Information on St Christopher's Curriculum Design
Teachers at St Christopher’s school ensure that we have the highest expectations for our children which lead to the highest possible standards. We have four core values: faith, friendship, courage and kindness and these underpin our mission statement and vision. They also determine the ethos and culture in our school.
All school staff support and believe in Carol Dwek’s growth mindset theory: that every child can achieve. We believe that ability can be developed in all children if they are taught and challenged in the right way. We have a commitment to academic excellence, opportunity, setting children up to succeed and for all of them to experience doing well. Running alongside this, and of equal importance, is a drive to provide a full range of childhood experiences. In essence to make sure each child reaches their true potential.
We work hard to develop a child’s inner core. We believe that what’s on the inside – someone’s character, drive, resilience, and the ability to stick to a goal – is just as important as their academic achievements. We teach children that failure is good, makes you stronger and that they must run their own race in life and not compare themselves with others.
The children’s mental health is at the core of our curriculum. Currently we use a resource called, SUMO. This stands for “Stop, Understand and Move On.” It teaches our children about positivity, resilience and that hard work brings rewards. It gives them techniques to cope with challenges that life throws at them. It teaches them that if children change their attitude and thinking they can unlock their true potential.
We also give our children a spiritual education through teaching the children about the importance of stopping and appreciating silence in their lives. Meditation (Five to Zen) is a regular feature in school life and gives children the chance to switch off and connect.
Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural (SMSC) and British Values
St Christopher’s SMSC curriculum and British Values curriculum are partly delivered through Catholic Social Teaching, which includes Caritas and Cafod Universal Church units. Caritas in Action is a local Manchester charity that provides support to the most vulnerable children, families and older people to live more fulfilled and happy lives. Our school takes part in its initiatives and the children learn at first-hand about social issues through this programme. Children are encouraged to think about the less fortunate and about how justice, the law and democracy in our society effects other people’s lives.
The Cafod Universal Church units teach the children about the principles of Catholic Social Teaching. The topics embed a global dimension across the whole school curriculum. They give our children a chance to learn about global justice.
Our teachers also use a resource called “Picture news” to deliver discussions based on these subjects. Assemblies provide information on equality, current affairs and cultural issues. Children are encouraged to think about and debate wider current issues that affect them.
In religion we follow the curriculum advised by Salford Diocese which is called “Come and See.” This scheme fits in with our vision on Catholic education to give children a faith that supports and guides them in today’s society. Our religious curriculum is innovative, of the highest quality and relevant to our children. Children are taught about other religions and cultures, particularly in our local area, so they have an understanding and respect for them.
Raising Environmental Awareness
We teach the children about climate change and the effect it is having on our world and the reduction in the earth’s resources. We do this through initiatives such as Forest School, eco lodge, the work of CAFOD, the parish and the diocese. We will be using Wardley Hall and the Laudato Si Centre to educate our children further.
We teach our children that we can work together to build, repair and heal our planet. Children see at first hand that small acts can make a huge difference: walking to school initiative, school council and their work on recycling; turning the heat down in school and wearing jumpers; using less water and switching off lights.
Fitness and Nutrition
We have planned a challenging and well-sequenced PE curriculum. There are lots of opportunities throughout the day for the children to take part in high quality PE lessons and physical exercise. In addition to PE lessons children learn about the body in Science and healthy eating and cooking in DT.
In addition to two hours of PE a week children also get the opportunity to take part in dinnertime focused activities provided by Peak Active Sport, and KS2 also take part in a fifteen minute fitness session every afternoon.
There are many afterschool clubs that provide a variety of sports for the children to take part in. Competitive sport is encouraged and the school participates in many different competitions in the local area. The school has also achieved two awards: “Food 4 Life” NHS Award for nutrition and healthy eating and the Sainsbury’s Gold award for the delivery of PE in school.
English, Mathematics and Science
St Christopher’s curriculum provides the children with subject specific vocab and knowledge and ensures that the learner’s essential skills are being developed alongside National Curriculum requirements. Continuity and progression in the curriculum are built around essential knowledge, understanding and key skills within subject disciplines. These are broken into year group expectations and have additional challenges for able learners.
The curriculum over challenges the children so they have 100 per cent belief in their own abilities. We prepare them with the skills and knowledge that will drive them through secondary school. Our aim is that the children are in the best possible position when they start high school and they have the skills and knowledge to maintain their progress throughout.
We are committed to developing the children's knowledge and skills in English and mathematics. Through close management of the curriculum we ensure that children are equipped to cope with the demands of the 2014 National Curriculum. We do not have one scheme to support our teaching but use many resources to ensure variety and progression.
The children are able to make year on year progress through a well-sequenced and well-constructed curriculum. Continuity and progression in the curriculum are built around a set of non-negotiable skills in English reading, writing, maths and Science.
Reading is given prime importance in school. We have invested in a school library that is well stocked and provides a variety of reading titles and authors. The reading scheme is closely monitored and children make excellent progress throughout school. We ensure that reading for pleasure is encouraged from an early age and employ many different initiatives. Reluctant readers in Key Stage 1 and 2 are identified and TA’s are deployed to support with daily reading groups.
Phonics is taught from nursery and then reading, comprehension, spelling, handwriting and grammar are all taught discretely from Reception upwards. Spelling, arithmetic and time-tables are taught daily in every class and assessed each week. Certain concepts and areas are repeated so that knowledge is fully embedded in a child’s long term memory.
We also operate interventions based on educational research. We produce tailored interventions that focus directly on those areas in which the children need to understand and develop, to make an impact on their learning. The intervention groups are deliberately small to ensure the maximum impact and taught by specially trained teaching assistants.
In Science children master investigative and practical skills that underpin the development of scientific knowledge. Pupils are involved in fully planning, carrying out and evaluating investigations. Where possible teachers encourage good maths and extended writing skills in their science work.
Our foundation subjects: Humanities, art and design are taught using the “Challenge Curriculum.” This is built around the principle of greater learner involvement in their work. It requires deep thinking and encourages learners to use an open-ended question as a starting point.
The topics have been selected carefully to encourage the children’s interests and reflect the locality of Ashton, Manchester and the North West. For instance, we live in a large urban city and try to make use of all the available facilities to give the children a pride in their home city of Manchester: visiting the art gallery, the Hale orchestra, Science Museum and many other venues.
Broadening a Child’s Experience
Not everything is taught in a classroom at St Christopher’s. Enrichment opportunities are at the very heart of our curriculum and each half term we are committed that every child has a workshop, trip or unique experience. School trips and workshops are curriculum driven so that the children gain in knowledge through this experience. If appropriate the trip or workshop is at the beginning of term so that the children have been given a hook into their topic. As a further incentive children are given the new topic as a theme over the half term holidays to prepare them.
We have a Forest School which connects our children to nature and the great outdoors. It gives the children the opportunity to act successfully in a variety of challenging situations and so increase their self-confidence and self-efficacy.
It impacts on the children’s attitudes, beliefs and self-perceptions including independence, confidence, self-esteem and coping strategies. The Forest school lessons also provide them with interpersonal and social skills, such as communication and teamwork skills. It also gives them an insight into how important it is to look after the environment.
ICT, French and music are taught by specialist teachers who ensure that the knowledge and skills required in the 2014 curriculum are being taught. Every child has the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and after school clubs provide a further opportunity. The school takes part in Local Authority initiatives such as playing with the Hale Orchestra or singing in the community choir.
The school has after school clubs every night that cover a wide variety of activities: chess, science, various dancing workshops, dodge ball, brass, drumming, multi-sports, football and netball.
The system is built on responsibility not accountability. Regular half termly testing of learners puts the onus on the children to study and get better. Teachers assess the children’s learning, evaluating what knowledge and skills the children have gained against expectations. This clearly indicates any gaps children may have and steps are put in place. Alongside this are further senior management checks on progress to validate all judgements on children and to intervene if progress is not being made.
The ensure the basics are being understood weekly spelling, arithmetic and tables tests are given and the scores recorded. Gaps are identified and children are responsible for improving their scores in these key areas.
The SEND team identifies any areas of learning difficulty and appropriate and timely support is given. A senior member of staff ensures that programmes are in place so that children can catch –up with their peers.