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 desions 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.
At St Francis we cover all seven areas of the Early Years curriculum through planned, purposeful play. Staff work together to plan a range of experiences or activities that children can play with and build their confidence exploring ideas, thinking about problems and relating to others. Sometimes children are learning by leading their own play and at others times by being led by an adult so we provide both child-led and adult-led experiences and activities.
We believe the characteristics of effective learning are:
- Playing and Exploring: Children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’
- Active Learning: Children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements
- Creating and Thinking Critically: Children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things
In early years the learning concentrates on 7 areas split between prime and specific areas of learning.
The prime areas of learning are:
communication and language
personal, social and emotional development
The specific areas of learning are:
understanding the world
expressive arts and design
The Nursery is organised into areas such as a maths area, designing and making workshop and a role-play area with all relevant equipment to hand. Before the beginning of each session, activities are set up according to the needs and interests of the children and based on the goals (expectations of achievement by the end of Reception). Some activities are taught by Nursery staff as part of a curriculum focus, whereas others enable the children to initiate their own ideas and follow their own interests. Equal emphasis is given to outdoor play at all times – even in adverse weather – and this is planned to develop language, maths, science and creative skills, as well as the more obvious personal, social and physical ones.
During sessions, staff observe the children and record their interests and progress. These observations are fed into our weekly planning in order to ensure that the individual needs of all the children are met. Much of the work the children do has no end product. At this stage, the process of the activity is all important, learning new skills and developing skills already learnt, e.g. moulding and manipulating playdough to develop the fine motor skills essential for pencil control, playing with sand and water to learn about capacity.
As in the Nursery, activities are planned to cover the six curriculum areas and to enable the children to achieve the goals. Each classroom is organised into specific areas with relevant resources and equipment. The outdoor area is also used throughout the day in the same way as Nursery.
Children start Reception at the beginning of the Autumn or Spring term, depending on birth date. An important part of our work at this stage is settling the children to new routines and a new environment. This is time consuming, but vital to ensure future success in learning. For part of the day, the children will participate in activities with a specific focus, led by the teacher or other adult. These activities are differentiated for individuals or small groups, taking in to account the stage of the children’s development. At other times, the children participate in activities which they initiate themselves, with adult support where this is appropriate.
Again, these activities are based on play, which is the main medium for learning in the Foundation Stage. Much of what the children do is of a practical nature. As in the Nursery, the processes of learning are vitally important in the Reception year, although the children will be recording more and more as the year progresses, in a variety of different ways, e.g. through drawing, painting and writing. Teachers plan independent and guided learning activities from ‘Development Matters’ and constantly adapt these to meet the needs of the children.
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
In early years we use Letters and Sounds as our preferred scheme for the delivery of phonics. The teaching of phonics begins in Reception, where sounds are introduced at a rate of one a day throughout the autumn and spring term. Sounds are consolidated in the summer term. This knowledge is built upon in Year 1; more complex sounds are introduced and reinforced throughout Year 2. Should children need additional phonics support, we use Read, Write, Inc as a form of intervention. All children are streamed to ensure that the correct resources and teaching expertise are available to them and so that they are able to learn at an appropriate pace.
During the summer term in Year 1, children nationwide are tested on their phonic knowledge. This test helps us to identify children who have gaps in their phonic knowledge and may need support in Year 2 to develop reading and writing skills. 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 did not achieve a pass during Year 2 and they will be tested again in the summer term.
We use a variety of reading programmes to cover our reading requirements, including Oxford Reading Tree, Daily Supported Reading and Destination Reader, as well as PM Benchmarking to support our assessment and needs analysis.
Daily Supported Reading
In Years 1 and 2, we use Daily Supported Reading to structure our reading lessons. This is a quality first teaching programme developed by the Hackney Learning Trust, which ensures sustained, independent reading opportunities, as well as improving children’s application of phonics and supporting reading at Greater Depth. Over the course of the year, children have the opportunity to read over 70 different texts and are heard read by an adult every day. Children are PM Benchmarked at the beginning of the programme to ensure that they start at the correct book band and are then re-assessed each term to monitor the progress they are making.
In Key Stage 2, we have introduced Destination Reader, a reading initiative also developed by the Hackney Learning Trust, to teach daily reading lessons. Destination Reader aims to build firm foundations and develop thinking and understanding around texts. Not only does it promote a love and enjoyment of reading, but also increases reading stamina in children through a talk based structure. Every class from Years 3 – 5 have a 45 minute reading lesson, in which 3 learning behaviours are drawn upon:
Support and actively listen to others
Discuss and explain our ideas
Take responsibility for our/others learning
In using these 3 learning behaviours, children are then taught 7 key strategies that are used by good readers:
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.