The Curriculum at St Mark’s Catholic Primary School
Statement of Intent
A curriculum that promotes the school’s culture and aims.
Christ is at the Centre of St Mark’s: we are all created in God’s image. Our ethos is lived out through signs of Christ’s teaching in the school; the way we behave and care for each other as one large family and through our service to society. Our culture and aims promote Gospel values and the dignity of the human person; each child is perceived as a precious individual. Our strong expression of a loving community, where everyone is treated with respect, gives our pupils, staff, families and governors a sense of belonging, giving fullness to life. We believe these ideals form the basis from which we grow our conscience; our values, motivations, aspirations, choices and actions.
The school’s direction stems from its Mission Statement:
Jesus said, ‘I have come that they may have life and have it to the full’ John 10:10
The community of St Mark’s works hard together.
We respect and care for each other.
We make wise choices and always do our best.
We learn to live life to the full.
At St Mark’s Catholic Primary School, our aims are:
Our Principles for Learning and Teaching
Curriculum Intent – how we designed our curriculum
As a Catholic school, the principles of Catholic education remain at our core. This includes the pursuit of excellence and preparing our children as world citizens of the 21st Century. To achieve this, our children need high levels of literacy and numeracy. We recognise R.E as a core subject, so we follow a Diocesan-wide curriculum which includes the scheme of work ‘Come and See’. We also recognise that parents are the primary educators of the faith and we work closely with the local parish and community. Charitable links and service remain a focus, as does seeking awe and wonder.
Our Curriculum, based on the National Curriculum and EYFS Framework, is a highly ambitious and inspiring framework for our exceptional teachers to act within; a pedagogical tool with positive teacher/pupil relationships and communication at the core. This ensures that our pupils experience a broad and balanced curriculum which unlocks the potential of every child. There is flexibility in curriculum planning so that teachers can address identified gaps in knowledge and skills. There are no attainment ‘flight paths’ at St Mark’s as we believe this caps learning; instead we have high academic expectations for all our pupils (including SEND and disadvantaged pupils), with the majority, at the very least, mastering age-related expectations.
We want our children to:
We want our children to learn and remember facts, so new knowledge is built through enquiry, debate and creativity because what we know changes what we see.
Learning Journals map out the Core Curriculum into yearly age-related sequenced, progressive objectives so that pupils accumulate knowledge and skills as life-long learners. Teachers and pupils use these journals to track knowledge and skills and record pupil outcomes, which are of a high quality. These journals are used precisely by teachers to inform and plan the next steps in pupils’ learning so to ensure pupils meet and exceed the expected end point.
We have the highest expectations in RE, English, Mathematics and Science, our curriculum is exceptionally broad. The school recognises that foundation subjects are important and exciting so are taught as discrete subjects. St Mark’s employs specialist teachers of Art, Music, Languages (Gold Linguamarque March 2021) and British Sign Language. Staff create environments that maximise the opportunities to learn so Foundation Subjects are fully embedded in our curriculum, with cross-curriculum links made where relevant, in order to foster schema inter-connectivity.
When planning our curriculum, we recognise the wide cultural, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds of our families, who are attracted from a wide catchment area. Our curriculum is designed to enhance children’s awareness of different cultures, practices and beliefs so we provide a wide range of learning experiences in order to give them the knowledge and cultural capital to succeed in life. ‘Everyone matters, no matter where you come from or what you look like.’ (Section 48 Inspection monitoring visit January 2020)
Opportunities are planned for the children to know about keeping safe, enabling pupils to recognise online and offline risk, with a particular focus on the danger of inappropriate use of mobile technology, social media and, specifically to Ipswich, relevant age-appropriate introduction to knife crime and gangs. We include and promote British values, (Democracy, Rule of Law, Individual Liberty, Mutual Respect and Tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs) ensuring that children are aware of their rights and responsibilities as a UK citizen. Our curriculum is designed to encourage creativity, imagination, enquiry, debate, discussion and independence. We encourage children to make links and transfer their skills and knowledge from one curriculum area to another. We aim to create confident, self-regulating, adaptable learners who are comfortable working independently or collaboratively. Pupils become academically ambitious, confident and accomplished young people as we develop pupils’ character, throughout their journey at St Mark’s.
The wellbeing agenda is at the heart of our curriculum. Pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is exceptional as evidenced by the SMSC Gold Award (July 2019). Pupils show themselves to be deep thinkers. They are able to empathise with the feelings and actions of others, seeing points of views and beliefs other than their own. Particularly in RE and PSHE, they show a keen interest in ethical issues and can apply their personal values to situations, giving reasons for their decisions and actions. They are ready to question arguments and situations whilst remaining respectful of the views of others. ‘St Mark’s is an outstanding Catholic school. The strong Catholic ethos of your school provides many opportunities for a wide range of prayer and worship activities. You are friendly and considerate to each other and are well cared for by your teachers. The school provides very good opportunities for you to develop personally, spiritually and morally’. (Section 48 Inspection, September 2015). Relationships are strong and positive; wellbeing for all is seen and actioned as a vital priority. ..... leadership comes from a place of faith and is visionary for Catholic Education. (Section 48 Interim Monitoring Visit January 2020)
In recognising the holistic development of the whole-child, the pastoral support given to children so they can access the curriculum is exceptionally strong. Vulnerable children fully access their learning and curriculum entitlement. The school has various systems which support the emotional and mental well-being of children and provides signposting to their parents. This includes one to one support, focus groups and counselling including FREINDS CBT (2019) and ELSA practitioners and in 2021 we embark on our journey to become a THRIVE school. Our Early Help offer is included on our School Website
Emotional and mental wellbeing is also greatly enhanced by Sport and Healthy living. P.E. remains central to both our curriculum and extra-curricular provision. We also strongly believe the pedagogy of being active positively influences other areas of the curriculum and really enhances children’s learning, physiologically allowing better learning to happen, as well as children learning skills such as listening, problem solving, team work, respect and resilience. Recently we have invested heavily in the P.E. and sport provision, with a clear focus on inclusion for all. Pupils take part in the Daily Mile and enjoy the outdoor gym, in addition to the P.E. provision. This has been evident through the School Games Awards and DfE Healthy Schools Gold Rating which reflects the highly effective sport provision across the school. The school believes that this is an area of excellence. The appointment of a PE teacher and Sports Coach ensures targeted spending of sports premium and exceptional teaching of the P.E. curriculum and sport within the school.
Teaching staff annually review their medium-term planning to ensure subjects are relevant to the children’s interests and needs. Topics may include an initial immersion activity, experience or event to instil excitement and enthusiasm for the subject. Learning environments are crucial to our curriculum. Classrooms, corridors and study spaces are vibrant, interactive and set up to stimulate and promote independent learning opportunities.
Subject leaders, all of whom are becoming experts in their subject, formulate yearly age-related sequenced, progressive objectives. Teachers and pupils use these objectives to plan and track knowledge and skills and record pupil outcomes.
Our curriculum is designed to ensure:
Curriculum – implementation
The key to unlocking our curriculum at St Mark’s is the Tree of Learning. Building on Professor Guy Caxton’s ideology, the school’s Learning Behaviours of perseverance, mindfulness, imagining, collaboration, problem-solving and questioning aids the development of metacognition in the classroom and across the curriculum. This, in turn, helps us to nurture young people who are more curious, more willing to take risks and have a go, more imaginative and creative, more thoughtful, more ready, willing and able to learn with, and from, others, thus developing an adventurous spirit. In the Learning Journals, pupils are rewarded for demonstrating and identifying these behaviours in their learning. Curriculum time is allocated for pupils to reflect on these learning dispositions and multi-intelligences so to identify strength and areas of personal development.
Our curriculum is focused on high quality learning experiences where every child is challenged through self-directed learning or choice of challenge, whether that be inside and outside the classroom. Our progressive curriculum is designed to encourage children to make links between traditional areas of the curriculum and to use and apply skills in order to connect new knowledge with existing knowledge so that they remember and retain more.
Children look to the teacher to create a sense of security, calmness and order in the classroom, an opportunity to participate actively in the class and for it to be a positive, interesting and exciting place to be. We consider it our duty to help pupils become motivated, self-regulated learners with a growth mindset and positive attitude to learning. A collegiate spirit is a distinct feature of St Mark’s and teachers and pupils naturally support one another, feel safe and are happy.
The school is currently organised into 7 classes – Reception through to Year 6. In Reception and KS1, 25 hours and in KS2, 26.25 hours, is spent each week on teaching the curriculum.
The overview for each year group can be found on the school’s website ‘St Mark's Curriculum and Curriculum maps’ and is updated annually.
We consider our children’s learning journey the joint responsibility of parents/carers, staff, fellow pupils and the wider community. Parents are expected to support their child/ren’s learning at home by supporting the implementation of the school’s Homework Policy and Home/School Agreement which can be found on the School’s Website.
Phonics and Reading
The teaching of systematic, synthetic phonics is taught from the beginning of Reception and in KS1 using Letters & Sounds supported by a range of practical methods. The school uses Pearson's Bug Club programme to support the teaching and ongoing assessment of phonics. Children can access Bug Club materials online via their individual ActiveLearn accounts. The login details are provided in homework books. Pupil progress is tracked closely to identity any pupil who is falling behind so that targeted additional support is given.
Reading is prioritised so we use a wide variety of reading materials, covering fiction and non-fiction, poetry and rhyme, in our school’s sequenced reading scheme in which reading books connect closely with the phonics knowledge. The scheme is continued at home. Every child on the school’s reading scheme is listened to daily. More confident readers can choose from class readers and a well-stocked library. We encourage children to read daily at home and this is monitored via a home-school reading diary.
Reading and language comprehension is given a very high profile within the school: we operate a system of paired reading with reading partners in Year 6 and Reception meeting every week; Reading Ambassadors (parents and senior school pupils) listen to children read daily; class novels are read aloud each day. English from EYFS to Year 6 is planned using high-quality texts and we employ a librarian who promotes a love of reading through the school and arranges author visits.
The school gives additional booster provision for reading and phonics to our younger children who may need it, using interventions such as Toe-by-toe, Dancing Bears, Sound Discovery, Beat Dyslexia and Word Blaze as we recognised that reading enables pupils to access the full curriculum on offer. Parents are also supported through workshops, Meet the Teacher and meetings with the Headteacher, during which Phonic Resource packs/games are issued and explained.
White Rose Maths scheme of work is used at St Mark’s to support the teaching of Mathematics
Fluency in number facts and recall of multiplication tables is given high priority including weekly tests and use of ITP and online learning such as NumBots, Times Tables Rockstars and MyMaths.
In Reception, time each day is devoted to the direct teaching of mathematics and great importance is attached to the teaching of number, in building children’s fluency in counting, comparing numbers and solving problems using practical equipment and manipulatives.
For those pupils who lack confidence or need additional support the school offers various interventions such as: Edge Hill University’s Every Child Counts 1stclass@number; Numicon - Overcoming Barriers; White Rose Bar modelling plus Enrich Maths Clubs, Timetables clubs and the school’s in-house Rainbow Maths; a progressive scheme of rapid recall and procedural fluency. In addition, ThirdSpace Learning and Tute provide personalised one-to-one online teaching for targeted pupils combined with flexible maths resources for our whole school. Parents are also supported through workshops, ‘Meet the Teacher’ and meetings with the Headteacher, during which Maths Resource packs/games are issued and explained.
Challenge 50, 100 and Star Challenge
From Year 1 onwards, we encourage children to participate in Challenge 50, Challenge 100 and Star Challenge - a series of progressive tasks to be completed as optional homework. There is no time restriction on each challenge. It provides the option of extra learning in reading, writing and mathematics and pupils receive a Bronze, Silver and Gold Award to celebrate their achievements as they progress through the tasks.
From 2019, we introduced Forest School in Early Years. Forest school curriculum is child-directed and play-based. The forest school allows learners the time and space to develop their interests, skills, and understanding through practical, hands-on experiences.
Assessing learning of and progress through the curriculum
In each subject, teachers build a strong foundation of knowledge and understanding, taking account of every individual’s need through careful assessment and daily, formative planning so to identify and address any misconception, embed and use knowledge fluently and move on learning. We ensure that the children are regularly assessed, using formative and summative assessments, against the relevant framework and objectives across the breadth of the curriculum. Strategies used will vary according to the subject and learning objective taught – these include: use of rich questions, use of whiteboards, mini-plenaries, short re-cap quizzes or recall of facts, teaching to misconceptions to explore concepts in greater depth, observational assessment, scanning work for pupil attainment and progress, 1:1 or group discussions with pupils. Teachers use a range of next step marking and feedback strategies in class and children are very familiar and confident using self and peer assessment strategies at the end of every lesson based on individual learning objectives, ‘Success Criteria’ or check list. Further information about assessment and feedback can be found in the Assessment, Marking and Feedback Policy.
Curriculum - Impact our curriculum is having on standards of teaching and learning.
The curriculum at St Mark’s is well planned and thought-through to enable a wide range of engagement, so to develop knowledge and skills cross the curriculum, not only within class but in providing out of class opportunities to enable children to develop themselves as learners and encourage each child to be as independent as possible. Pupil voice feedback, specific whole staff planning time and moderation during staff meetings allows the staff to regularly review and assess the impact that the curriculum is having.
Regular and robust monitoring and scrutiny by SLT and Subject leaders provide first hand evidence of how pupils are doing and ensures that high expectation and demanding outcomes are maintained. In-school and cross-school moderation is quality assured.
The progress pupils are making in Reading, Writing and Mathematics along with their personal development is reviewed termly in Achievement Team meetings where the impact of quality first teaching on every child is discussed, but especially individual vulnerable pupils, and interventions agreed to bridge attainment and progress gaps.
We are working with Our Lady of Walsingham Trust and IP2 Cluster schools to develop, monitor and quality assure our curriculum quality and provision. This includes working groups for Mathematics, English and EYFS. Our RE leader meets regularly with Diocesan colleagues and attends Diocesan training/meetings to assess the impact of the RE curriculum.
A curriculum for the whole child
“A good school provides a rounded education for the whole person. And a good Catholic school, over and above this, should help all its students to become saints….” Pope Benedict XVI, 2010
The spiritual development of pupils is shown by:
The moral development of pupils is shown by:
The social development of pupils is shown by:
The children enjoy getting involved with national celebrations:
World Book Day, UNICEF, CAFOD Harvest Fast Day, Saint’s Days, Parliament week, Diwali, Care of creation, World Maths (Pi) Day, World toilet day
The cultural development of pupils is shown by:
Relationship, Sex and Health Education
At St Mark’s, Relationships and Sex education is taught through a whole school policy which has been adopted from the Diocese and scheme of work ‘Journey in Love’, and, where possible, is integrated into other areas of the curriculum such as religious education, science, PE and PSHE. It is always taught within the context of the church’s teaching on sexual relationships. Parents are given the opportunity to discuss what their child will be learning so that they can support their child’s work at home. Any questions that children ask are answered sensitively and in a caring manner. Lessons and resources are always chosen to suit to the age of the children. A Parents Guide can be found on the school’s website.
Wherever relevant and possible, our curriculum is enriched with theme weeks, workshops, visiting speakers, special events and educational trips. This list is a sample of the many exciting things within our curriculum)
History Week focusing on:
STEM week with visiting Mad Scientists, Science Fair organised by Year 5 & 6 and Maths NRICH workshops
Healthy Living and Well-being week which focused on physical, personal (diet, hygiene and personal safety and First Aid/Save a Life) mental and spiritual wellbeing including a visit from the Diocesan Ignite Youth team and an Islamic day.
Growth Mindset week
UK Parliament week
Visiting theatre groups
Competitions: Poetry, Mathematics, 500 Words
Educational visits to Colchester Castle, Ipswich Museum, Felixstowe Beach, Foxburrow Farm, West Stow
Residential visits to PGL (Year 6)
Junior Mock Trial at Ipswich Crown Court
Computing – BT Crumble Robots Taster Day
Career Detectives – world a work day
Special celebration to which parents are invited: Termly Class assembly, Termly Achievement Tea parties, Year 6 Leavers Assembly& Production (July), Nativity and Carol Service
School Community Engagement: Headteacher coffee mornings, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Grandparents lunch, Teatime concert, Christmas Fayre and Summer Fete.
Sporting Fixtures: feature on the School Website, including numerous match reports
Extra- curricular activities and clubs: an extensive list features on the School Website and changes termly.
During COVID, from March 2021 extra-curricular activities are limited to languages and PE only and operate within specific bubble/class.
Wrap around care
Before school, from 7:45am, Active Clubs are provided by qualified coaches and/or LSAs and include activities such as Yoga, Kwik Cricket and other ball games.
After school, until 5pm, an Activity Club is staffed by HTLAs/LSA during which children have an opportunity to read, are supported to complete homework and have time to play.
During COVID, this is currently running as a supervised wraparound care from 8am to 5pm in the school hall only.