Books, books, books!
At Greenacres Primary Academy, our children have access to a broad, balanced, creative and coherent curriculum that prepares them for the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century and raises aspirations. They are equipped with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and dispositions they need to become well-rounded individuals and life-long learners whilst instilling the love of learning and reading in our diverse world.
To provide our children with the tools they need to be successful adults, our curriculum is stimulating and knowledge-based. Our children are responsible for their own learning, enabling them to plan and show initiative, persevere and have a commitment for self-improvement.
Our curriculum is built around books. We read for pleasure in school and have well-stocked and well-used Junior and Lower School libraries run by our older students. We have a wide selection of home reading books and we also have class novels we enjoy together in every year group. We have a book list for each class, that we believe every child should be exposed to over their time at Greenacres Primary Academy. Our homework policy is largely reading and the children read some excellent books, both classic and modern within their English lessons.
First-hand experiences in our curriculum are absolutely essential; trips out of school are vital to our children’s understanding of the world and an essential part of our cultural capital. Each class has a big trip, local visit, visitor or special experience in school each half term to supplement their subjects. We understand the value of having these experiences appropriately-placed throughout the year to maximise knowledge and learning opportunities and began lines of enquiry as a result of learning from the experience.
Our 'themes' have recently been revised, with our children’s interests, heritage and high expectations at the heart of the design. Our themes are engaging, stimulating and challenging for all pupils. We have created a broad and balanced opportunity for creative thinking and learning for both boys and girls from all backgrounds.
We firmly believe that our children learn well out of the classroom. For this reason, every class has a 'Forest Fridays' experience each half term. The children spend the whole day outdoors in our specialised 'forest' area, where they look after our chickens, build shelters, cook on a campfire, play team-building games and do some really exciting activities linked to our curriculum topics (building Viking boats, digging out WW1 trenches). We believe that learning outside the classroom is absolutely essential for our children's mental health and well-being, to understand their part in environmental studies and to have fun bonding with their classmates, teachers and animals.
Through our curriculum provision, we aim to:
- Promote and sustain a thirst for knowledge and a love of learning.
- Create a sense of wonder in our pupils.
- Promote inclusion, diversity and community cohesion.
- Keep up with ever-changing technology.
- Encourage children to work independently and cooperatively.
- Ensure that children are taught to become enterprising.
- Develop emotional intelligence and raise aspirations.
- Help to make children socially responsible.
- Contribute very well to pupils’ social, moral, spiritual and cultural development.
- Ensure that all pupils realise their potential.
- Ensure that children achieve high standards across a variety of subjects.
- Ensure that all children are taught the essential knowledge in the subject disciplines.
As part of the South Pennine Academies Trust, we benefit from being part of a forward-thinking academic organisation and have access to exciting opportunities and projects.
- Staff have high expectations of themselves and all children.
- Teachers are expected to impart knowledge accurately and with enthusiasm which generates high levels of commitment from children.
- We expect teachers to support children in developing independence.
- We expect all children to be challenged.
- We expect teachers to provide high-quality constructive feedback to all children.
- We expect children to act with respect, responsibility and really good manners at all times.
Knowledge and first-hand experiences
At Greenacres Primary Academy we embrace a pedagogy of personalised and cooperative learning; an approach which expects all children to reach or exceed national expectations, to fulfill their potential and develop as well-rounded individuals through coaching each other. High expectations of progress apply equally to children working above, at or below age-related expectations, including those who have been identified as having special educational needs. There is an expectation of participation, fulfillment and success; and teaching and learning is characterised by ambitious objectives, rapid intervention to keep pupils on a trajectory and rigorous assessment to check and maintain pupil progress. The teacher's priority is to support children so that they can keep up with the pace of learning and make good rates of progress.
Traditionally it was expected that teachers would differentiate by task or expectation and many different levels of success were expected; this approach often ran the risk of lowering expectations. Today, the effective teaching practices at Greenacres primary Academy see teachers expecting everyone to succeed by offering high levels of support or extra challenge for those who need it so that all pupils can keep up with year group expectations.
1) Quality First Teaching
- Highly focused lesson design with sharp objectives
- High demands of child engagement with their learning
- High levels of interaction for all children
- Passionate teachers who are experts in what they are teaching
- Appropriate use of teacher questioning, modelling and explanations
- An expectation that children will develop resilience and accept responsibility for their own learning and work independently
- Regular use of praise and encouragement to motivate children
- Individual children's progress tracked
- Strengths and weaknesses identified
- Immediate intervention
- Data collection on a regular basis and shared with staff and children
- Teaching, interventions and revision programmes are adjusted in the light of progress children make
- Parents and carers are regularly updated on their child's progress
- Rigorous assessment and tracking of children's performance takes place to inform classroom practice
- AfL (assessment for learning) is evident across the Academy; learning objectives, learning outcomes, success criteria and self/peer evaluation
- Pupils who are not making sufficient progress are identified
- Provision for intervention is mapped according to need
- Detailed plans are put into place
- Interventions are evaluated and adjustments are made
- Organisation of the classrooms are adapted to suit the needs of the children
- The use of learning resources and ICT allows children to work independently and successfully
- Our outdoor forest schools classroom is well loved and used weekly
- Our brand new art studio is well used to develop skills
- Displays are a mixture of a celebration of work, supportive resources and information
- The curriculum is designed to cater to the needs and interests of a full range of learners including;
- learners with special educational needs
- learners who are learning English as an additional language
- boys and girls
- children who are in care
- learners with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties
2) Effective Learning
We know that all people are different and they retain information in different ways. We offer ways for children to learn in different ways including:
- investigation and problem solving
- open-ended tasks
- paired work and independent work
- effective questioning
- use of ICT
- educational visits
- creative activities
- forest schools
- physical activity
- extra-curricular clubs
Our children are encouraged to work together and use coaching skills to help each other to achieve an outcome. They are always accountable to each other in their learning pairs. When they share ideas, their talking time is equal to avoid children taking over the conversation or being left behind. All children discuss simultaneously rather than the teacher asking one child to answer a question. Our teachers are learning facilitators, creating a challenging yet safe environment for children to want to take risks and learn from mistakes. This is the way our cooperative learning works. The children in Nursery begin with very basic structures, which are gradually built upon in each year group. With their 'shoulder partner', every child has the security of never being alone in learning. Partners change every half term to avoid the children becoming too comfortable with each other.
Habits of Learning
Our habits of a highly effective learner are:
1) Put effort in; learning is tricky
2) Be reflective; know your strengths and weaknesses
3) Keep your goal in mind; understand what you are doing and why
4) Work cooperatively; engage with your shoulder partner
5) See problems as challenges; you only fail when you stop trying
6) Failure is ok; learn from your mistakes
7) Enjoy your learning; you only get one education so make it count
3) Our Curriculum
How is our curriculum delivered?
Every half term begins with the fundamental principles of the learning cycle. The ‘engage week’ generates excitement and engagement for something new. The children share what they know already and decide what it is they want to discover. Children have a first-hand experience related to their themes: something exciting they will always remember. This process takes a week.
For 3-4 weeks after this, the children acquire new knowledge. They are trained to be resilient, open-minded and to persevere when mistakes are made. The research is done to answer their own questions and new skills are developed. This is our ‘develop’ section of the topic.
The following week after this is known as our 'innovate' week. Now skills have been practiced, our children know they are to think about things in different ways. Through a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) project, problem-solving becomes more challenging and children are taught that even though mistakes aren’t as frequent, they are learning through higher order thinking skills.
Finally, we have an express week. Our children know that teaching their new skills and knowledge to someone else allows them to embed their learning. Work is evaluated and successes are celebrated. And so the cycle continues.
Use of ICT
We strive to engage all learners in our curriculum in as many ways as we can. With that in mind, we use a variety of innovative equipment to enhance learning opportunities. The majority of our children are learning English as an additional language. They need visual aids to support their learning which is why we use smart boards, visualisers, iPads and touch screen TVs. We also have an expert computing teacher who works with each class.
Our English lessons develop pupils' spoken language, reading, writing and grammar and vocabulary. English is taught as two discreet subjects in years 1-6; reading and writing. We teach our pupils to speak clearly and use standard English, to convey their ideas fluently and confidently and to ask questions; the use of cooperative learning structures supports this. We have a huge emphasis on vocabulary in all subjects and children are encouraged to read for pleasure and to read widely.
We use Read, Write, Inc for our daily phonics programme. We develop writing skills so that our pupils have the stamina and ability to write at the age expected standard. To support children in moving towards independent writing we provide a wide range of activities including the use of film and imagery, modelled, shared and guided writing, peer editing and discussion. We use the 'Writing Revolution' and 'Mrs. Wordsmith' to encourage pupils to express their ideas succinctly, exchange ideas and to develop more sophisticated vocabulary. We provide opportunities for writing for purpose and we
encourage pupils to see themselves as authors. We promote the status of written work by providing opportunities for children’s writing to be published and read by real audiences on Twitter. Handwriting sessions are incorporated into English lessons. A range of extra activities are used to promote literacy within the school including an annual Poetry week, World Book Day and author visits.
Please refer to our English Policy.
At Greenacres Primary Academy we embrace the mastery approach to teaching mathematics. Our teachers ensure that mathematical skills are taught every day following the 'Power Maths' programme. They also use cross-curricular opportunities to develop pupils' mathematical fluency. Our pupils understand the importance or mathematics, are encouraged to be confident in numeracy and to apply the skills to simple problem-solving. There are extra activities throughout the year to promote mathematical skills and thinking including enrichment days.
At Greenacres we aim to:
-Develop a positive attitude to mathematics as an interesting and attractive subject in which all children gain some success and pleasure;
-Develop mathematical understanding through systematic direct teaching of appropriate learning objectives;
-Encourage the effective use of mathematics as a tool in a wide range of activities within school and, subsequently, adult life;
-Develop an ability in the children to: express themselves fluently, talk about the subject with assurance, use correct mathematical language and vocabulary when reasoning;
-Develop an appreciation of relationships within mathematics;
-Develop the ability to think clearly and logically with the independence of thought and flexibility of mind;
-Develop an appreciation of the creative aspects of mathematics and awareness of its aesthetic appeal;
-Develop mathematical skills and knowledge and quick recall of basic facts.
Please refer to our Maths Policy
Science is taught as a separate lesson but is linked to our themes where appropriate. We encourage our pupils to be curious about natural phenomena and to be excited by the process of understanding the world around them. Key scientific terminology will be introduced each lesson and knowledge will be built upon throughout the school. Pupils will be encouraged to work scientifically and will able to carry out simple tests and experiments using the equipment and to gather and record data. Whilst at Greenacres Primary Academy, children will learn about plants, animals including humans, materials, seasonal change, habitats, rocks, light, forces, states of matter, sound, electricity, earth and space and evolution and inheritance. Visits by specialists such as 'Zoo to You' alongside close links with local secondary schools will enhance the delivery of our science curriculum. We will also have dedicated science days throughout the year.
Art and Design Technology
Art has a very important place in our curriculum. We see art as a vehicle for creativity and individual expression and it provides opportunities for collaborative work. It is an important form of cultural expression and, therefore, has significance and meaning for all our children. Our teaching provides an understanding of all the diverse art forms so that the children experience drawing, painting, collage, textiles, 3D designs, printmaking and digital media.
We have Art Days with a whole school focus on one artist or painting and we include art in our themed weeks.
Our design and technology lessons encourage the designing and making of products to solve real
and relevant problems. Our pupils learn to select from and use a wide range of materials and components, including construction materials, textiles and ingredients, according to their characteristics. In the Summer of 2019 we had a purpose-built art studio created to ensure our children have the very best opportunities to succeed in the arts.
We have discreet timetable time for the development of computing but our approach is also to
integrate ICT into all lessons: the use of laptops and other hardware such as cameras and iPads is as
much part of our learning tools as pencils and pens. Subject-specific software, from one-off programmes to learning platforms, support teaching and learning across all years. The children develop their skills, starting in reception with mouse control, keyboard skills, saving and printing work. They draw pictures, write and use the internet to carry out research. They then progress to more complex skills such as data analysis and coding. Pupils will use technology safely and identify where to go for help and support when they have concerns. We are lucky enough to have an expert computing teacher that work on project-based lessons with each class, including using a drone to capture film, green-screening, website design and film-making.
From Year 3 to Year 6 we teach French to all children. Our approach is to make learning a new language fun! Young pupils are very receptive to learning a new language; they like to mimic pronunciation and they can easily pick up and duplicate new sounds. They feel a real sense of accomplishment when they learn to say something new. We have discreet lessons on the timetable but we will also integrate the foreign language into the everyday routine.
In their music lessons pupils use their voices expressively and creatively by singing songs and speaking chants and rhymes. Assemblies will also provide an opportunity to practise singing. Pupils will also be taught to play a variety of instruments musically and encouraged to play together in ensemble groups. We encourage listening to a wide range of music with concentration and understanding. Music lessons are sometimes linked to themed work and music is used in a variety of lessons and activities to create, mood, atmosphere and to help thinking. The 'Charranga' programme supports our teaching of music across the school.
PE is delivered by a mixture of class teachers and specialist teachers. Our PE sessions include both indoor and outdoor for
all children, including a combination of games, dance and gumnastics. They focus on mastering basic movements including running, jumping, throwing and catching, as well as developing balance, agility and co-ordination. Pupils are
encouraged to participate in team games and to develop simple tactics for being an effective team member. Key Stage 2 pupils will also complete lessons inside and outside at other facilities including the local swimming pool, gymnasium at Waterhead Academy. Swimming is introduced to the timetable in Year 4. We ensure wider participation
in the community by involvement in interschool sports and swimming tournaments, local authority
and Trust based competitions as well as the annual sports days and bi-annual football competitions.
PSHE and Relationships
PSHE, or personal, social, health and education, is a planned programme of learning through which children and young people acquire the knowledge, understanding and skills they need to manage their lives. As part of a whole school approach, PSHE develops the qualities and attributes pupils need to thrive as individuals, family members and members of society. It prepares them to manage many of the most critical opportunities, challenges and responsibilities they will face growing up in such rapidly changing and challenging times. It also helps them to connect and apply the knowledge
and understanding they learn in all subjects to practical, real-life situations while helping them to feel safe and secure enough to fulfil their academic potential. In our programmes we actively promote British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs to prepare our pupils for life in modern day Britain. Our PSHE lessons enable our pupils to understand the British democratic process and
how to effect peaceful changes in society.
All our year groups have timetabled PSHE time but we encourage a cross-curricular approach to the development of PSHE skills and understanding. Pupils learn about similarities and differences between people and cultures. They participate in a variety of cultural events such as Diwali, Hanukkah, Shrove Tuesday and Shavuot. Relationships education is a crucial part of our PSHE lessons and allows children to learn to understand their own relationships and the relationships that other people choose. They learn what makes safe and happy relationships and how to manage risks and dangers.
Religious Education (RE) is taught to all children. Our teaching promotes the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of our pupils. It reflects the fact that the religious traditions in Great Britain are in the main Christian whilst taking account of the teaching and practices of other principal religions represented in Great Britain. Our teaching enables pupils to acquire knowledge and understanding of religious beliefs, attitudes, practices and rituals. They will also develop their own beliefs and values. We will not convert or steer pupils towards a particular religious belief. They
will also be aware that some people have no attachment to religious beliefs and follow secular philosophies. We are very proud to have a close relationship with Greenacres Congregational Church, with the Reverend taking our assemblies once per month. We also regularly visit the church, the local mosque and a synagogue, a gurdwara and a Buddhist temple close to school.
Themed Weeks and Days
Once per term we have a week dedicated to a specific theme. During the week, we explore our learning behaviours and teach very practical and thematic lessons. Everything during that week ties into the theme across the school. These are designed around gaps in learning and the needs of the children.
Summer 2015- Down on the Farm
Autumn 2015- Science Investigation Week
Spring 2016- Worms!
Summer 2016- Olympic Week
Autumn 2016- 1st Annual Poetry Slam
Spring 2017- Art Gallery Greenacres
Summer 2017- Be Healthy, Be Safe
Autumn 2017- 2nd Annual Poetry Slam
Spring 2018- Dream Big!
Summer 2018- Courage Calls! (Suffragettes movement)
Summer 2018- Annual Enterprise Week
Autumn 2018- 3rd Annual Poetry Slam
Spring 2019- British Science Week
Summer 2019- Victorian Week
Summer 2019- Annual Enterprise Week
Autumn 2019- 4th Annual Poetry Week
Workshops and Specialists
Each year group will take part in a variety of workshops throughout the academic year. These will link to their topic work or to a whole school theme. We invite specialists from a range of outside agencies at various points through the year, including using parents and community friends to inspire our children to think about careers and aspirations.
Trips and Visits
Trips are an essential part of our curriculum and we plan a series of trips throughout the year for each year group and these are communicated to parents at the start of the academic year. The trips are directly linked to our topic work for example a Viking theme in Year 4 may include a trip to the Jorvik Viking Museum in York in order to allow children to see an environment replicating what life was like. We organise residential trips for our 6 pupils. Year 6 will spend two nights away in a local centre taking part in many exciting outdoor learning activities.
We are committed to the broadest educational offering, and that means looking beyond the National Curriculum. A very successful enrichment programme that draws upon a wide range of adult skills is offered through school trips, visiting specialists and themed days and weeks. The programme is planned throughout the year.
High expectations for all
We measure the impact of our curriculum with regular quizzes, tests and day to day formative assessments, as well as the end of key stage tests which allow us to compare ourselves against other schools nationally which include:
- EYFS % of pupils achieving a 'good level of development' (GLD)
- Phonics Screening Checks at the end of Year 1
- End of KS1 % of children 'working towards' or at the 'expected standard' and at 'greater depth' in reading, writing and maths
- Year 4 % of children at the expected standard for multiplication facts (coming 2020)
- End of KS2 % of children 'working towards' or at the 'expected standard' and at 'greater depth' in reading, writing and maths
But, in reality, we will be measuring how effectively our curriculum helps our pupils develop into well-rounded individuals who embody our values and carry with them the knowledge, skills and attitudes which will make them lifelong learners and valuable future citizens.