The Governing Body ensures that the emphasis throughout the school meets the requirements of the National Curriculum
and that children work with purpose, understanding and enjoyment. The children’s achievements are valued at all times and there are high expectations of them both academically and socially. Consideration is also given to their varying starting points and children are encouraged to work to the best of their ability in a supportive environment.
We use a variety of cross-curricular themes for the delivery of the key skills within the Foundation Stage and National Curriculum, thus ensuring progression throughout. In line with national guidelines, we aim to provide a good grounding in the core subjects of English, Maths and Science. We enhance the curriculum with outside visits, theme weeks and enriching activities such as different speakers in assembly.
All children have equal access to the full curriculum, which is free from bias or discrimination. We have a detailed Equality Duty Policy and ensure that opportunities to explore multicultural issues are in place. No charges are made for materials or excursions in school time which are part of the curriculum. Parents may be asked to make a voluntary contribution towards the cost of items or trips, as without them these activities could not take place, but no child is ever excluded from an activity or treated differently because of their parents’ ability to contribute.
The learning of English at Writtle Infant School develops strong foundations that enable our children to listen, speak, read and write confidently throughout their school career and on into adult life. English is taught, of course, as a core curriculum subject. However, the key skills of speaking and listening, reading and writing are practised and extended throughout the day in a wide range of cross curricular contexts. Since children enter school with differing levels of linguistic skill and experience, there is a commitment to personalising each child’s learning so that their ability to use English confidently and flexibly is steadily developed throughout their infant years.
We follow the Letters and Sounds Phonics Programme and children are taught both as a whole class and as smaller groups. Phonics is taught daily. Support is given for children working below national expectations and extension activities provided for higher ability groups when this is appropriate. We use a variety of resources when delivering the Letters and Sounds Phonics Programme. ‘Phonics Bug,’ Phonics Play’ and ‘Espresso’ are just some of the online resources that makes each learning session, interactive and fun.
In Foundation Stage a wide range of activities supports the teaching and learning of mathematics, including stories, songs, rhymes, imaginative play, board games and outdoor play. Towards the end of the year the lesson structure will prepare pupils for Year 1. Maths lessons are tailored to meet the needs of the children who arrive from various settings (e.g. nursery, playgroup etc.) and will therefore have had different learning experiences.
In Years 1 and 2, practical mathematical activities are introduced to the children via concrete experiences and at all levels abstract work is reinforced through practical activities. We encourage children to select and use appropriate equipment as much as possible. All children are encouraged to develop mental methods of calculation, recall of number facts and mental imagery. Oral maths work is a major aspect of all activities, including discussion with peers, describing and explaining, clarifying ideas, predicting and reporting outcomes and asking questions, all of which fosters the development of mathematical language.
In Science lessons, our children have the opportunity to:
- build foundations for understanding the world;
- experience and observe phenomena, looking more closely at the natural and man-made world around them;
- recognise the power of rational explanation and develop a sense of excitement and curiosity;
- understand how key knowledge and concepts can be used to explain what is occurring, predict how things will behave and analyse causes.
We aim to consolidate this understanding by demonstrating the application of Science in society and the economy. Methods of teaching might include: whole-class teaching; enquiry-based research; asking and answering science questions; using a variety of data such as graphs, pictures and photographs; drama; discussions; collecting and presenting data; problem solving and researching scientific problems or current issues.
ICT is a vital resource for the children and staff at our school. All classrooms have Apple TVs and access to ipads and laptops which enable teaching and access to the Internet (filtered for suitable material by the local authority). The children also have access to other digital resources e.g. cameras. Children are taught the necessary skills which enable them to practise and consolidate in other areas of the curriculum.
As well as developing self-esteem, positive relationships and good behaviour, in PSHE we also teach the importance of staying healthy and keeping ourselves and others safe. Two children are chosen from each class to join the School Council for a year. These children meet with the Headteacher and PSHE coordinator approximately twice a term to discuss matters which will benefit the whole school community. The School Council also forms, together with students from the Junior School and Hylands School, part of the Junior Parish Council. This meets at least termly at the Writtle Parish Council offices to discuss local community issues.
Children are encouraged to develop a sense of identity through learning about the history of Britain, Europe and the wider world. They also learn about what is involved in understanding the past. Throughout the school, children are encouraged to draw on a variety of sources in order to extend their skills, knowledge and understanding. The children learn about people’s lives and lifestyles, find out about significant people and events from the recent and more distant past and listen and respond to stories and use information to help them ask and answer questions. They learn how the past is different to the present. Themes covered include “Way back when” and “A Celebration of Dinosaurs” and “London’s Burning”. Wherever possible we link our themes to visits and visitors to the school.
In Geography, all children are offered opportunities that encourage them to be interested in their surroundings and in the variety of human and physical conditions on the Earth’s surface. They are encouraged to care about and take responsibility for their environment. Much of the geography curriculum is taught through the study of themed units. The children learn about their environment and the people who live there and begin to develop an awareness of the wider world. They carry out enquiries both inside and outside the classroom, asking questions and using resources such as maps and photographs. Themes covered include “Arctic adventure” and “Out of this world”.
We follow the local authority agreed syllabus for Religious Education and have developed our own school policies incorporating the local authority’s recommendations. The children attend a daily act of collective worship which is “broadly Christian” in nature. Parents rights regarding the act of collective worship and religious education are, of course, recognised and they can discuss the appropriateness of the school’s assemblies for their children with the Headteacher.
The school has a Sex & Relationship Education Policy
, appropriate to the age of the children, which has been drawn up in consultation with the Governing Body and government guidelines. Classroom work often promotes discussions of an informal nature and a less specific kind, which serve as a natural introduction to the subject. Every effort is made to maintain an atmosphere within the school that allows the children to ask questions and accept that their teachers will answer them openly and honestly, with sensitivity and understanding. Staff will also refer certain topics to parents so that they can respond in a way appropriate to their wishes and beliefs.
More able children may require extension and enrichment activities. This is provided either through the differentiation of the curriculum offered to all pupils or by the setting of different tasks. We have a Gifted and Talented Register which highlights children who display particular aptitude to one or more areas of the curriculum. This ensures staff are aware of certain children’s strengths and is reviewed regularly.
Children develop and extend their creative and practical skills through making art
, craft, design
, and music
, and by performing in dance and drama. They explore the world around them, their own experiences and the world of imagination as sources of ideas.
On occasions the school makes use of theatre groups, performers and visiting artists as stimuli for the children’s own work. Children from all year groups perform concerts at Christmas for parents and visitors. We also have creative and singing after school clubs.
We also have a limited number of spaces for Year 1 and 2 children to learn to play the piano. There is a termly charge for piano lessons and places are offered on a first come, first served basis. Please ask at the school office for details.
School excursions, special arts events such as music festivals and visitors to school enrich the curriculum for our children and broaden their experience. We usually organise trips for each year group once a year, e.g. to museums, outside learning venues or galleries, or the zoo. We normally ask parents to contribute to the cost of these trips, but all children will be given the opportunity to attend, regardless of a parent’s ability to contribute. Local outings, for example to the village church, the War Memorial or the Link Club, form part of our normal curriculum. We also invite visitors to school such as authors, speakers from different religions, artists, music workshops and theatre groups.
Supporting your child’s learning
We realise the importance of parental support in the enrichment of the children’s education and encourage their involvement in the life of the school. To this end, we have Family Learning Time sessions every half term, where parents come into the classroom to work alongside their children, a Parent Forum where we discuss aspects of learning and also parent information sessions
The school has a specific Home Learning Policy which follows the guidelines issued by the Department for Education. Parents will be advised of the school arrangements at the beginning of each term, but homework would normally include reading, spelling and, in Years 1 & 2, setting tasks which reinforce and enrich the work your child is doing in class.
Each term, appointment evenings are arranged to give parents the opportunity to meet with their child’s class teacher and discuss their child’s progress. Parents of children receiving extra support in school may also have the opportunity to meet with the learning support co-ordinator and/or the Headteacher. Naturally, if parents wish to meet with any of the staff on any other occasion then they are most welcome to make an appointment. Written reports are sent home three times a year.
The staff and children always appreciate any help parents and friends are able to offer. If you are able to give a little of your time to the children, please contact the class teachers directly or the school office. All regular helpers complete a Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) check and obtain satisfactory enhanced clearance with the local authority before working at the school.