Our Curriculum Overview
At Ashdon School every learner is entitled to an experience of learning which is rich, varied, enjoyable, challenging and inspiring. Our curriculum embeds, where possible, the ethos of our school – Caring, Challenging, Celebrating.
The curriculum plays a vital role in promoting the physical, mental, social, emotional and spiritual and economic health of all its pupils. We work with parents and carers to ensure that children leave Ashdon School with an enthusiasm for learning, positive self-esteem, a sense of wonder about the world a strong sense of responsibility towards their environment and the community, respect and understanding of different cultures and a commitment to a healthy lifestyle.
Reading opportunities are at the centre of our curriculum and opportunities are taken to enrich the curriculum through reading.
The curriculum overview for each of our classes can be viewed by clicking on the image on this page. You can also read a little bit more about our approach to each subject area below.
Up to one hour each day is devoted to English activities throughout the school. The children are taught to use speech to express their thoughts clearly and accurately and are encouraged to learn to value the ability to listen carefully and attentively.
All pupils within the Early Years Foundation Stage receive phonics teaching using a Government accredited systematic synthetic programme called Monster Phonics. Our letter to parents introducing Monster Phonics can be found here.
From Reception onwards, pupils receive a daily phonics lesson, targeted at their current level of attainment, and are encouraged to apply this learning in their reading and writing. Pupils continue to receive daily phonics teaching using the Monster Phonics programme and applying the skills taught. Pupils who are making slow progress are identified through formative assessment during lessons and intervention is immediately put into place, alongside the usual phonics teaching. Children are sent home with reading books which are fully decodable. Supplementary readers, which are 90% decodable are also sent home to reinforce the sounds.
KS1 (Year 1 and Year 2) Phonics
In KS1 phonics is taught in groups according to age and/or ability with an increasing focus on spelling and spelling rules using a Government accredited systematic synthetic programme called Monster Phonics. Children are also taught to read and spell the appropriate High Frequency Word (HFW) lists from Monster Phonics. Phonics and English are taught daily in KS1.
English is taught using the Hamilton Trust Scheme, which uses a variety of genre units which are covered over a sequence of weeks. These units cover fiction, non-fiction and poetry texts as outlined in the National Curriculum. The units develop reading skills, sentence formation focusing on grammar and punctuation and writing and re-drafting skills. The meaning of vocabulary is explored and glossaries are developed from reading material.
KS2 (Years 3-6) Continuity and Progression in Phonics and Spelling teaching
The key resource used to support children’s spelling learning in KS2 is The Spelling Shed. Daily spelling practice and rule teaching takes place in KS2. A weekly spelling test takes place in each class.
Across Years 3-6 Monster Phonics interventions and other materials may be used, when appropriate, to support children’s learning.
Approaches to Reading
Monster Phonics is used to deliver discrete daily phonics lessons in EYFS and KS1 enabling children to decode efficiently. Reading strategies are modelled daily by teachers and TAs and children have the opportunity across ‘5 a Day’ reading experiences to develop these and discuss texts in detail. In addition, a range of decodable books support early readers. The colour band scheme supports the transition in to KS2. The class teacher in EYFS/KS1 reads a quality text daily to the class as part of the ‘5 a Day’ experience.
In EYFS and KS1, children have the opportunity to participate in guided reading with an adult at least once per week. Interventions are in place for children who read less often at home, or who may need additional support to reach national curriculum expectations. Children’s reading progress is reviewed in EYFS/KS1 by the class teachers and more formally, with all staff present including the SENCO, half-termly at a whole school progress review staff meeting.
As children move through the school, or become more able readers, opportunities for sustained independent or group reading are provided. Initially, colour band books are used covering both fiction and non-fiction. Every child in the school takes a reading book home and parents record home reading in a Reading Record book. Once children are ready to become independent readers the class teacher directs the children to particular authors or titles to scaffold their choices to ensure quality texts are accessed. Class 3 have a range of books bought specifically because they have been prize winners, or highly recommended by publishers, or the children, to ensure reading is pleasurable and worthwhile.
Each class teacher in KS2 reads a quality text regularly to their class which may be connected to topics studied each term.
Parents are also asked to read with their children from a book provided by a class library shelf in Class 1 and 2. In Class 3, the parents of children, who are not reading at the age-expected level, are asked to read a provided paperback so that their child can access age-appropriate language and story type.
During the course of a year, reading enrichment activities take place such as older pupils paired with a younger reading partner for a period of time, World Book Day Events and visiting authors.
Developing Comprehension of Reading
In EYFS/KS1 this is part of the ‘5 a Day’ experience of children. It references a range of genres including poetry and choosing books for pleasure. The children experience a range of reading comprehension activities. In non-core subjects, quality texts are also used wherever possible to research information.
In KS2, quality texts are also used to support non-core topic work wherever possible. All KS2 children experience a range of reading comprehension activities. The school and class libraries also support ‘Reading for Pleasure’ opportunities.
Approaches to Writing
Our aim is to develop children’s ability to produce well-structured writing with appropriate detail and good vocabulary choices. Our approach is to instil the importance of transcription and composition as required in the National Curriculum, via the Hamilton Trust scheme.
Across the school, we use the Letter-join handwriting scheme to help children develop fluent, clear and legible handwriting.
We believe that handwriting is a developmental process with its own distinctive stages of progression from readiness for handwriting, through to letter joins, practising speed and fluency and higher presentation skills. A flexible fluent and legible handwriting style empowers children to write with confidence and creativity.
Approaches to Grammar and Punctuation
Grammar follows the National Curriculum statutory requirements. It is either taught in discrete lessons within English units, or wherever possible incorporated in to sentence work linked to a particular genre. A document describing the progression of grammar skills taught is used by class teachers.
Approaches to Speaking and Listening
Speaking and Listening are fundamental to good communication for us all. We recognise the importance of building on the skills children have already acquired to build on this foundation. From entry in EYFS, children are given opportunities to develop and learn new skills in formal and informal settings, both in and outside the classroom.
Mathematics is also taught throughout the school. A daily mathematics lesson, of between 45 minutes and 1 hour, is held in all classes. Children are encouraged to talk about their maths using appropriate vocabulary and explain their methods. The development of mental mathematic strategies is an important part of this. We aim to teach children the importance of maths in all aspects of their work and its practical applications in everyday life. We supplement mathematical work with games and other resources to help children find pleasure in the subject and to reinforce the important concepts and skills.
We have produced a guide outlining the main strategies we use when teaching addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. To download it, click here.
The children are taught a variety of scientific facts and methods of enquiry through topic work. They are encouraged to read, investigate, experiment and record their findings in order to develop the skills of predicting, setting up fair tests and obtaining evidence from their own observations.
We aim to prepare children for the challenges of a rapidly developing and changing technological world. Computing is used to enhance the children’s learning, develop their understanding of how programs work and to communicate and present information in a variety of ways.
Design technology is taught through the three elements of design, making and evaluating. We present the idea that there are many solutions to a design problem with aesthetic, economic and safety issues taken into consideration.
Art & Design
We encourage appreciation and enjoyment of the visual arts and children are given opportunities to explore all aspects of art and design. They are taught to use different materials and encouraged to develop their creativity and imagination in communicating through visual media. We explore the work of artists, craftspeople and designers to learn about the diverse roles and functions of art and design in society.
History and Geography
History and geography are taught through topic work. Children begin by studying the familiar and extending their learning to develop a wider appreciation of the world in which they live. To broaden their experiences, the children often have the opportunity to visit events and places of interest. Years 5 and 6 are offered an extended residential trip to study a contrasting location.
Ashdon is fortunate to have a specialist teacher to work with each class every week. All children are taught to read music and are encouraged to explore rhythm and melody. There are class and whole school singing lessons and we have an active and enthusiastic choir. All children have the opportunity to participate in a musical production during the year.
Children have specific lessons in French and are also exposed to French vocabulary during the course of the day.
In this school, religious education is in accordance with the Agreed Syllabus approved by Essex County Council. This covers major world religions such as Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism and Islam.
Our approach to PE curriculum coverage is based on the Cambridgeshire scheme of work for Physical Education. In addition to the class teachers, we are also fortunate to have specialist teachers work with the children for dance, swimming and some other aspects of their learning.
Relationship, Sex and Health Education
We teach RSHE through different aspects of the curriculum. While we carry out the main RSHE teaching in discrete lessons, we also teach some RSHE through other subject areas (for example, science and PE).
In Key Stage 1, we teach children about how animals, including humans, move, feed, grow and reproduce and we also teach them about the main parts of the body. Children learn to appreciate the differences between people and how to show respect for each other.
In Key Stage 2, we focus on life processes and the main stages of the human life cycle in greater depth. We ensure that both boys and girls know how babies are born, how their bodies change during puberty, what menstruation is, and how it affects women. We always teach this with due regard for the emotional development of the children.
The Relationship, Sex and Health Education programme is available here and it is also outlined in our school policy, a copy of which may be obtained from the school office or in the policies section of this website. Like many areas of our curriculum, the coverage is organised over a 2-year rolling plan, which reflects our mixed-aged classes.
Parents have the right to withdraw their child from all or part of the RSHE programme that we teach in our school, except those elements taught as part of the science curriculum. If a parent wishes their child to be withdrawn from lessons, they should discuss this with the Headteacher.
Meeting the needs of all learners
We strive to meet the needs of all our learners across the curriculum that we offer. Below is our Inclusion Policy, which outlines principles that we follow to achieve this:
Further information on our SEND offer can be found within SEND Policy and SEND School Offer documents found on policies page of this website.