At St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, we are passionate about giving children the best possible to start to life and enabling them to ‘Let Their Light Shine.’ We prepare the children to be life-long learners who achieve their unique God-given potential. Our dedicated teachers work hard to inspire children with a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum, matched to their needs and interests. In this way children develop a thirst for learning and become independent thinkers – key skills for life in Modern Britain.
As a Catholic school we place Christ at the centre of all we do. The gospel values underpin every aspect of school life. A minimum of 10% of the teaching timetable is dedicated to RE. Throughout the school week, children are involved in daily worship within the classroom and come together regularly for collective worship with the whole school community. We have our own Chaplaincy Team who lead the spiritual life of the school.
We use a topic based approach to learning, with cross-curricular links and basic skills inter-weaved throughout. For example, in Year 3, children read ‘Street Child’ and all their learning is focussed around the book. This links work in History to English as the final outcome is their own spin off story about one of the characters. They link this to geography by learning about Chesterfield in Victorian times. This approach ensures equal emphasis is placed on foundation subjects as core subjects. Children are encouraged to develop mastery of concepts through deep, sustainable learning. We have a whole school mastery approach to the teaching of phonics and early reading, and use the Oxford Reading Tree scheme throughout school.
Our intent is to move children towards a deep level of understanding in every subject area so that they are able to use and apply skills and knowledge in different areas. We do this through, ‘The Magenta Principles, ‘Thinking Maps’ and ‘Kagan’.
We use ‘The Magenta Principles’ in order to promote deep thinking and therefore learning. This is based on the premise that: ‘Learning is the consequence of thinking therefore our job is to get them to think. Language is central to thinking therefore our job is to get them to talk. Learning is an active process therefore our job is to get them doing.’ (Mike Hughes)
In order to give children opportunities to think and talk we use Kagan and Thinking Maps. Thinking Maps help children visualise their thinking and create concrete images of abstract thoughts. This enables the children to reach higher levels of critical and creative thinking. It helps them to organise their thoughts and structure their writing across a range of subjects. We are a Kagan school. This allows us to develop co-operative learning, achieving active engagement and equal participation by all children across the curriculum. This makes learning fun and develops children’s social skills.
We sought the views of all stakeholders in designing a relevant curriculum. Together, we have compiled a list of the Top 10 opportunities that parents would like their children to experience whilst at St Mary’s. For example, visit a city or go to the theatre. This has been built in to learning opportunities throughout the curriculum.
We are determined that every child succeeds and fulfils their God-given potential and so we instil in children a belief in a Growth Mindset. This is the idea that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. The Growth Mindset idea creates a love of learning and a resilience that helps children achieve highly. The children have developed a series of ‘Learning Hero’ characters that embody the Growth Mindset principles such as grit and determination.
We place equal importance on academic development and social/personal development. We teach Mindfulness sessions and have mini mindfulness ambassadors so that children have a healthy mind and well-being.
At St Mary’s we place high priority on preparing children for life in Modern Britain. We promote ideas around equality and diversity through our ‘values’ assemblies and work done on other faiths. We believe that our Catholic Christian identity plays an important role in upholding the British values of democracy, rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs. These values are taught throughout the curriculum and are underpinned and reinforced in many ways for example:
Code of Conduct
Weekly debates about current affairs and philosophy
Importance of the Pupil Voice at St Mary’s
Work in the community
Safety weeks and anti-bullying weeks
Local Democracy week
RE work on other faiths
Enterprise and charity work
Our curriculum addresses all the requirements of the 2014 National Curriculum and is designed to allow children to live out our mission statement, ‘Let Your Light Shine’.