English at Notre Dame is given a high priority, being present in all areas of the curriculum. Speaking and listening, reading, writing, spelling and handwriting are all important elements of English.
We create an environment in which all aspects of language are enjoyed in their own right, and in which children gain a love of the world of literature and communication.
As reading is a very important aspect of the curriculum, great care is taken to see that proper development takes place. We have an individualised reading programme that matches each child to reading materials that meet his/her individual needs and rates of progress. We have a well-established Parent and Child Together (PACT) scheme to support the children’s reading from the early years. Reading sessions take place daily on an individual, paired, group or guided basis.
Additionally each half term, classes focus on their own set text as part of the ‘Power of Reading’ Scheme, enabling them to focus on the reading of whole texts whilst working on associated speaking and listening and writing activities. Each classroom has an extensive stock of books and an attractive reading area to encourage the children and to stimulate their interest in reading.
In the Early Years and Key Stage One, phonics teaching takes a high priority.
The teaching of phonics is based on the ‘Letters and Sounds’ program. From the second half of the Autumn Term children across the Key Stage are put into differentiated groups so they can work at a level and pace suitable for them.
We aspire to foster an environment that encourages development of language by providing a rich provision of opportunities to interact and communicate with each other, including drama sessions. We stress the values of listening and speaking skills, and plan for opportunities to develop these areas of the across the curriculum.
The development of writing skills is an important aspect of our work. It covers all forms of writing for different purposes; factual, creative and personal. We aim to achieve progressive competency and accuracy in spelling, punctuation and syntax, and the development of a legible style of handwriting.
To emphasis its importance, Mathematics like English, is taught on a daily basis at Notre Dame. It can be used to illustrate, to interpret and to explain. Above all, it can be a powerful means of communication.
We give children the knowledge, skills and attitudes to enable them to use mathematics in everyday life. The development of mental maths strategies are an integral part of Maths and children are encouraged to learn age appropriate number facts by heart and use these to problem solving. This includes learning multiplication facts (tables). An important and key feature of our mathematical teaching lies in its emphasis upon problem solving and investigational work. Teachers should develop pupils’ numeracy and mathematical reasoning in all subjects so that they understand and appreciate the importance of mathematics. Pupils should be taught to apply arithmetic fluently to problems, understand and use measures, make estimates and sense check their work.
Children are given the opportunity to develop a range of skills they can apply to other situations. All Science attainment targets are visited at least once every two years. This enables the children’s natural curiosities to develop into real scientific thinking. Children learn through investigation, research, asking questions and planning ways in which to find answers. In this way, they can build up a body of knowledge to support future scientific thinking.
As a Catholic School, religion is not just another subject in the curriculum but is a way of life. It permeates all our relationships, activities and every aspect of school life.
Our present scheme of work is ‘Come and See’ a scheme recommended by the Bishops’ Conference. It is rooted in three aspects: teaching, worship and moral values. We will use the liturgical year as a framework in which these elements will be taught, experienced, explored and celebrated.
Religious Education also happens through regular prayers, assemblies and Masses. The whole school meets regularly for assemblies or collective prayers. Rev. Jim Kirby acts as the school chaplain and celebrates Mass in school regularly throughout the year. The school celebrates Mass in the Parish Church on Holy Days of Obligation while the children are taught hymns and liturgical music which enhances all our worship. On occasions, during the term, KS2 classes attend the parish masses where they prepare the Liturgy. The children are also encouraged to attend Sunday Mass.
Underlying our teaching and our relationships are the Gospel Values of honesty and humility, justice and mercy. Our aim, within this context, is that all members of our community show respect and care for one another and extend their concern to the needy by prayer and charitable service. We also place a great emphasis on home/school/parish links.
Parents have a right to withdraw their child from all parts of the religious education and/or collective worship. However, given the importance of RE and Collective Worship in our school, parents and prospective parents need to be aware that it can never be confined to “timetabled slots” but may take place throughout the day in a variety of contexts other than those which are specifically structured.
Information and Communication Technology
The school has many mobile appliances such as cameras, laptops and iPads. The children are taught computer skills such as word processing and data handling. ICT is also embedded into many lessons, especially lessons that require research and enquiry based learning.
Children become familiar with, and proficient at, using computers. Each classroom has at least one computer and an interactive white board which is used as a tool for learning. Teaching of ICT skills can take place using iPads or laptops. The school has an extensive wireless network that allows for whole classes to access the internet, on mobile units, within their classrooms. The school also has “Espresso” which provides teachers and children with access to high quality digital information, including video resources. Every parent /pupil is required to sign the school’s ‘Acceptable Use of the Internet’ policy and agree to use technology in a reasonable and responsible way.
We endeavour to maintain a range of activities providing an environment, which will benefit the children’s physical, emotional and moral wellbeing. Notre Dame’s PE provision aims to embrace a range of games activities, gymnastics, dance, athletics, swimming and outdoor adventurous activities.
Children have the opportunity to develop individual skills such as co-ordination, balance and control. They plan, perform and evaluate their own and each other’s work. They develop an appreciation of the benefits of cooperation and teamwork and come to understand the advantages of healthy, safe exercise to their general physical wellbeing. We aim for at least two hour physical activity per class per week.
Swimming is offered at some stage in Key Stage 2. This varies depending on the availability of swimming sessions locally.
Music is developed across all age groups from Reception to year 6. The children are encouraged to compose, listen, discuss and perform with a variety of audiences in mind. They learn to appreciate music of different styles, cultures and times, and to use their voices and a range of instruments as expressive media.
We believe a love of music gained in childhood lasts a lifetime and that making music with others is a social, joyful and spiritual experience. We therefore, encourage children to understand, appreciate and create music but above all, to find enjoyment within this particular curriculum area. Whole school singing takes place regularly during assemblies and at ‘singing sessions’. Weekly we have Hymn Practice, where the children collectively perform some hymns that we use for our Masses.
Currently in KS2 children in Years 3, 4 and 5 receive specialist instrumental training. (Guitar, Flute and Clarinet)
Modern Foreign Languages
All children study French where they develop their speaking and listening skills as well as their ability to read and write French. They also carry out research into French culture and life.
Design & Technology (D&T)
D&T has a unique contribution to make to a balanced curriculum and is seen to be of a holistic nature. It is primarily concerned with generating ideas, making and doing. It provides opportunities for children to imagine, make decisions, create solutions and put them into practice. D&T enables children to use appropriate apparatus and equipment. We teach D&T largely through a cross curricular approach while teaching specific skills as and when necessary.
Art & Design
All children are encouraged to draw, paint and create three-dimensional work using a variety of media and stimuli. An appreciation of the work of famous artists in different periods of history, the exploration of the immediate environment and other cultures and development of their own expressive ideas is encouraged. Through art, we hope that pupils develop an aesthetic awareness.
The school has an Arts specialist Art teacher who comes into school each half- term to work with different children across the school.
Work is displayed in classrooms and areas around the schools.
Personal, Social and Health Education & Citizenship
This involves the development of healthy attitudes, aspects of safe living and the development of good social and personal relationships. We presently follow the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) programme to develop children’s emotional literacy and time is given over to Circle Time and Class Councils. Topics are supported at times by outside agencies such as drama groups and drug awareness groups.
Education in Personal Relationships
We believe in helping children to develop effective personal relationships, elements are taught throughout the age groups through our RE, PSHE and Science curricular. In Year 5 & 6, the children follow the ‘All that I Am’ programme as we believe that it is important that pupils are informed accurately about their physical and emotional development. This programme which does cover aspects of puberty is recommended by the Archdiocese of Southwark.
We link themes within humanities and also to core curriculum areas. In this way children gain a comprehensive knowledge of the different subjects and are able to put them into context and deepen their understanding of the world they live in.
Throughout Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 pupils are involved in investigating a variety of people, places and environments both locally, and further afield in the United Kingdom and also abroad. Geographical enquiry is undertaken inside and outside the classrooms and pupils are taught key skills such as; observing and recording, asking geographical questions, analysing evidence and drawing conclusions. Children are provided with opportunities to develop knowledge of globally significant places both terrestrial and marine, focussing of their characteristics through a range of topics.
Pupils learn about vocabulary specific to the subject, the use of globes, maps and plans at a range of scales, fieldwork techniques and instruments, and the use of a range of sources of information including aerial photographs, diagrams and GPS.
We use the 2014 curriculum to uniform our planning and include topical geographical issues which relate to how people affect the environment and how they are affected by it. Environmental change and sustainable development are areas of geographical study which are especially important for the future of all our pupils.
Like geography, history is taught within specific cross curricular themes with clearly identified learning objectives. Pupils learn about the lives and lifestyles of people in the past, including those of significant men, women and children as well as events from the recent and more distant past in our own area, further afield in Britain as well as across the wider world. Chronological understanding is central to an understanding of history and our expectation is that as pupils move into Key Stage 2 they will be expected to be able to place events, people and changes into correct periods of time as well as using dates and vocabulary appropriately and with accuracy. Acquiring appropriate knowledge and understanding about the periods and the people of the time, including their characteristic features, their social, cultural, religious and ethnic diversity and being able to give reasons for, and the results of, the main historical events and changes, enables pupils to learn not only how the past is different from the present but how and why historical developments have shaped the world and their lives.
Local visits and field trips provide excellent learning opportunities for the children in history and geography and enable them to apply their knowledge.