Our School

Belong…Believe…Become

At St. Michael’s School, we believe that everyone is created by God in his image. We are all exactly as God intended us to be and, as we grow in God’ love and the love of others, we learn to develop our relationships, our talents and our skills. Education in St, Michael’s is about the whole child; we offer a range of experiences for all children to enjoy during their time in our school, enabling them to good citizens as they move into secondary school.

The journey of education through St. Michael’s Catholic Primary School is rooted in the Catholic faith; Jesus is the centre of all that we do and this is fundamental in our ethos and aims for the whole school community.

Our children will journey through St. Michael’s as kind, courageous and curious citizens, with their passion for learning ignited and their self-belief and well-being nurtured. Every child will have the chance to shine and will leave us prepared for a future of possibilities.  As Christians, they will know that their actions impact on others and that it is their social responsibility to care for the world we live in.

At St. Michael’s Primary School we believe that our curriculum is one that is broad and balanced and is ambitious for all. It is exciting, relevant and meaningful, responding to the needs of the individuals within our learning community, enabling them to shine academically and flourish spiritually, socially, emotionally, morally and culturally.  

At St. Michael’s, we believe that our curriculum should be seen in its widest sense – as the entire planned learning experience, including formal learning opportunities as well as events, routines and enrichment activities that takes place both inside and outside the classroom.

Our curriculum at St. Michael’s is designed to allow each one of our learners to:

  • achieve the best possible academic standards, whatever their ability
  • build on prior knowledge and skills to develop a deeper understanding of all curriculum areas
  • develop skills and personal qualities for lifelong learning, preparing children to make an active contribution to society
  • explore real world experiences, so that children can see the relevance their learning has in the real world
  • become mentally and emotionally happy and resilient citizens, ready for the challenges of the 21st Century.

We have designed our curriculum with the following in mind:

  • How children learn and remember – we recognise that progress means knowing more and remembering more and so we want our children to know more and remember more as a result of their time with us at St. Michael’s
  • What our children need to succeed in life – we want our learners to have the ‘cultural capital’ they need to make aspirational choices and experience success beyond their time at St. Michael’s Primary School.

Our bespoke curriculum at St. Michael’s, underpinned by current research, has been designed to take account of the statutory requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum and the Primary National Curriculum. (These have been used as the basis for the content and the expectations of our own curriculum). Our curriculum does also incorporate other experiences and opportunities which best meet the needs of the children in our school.

The full range of core and foundation subjects have been carefully mapped out across school in clear progression frameworks, so that knowledge, understanding, skills and concepts build over time. As a result of this, we hope that all children leave St. Michael’s having mastered a wide range of concepts and skills and gained the knowledge that gives them a love of learning, prepares them for their next steps and develops an understanding of the world in which they live.

As part of our carefully mapped out curriculum, we also ensure we provide all children with opportunities for experiential learning, through things such as residential visits, field trips and a range of extra-curricular activities.

Our Curriculum Implementation:

1.         We have adopted a thematic approach to our curriculum and base each unit around a high quality text, ensuring that reading is a fundamental part of each area of the curriculum.  We use a Big Question approach as a focus for each unit, with smaller questions being used as drivers to each lesson.  Each unit is driven by either History, Geography or Science, with other foundation subjects being woven into the units as appropriate.  This gives a context to learning and can create meaningful links across subjects, allowing for better retention of information. To prevent the creation of tenuous links however, discrete subjects are taught where necessary. RE is taught following the Come and See scheme of learning, in line with Diocesan guidance. Maths follows the White Rose Maths Hub planning sequence.

2.         To engage the children in their learning experiences, every unit begins with a “hook” activity; classroom displays reflects the theme and can act as a further tool to embed knowledge and increase retention. The learning environment is not only used as a tool for engagement, but also to support and deepen the learning experiences taking place in the classroom.

3.         Through the theme, all children engage in a memorable experience to enhance their learning, and further develop their knowledge and understanding. This could be for example, a visit to a place, a visitor into school or a practical activity or experience led by school staff. As our curriculum develops, we will also be looking at how units can end with a celebration event, showcasing learning to family members or other classes.

4.         Taking into account the context of our school was fundamental in designing the curriculum and we have sought to make use of the local area, creating a bespoke curriculum in which learning is meaningful.  For example, the coast and local rivers make up part of the geography curriculum; local Roman forts are included in the history curriculum.  We also seek to use local festivals, such as Houghton Feast, as part of the leaning journey.

5.         Quality texts are integral to our curriculum approach, as we recognise that fluency in reading enables children to have access to the full curriculum entitlement. We believe it is our role to ensure children leave us being able to articulate themselves clearly, and read and write confidently and effectively. A quality text is chosen each half term to drive learning in English and in the foundation subjects.  Once again, linking up learning in this way allows for full immersion in a topic and better retention of information.

6.         Strong learning behaviours are essential in order for children to be equipped to be successful in life. We have created a culture in school of children as ‘St. Michael’s Learners’ and our five key learning behaviours thread through every learning experience in school. Children regularly reflect on how these learning behaviours enable them to be successful learners.

7.         Central to all of the above, and to our curriculum design, is an expectation of well thought out quality first teaching and learning, delivered by all. Teaching staff use our curriculum progression document and planning format to ensure that learning is sequenced so that children build knowledge and skills over time – both building skills and knowledge within the year group curriculum, but also building on, and making connections with, prior knowledge from other years in school. Staff identify the ‘sticky knowledge’ that they want the children to learn during the course of the theme and then ensure there are plenty of opportunities for the children to practice and apply this knowledge in a range of different contexts, so that they achieve deep, long term learning.

As a school staff we are currently developing our understanding of the evidence from cognitive science as to how children learn best and how learning ‘sticks’ in long term memory, and we are exploring how interleaving and longitudinal learning may further complement our current curriculum model.

Continuing Professional Development for all staff is a priority to ensure they have the skills and knowledge necessary to deliver the highest standards across the entire curriculum. Subject leaders have the necessary expertise to play a pivotal role in both the design and delivery of their subject area; ensuring a clear progression of both skills and knowledge across all year groups, underpinned by a robust assessment system. They can confidently articulate how learning is revisited and developed year on year, to ensure a real depth of learning across the school.

At St. Michael’s, we have high expectations for the quality of teaching across school. We ensure that continued improvement is the focus of our monitoring schedule by focusing on how staff can share good practice between each other, what areas for improvement they have and what high quality CPD can be provided to support their improvement.

The Impact of our Curriculum:

As a result of our well planned and implemented curriculum, we would expect the impact to be that:

•          our children show a good understanding of their faith and embody key characteristics, such as kindness, compassion, empathy and courage

•          our children demonstrate a passion and thirst for learning

•          our children achieve well – all making good progress from their starting points and achieving at least the expected standard across the entire curriculum by the end of Key Stage 2. They will have the knowledge, skills, understanding and vocabulary that empowers them as citizens in the 21st Century

•          our children have access to a wide and varied curriculum, enabling each of them to excel as individuals and be the best they can be

•          our children have high aspirations for the future and know that these can be realised with hard work and determination

•          our children are mentally and emotionally happy and resilient learners

•          our families work in partnership with us to ensure their child’s journey at St. Michael’s is a positive one and prepares them to contribute positively to the world in which they live.