The school’s direction stems from its Mission Statement: ‘Our Catholic Mission is to enable every child to have an active mind, a sense of empathy and compassion, aspiration and ambition so that they become what God calls them to be.’ At St Bernadette’s Primary School, we develop pupils to become inquisitive, imaginative individuals, ready for life in the 21st century.
Knowledge Based Curriculum
Our Curriculum rationale ensures that academic success, creativity and problem solving, responsibility and resilience are key elements that support the development of the whole child and promote a positive attitude to learning.
Firstly, we understand the difference between a knowledge-rich curriculum and a curriculum that has knowledge in it. Our knowledge based curriculum is ambitious and places powerful knowledge at its heart. The content is chosen and organised carefully to ensure that it is progressive in nature from the Early Years through to Year 6.
Learning builds upon learning; we understand that children gain new knowledge only by building upon what they already know. We are aiming for our children to ‘master’ the curriculum.
Maths is taught daily at St. Bernadette’s. Each lesson is taught in line with Curriculum objectives.
We have adopted a Mastery approach to our Maths teaching where teaching staff are well trained and have excellent subject knowledge. Maths is taught using the concrete-pictorial-abstract (CPA) approach, where children are introduced to mathematical concepts through manipulatives, which lead on to structured visual diagrams and eventually leading to generalised mathematical principles in the abstract phase. At each stage children are expected to reason about patterns and regularities they find. The curriculum supports mathematical vocabulary and retention of knowledge. Opportunities are consistently created to deepen the learning, space the learning and retrieval practice.
At St Bernadette’s School we believe that learning to read is one of the most important skills a child will achieve at our school and we aim to promote a love of reading as soon as our children enter the school. We provide a rich variety of high quality texts, both literature and non-fiction books.
We have the belief that every child can learn to read and we provide the strategies to make it happen. We have a clear and consistent, whole school approach to reading. It goes hand in hand with the English curriculum, with reading at the centre of each programme of study, enabling children to build knowledge and acquire new vocabulary. The vocabulary content for each unit is deliberately ambitious and has been planned with the purpose of addressing the ‘word gap’ for children who enter school with a limited vocabulary.
Reading is given a high status. Success is based on determination, very rigorous and sequential approach to: speaking & listening and teaching of reading through systemic phonics. We have a thorough, well-planned programme for teaching of phonics which give pupils the understanding of letter-sounds and the skills of blending and segmenting. This leads on to building comprehension skills.
At St Bernadette’s Primary School we aim to develop our children’s ability to produce well-structured detailed writing in which the meaning is made clear and which engages the interest of the reader. Attention is paid throughout the school to the formal structures of English, grammatical details, punctuation and spelling. The children are exposed to quality texts and teaches them to be able to talk these, before they are expected to write. Drama and other stimuli are used, where appropriate, to develop a love of writing. Curriculum leaders are clear on the “invaluable knowledge they want their pupils to know”. Long term plans are produced to ensure continuous sequencing and staff are very explicit with what needs to be taught. We use a semi cursive script for handwriting and expect high standards of presentation.
Our science curriculum secures the fundamentals of science in a logical manner to allow pupils to access a much higher level of subject knowledge towards the final stages of school. Pupils are exposed to a high level of science content, which will allow them with the ability to ask better questions of the world, make more informed decisions and apply their knowledge to unfamiliar situations. The pupils focus on retaining the basic knowledge through the continued use of the knowledge organisers.
We want our children to have a scientific understanding of the world and appreciate the impact they have on the environment.
In Geography we plan out how different topics will connect, not just across a key stage but between the topics themselves. Pupils are expected to know things and to apply this knowledge to different contexts. At St Bernadette’s School all children develop a good general knowledge of Walsall and the surrounding area, Britain and the other countries that make up their world. They will be able to use maps, compasses and ICT skills to allow them to better explore the world and its important features such as mountains, rivers and cities, instilling in them an appreciation of the world in which they live and their role in caring for it for it for future generations. We want our pupils to think what the world should be like in the future and how they can influence change.
Our history curriculum aims to help pupils to gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world. To help pupils to understand the methods of historical enquiry, including how evidence is used to make historical claims, and discern how and why contrasting arguments and interpretations of the past have been constructed. We aim to inspire pupils’ curiosity to know more about the past. To make sense of what has happened in the past pupils must be able to make connections. To be truly knowledge rich we must ensure what is taught sticks and is built upon.
We possess a variety of IT resources, including iPads and Laptops. All classrooms are also fitted with interactive whiteboards and have access to high speed broadband, which is protected by a series of strong filters that are designed to prevent access to inappropriate materials and websites. These digital resources readily allow teachers to demonstrate activities, across all subject areas, to the whole class and also harness the power of the web to support teaching. Alongside the IT infrastructure teachers also have access to a range of software and hardware that support the teaching of Computer Science. Examples of these include Purple Mash. These resources are key to providing children with the necessary skills to achieve the targets required under the National Curriculum.
Understanding how technology is used and operates is fast becoming a crucial aspect of life in the modern world and this has been reflected in changes made to IT in the National Curriculum. Consequently, children will now be working on tasks linked to Computing, multimedia and digital safety which will allow them to gain the fundamental understanding of digital literacy to allow them to fulfil their future potential.
Art and Design contributes to the development of the whole child, it provides all children with the opportunity to express themselves imaginatively and creatively. Through art they develop their understanding of, and respond to the world around them. Pupils across our school are exposed to art on a regular basis, creating visual and sensory experiences, using a variety of mediums and local artists to bring Art and Design to life. The school enables pupils to become involved in, enjoy and appreciate the visual art and learn the part that Art and Design plays in their own and others’ lives, in contemporary life and in different times and cultures.
Design and Technology
At St Bernadette’s pupils will use their imagination when designing and their technical knowledge when creating. They will use different skills to make their designs and think of ways to improve their own ideas, understanding the importance of design in the technology that they use every day.
At St Bernadette’s children will develop a love for language, learning through exploring a range of stories, songs, games and rhymes in French. They will learn to speak in simple sentences so that they are able to engage in basic conversations; ask and answer questions; express opinions and respond to those of others.