The Creative Curriculum
At Westgate Hill Primary Academy, we have worked hard with teachers, parents
Our creative curriculum, developed ‘for Westgate Hill, by Westgate Hill’, has been designed in order to nurture and encourage natural curiosity. All the most recent research (Learning Sciences and Brain Research Project, OECD 2004) demonstrates that the most effective, memorable learning is learning that affects the emotions. For this
Our BRAVE Curriculum
We have taken a thematic approach to our curriculum, grouping individual subjects into three themes that are taught across the year: ‘Create’, ‘Discover’ and ‘Explore’. These themes are big, bold and full of possibilities. We encourage the children to ask ‘What if..?’
Our themes reflect where we live and our unique school community. For this reason, each topic has a geographical or cultural link, allowing children to
At our school, we have high expectations of all learners, and this is reflected in the quality of work, both in pupil books and on display. We are aspirational for our pupils, encouraging them to broaden their horizons through the themes and topics we cover. Our
Crucially, it is important that all children are engaged in and stimulated by our curriculum. Each theme memorably starts with a ‘Big Bang Topic Launch’. This is an event which serves to fully immerse the learners in the theme for that half term. All learners, no matter what their proficiency in English, will have a concept upon which to base their learning.
Our creative curriculum is
Within this theme, children will be taught the practical skills of designing and making products in order to meet an identified need using creativity and imagination. Pupils will learn how to take risks, becoming resourceful, innovative, enterprising and capable citizens. Children will learn the skills of drawing, painting, sculpture and textile design. They will learn about the art work of great artists and crafts people and know how art and design reflect and shape our history and contribute to the culture and creativity of our nation. Finally, pupils will perform, listen to, understand and explore a range of music and develop a critical engagement with music. The create theme will support pupils in exploring their creativity and talent and so increase their self-confidence, creativity and sense of achievement.
This theme will fire pupils’ curiosity to learn more about the past. Pupils will learn to ask perceptive questions and think critically. In every topic within this theme children will order events in time; find differences and similarities; identify cases and consequences and compare different historical periods. They will use a range of sources to evaluate their usefulness and communicate their understanding. All classes will aim to link ‘then’ with ‘now’. This theme allows pupils to see the diversity of human experience, and understand more about themselves as individuals and members of society. What they learn can influence their decisions about personal choices, attitudes and values.
Our Explore theme inspires in our pupils a curiosity and fascination about the world and its people. Learning in our Explore topics is about understanding the world by: comparing locations; investigating; researching different sources; writing and talking about places; asking and answering questions. Children learn about diverse places, people, resources and natural and human environments, together with a deep understanding of the Earth’s key physical and human processes. Children will learn many transferable skills, such as research, observation, measurement, recording and presentation.
At Westgate Hill Primary Academy we firmly believe that reading is the key to educational success, and with this in mind, reading fluency and comprehension is at the core of our English teaching. We have a determination that all children will be competent readers by the time they leave our school; able to decode accurately and to comprehend what they have read. Through our vibrant reading culture and high quality teaching, we aim to engender a love of reading and literature which will sow the seeds of success to last a lifetime.
According to the Reading Panel (2000), the core components of reading include phonemic awareness, phonics and word study, fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. Frequent reading practice is said to encourage vocabulary development, which decreases the difficulty with reading and can lead therefore to a promotion in reading satisfaction.
For this reason we take every opportunity to develop and widen children’s vocabulary, creating a language rich environment in order to stimulate our pupils’ natural curiosity about new words.
We also understand that good readers become good writers. Our choice of high quality, engaging and age-appropriate literature provide motivation and stimulus for enjoyable writing opportunities with clear audience, purpose and role. Where writing is concerned, practice makes perfect, so our pupils are given frequent opportunities to produce complete pieces of writing, building to one piece of extended writing per week in Key Stage 2. Pupils at our school are proud of their written work and understand the importance of being able to communicate effectively in both their spoken and written language.
Our Literature Spine
This literature spine has been designed by the staff at Westgate Hill Primary Academy with the intention of mapping out our pupils’ core entitlement in order to create a living library in the child’s mind. We have used our own expertise and, with support from experts in children’s literature (FFT Literacy and Literature Works Newcastle), we believe that our spine reflects the best children’s literature – carefully selected for their quality and in terms of how they can support our children’s understanding of our society and the wider world. We have selected titles by up and coming children’s authors (Faye Hanson and William Grill), established children’s authors (Roald Dahl, Michael Morpurgo and Betsy Byers) and also classics of literature, from Christina Rossetti to Edgar Allen Poe.
Through this store of classics and essential reads, we want all children to experience the intrinsic sense of joy that reading can bring. The spine has been the subject of detailed discussions, with all titles carefully considered. Many serve a double duty in also supporting our knowledge engaged BRAVE curriculum. Our aim has been to select texts that are diverse in order to support our pupils to become tolerant, respectful, well-informed and empathetic young people. It is important to us that our selected titles not only reflect our shared British heritage, but also cultures across the world. In order to full prepare our young readers for the next stage in their education, we have selected books that are complex beyond just the language used and that demand more from our students as readers. As such, our reading spine is a launch pad for our pupils’ own journey as life long readers.
At Westgate Hill Primary Academy we feel it is vital that a positive attitude towards mathematics is encouraged amongst all of our pupils in order to foster confidence and achievement in a skill that is essential in everyday life enabling them to succeed in the future.
Through the implementation of Maths No Problem, a scheme that builds up mathematical concepts and processes, from the maths mastery approach, we intend all pupils become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics, through varied and frequent practice with problems over time to develop conceptual understanding, reason mathematically by following a line of enquiry, looking for relationships and making generalisations and solve problems by applying their mathematics to a variety of problems, persevering in seeking solutions and developing resilience.
We have adopted a Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract (C-P-A) approach which forms an integral part of the learning process. Concrete is the ‘doing’ stage using concrete objects to model problems, bringing concepts to life by allowing pupils to experience and handle physical objects themselves during problem-solving and group work, ensuring all pupils can access learning regardless of their abilities and needs. Pictorial is the ‘seeing’ stage using representations of the objects to model problems by drawing or looking at pictures, diagrams or models which represent the objects in the problem. Abstract is the ‘symbolic’ stage where pupils are able to use abstract symbols using only numbers, notation and mathematical symbols such as +. -, x, ÷. Although CPA is shown as three distinct stages teachers will go back and forth between each representation to reinforce concepts. During In Focus and Let’s Learn tasks misconceptions can be identified and addressed through key questioning and clear, direct feedback is given. Teachers adapt the scheme and future lessons in order to meet the needs of the pupils when necessary. The implementation of regular journaling tasks has shown pupils are engaged in their learning, are given opportunities to reflect on their own understanding, self-assess and enable them to understand how they learn as individuals. This approach allows teachers to see what a pupil has understood, and how they were making sense of the concepts by building on prior understanding or knowledge, whilst assessing individual strengths and needs.
The impact of this approach to teaching maths has seen an increase in pupils’ confidence and resilience when approaching a task in lessons thinking of different ways to solve problems, using mathematical vocabulary in context when explaining their thinking to others and applying their skills. We feel it is important that we listen to the feedback of our pupils and they talk enthusiastically about their maths lessons. “I like working with the dienes. It helps me to understand maths better.”
Regular assessment using Rising Stars, as well as times tables and mental recall assessments, has identified strengths and areas for development for each class/cohort within certain aspects of maths in order to inform planning and the focus of maths meetings.
Science is a collaborative and creative subject that inspires and excites the imagination due to our desire to understand the world around us. Learning science through inquiry enables students to ask more questions
At Westgate Hill Primary Academy we have created our own enriched science curriculum that seeks to provide our children with opportunities to develop their planning, investigating, and evaluating skills. The children will be exposed to a wide variety of engaging topics that support the children’s curiosity for learning including,
• Working Scientifically
• Life Processes & Living Things
• Materials and their Properties
• Physical Processes
The aim of our curriculum is to promote a love of investigation and a desire to explore new topics without barriers. We strive to develop a high quality use of language that children will be able to use throughout all their learning and that deepens their understanding of every topic.
At Westgate Hill Primary Academy, we want to prepare our pupils for the future in a world of new and evolving technologies. Our aim is to ensure that every pupil has the ability to code through a range of programs making them secondary school ready and even consider a career path in tech-driven industries such as software programming, web design and computer programming. We are committed in providing the relevant skills and understanding to be successful in computer science at all ages regardless of academic ability or background. Our computing curriculum embeds coding skills requiring them to problem solve through practical skills in a safe and secure environment. Pupils understand how to stay safe whilst using technologies both at home and school, understand the basic functions of a computer and know how to protect themselves online. Examples of software, that are free to download at home, include:
The teaching of music is based upon the fact that it is a creative and social art to be enjoyed. The progressive strands of music are interwoven with our BRAVE curriculum to give children the opportunity to enjoy musical experiences through listening, singing, movement and dance and by playing tuned and un-tuned instruments. The music program Charanga is used to support the delivery of music across the school.
Pupils from years 3 to 6 have the chance to play the guitar and violin. These lessons take place after school on a Tuesday and Wednesday and are taught by specialist music teachers from Newcastle music service, who teach and give pupils the best opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills in this area of the curriculum.
At Westgate Hill, we are keen to show our singing skills and do so through in our school choirs, (KS1 and UKS2).
During this academic year 2021 – 2022, Years 3 to 6 will have the opportunity to play Samba drums in weekly whole class drumming sessions and EYFS, Years 1 and 2 will be taking part in Djembe drumming sessions. Nursey children will be engaged in an exciting new project, ‘First Thing Music’ that will run all year and engage, support, enhance their learning through music. Year 5 will be having the amazing opportunity of learning the fiddle during the Autumn term. All of these sessions are led by specialist music teachers from Newcastle music service.
At Westgate Hill Primary Academy we believe in giving children the best possible start in their reading. We follow the Read Write Inc. scheme, a high quality systematic phonics programme that prepares children for learning to read by developing phonic knowledge, comprehension and reading skills. As well as learning to read and blend real words, children will have plenty of opportunities to apply their sound recognition skills on reading ‘Nonsense words’. These words will also feature heavily in the Year One Phonics Screening check in the summer term.
The aim of the programme is to make children fluent readers by the age of seven. Our approach to teaching phonics is consistent in each class and at Westgate Hill Primary Academy it has proved to be highly successful with our phonics screening results improving year on year since 2016. To ensure our high standards are maintained, we have regular Development Days led by a Read Write Inc. specialist to coach us in new developments and offer up to date training for our staff. All children are assessed regularly so they work with children at the same level. This allows complete participation in lessons.
In Reception the children are taught a phonics lesson 4 times a week where they will be introduced to the speed sounds. They will be taught how to say, read and write the sounds, then how to blend the sounds to read words.
Year 1 and Year 2
In Key Stage One, the children are taught a daily phonics lesson where they build on their phonic skills from Reception and learn the complex sounds and alternate spelling patterns.
Phonics screening check
The Year 1 phonics screening check is a short assessment to confirm whether individual children have learnt phonic decoding to an appropriate standard.
It will identify those pupils who need extra support to improve their reading skills. They will then be able to retake the check in Year 2.
Key Stage 2
Because learning to read is a tremendously complex skill to master, any children who still need support with their reading in Key Stage 2 are taught RWI phonics as an intervention programme.
Using RWI phonics to teach reading provides children with the essential knowledge and skills to succeed in this vital skill.
The Early Years team at Westgate Hill Primary Academy provide a nurturing and enabling environment where children feel safe, secure and valued. We deliver a motivating and engaging curriculum that is based on children’s interests and aims to deliver exciting activities that promote independence. Our goal is for all children to feel supported and challenged wherever possible to take risks, learn from mistakes and practise new skills. Children develop good communication skills in our language rich environment where they are encouraged to form strong friendships and respect each other’s cultures and backgrounds. In our Early Years, we aim to build strong relationships with families and carers that will help families to feel involved with their child’s individual journey as they learn and grow with us. Through a balanced curriculum of child initiated and formal teaching, we give children every possible chance to succeed beyond our Early Years.