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.
• FAITH: To give our children a Catholic faith that supports, gives meaning to life and guides them in today’s society. To ensure that our children understand and respect other faiths and cultures in our locality.
• FRIENDSHIP: To be a school that is a happy family where everyone works as a team and knows how to be a good friend. They value and take an interest in the wider community and the city in which they live.
• KINDNESS: To understand that being kind to others, themselves, being grateful and positive leads to true happiness. They appreciate and know the importance of the environment and how important it is that we look after it.
• COURAGE: A school where children have resilience, and high expectations; know the value of hard work and being healthy. They are positive and well-motivated individuals. They enjoy being challenged; learning new things and are not scared to fail. They will always try and be the best version of themselves (Being the Best Me!) and enjoy a brilliant life.
St Christopher’s school curriculum is built around the 2014 National Curriculum, and for Nursery and Reception, the new 2021 EYFS Statutory Framework. The curriculum has been planned and sequenced so that new knowledge and skills build on what has been taught before and towards clearly defined endpoints in each subject.
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.
These subjects are taught through a relevant, contextual and inspiring creative curriculum, RE, RSHE, UNISEF Rights respecting and Forest School enhance our curriculum further. Built into our curriculum are opportunities to go on visits or to have visits from people and organisations that enrich our curriculum. Our children also have further opportunities for enrichment by taking part in different sports, chess, music, drama, art and a Science class after school.
All school staff support and belief 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 and prayer 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.
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 and the work of CAFOD, the parish and the diocese.
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.
We try to make sure that our children receive at least two hours of PE a week. This includes opportunities to take part in dinnertime focused activities and games that allow children to practise the core skills.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic children we have introduced regular breaks after every lesson and shortened the dinner times by 15 minutes. This is based on research by the Nuffield Trust and feedback from our children. This ensures that they are regularly active and that their brains have time to digest information.
There are many after-school 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 2021-2023 and healthy eating and the Sainsbury’s Gold award for the delivery of PE in school.
We encourage the children to ray a variety of sports. We are taking our KS2 children to Graystoke Action Sports Park in Salford. Children spend the whole day trying new sports such as skateboarding, scootering and parkour. In the summer we take the children to Robinwood Outdoor Pursuits Centre and Debdale Outdoor Pursuits Centre in Hyde.
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 and EYFS 2021 Statutory Framework requirements. Continuity, sequence 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.
We are committed to developing the children's knowledge and skills in all subjects. Through close management of the curriculum we ensure that children are equipped to cope with the demands of the 2014 National Curriculum and the EYFS 2021 Statutory Framework requirements. 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 and maths. In the other subjects key knowledge and skills have been identified by the subject leaders and the teachers. The children have 5 knowledge questions they must be able to answer and are assessed on these at the end of a unit.
Reading is given prime importance in school and is skilfully delivered and carefully monitored . In Nursery and Reception, during the early stages, we use an approach called "concepts of print" which encourages the children to learn the skills required for early reading. We have invested in a new reading scheme called Reading Planet that directly complements the reading scheme. It uses phonetically decodable reading books that complement the phonics scheme, Rocket Phonics.
The reading scheme is closely monitored and children make excellent progress throughout school.The school library that is well stocked and provides a variety of reading titles and authors. Year 5 and Year 6 have their own libraries to encourage a higher level of reading. 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 using Phase 1 phonics that encourages the children to recognise sounds through the use of rhymes and songs. They are then introduced to segmenting and blending. The Reception class, Year 1 and Year 2 use our Rocket phonics scheme. 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.
Science: The school has achieved the Primary Science Quality Mark for its work in teaching Science. The 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.
History: Children are taught about different periods in history.and we have used the 2014 National Curriculum so that we know we are covering the correct areas. We give our children a secure knowledge of the historical timeline and key events and personalities. We teach the children important historical skills so they can learn from the past. We use trips and visitors to enhance the work they carry out in class. We have tried to use as much local history as is possible.
Geography: In key stage 1 children develop a knowledge of the world, United Kingdom and the locality of Ashton under Lyne. They learn about human and physical Geography. In key stage 2 extend their knowledge beyond the local area to include Europe and South America. As with all our subjects we try to enhance with visits or visitors.
Art and Design: Pupils use a range of materials creatively to design and make products from Nursery to Year 6. They learn about drawing, sculpture and painting techniques. They also learn about the great artists. Whenever we can we try and link the art topic with another area of the curriculum to enhance the children's learning.
Design Technology: Through a variety of creative and practical activities children are taught about the design process. They design, make and evaluate their products. When making their products they use a range of tools and materials. Wherever we can we try to link the design to another area of the curriculum to enhance the children's learning.
To get the absolute best for our children we employ specialist teachers for Computing, French and music. Under the leadership of our curriculum leaders they ensure that the knowledge and skills required in the 2014 curriculum is being taught to a high level.The school takes part in Local Authority initiatives such as playing with the Hale Orchestra or singing in the community choir
Music: All children are taught from Nursery about using their voices expressively and creatively by singing songs, chanting and rhyming. Nursery and Reception are encouraged to use percussion instruments to create tunes. Children in Year 1 and Year 2 use the glockenspiel to experiment, create and combine sounds. In Years 3 and 4 children are taught using samba drums to create musical compositions and perform as a group. Tn Year 5 and 6 children move onto brass instruments and more difficult musical composition.
Computing: In Nursery and Reception children are taught about programming simple devices and exploring how things work. Throughout KS1 and KS2 children are taught about internet safety. Children in KS1 are taught about algorithms and creating programs on digital devices. In Key Stage 2 children are taught about progressively more difficult algorithms and computer programs. Teacher's also use many other programmes and internet research to enhance their lessons.
French: We think it so important that children have access to a foreign language before they start High school. Children start in Year 3 by learning songs and rhymes. Gradually they start to say and understand phrases. In Year 4 they start to have short conversations saying some key vocab. In Year's 5 and 6 they should start holding simple conversations with at least four exchanges and writing some French words and sentences.
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.
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. Mrs Connery is our SEND Leader and ensures that children with SEND receive the correct support and are fully included in all lessons. Please click on our SEND section in "information."