Curriculum Principles

At Ackworth Howard CofE J&I School we are passionate about preparing our children by equipping them with life-long, transferable skills for an undetermined future.  We aim to take our children beyond expectation, offering an inclusive curriculum which provides a range of opportunities to participate and excel within and beyond the school day.

Our creative, cross-curricular and topic based curriculum allows us to encourage children to follow lines of enquiry that appeal to them. Through expert direction and teaching, we endeavour to enable children to experience inspirational learning opportunities which allow them to be challenged and stimulated at all levels and build skills for life.

The progress of every child is carefully and regularly monitored to ensure that teachers are aware of, and plan for, the needs of each individual child.

Our definition of ‘The Curriculum’ is all the activities that we plan, organise and deliver in order to facilitate the development of our pupils, their learning, their personal growth and an understanding of British values.

Whilst our curriculum includes the formal requirements of the National Curriculum, it also aims to provide a range of experiences to enhance and enrich learning and development of all.

We broaden children's horizons through 'character education' and 'social actions' which we believe are essential in instilling the values we hold dearly. This aligns closely with our vision and our commitment to developing the whole child.

We want our children to embrace our vision and values in order to create responsible and respectful citizens of the future and build a strong relationship between the whole school and its local community, to learn about and appreciate our role as part of national and global communities and to foster an understanding of the importance of being a responsible citizen.  

Our curriculum through the lens of the vision…

The curriculum, broadly based on the National Curriculum, is engaging, exciting and relevant to the children at our school and aims to prepare our children for life in modern Britain. It is driven by a desire for our children to have a greater knowledge of the world and an awareness of the possibilities open to them in their future lives and careers. Our aim is to promote aspirational, independent children who are happy, respectful and have self-belief. We want all children to become creative, active and reflective learners, enabling them to be able to respond positively to the opportunities and challenges of a rapidly changing world and promote a commitment to lifelong learning.

The National Curriculum seeks to provide continuity as children progress through a series of stages:

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) - Nursery (3-4 year olds) and Reception (4-5 year olds)

Key Stage 1 - Years 1 and 2 (5-7 year olds)

Key Stage 2 - Years 3-6 (7-11 year olds)

Teachers assess, track and monitor children's progress against the national curriculum year objectives, which is in turn shared with the children and their parents.

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

Our Nursery and Reception classes follow the framework laid down in the EYFS statutory framework which aims to support children's development in seven areas of learning and development.

The three prime areas are:

  • Communication and language
  • Physical development
  • Personal, social and emotional development

There are also four specific areas through which the prime areas are strengthened and applied:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the world
  • Expressive arts and design

The EYFS is underpinned by four overarching principles which acknowledge that each child is a unique and constant learner and needs to grow and develop through forming positive relationships in an enabling environment.  In addition, children develop and learn at different rates and thus the framework supports the learning of all children including those with special needs and disabilities.

In Early Years we plan our environment to support our chosen topic. Our thematic approach allows children to explore links across the curriculum; enhancing and exciting their learning. (Mind)

The learning environment allows children to access the curriculum in a safe and supported manner. The environment reflects the current needs of the children and constantly adapts to ensure it meets their ever changing needs. (Body)

In Early Years, our curriculum values and promotes all areas of learning, cradling and nurturing all talents; art, sport, mathematics and literacy. (Mind)

Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2

As the children progress through the school, the subject areas of the National Curriculum become more distinct.  Religious education and worship in assemblies are an integral part of the children’s experience.

A number of core skills are taught discretely within English, Mathematics, Science, Computing, MFL and Physical Education lessons. We teach a rich curriculum incorporating History, Geography, Art and Design, Languages, Music and Personal, Health & Social Education (PHSE).  Teachers plan topics of work for each year group from the national curriculum.  We supplement our provision each term with events to broader experiences. Curriculum coverage allows all pupils to access the content and make progress through the curriculum.

English

We have a systematic and dynamic whole school approach to developing reading and writing skills which is designed to embrace and channel the unique talents of each and every child.  The cornerstone of our literacy strategy is phonics, which is taught through the letters and sounds programme and enables learners to flourish within a culture of continuous improvement.

Across Foundation stage and Key stage 1, the children learn phonics, reading, writing, grammar and spelling simultaneously in small, ability led groups, taken by teachers and teaching assistants who have received training.  Throughout school, children learn at their own pace and are regularly assessed to enable them to move forward appropriately, being encouraged to acquire knowledge through discovery, linked to carefully selected texts which build on the interests of pupils to inspire and engage learners.

The pursuit of excellence is paramount and the introduction of the English Teaching and Learning Sequence has had a demonstrable effect on standards of writing throughout the school, developing confidence and resilience and being strongly backed by staff and governors.  In addition to core literacy work with a daily focus on writing, handwriting and spelling, we encourage high standards of written work across all subject areas, allowing children to develop their talents and thus enabling them to flourish in all areas of life. Philosophy for Children is used as a vehicle to enable children to express their ideas creatively and use language effectively to make positive contributions to society.

Mathematics

We want our children to be fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics and want to establish a culture of rich problem-solving and reasoning skills where children apply their understanding in a range of contexts. Within a welcoming mathematical environment, where learners are encouraged to challenge themselves at all levels, we ensure personal progression and develop mathematical leaders that have the confidence to share their learning. We want our children to regularly challenge themselves in mathematics and show their resilience and ability to falter whilst on the journey to understanding the mathematics curriculum underpinned by our philosophy to develop the mind, body and spirit of each child.

Religious Education and Worship

Ackworth Howard School is a school that dedicates itself to providing a Christian environment that offers all children the highest quality of teaching and learning opportunities. We actively support the spiritual growth for learners wherever they are on their faith journey and develop their knowledge of the Bible and Christian teaching. We have close links to St Cuthbert’s Church in Ackworth. (Spirit)

Religious Education has a high profile in school life with lessons providing fully for the needs of all learners. The Christian values of COMPASSION, FORGIVENESS, FRIENDSHIP and TRUST empower learners to lead by example. (Mind and Spirit)

We follow the Leeds Diocese and Wakefield Local Authority curriculums, exploring the stories and themes of the Old and New Testaments and core Christian values.  As part of the National Curriculum we also teach children about world faiths and perspectives. (Body)

Pupils develop a clear understanding of Christianity and a broad range of religious beliefs. The pupils use their skills of enquiry, analysis, interpretation, reflection and evaluation to understand the impact of religion on believers. (Spirit)

Pupils have a thorough knowledge and sound understanding of the Christian faith through a wide range of learning opportunities, such as weekly Religious Education lessons, daily acts of collective worship, church services and educational visits. Pupils are able to make real links between the beliefs, practices and value systems of the different faiths. (Mind, Body and Spirit)

Worship is a key part of our school life. We have daily assemblies and children are encouraged to participate. Once a fortnight Reverend Paul Fox / Reverend Charlene delivers our collective worship and we also have visitors from other Christian denominations to lead worship. The whole school attend church for special services such as Christmas, Easter and Y6 Leavers as well as Y4 and Y6 who visit church during the year to take part in community services. (Spirit)

Science

Our children are natural scientists and are keen to explore, enquire and understand the world around them. 

To encourage growth in MIND, we investigate life processes, materials, physical processes and concentrate on developing children's scientific skills, encouraging them to question, investigate and test appropriately. 

To encourage growth in BODY, we focus on group work and collaboration, with lots of practical work and experimentation. Through scientific investigations, we aim to build resilience by showing the children that they can learn from their mistakes, and that it is okay to get things wrong!

To encourage growth in SPIRIT, we support their learning in a variety of ways including school trips and fieldwork.

Computing

The children at Ackworth Howard are digital natives – they are as adept at navigating a touch screen as they are at using a pencil and paper. Growing up in an increasingly digitized world, we understand the importance of giving our children exceptional learning opportunities in Computing.

Having recently invested heavily in tech across school, we are committed to developing an innovative curriculum which offers our children the chance to grow their understanding of digital technology, how to develop computational thinking, and how to stay safe online.

Our children are familiar with new tech, and use it across the curriculum to support their learning.  Our facilities, integrated into all the classrooms, include interactive whiteboards and computers, laptops and iPads as well as other experimental tech.

To encourage growth in MIND, we offer opportunities to develop leadership skills through our Digital Leaders programme, whereby children are trained to take on leadership roles and to support others in computing across the school. Creativity is encouraged throughout the curriculum, such as during our Christmas Hackathon (https://scratch.mit.edu/studios/5543677/), or during cross-curricular work such as retelling the story of Boudicca's rebellion through Scratch. https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/252554516/ (link is external) 

To encourage growth in BODY, we aim to equip our children with the knowledge and resilience to use digital technologies responsibly and safely, not only during Safer Internet Week, but throughout the year in response to current events and changing trends in our children’s online activities.

To encourage growth in SPIRIT, we encourage our children to embrace change, particularly in response to new technologies. We aim to nurture responsible digital citizens, for whom ‘society’ is global, not just local.

PE

At Ackworth Howard J&I School, we believe that physical education (PE) should develop: the mind (mental health, decision-making and tactics); body (physical development and healthy bodies); and spirit (sporting values) of each child.

Mind: PE at our school should promote the emotional well-being of children and allow children to develop positive attitudes towards physical activity and healthy lifestyles. This school will create a supportive environment through PE to prevent depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorders in later life, through a rich, broad, deep and exciting curriculum. Children will be taught and encouraged to use knowledge of technical and tactical skills to make decisions within game scenarios, routines in dance and gymnastics and during swimming lessons.

Body: Children will be provided with opportunities to become physically confident, in ways which support their health and fitness and promotes an understanding in children of their bodies in action. We will provide children with opportunities to push their physical limits and compete against their peers physically both within and out of school. From early years to year 6 children should learn about how physical activity and healthy eating can positively impact their life.

Spirit: PE in our school should promote values which enable children to develop life skills such as: determination, resilience, leadership, teamwork, fairness and trust.

The Arts

The Arts at Ackworth Howard is a crucial component in developing the whole child through our broad and balanced curriculum. The Arts comprises of art, music, dance and drama, and provides children the opportunity to explore, develop and showcase new and existing talents.

The Arts enable children to continually improve their mind through independently evaluating their creations. This embodies the use of metacognition; where children think clearly about their actions. A range of creative mediums create an inspirational learning environment and engender an enjoyment for learning. Children have the opportunity to explore and attend a range of artistic events to fuel aspirations.

By exploring a range of mediums in the arts builds confidence and emotional intelligence. High quality lessons incorporate a shared and equal respect for their peers and other artists’ creative pieces. Cross-curricular learning enables unique talents to be embraced whilst promoting diversity and equality.

Learners are able to apply newly learnt artistic skills to become agents of change through engaging adverts, posters, artwork and performance pieces. Learners are able to share their new or existing talents through worships and other events. By doing this, they are able to thrive in a shared society.

Humanities

At Ackworth Howard, we believe that humanities should develop the mind, body and spirit of each child.

Mind: Through a broad and balanced curriculum that is proudly promoted throughout school, our children have the opportunities to study, investigate and explore a variety of history and geography topics across KS1 and KS2, as well as through Understanding of the World in EYFS. Creative opportunities for cross curricular activities encourage our children to be immersed in their Humanities topics, inspiring them to ask big questions about the world around them.

Body: With a strong focus on our local area, through history and geography topics our children are encouraged to explore who they are, understand their community and the changes it has been through, and celebrate these. Humanities topics are high profile throughout school and our welcoming environment showcases our children’s hard work and collaboration through displays.

Spirit: Humanities in our school encourages our children to express and develop their ideas and spirit through opportunities to investigate other cultures across the world and compare them to our own. These comparisons, such as the life of children in Tanzania to their lives in our local area, promote compassion and empathy within our children. We encourage our children to celebrate their history through events such as our Heritage Day where the children embrace the history of our school and immerse themselves in this.

Modern Foreign Languages

At Ackworth Howard, we believe that modern foreign languages should develop the mind, body and spirit of each child.

Mind: Learning a language at our school allows children to educate, communicate and build enduring relationships with internal and external communities. Throughout the key stages, children are taught a variety of topics and develop their communicating skills through new vocabulary and the opportunity to explore different cultures. Children are encouraged to speak to each other in Spanish both in and outside of school allowing them to develop their confidence and flourish as a language learner.

Body: Language learning allows our children to develop their understanding of community, where diversity and equality is promoted across the curriculum. In a welcoming environment, different traditions are explored and learners are encouraged to celebrate the wonderful ways to be human, which is evidenced through our Spanish Theme days, where children have the opportunity to explore different cultures through dance, art and food.

Spirit: Modern foreign languages in our school encourages our children to express and develop their spirituality. By being able to communicate with a wider audience, children are able to offer hospitality and welcome all. They are able to develop friendships and thrive in a shared society.

Children are also offered opportunities to experience other languages such as Swahili through our Tanzania link.

School Enrichment

We have invested purposefully to enhance provision by employing external experts such as Xcite Sports and Fitness, Wakefield Music Service, Specialist Activity Clubs, Scouted (Forest Schools) and local artists such as authors and artists. We strive to provide authentic learning experiences across a broad range of domains.

In order to broaden the experiences children have within the school, learning is enhanced through first hand opportunities including residential visits and other educational visits e.g. countryside live, castle visits, museum visits, Robinwood activity centre, Northumberland residential etc.

Older children have the opportunity to take part in two school residential visits. Year 5 undertake a residential to Northumberland and the Holy Island of Lindisfarne following in the footsteps of St. Cuthbert whilst Year 6 visit Robinwood Activity Centre.

Extra-curricular Activities

We support a wide a range of activities outside of the daily curriculum.  Music teachers from Wakefield provide private instrumental lessons and we have a fantastic choir.  Children are also offered opportunities to participate in an array of clubs.

All children have access to a rich programme of extra-curricular activities which have recently included examples such as kick boxing, dance, forest schools, Spanish, lego, coding, multisports, fencing, gardening and many others. 

The school also supports its children in their external specialist achievements through celebration of success and adapting timetables to allow for specialised competition e.g. dancing, acting and music exams.

Tanzania Partnership – Working With and Learning From

Strong links have been forged between schools in the Leeds Diocese and Tanzanian schools in Mara Diocese. Our school is at the forefront of this and an ambassador for the project given Mr. Walkers recent visit, this is a partnership that will go from strength to strength and is highly valued by the school.

Over time, schools have helped communities in Mara. This support has included the digging of wells, building of classrooms, provision of resources and desks etc. But it is not just about fundraising. Crucially, for the children, it is about learning about other cultures, making friends across the miles and learning key Christian values. From the visit, many opportunities to learn from the Tanzanian schools have been identified including creativity within the curriculum.

As well as the mutual benefits of the international links with our Tanzania friends, a close network has established across local schools who are also engaged and committed to the project.

Opportunities to enhance the curriculum through this partnership are threaded throughout long term curriculum plans.

This link is closely aligned to our vision, particularly in developing the spirit:

Growth in MIND:

  • Learners educate, communicate and build enduring relationships with internal and external communities.
  • A broad and balanced curriculum is promoted.

Growth in BODY:

  • Learners are encouraged to celebrate the wonderful variety of ways to be human.
  • Human identity in all its forms is celebrated ensuring dignity and respect.
  • Learners understand that we are all created equally in God’s image.

Growth SPIRIT:

  • Learners show courageous advocacy, driving ethical decisions affirming what is right.
  • Learners are supported to be the change they want to see in the world.
  • Learners offer radical hospitality and are welcoming to all.
  • Learners challenge injustice and are committed to justice.
  • Learners become agents of change.
  • Character development impacts on wider society enabling people to flourish together.

You can find out more about the Tanzanian visit by visiting the dedicated page on our website.

Please explore our website to learn more about our curriculum and specific teaching strategies that our team engage in.