing a mastery approach to teaching mathematics across our school. We have restructured our mathematics curriculum and lessons proceed at a steadier pace to ensure that no child is left behind and that no child develops gaps in their subject knowledge. Children are taught through whole-class interactive teaching, where the focus is on all pupils working together on the same lesson content at the same time. Practice is intelligent, reinforcing pupils’ procedural fluency but also developing their conceptual understanding through a focus on the structure and connections of mathematics. If a pupil fails to grasp a concept or procedure, this is identified quickly and early (usually in-lesson) intervention is provided. Some children may need further support to access their year group’s objectives and this may include staff re-teaching objectives from previous years. However, no child is taught content from a year group above them. Instead, ‘rapid-graspers’ are challenged to think creatively about new concepts and to apply them in a range of contexts. All children are supported to develop automaticity with key facts through ‘maths meetings’ and regular quizzes; children are thus better able to focus on developing their understanding of new concepts during lesson-time.
This is a Roman Catholic School, and the religious education we deliver conforms to the doctrines of the Catholic Church. Religious education is provided within the timetable according to a syllabus authorised by the Diocese of Westminster called "Come and See". You can find out more about our RE curriculum here.
The School has an agreed policy for Education in Personal Relationships which contains arrangements for teaching Sex Education. Children's sex education is based on Christian principles and is related to the stage of their development as they move through the school. We always invite our Y6 parents to a meeting to discuss the approach we take and to share the resources we use for the delivery of the sex and relationships education we deliver in this year group.
Children make their First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion in Year 3. Because these are important stages in the life of the child, our aim is to work with Fr Hector to involve parents as fully as possible in this sacramental preparation to strengthen and develop links between Home, School and Parish.
Being so close to the centre of London, very few topics are taught without being brought to life by children going out and experiencing an aspect of the learning for themselves, or by us welcoming experts into school. Children regularly experience author workshops, meetings with professional sports-people, politicians, news reporters and drama performances bringing to life an element of learning.
To fulfil our mission statement, the school also offers an extensive range of after school clubs, academic booster sessions and many other enrichment activities.