Learning From Each Other - Building Successful Learners
At Hallbankgate Village School we aim to develop the skills, attitudes and learning habits needed for success in an ever-changing world. It is our vision to support children to be curious and confident learners with the necessary skills and attributes to live happy, successful and fulfilled lives. We offer a broad and balanced curriculum embedding the principles of ‘Building Learning Power’ so we motivate, engage and stretch children to become resilient, resourceful and reflective individuals. Our curriculum enables children to develop excellent communication skills so they make an effective contribution to the school community and work confidently with other children and adults in the local community and the wider world.
Our curriculum is organised into a four year rolling programme of termly topics suitable for whole key stage classes. Some elements of the core subjects are
taught discretely but our focus is delivering foundation subjects using a cross-curricular approach. This means the balance of subjects and learning is achieved over the school year rather than over a week or a term. We might focus on Technology in term 1 and do a project related to History and Geography in term 2 and so on. Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural teaching and learning opportunities are embedded across the curriculum.
Our standards are set by the 2014 National Curriculum, Chris Quigley ‘Essentials’ Curriculum and the Early Years Framework. Staff meet termly to review the topic, consider children’s feedback and identify progress towards these standards before choosing a new topic. We believe working this way helps our children to gain skills and knowledge from various disciplines combined in a meaningful and interesting way, which allows them to make links between their learning and experiences.
We think it is extremely important to give our pupils meaningful experiences which extend beyond life in the immediate locality. Wherever possible we organise termly trips or invite visitors into school to complement our topic work. Recent trips included visiting Spaceport in the Wirral during our ‘Fly Me to The Moon’ topic and Beamish Open-air Museum when we became 20th Century Decade Detectives. In school we recently enjoyed hearing from Thomas McCarthy, an Irish Traveller who shared songs and traditional tales and welcomed the talented Heritage Survival Band from Zimbabwe to show us their Afro fusion-music and dance; we have just experienced the ‘Travelling by Tuba’ music workshop which offered us the chance to experience music from Brazilian Samba to New Orleans Jazz. We have strong links with the local community and regularly hold school events to share our learning or support fund-raising.
Each year we take the whole of Key Stage 2 on a residential; in past years we have enjoyed a range of action and adventure breaks, enjoying rock-climbing, abseiling, canoeing and much more. This year we are looking forward to visiting London to see the Houses of Parliament and other key sights, watching a West-End production and visiting the Natural History and Science Museum.
An example of how our termly topics work....
An excellent example of the exciting and stimulating curriculum experience we provide at Hallbankgate Village School is our whole school topic ‘Oceans and Seas’ which involved children using film-making to document the story of the Titanic to commemorate the centenary of the disaster.
As part of the topic children in Key Stages 1 and 2 researched local history links about Joseph Bell the Chief Engineer and used extracts and interviews of real life accounts of the disaster to support literacy learning. They used maps to identify and research places associated with building the ship and applied maths skills to make scale models and track the Titanic’s journey; they created animations to re-enact the sinking. Children were taught dances and music from that era, visited Bell’s childhood home and participated in role play re-enacting scenes from the voyage; this enabled us to consider the social history, class and cultural issues of that time.
We concluded the topic by filming a documentary identifying what we had learned. This day in school, held in partnership with another local school, involved children, staff and parents in full costume shooting scenes for the documentary and engaging with a wide range of learning activities. Our work was featured on the local ITV news and in the local press.
This year the ‘Our Dynamic Earth’ topic enabled children to use independent research skills to learn about geology and identify how natural disasters and climate change impacts on earth over time. They developed great curiosity about the past and became history detectives, developing higher order questioning and thinking skills to support their learning.
One aspect of the topic used the Story of Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius as a stimulus for dance. Children from Years 2 – 6 collaborated and applied their learning to choreograph a creative dance piece which they performed at a local U-dance festival in front of a large audience. During child initiated learning sessions children were challenged to work together to build a realistic and erupting model of Mount Vesuvius to teach others about the features of a volcano and the settlement of Pompeii.
Another area of the topic focussed on rainforests; children developed geographical knowledge and linked their learning to finding out about habitats and conservation issues. They communicated what they had learned by creating rainforest habitats in a box which were used in group presentations.
At Hallbankgate Village School we see outstanding reading skills as a key to educational development and future success in learning. We deliver regular guided reading sessions which focus on enjoyment and skills progression.
We value home-school partnerships and appreciate the active role that our parents play in supporting children with
reading at home. We have weekly whole-school paired reading sessions where older children support younger children modelling reading skills and hearing each other read. We invite parents into school to join in with these sessions and provide advice to support reading at home.
In the Early Years and Key Stage 1 we deliver systematic synthetic phonics through Letters and Sounds to support reading development. We use two reading schemes: Pearson Phonics Bug and Collins Big Cat; we use the Oxford Treetops series in Key Stage 2. We actively promote enjoyment of reading and encourage children with secure reading strategies to independently choose from the wide range of fiction and non-fiction books in our library. We have a reading award system to motivate children and encourage regular reading outside of school; certificates are presented in weekly whole-school celebration assemblies.
We opened our new school library in January 2015. This was a pupil-led project with the whole school involved in all stages from planning and designing to creating and building. We also introduced an electronic library management system which enables us to create detailed reader profiles and support reader development.
Children receive a minimum of 5 hours of mathematics per week; this is made up of discrete maths lessons and focussed Using & Applying problem solving sessions. Further opportunities are taken across the curriculum wherever appropriate to bring maths to life and ensure real life skills are put into context. We have recently introduced Collins ‘Busy Ants’ and Elmwood ‘Target Your Maths’ to support delivery of the 2014 National Curriculum. We also use the Big Maths approach for the teaching and learning of core skills so there is a clear progression in the acquisition of skills, knowledge and understanding of basic concepts.
We believe that children’s early experiences of maths learning are crucial in determining their success in later years. Early Years staff are supported by the Maths Subject Leader to plan and deliver daily adult-led maths activities which support early learning and development.
We also ensure that children across the school have daily opportunities to practise mental arithmetic and times tables to promote core skills supported by Schofield and Sims mental arithmetic resources.
Hallbankgate Village Schools provides access to stimulating indoor and outdoor environments responsive to children’s interests and developmental needs. Staff use the Early Years Framework to plan a balance of teacher directed and child initiated activities focused on a child’s individual needs and stage of development. Children have daily opportunities to plan and review their own learning activities using our electronic planning system.
Nursery children are introduced to adult led phase 1 phonics and core maths learning to help transition to Reception class.
Child Initiated Learning
At Hallbankgate Village School children get a weekly opportunity to plan their own learning linked to the termly topic and their own interests. Children are able to make their own choices as long as they can demonstrate they challenge themselves, learn something new, record evidence of their learning and are able to present it to others. We believe this approach helps children to become more independent learners. By taking control of their learning they not only acquire new knowledge and skills but demonstrate the ability to overcome challenges, solve problems and take responsibility for time management and use of resources. We started using this approach to delivery as an action research project with Creative Partnerships a few years ago; it is now firmly embedded in our curriculum offer and complements our focus on Building Learning Power.
PE and Sport
All children receive 2 hours of PE a week and, wherever possible, we make use of skilled coaches and teachers to support delivery. We ensure coverage of basic movements, gymnastics, dance, team and modified games. This might include any of the following: football, basketball, multi-skills, gymnastics, rugby, tennis, cricket, badminton, dance, tri-golf, swimming, athletics, netball, archery, fencing and hockey. We also offer a good range of after school sports clubs and ensure children have the opportunity to take part in regular competitive events and galas. We have strong links
with the School Sport Partnership led by our local secondary school.
Our Broad and Balanced Curriculum
We ensure that all children have the opportunity to learn to play tuned and un-tuned instruments; this has included flute, keyboard, recorders and African drums.
All children have weekly opportunities to sing and take part in regular whole school musical performances. German is introduced to Key Stage 1 children at a basic level; it is taught at Key Stage 2.
In addition to our programme of curriculum topics we offer termly themed weeks which enable us to offer meaningful enrichment activities. This year we are focussing on art, computing and technology; other recent examples are multi-cultural week and science week. Taking this approach helps us to support the development of a broad and balanced curriculum offer.
In 2014 we updated our ICT equipment in order to increase access to new technologies for all our pupils and to support the delivery of the new Computing curriculum. Lessons make excellent use of our mobile learning facilities and children are taught how to use technology effectively and safely for learning and research in line with our school E-Safety policy.
Building Learning Power
Our curriculum is underpinned by Building Learning Power. BLP is an approach we have been developing and using in school since 2012. Our aim is to create powerful learners by preparing children with the range of learning skills and habits that they need to become happy, confident and successful in the future.
We recognise seventeen learning ‘muscles’ which we encourage children and adults in the school community to use to stretch and develop learning. Using a BLP approach has helped us develop a positive environment where children take risks and try new experiences because they recognise deep learning can take place when they are prepared to move out of their comfort zone. We strive to provide a growth mind-set approach to curriculum delivery and truly believe we can all improve as learners and excel at everything with hard work and resilience.We were extremely proud to be awarded a Gold Award for learning in July 2014, one of only four schools in the UK. We continue to have a termly action research project to explore and develop learning within our own school and working in partnership with other schools. See www.learningqualityframework.co.uk for further details.
If you would like to find out more about our curriculum please contact Mrs Davidson (t: 016977 46237) to arrange to speak to our subject leaders.