Our Curriculum

 

The National Curriculum

The National Curriculum in England is currently in a process of transition. During the course of this academic year, the obligation to teach programmes of study from the old national curriculum have been disapplied and new programmes of study and attainment targets have completely replaced the old national curriculum. This new curriculum is often referred to as Curriculum 2014.

     

 

What is the National Curriculum anyway?

The National Curriculum defines the programmes of study for key subjects in maintained/ state primary and secondary schools in England (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own equivalents). Fundamentally, it sets out what your child should learn during their time at school.

Why the big curriculum change?

The main aim is to raise standards. Although the new curriculum is intended to be more challenging, the content is actually slimmer than the current curriculum, focusing on essential core subject knowledge and skills.

The main changes.

The table below summarises the main changes in the core subjects:

Subject

What’s new?

English

·  Stronger emphasis on vocabulary development, grammar, punctuation and spelling (for example, the use of commas and apostrophes will be taught in KS1)

·  Handwriting is expected to be fluent, legible and speedy

·  Spoken English has a greater emphasis, with children to be taught debating and presenting skills.

Maths

·  Five-year-olds will be expected to learn to count up to 100 (compared to 20 under the current curriculum) and learn number bonds to 20 (currently up to 10)

·  Simple fractions (1/4 and 1/2) will be taught from KS1, and by the end of primary school, children should be able to convert decimal fractions to simple fractions (e.g. 0.375 = 3/8)

·  By the age of nine, children will be expected to know times tables up to 12×12 (currently 10×10 by the end of primary school)

·  Calculators will not be introduced until near the end of KS2, to encourage mental arithmetic.

Science

·  Strong focus on scientific knowledge and language, rather than understanding the nature and methods of science in abstract terms

·  Evolution will be taught in primary schools for the first time

·  Non-core subjects like caring for animals will be replaced by topics like the human circulatory system

Design & Technology

·  Design and Technology has become more important in  the new curriculum, setting children on the path to becoming the designers and engineers of the future

·  More sophisticated use of design equipment such as electronics and robotics

·  In KS2, children will learn about how key events and individuals in design and technology have shaped the world.

ICT now ‘Computing’

·  Computing replaces Information and Communication Technology (ICT), with a greater focus on programming rather than on operating programs

·  From age five, children will learn to write and test simple programs, and to organise, store and retrieve data

·  From seven, they will be taught to understand computer networks, including the internet

·  Internet safety –Digital Literacy ‘E-Safety’– will be taught in primary schools

Languages

·  Currently not statutory, a modern foreign language or ancient language (Latin or Greek) will be mandatory in KS2. Children will be expected to master basic grammar and accurate pronunciation and to converse, present, read and write in the language.

·  French is our language.

 

Our teaching of the National Curriculum at Whitstable Junior School stems from the needs and abilities of the children we teach. We believe every member of our school community is a life-long learner and that our role is to provide them with stimulus and skills, developing a thirst for knowledge, so that our pupils are empowered to fulfil their individual potential. To be the best they can be.

At Whitstable Junior School we aim to provide  the best possible teaching and learning opportunity for every child, utilising every opportunity at our disposal. We aim to provide an outstanding curriculum, a curriculum of innovation and inspiration, which is continually evolving in the best interests of our pupils.

We echo the government’s desire for children to become ‘educated citizens’ and so advocate a curriculum rich in literacy, containing a range of differing and stimulating experiences. It aims to be enjoyable, inclusive, engaging and link to the Core Values of our school.

 In line with guidance from the Department of Education, the ‘New National Curriculum programmes of study’ have been introduced as of this academic year – September 2014.

English, Maths, Computing, RE, MFL, Music and PE will continue to be taught as discreet subjects, unless we can exploit a meaningful link to our termly theme.

Other subjects,  namely History, Geography, Art, Design Technology and Science, are integrated together into Themes rather than being taught discretely in order to make them more meaningful to the children. 

 

Assessment

Why is assessment changing?

The new National Curriculum is now being taught in all year groups apart from Years 2 and 6.  As a result, there are some changes to assessments this year.

As part of the changes to the National Curriculum, levels have been removed.  Pupils currently in years 2 & 6 will continue to be assessed for this academic year using levels, however children in other year groups will be assessed differently and from September 2015, all pupils will be assessed against the new curriculum – levels will not be used with any pupils after this date.

The DfE has said that they will not provide a national standard system for assessment; instead schools must produce their own systems that enable them to make sound teacher assessments against the new programmes of study for each year group at the end of each academic year.

Parent Information meeting

A parent information meeting was held on Thursday 19th March 2015. The presentation used at this meeting can be found below, or paper copies are available from the school office.

A number of great questions were asked by parents at the meeting, and as promised, these and the answers are given below:

 

Q:  If the government have said that schools can use their own ways of recording assessments, why haven’t Whitstable Junior School continued with the old levels system which all of the parents were used to?

A:  Because of the fact that many objectives from the old National Curriculum have been moved to earlier year groups, the level descriptors would no longer be accurate.

 Q: My child was above average at the end of last year and now they could be described as ‘on track to make expected or exceeding progress’.  Does this mean that they have slipped back?

A:  It is important firstly to remember that the new National Curriculum objectives are much more demanding than those previously. Also, children are now only being assessed on the objectives for their current year group, whereas previously there has been a continuous assessment scale from Y1 to Y6.  The children have been assessed against objectives which have been taught since September.  Some areas have not yet been covered.  Therefore, although your child may be stronger in some areas, the overall ‘best fit’ judgement is still ‘on track’ – which is expected for this time of year.

 Q: So how is the school going to assess our children over the year – will you use tests?

A: Currently there are no tests available from the government that we can use and we do not yet know what the new end of key stage / Year 6 SATs tests will look like. We will continue to use assessments to find the gaps in children’s knowledge and teach the skills and knowledge contained in each year group’s programme of study.

We are now required to say at the end of the academic year if a child is ‘emerging’ (working on towards or on parts of the programme of study), working at ‘expected’ levels (has acquired the skills and knowledge contained in the programme of study for their year group) or is ‘exceeding’ (is working at extending their skills and knowledge). We have a huge range of assessments we already use that can help us make these judgements.

All of the objectives which the children are assessed against are available for parents to see on https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-curriculum

 Q: What happens to the more able children if they are not allowed to be pushed beyond the objectives laid out for their year group?

A: In Maths, children’s understanding will be deepened through greater use of problem solving and reasoning skills.  In English, children will develop their writing through the content of their work and through developing features which they see authors using in the books that they read within their own pieces.  We are also considering developing cross curricular projects that truly extend children’s skills and knowledge through an investigative approach.

Also, although skills meant for higher year groups will not be taught, if a child comes across, for example, semi-colons in their reading and use them in their writing, they will not be discouraged to do so.

 Q:  If higher ability children are no longer going to be pushed to objectives beyond those for their year group, what implications does this have for the Kent Test?

A: The new curriculum is more challenging than the old one and as such the majority of pupils will be expected to achieve at a higher level for Year 6 than previously. This will mean that the high achievers will be taught at a suitable level to prepare them for the Kent Test.

The purpose of the Kent Test is to identify the top 20% of children to move into a grammar setting.  This year, due to the impact of a new style Kent Test, the pass mark was lowered to ensure the same percentage of children in Kent ‘passed’ the Kent Test compared to previous years. Whitstable Junior School has always been successful in the Kent Test with on average 50% of those taking the test gaining selective scores  – equivalent to approximately 28% of the year group moving to grammar schools. Kent will continue to make changes to thresholds in order to ensure that Grammar Schools are filled.  Therefore, we are confident that the new National Curriculum will not be detrimental to children whose parents wish them to sit the Kent Test.

Please see attached presentation for more information about our assessment changes.

 

  1. Presentation for parents 2015