- Our Curriculum
We have the highest aspirations for our children and have a relentless and expert focus on improving the quality of teaching and raising pupils’ level of achievement. We are committed to meeting the academic, social and emotional needs of all children, whatever their starting points as they progress through the school. Our aim is for pupils to have the knowledge and skills to be successful, independent and motivated learners in readiness for their next stage of education.
We have developed our own topic based curriculum that enables children to learn in context. They are inspired to learn through exciting, meaningful cross-curricular learning opportunities.
Each unit of work starts with an immersion activity that is designed to capture children’s imagination about the learning ahead. Regular trips and outings, immersive topic days, visits from experts and members of the local community further enhance the learning experience. Specialist Art, Music and PE teachers are employed at Heber to ensure the highest quality of teaching is taking place across the curriculum. These teachers plan lessons and projects that are linked, where possible to the topic in order to broaden children’s knowledge, skills and attitudes. Making meaningful links to Literacy and providing regular writing opportunities through the topic ensures that children’s reading and writing skills are continually developed throughout the school day.
- Curriculum Overview
The national curriculum for mathematics aims to ensure that all pupils:
- Become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics through varied and frequent practice with increasingly complex problems over time. They should develop conceptual understanding and the ability to recall and apply knowledge rapidly and accurately.
- Reason mathematically by following a line of enquiry, conjecturing relationships and generalisations, and developing an argument, justification or proof using mathematical language.
- Can solve problems by applying their mathematics to a variety of routine and non-routine problems with increasing sophistication, including breaking down problems into a series of simpler steps and persevering in seeking solutions.
The main areas in the programme of study for mathematics are called domains. These are number (including ratio and proportion and algebra), measurement, geometry and statistics. Each area is divided into subdomains. The way that the curriculum is organised varies across the primary age range – every year group has a unique combination of domains and subdomains.
There is a termly plan for each year group from Year 1 to Year 6. Each term is split into twelve weeks. As part of each overview, a significant amount of time is devoted to developing key number concepts each year. This ensures students build their fluency as number sense will affect their success in other areas of mathematics. Students who are successful with number are much more confident mathematicians.
At Heber we recognise the importance of establishing a secure foundation in mental calculation and recall of number facts before standard written methods are introduced. In order to support our teaching of the ‘challenge curriculum,’ we have implemented the CPA approach (concrete-pictorial-abstract).
- Each skill or concept is first modelled with concrete materials (e.g. chips, unifix cubes, base ten blocks, beans and bean sticks, pattern blocks).
- The maths concept or skill is next modelled at the representational level which involves drawing pictures that represent the concrete objects previously used (e.g. tallies, dots, circles, stamps that imprint pictures for counting)
- The math concept/skill is finally modelled at the abstract level (using only numbers and mathematical symbols).
Lessons have a flexible approach to ensure the pitch and pace suits the children. Teachers use their own judgement in how to approach teaching a concept and will incorporate group, paired or individual work as appropriate.
Challenge curriculum: Bronze, Silver and Gold:
During each lesson, pupils choose their level of challenge (bronze, silver, gold), with guidance where necessary. Their choice of challenge may vary from day-to-day and topic-to-topic. This allows them to have autonomy over their learning but also be supported in developing their understanding of Problem Solving, Reasoning and Fluency in a broad range of contexts in which they can explore, enjoy, learn, practise and talk about their developing understanding.
The expectation is that the majority of pupils will move through the domains at broadly the same pace. However, decisions about when to progress will always be based on the security of pupils’ understanding and their readiness to progress to the next stage. Pupils who grasp concepts rapidly will be challenged through being offered rich and sophisticated problems before any acceleration through new content. They are provided with opportunities to practise and extend their skills in these areas and to gain confidence and competence in their use. Those who are not sufficiently fluent with earlier material will consolidate their understanding, including additional practice if needed, before moving on.
Mathematics is taught mainly as a separate subject but every effort is made to link maths with other areas of the curriculum. We try and identify the mathematical possibilities across the curriculum at the planning stage. We also draw children’s attention to the links between maths and other curricular work so children see that maths is not an isolated subject.
‘At Heber, your child is able to benefit from the online maths learning program, Mathletics. Mathletics is a powerful learning resource which, when used regularly*, has a significant impact on every child’s progress and attainment. Your child has access to Mathletics at home and school through a unique username and password which is given to them by their class teacher. The class teacher can set activities to support home learning that your child can complete online using a computer or tablet. These activities are directly linked to the maths learning in class. Once tasks are completed, pupils are also able to choose their own learning path, either through mental arithmetic or curriculum linked activities.
Parents and carers can sign up for a parent account at: www.mathletics.co.uk/parents. This will allow you to receive weekly progress reports about your child’s use of Mathletics and see where they are spending their time, their strengths and areas to work on.
(*Regular use is defined as students completing 3 or more curriculum activities per week which can equate to as little as 20 minutes. It is recommended that 5 minutes is spent on ‘Mathletics live’ for their mental maths skills and then 15 minutes on curriculum activities)’
The teaching of English incorporates Speaking and Listening, Writing and Reading. At Heber we use the Power of Reading Project and The Literacy Tree which both emphasise the importance of high quality texts. The use of high quality Reading Material provides motivation and excitement and hence learning
Speaking and Listening
Speaking & listening is not taught explicitly; it permeates every element of school life. A key strength of our curriculum is in the time dedicated across the school to the use of drama to support writing. Children are given the opportunity to rehearse and practice their ideas before committing them to paper. This is a particularly successful strategy for reluctant writers.
Debate also plays an important part in the development of children’s Speaking & Listening skills. Debating is also crucial to the development of children’s critical thinking skills.
Children have the opportunity to participate in debates throughout their school life during whole class teaching – these debates are linked to the class text and topics.
In Year 6, children are given the opportunity to participate in ‘Debate Mate’. The classes are each assigned a Debate Mate mentor, who leads weekly sessions with them. Recently, Heber has taken part in local competitions as part of the Urban Debate League. The programme culminates in a one-day regional competition at a prestigious university to compete for the coveted ‘Debate Mate Cup’.
In 2015 Heber took part in two competitions. We competed in the final of the National knock out competition (held at The Oxford Union) and also reached the Final of the London competition. Heber was the only school in the country to reach both finals.
Teachers plan rich and varied writing tasks that where possible relate to the topic being studied at the time. Our teaching of writing offers-
- Quality children’s literature by significant authors.
- Engaging starting points and immersion through experiential learning with a clear sense of audience and purpose.
Grammar, Spelling and Reading objectives are embedded throughout, with some opportunities for Phonics, all leading to well constructed pieces of work.
Phonics & Reading
At Heber we are passionate about Reading and want to make sure that all our children develop a love of Reading and that every child leaves us as a critical reader. We use the ‘Power of Reading’ project as a basis to promote both Reading and the production of high quality written work.
Central to our approach is the teaching of systematic phonics using ‘Letters and Sounds’. Daily, discrete high quality teaching alongside effective assessment and tracking helps to ensure that children meet the ambitious reading targets that are set for them.
All of our classrooms feature bright, stimulating and inviting book corners for children to sit and read in and we regularly invest in high quality texts for the children. In our book corners you will often find children’s recommendations and reviews of their favourite books. By the time children leave us in year 6 they have read many books by a wide range of significant authors
Guided reading takes place every day. Children are asked to read high quality texts and show their understanding through drama, extended writing and reader’s theatre. We also ensure that throughout their time at school children regularly hear adults reading aloud.
Our reading curriculum is primarily delivered in two ways, through:
- ‘Guided Reading’
- Reading-focused lessons
During these sessions, children are taught the key skills of: retrieval; inference; structure; language choice; purpose/viewpoint and context.
At every stage of a child’s life, reading should be pleasurable and we believe that time should be devoted at school and home to ‘reading for pleasure’. Children have the opportunity to read books of their own choice, which they take home, read and discuss. This is key to the development and enjoyment of reading.
Learning is planned in a cross curricular way and we routinely use books as our starting point for a topic. Using a high quality text as a basis for learning really engages the children and helps to develop quality writing as well as stimulating learning in other areas of the curriculum.
Where possible, links to spelling patterns are made through whole class English teaching and Guided Reading sessions. However, this is not always possible. In KS1, spelling is mainly taught through the phonics sessions. In KS2, children have an explicit spelling lesson once a week to ensure that all of the spelling patterns and KS2 word lists are covered.
- Extra-Curricular Activities
We run school journeys in Years 5 and 6. School journey in Year 6 is free to both children in receipt of the pupil premium and children with a statement of SEN.
A variety of after school clubs are available Tuesday – Thursday. Subjects vary but tend to focus on sport, art and music. Current clubs that are running can be found on our on our After School Clubs page.
We are involved in a range of after school sports competitions including tag rugby, football and netball.
We provide a wide range of extra curricular activities in our lunchtime clubs, such as: pen-pal letter writing, choir, mindfulness, speed stacking…
- Educational Visits
We aim to provide engaging and enjoyable learning opportunities that enrich the curriculum within the context of London’s history.
Educational visits are a feature of school life. We regularly use the Globe Theatre, The Wetlands Centre, Science Museum, Dulwich Picture Gallery, Royal Festival Hall and Southwark Cathedral.
- Foundation Stage
In both Nursery and Reception we follow the Early Years Foundation stage Curriculum. This is divided into six areas of learning:
- Personal, social and emotional development (PSED)
- Communication, language and literacy
- Mathematical development
- Knowledge and understanding of the world
- Physical development
- Creative development
Every child in the Foundation Stage has a Key Worker who takes responsibility for tracking children’s progress across the six areas of learning. Your child’s Key Worker will be your first point of contact in the school.
Children in the Foundation Stage have access all areas of the curriculum simultaneously throughout the day. They can learn both in the classroom and in their own outdoor areas.
We provide a stimulating environment in which they can discover and learn about the world around them via their own exploration. There are also adult-led group activities and whole-class carpet times.
An important part of our approach towards the development of reading and writing is the use of a phonics scheme. This is introduced in Nursery so that by the time our children move into Reception they are familiar with sounds and already beginning to use them in their reading and writing.
PSED is a key area of the Foundation Stage curriculum. We aim to ensure that the children feel secure and valued so that they can develop confidence in themselves and form secure, constructive relationships with others.
We also encourage the children to make independent informed choices in both their actions, and their learning.
The Nursery and Reception curriculum is further enhanced through visits, trips and workshops. We welcome parental contributions too and have had several parents share their skills (art, music, gardening etc) with the class.