Our Curriculum at CHIS
At Chalkwell Hall Infant School we strongly believe that all pupils, regardless of social background, culture, race, gender, differences in ability or disabilities, have an entitlement to an aspirational curriculum offering a broad range of exciting learning experiences which will allow them to develop the knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes necessary to enable them to continue their success as they take the next steps in their learning journey.
We plan and teach our curriculum around topics and the children's interests, ensuring that we meet the requirements of the National Curriculum and Early Years Foundation Stage.
Our Curriculum Subjects
At Chalkwell Hall Infant School we aim to foster a love of reading within our children. We encourage them to read both for pleasure and in order to gain information. Reading is promoted across the curriculum and occurs all of the time. All pupils are taught the skills and strategies to read and comprehend a variety of texts including fiction, non-fiction, poetry and plays. They are encouraged to read with confidence, fluency and understanding. Every class has story time during the school day to foster the love of reading and to allow for quality discussions about the text. Integral to everything we do, is ensuring that we provide an environment where children see the true value of reading and develop a love for the written word. Our shared library is key to this. Our library stocks a fantastic selection of themed fiction and non-fiction to entice children of all ages. School book fairs, competitions and visiting storytellers and celebrating World Book Day are just a few of the other ways we encourage children to become excited about reading! As you move around our school, we would hope that you can see that reading is held in high regard. After all, reading is the foundation for learning.
How we teach reading
Children at Chalkwell Hall Infant School learn to read by being taught a combination of synthetic phonics which they use to blend and segment words and sight recognition of high frequency words. Alongside this we have adopted our own method of teaching comprehension skills which we have called Active Read.
We use the Read Write Inc. scheme to form the basis of our phonic teaching. Phonic lessons occur daily and are carefully planned for to ensure progression. Children interact with a puppet, ‘Fred the Frog’, who supports them to segment and blend words. As children move into Year 2, phonics sessions turn into spelling sessions.
Children move through coloured book bands which are arranged in progressive steps to ensure sustained progress and we encourage the development of a wide-ranging set of reading skills within each colour band. Children are regularly assessed to ascertain whether they are ready to take on the challenge of the next colour level.
Active Read and Active Story
Alongside phonics lessons we also use an approach called ‘Active Read’ to teach children comprehension skills and reading strategies in order for them to become accomplished readers. Children are exposed to a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts at or above their independent reading level. In EYFS Active Story sessions encourage children to engage with a shared text through opportunities to role play, use small world and story sacks related to these texts. During whole class shared reading, teachers will also verbalise questions to encourage the development of comprehension skills. In KS1 children engage with text through teacher modelling, choral reading and paired reading opportunities. During the sessions there is opportunity for role play, drama, writing, speaking, listening and creative activities. Through lessons teachers are able support children in improving their literal understanding, deductive inference and inductive inference skills as well as encourage children to develop pleasure in reading. Children are able to share and discuss texts with their peers and discover what they enjoy as developing readers.
Our overarching aim within writing is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping children with a strong command of the spoken and written word and foster an environment where children are enthusiastic about writing. From the moment children enter our school, they are provided with the stepping stones and opportunities in order to become confident writers. Our Alan Peat approach to fiction and non-fiction writing is crucial to developing confidence with writing different text types successfully. Whilst ensuring that our children’s creativity is nurtured, children are taught how to write clearly and accurately, applying their handwriting, spelling, punctuation and grammatical skills for a variety of purposes and audiences. GPS (punctuation, grammar and spelling) skills are an integral part of our literacy lessons and writing across the curriculum.
Speaking and listening
Children are given plenty of opportunities to develop their speaking and listening skills across the curriculum. In early years and year 1, each class has a role-play area where children enjoy developing their social skills and imagination and drama is planned into our lessons regularly. Our whole-school approach of talk partners is crucial to ensuring that all children have an opportunity to discuss their thoughts and ideas and respond appropriately to others’. At Chalkwell Hall Infants, we strongly believe that talk is invaluable in moving learning forward through verbalising of ideas before writing and using discussion to identify areas for improvement within their work. Our aim is to ensure that all of our children show competence and confidence when speaking in front of others.
We teach our children to form their letters using cursive script. As a school we teach cursive writing because it is important to develop a handwriting style that is clear, fluent, legible and fast for first time learners.
The benefits of cursive writing are as follows:
During phonics lessons we will show the children the letter shapes in both print and cursive and correct formation will be modelled. Through this we will begin to develop our letter formation.
We have adopted a maths scheme called ‘Maths No Problem!’ This is a comprehensive programme that is designed to carefully build up key mathematical concepts adapted from the maths mastery approaches used in Singapore. This method uses concrete materials to aid the learning process and promotes problem solving and group work. All KS1 children will follow this approach with appropriate differentiation used to support or extend individual children. In EYFS, children are taught maths using Development Matters to teach the appropriate skills for their developing needs.
‘Maths No Problem!’ follows the National Curriculum so we will continue to focus on developing fluency with numbers and place value and applying these to the four operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. We will also cover aspects of shape, space and measures. This includes recognising, describing and comparing different shapes, using a range of measures including length, mass and capacity, as well as time and money. Instead of discrete lessons based on problem solving, problem solving will now be an integral part of daily lessons, enabling and empowering children to learn for themselves a greater depth and mastery in the subject.
As well as this, we have incorporated Maths Meetings into our day throughout the school. These are short, interactive sessions which cover a range of key maths skills, to ensure understanding is continuously embedded throughout the school year. In these sessions the children will sing songs and play games.
We want our children to be curious about the world around them. We therefore encourage science to be taught and explored ‘in the moment’ as much as possible, based on a child’s own interests. Our lessons nurture curiosity and provide children with a hands-on, interactive and fun scientific experiences. Children are encouraged to develop scientific enquiry and begin to answer their own questions through experimentation and exploration. They gain an incredible amount of knowledge through learning about aspects such as plants, animals and their habitats and materials. They will also be introduced to scientists, both old and new, to encourage children to understand how science has benefited to wider world. Every year we also celebrate Science Week, to ensure children know how important science is but also how fun it can be!
Computing is integral to all aspects of our curriculum as well as being taught discreetly. Through our curriculum, based upon Switched on Computing by Rising Stars, programming, research and publishing skills are taught in order to help our children to become digitally literate; using and expressing themselves through ICT so that they can become active participants in the digital world.
The use of iPads are an integral part of our cross curricular teaching and are planned for effectively. We use a range of apps including: Tiny Tap, Explain Everything and Book Creator to enhance the children’s learning across Literacy and Mathematics as well as the foundation subjects.
E-safety is an important part of the curriculum and is taught discreetly as well as alongside the rest of the curriculum. Children are taught about the importance of staying safe on the internet, how to be aware of possible dangers and who to report them to.
We have a very successful choir with regular performances every year:
In addition to this we were part of ‘Southend Makes Music’ at the Palace Theatre last year and have booked to take part again this year.
We also take the children to sing carols in a local old people’s home and before Christmas we extended our performances to include the Royals shopping centre.
The standard of singing generally is quite high in the school.
This club is open to year 2 children from September who by Christmas had learnt enough notes to be able to play in the concert.
Orchestra club has evolved this term from the success of the orchestra as part of the Christmas concert. This club is by invitation. Children are learning to play a variety of instrumental accompaniments to songs that are sung in assembly with the aim to performing in assembly.
We have made the most of the ‘First Access’ scheme offered by the government through Southend Music Services to provide all children with one terms’ whole class music tuition.
Our Year 2s had whole class ukulele tuition last year and this has been followed up by a after school club which runs two half hour sessions each with approximately 12 children in.
The Year 1s are currently having whole class ukulele tuition this term under the scheme and will have the opportunity to take part in an after school club in the summer term to extend their learning.
The whole school follows a progressive music curriculum which enables the children to build on their experiences each year.
Art and Design
In Art, we inspire and challenge our children through learning about a range of artists and cultures as well as promoting a variety of techniques, tools and materials. Using their knowledge and skills, children feel confident to experiment, invent and create their own works of art.
In History, our aim is to develop in children an understanding of how people have lived in different times in history. We encourage enquiring minds and allow children to make their own assumptions about the past through the use of artefacts and other resources. Throughout this process, children will develop a sense of chronology and understand how historical events fit within a timeline.
In Geography, we aim to provide a sense of fascination about the world we live in. Children are taught about their own locality using pictures, maps and globes, with the opportunity to complete fieldwork activities to enhance their first-hand experience of their locale. Children are able to make comparisons with other places in the world, which is supported through our link school in South Africa. Children will understand about human and physical features of Earth and how we impact our amazing home.
In PE, we strive to create pupils who are confident to explore physical activities whilst appreciating how this promotes their health and fitness. Through development of agility, balance and co-ordination, children become competent in skills such as running, jumping, throwing, catching and dancing. Team games allow pupils to learn how to co-operate and build character through healthy competition. PE teaching continues outside of the curriculum through after-school sports clubs such as football, netball, tag rugby, cross country and athletics as well as inter-school competitions. We take our Key Stage 1 children to Earls Hall swimming pool where we provide differentiated swimming lessons.
Design and Technology
In DT, we develop children’s creativity and imagination by encouraging them to design and make products that solve real problems. Through developing an understanding of how DT has impacted on our daily lives and allowing the exploration of tools, materials and mechanisms, children are willing to take risks and are resourceful.
PSHE and citizenship
PSHE and citizenship are elements of the whole curriculum that help to give children the knowledge, skills and understanding they need to lead confident, healthy and independent lives and to become informed, active, responsible citizens in a rapidly changing world. In undertaking PSHE and Citizenship, children learn to recognise their own worth, work well with others and become increasingly responsible for their own learning. They learn to understand and respect our common humanity, diversity and differences and develop a fuller understanding of British Values. In so doing, they develop a knowledge of their rights and duties as individuals and members of society. Throughout their schooling, pupils develop socially, morally, spiritually and culturally. Through P4C (Philosophy for Children) children also develop their thinking skills in: critical questioning, creative reflection, collaboration with their peers and caring for their community.
Religious Education in EYFS is inspired from topics and often reflects celebrations that occur at specific times and within the faith groups represented by the children. We often use awe and wonder to inspire children to think about our world and their response to it.
In Key Stage 1, we follow the Southend Agreed Syllabus. We learn about the Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist faiths, including their celebrations, stories, and their founders. We visit places of worship, as illustrated, as well as meeting members of faith communities who tell us about their lives. We think about what we can learn from these religions and also consider how they teach us about our place in the world we live in. We aim to encourage children to be more tolerant and respectful of all peoples around us.