Our curriculum is all about the individual child’s experience at Combe St Nicholas Primary school. We value each child as an individual with a unique potential for obtaining knowledge and skills in the way that suits them best. Our aim is to enable every child to participate fully in society as a responsible, confident citizen no matter what their background or ability is. At Combe St Nicholas we promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, academic and physical qualities of all pupils, allowing everyone to belong to the school and feel a part of the community.
We follow a demanding curriculum that is based on the national curriculum, yet bespoke and suitably demanding for the unique context which our children come from and the location of the school on the Blackdown Hills.
Our Combe St Nicholas curriculum is designed with four key elements:
At Combe St Nicholas, we teach writing in real life contexts. We want the children to understand that the purpose of writing is communication and so each time they write, there is an audience. This could be sending a letter to the parish council or the local MP, writing a story for the enjoyment of other pupils in the school or producing a guide book for one of our project outcomes. Early writing and mark making is practised through play where the children make shopping lists, write menu's or send messages to each other. The Message Centre is introduced early on in the school and then develops throughout the school in each classroom. Each year the children in year six have an opportunity to attend an Arvon writing week, where the pupils work alongside published authors and indulge in a week of creative writing. Tutors and guest authors for our cohorts in the past have included Peter and Ann Sansom, Tom McLaughlin, Emma Carrol and Michael Morpurgo.
Phonics is taught using Sounds Write. The books that accompany this program are fully decodable and progressive and the supporting activities and games enable the teachers to teach phonics in a structured way. Phonics is taught daily from the nursery to the end of key stage one. Some students may need further support with phonics into key stage two and Dandelion Readers are used to support this too.
After completing the Dandelion readers scheme, the children are encouraged to read independently a wide range of books which will challenge and develop reading skills and vocabulary. They are
regularly supported in selecting books from the school library and share their reading with an adult. They also have daily guided reading in class and access to an online system called Read Theory. Each year group has a Reading Canon. These are the books which we would like all children to have had experience of during that year. They are a mix of traditional stories and modern classics.
At Combe St NIcholas Primary School, we teach RE by meeting the requirements of the Somerset Agreed Syllabus, supported further by the scheme Understanding Christianity. Our aim is to engage,encourage, inspire and challenge children, equipping them with knowledge and skills to answer challenging questions.
Religious Education allows children to ask deep and meaningful questions about their own faith and belief as well as the faith and belief of others. We develop the children’s knowledge and understanding of the major world faiths in year group blocks. We aim to give them opportunities to reflect and develop their own spiritual knowledge and understanding.
Religious Education is taught progressively through the school, ensuring knowledge and skills are built upon.
At Combe St Nicholas we believe that thinking is at the heart of mathematics and that it is an excellent subject through which to explicitly model and teach thinking skills. We encourage children to embrace decision making and explaining their thinking over and above the ‘right answer’.
Central to our teaching of ‘number’ is the concrete – pictorial – abstract approach which suggests that learning mathematics is about connecting experiences, language, images and symbols. For this
reason, the use of concrete materials and images are essential in our mathematics learning throughout the school.
Our teachers use the White Rose Scheme as a basis for their maths planning, but use ongoing assessment to ensure that any gaps in knowledge or skills are identified quickly. In addition, links with the real world and with our projects are made wherever possible in maths. Examples of this have been working to a budget to help to plan the end of year performance, using scale and measure to complete models and weighing ingredients for cooking.