Following the introduction of a new National Curriculum Framework from September 2014, the government has decided to remove level descriptors. The government’s policy of removing level descriptors from the National Curriculum is set out in terms of freeing schools from an imposed measure of pupil progress. The Department for Education has said that levels are not very good with respect to helping parents to understand how far their child is improving. In their place, from September 2014, “it will be for schools to decide how they assess pupils’ progress”.
With levels removed and the focus now on raising the achievement of every pupil, Whitgreave Junior School’s governors, leaders and teachers are in the process of developing a new way to measure pupil attainment and progress.
During the academic year 2014-15, the school is in a period of transition from old levels to new assessment descriptors:
- Year groups 3, 4 and 5 are being assessed against new descriptors;
- Year group 6 will continue to be assessed using levels and sub-levels, in-line with national testing arrangements for 2015.
Science is a core subject and, as such, has a very high profile in school. There’s a real enthusiasm for Science throughout the school, with the children always speaking very highly of the exciting lessons that are taught.
The Science Curriculum:
The National Curriculum is followed for Science, which takes approximately five half terms to complete each year. The remaining half term is given over to the children, who can make the decision to investigate something that they have already learnt about, but take it further; or go in a completely different direction and try something unusual and totally unrelated to anything they’ve previously studied!
The Key Stage 2 programme of study is as follows:
Year 3: Plants, Animals including Humans, Rocks, Light, Forces and Magnets.
Year 4: Animals including Humans, All Living Things and their Habitats, States of Matter, Sound, Electricity.
Year 5: Animals including Humans, All Living Things and their Habitats, Forces, Properties and Changes of Materials, Earth and Space.
Year 6: Animals including Humans, All Living Things and their Habitats, Electricity, Light, Evolution and Inheritance.
As you can see, some of the programmes of study are taught solely in one year group, others appear in multiple year groups. However, when this occurs, the National Curriculum is structured in such a way as to avoid repetition.
At Whitgreave we place a lot of emphasis on Working Scientifically: in other words, the children take the lead and investigate for themselves. Before investigating, the children create a question to be answered, plan what they would like to do, and predict what they think will happen. During the investigation, the children record their results, choosing their own format where applicable. Once the investigation is complete, the children then present their results and write a conclusion based on their original question. We also encourage the children to adapt and refine their investigation as it’s progressing, as well as thinking about what they would do better or differently next time. Teachers can track the children’s progress using our Science Milestones, which feature the required elements of subject knowledge for each Year Group, plus the appropriate Working Scientifically objectives.
Every class in the school elects a Science Ambassador and Deputy Science Ambassador at the start of the new school year. The Science Ambassador has a very important role (which is covered by the Deputy, if the Ambassador is absent). He or she is responsible for collecting evidence in lessons, using their own clipboards, record sheets and cameras. They also wear a very special lab coat with an ID badge! During lessons, the Science Ambassador can choose a member of the class who has impressed them with their investigation skills or Science knowledge and award them a Science Star certificate and sticker. They can even send postcards home to tell parents of their children’s achievements! Science Ambassadors report back to the Science Co-ordinator to discuss the learning that has been taking place, and to offer suggestions for how things could be improved. They also help out with planning any special Science events that take place during the school year, and tidying the Science Cupboard!
Other Science opportunities:
A Science Club takes place one term per year. Children are invited to take part, including our Gifted and Talented Scientists, and they have a great time doing a wide variety of fun, messy and sometimes loud experiments!
The children also have the opportunity to go on visits. Past examples have included: a trip to Conkers (to study wildlife and animal habitats), a day at the National Space Centre in Leicester, and a visit to the Big Bang Fair at Birmingham’s NEC. These visits support, enhance and extend the learning that takes places in the classroom.
We also have Science specialists visit school (such as Mad Science, Zoo Lab and even pupils and staff from local high schools), to lead assemblies, demonstrate experiments and take lessons. Outside visitors also support the children’s learning during British Science Week – which usually falls in March each year – where every afternoon is devoted to Science through a ‘carousel’ of activities.
If you want to explore Science at home, here are just a few of the hundreds of websites out there that you might find interesting and/or fun!
IT has become a part of our everyday lives and at Whitgreave Junior School we support our children to access information and equipment in all curriculum areas. It is important to recognise that IT should enhance learning rather than guide the learning that takes place. So with this in mind, we have invested in a wide range of equipment around the school to enable children to use modern technology in all subject areas.
Whitgreave Junior School is always adapting to the needs of our children and we strive to give them the best that we can. Throughout our school, all classrooms and learning areas are fully equipped with a range of equipment, including: wireless computers, interactive Smartboards, projection and sound facilities. A further range of equipment and facilities available includes a Computing and IT suite, a wireless mobile laptop system, iPads, video and digital cameras, and visualisers to enhance teaching and learning.
All computer workstations and laptops are networked and run Microsoft Office on a wireless network. This is supported by a proxy server that enables all of the machines attached to our network to connect to the internet simultaneously. The proxy server also supplies us with a firewall which blocks unauthorised access from the outside world, as well as controlling internal access to internet resources.
Whitgreave Junior School also uses a digital signage system to promote effective communication links with parents and carers, showcase children’s achievements and keep all stake-holders informed and up-to-date regarding curriculum events, parental engagement events, attendance, educational visits and extra-curricular clubs.
Computing and IT in the 21st Century is seen as an essential area of learning. It plays an important role in the everyday lives of children and adults. Consequently, schools need to build in the use of new technologies in order to equip children with the skills they will need to access life-long learning and employment.
It is also important to recognise the constant and fast paced evolution of IT within our society as a whole. Currently, the internet technologies children and young people are using both inside and outside of the classroom include:
- Virtual Learning Environments
- E-mail and Instant Messaging
- Blogs and Wikis
- Video Broadcasting
- Music Downloading
- Mobile devices with text, video and web functionality
Whilst exciting and beneficial both in and out of the context of education, all users need to be aware of the range of risks associated with the use of these internet technologies.
At Whitgreave Junior School, we use a wide range of resources, including web-based and mobile technologies, to deliver our Computing, IT and other curriculum areas. All staff understand the responsibility to educate our children on E.Safety issues; teaching them the appropriate behaviours and critical thinking skills to enable them to remain safe when using the internet and related technologies, in and beyond the context of the classroom.
Whitgreave Junior School’s E.Safety policy and Acceptable Use Policy (for all staff, governors, visitors, parents and pupils) are inclusive of both fixed and mobile internet technologies provided by the school (such as PCs, laptops, iPads, webcams, interactive whiteboards, digital camera and video equipment) and technologies owned by children and staff, but brought onto school premises (such as mobile phones, camera phones and portable media players).
The web has changed all of our lives. For users, a whole new world of dangers and opportunities has opened up. Parents can sometimes struggle to keep up with the things their children are doing online while others – who may be quite used to using the technology themselves – perhaps don’t realise that children need to be supervised while accessing the internet. At Whitgreave Junior School, we teach E.Safety at an age-appropriate level to each year group each year. Due to the ever-changing nature of the internet, our firewall (the technology that blocks unpleasant aspects of the internet) is only almost 100% effective. However, we teach children what to do if they ever see or read anything that isn’t appropriate – an important skill as firewalls and filters will certainly be less effective in the real world!
SATs Revision in Year 6
As you can imagine, this is a very important time for our Year 6 children, with SATs soon approaching! Booster sessions will start after Christmas; there will be weekly afternoon sessions on Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SAPG), Reading Comprehension and Maths. The purpose of the sessions, are to give children extra preparation time ready for the tests, and focus on any areas that the children find tricky. The booster sessions will run similarly to the mornings- set three ways- in order to ensure that the children are learning at a suitable level for them.
For the week of the SATs, in May, there will be daily tests based on Maths and Literacy. The tests include: SPAG (45 minutes), Spelling, Reading Comprehension (1 hour), Maths Arithmetic (30 minutes) and two Maths Reasoning Papers (both 40 minutes each). There isn’t a writing test, due to the fact, evidence is collected throughout the year and recorded in their Independent Books- you will be able to see their superb writing every Parents’ Evening, in their purple books.
Similar to this Autumn Term, after Christmas, children will have daily homework to complete- this is all in preparation for the SATs in May. On Monday, the children are given Spellings to learn over the week ready for a Spelling Test the following Monday; on Tuesday and Thursday the children need to read either their book from our school library or a text of their choice; on Wednesday is Maths homework and Friday, children have a Reading Comprehension to complete. If parents do have anything they wish to communicate with the teachers, regarding their children’s homework, by all means pop a note in their diary as they are checked every day.
If you are interested in your child having any extra homework, in preparation for the SATs, teachers are more than willing to provide more Reading Comprehension, Spellings and Maths homework. There are also lots of useful websites that will help your child prepare, such as:
The year 6 children are working ever so hard, and the staff have every faith that they will do their very best when May comes along! It’s vitally important that between now and the tests, Year 6 complete all their homework and keep their attendance as high as possible- every lesson counts!
At Whitgreave Junior School we follow the New Curriculum for English.
Reading and Phonics
We are passionate about reading and we endeavour to make sure that all our children develop a love for reading and every child leaves Whitgreave as a reader.
The programmes of study for Reading at Key Stages 1 and 2 consist of two dimensions: word reading and comprehension (both listening and reading). Guided Reading occurs within Literacy groups and teachers also deliver comprehension sessions twice a week.
Phonics is taught using the progression and ideas set out in Letters and Sounds. In Years 3 and 4, discrete phonics lessons are taught daily for identified children. We ensure we liaise with our main feeder Infant School, to obtain relevant assessment information. Click here to access a website demonstrating the correct pronunciation of the sounds.
During the school year, we have a Reading Focus week based on Shakespeare; this involves a visitor in school or a trip to the theatre. We also participate in Book Week and during this week the children have the opportunity to work with authors.
The programmes of study for writing at Key Stages 1 and 2 consist of transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing).
Writing has a well-developed profile at Whitgreave Junior School. In order to make good progression in writing, children need to:
• Enjoy writing and recognise its value;
• Write with confidence, clarity and imagination;
• Write grammatically correct sentences that are punctuated accurately;
• Understand the features of and how to write in a range of genres and non-fiction texts,
• Plan, draft, revise and edit their own writing;
• Develop an adventurous and broad vocabulary;
• Know their next steps and how they can make their writing better;
• Use phonological knowledge and spelling rules to spell accurately.
All units of work in Literacy follow a learning journey, starting with reading and analysing texts and ending with a quality, published piece of writing, which is displayed in quality books or showcased on display in the classroom. Every term each teacher identifies a ‘Whitgreave Writing Wizard,’ whose work appears in a special book, on display for all to see.
Every week the children participate in a spelling session and punctuation and grammar session.
Below are some useful websites to support your child in English.
Maths is a core subject, thus has a high profile in school. The children enjoy this subject and speak highly of the various quality learning activities they undertake within lessons.
Children are expected to cover various mathematical concepts across the school year. The subject is broken into 5 key areas; numbers and place value, calculation, geometry, measure and statistics. Each term a class will cover four of these areas totalling 12 topics in a year. As number is a more heavily weighted area, these units are covered more frequently, in particular, calculations. As a result, a Calculations Policy is followed across school, in order to ensure that calculation progression is developed throughout the school as a strategic approach. In addition to this, the children undertake a ‘Real Life Maths Project’ once per term. This enables children to develop their mathematical skills through various day situations such as; planning, budgeting, surveying etc.
Teachers plan a unit of work as a learning journey. The intended purpose is to develop a set of skills over time, thus gradually building skills and confidence, in order that the children can solve problems. Individual lessons are engaging and differentiated to meet the needs of all individual children. Challenges are included for all to attempt, so that learning is never capped and more able children are suitably challenged. Work is marked constructively and where appropriate, ‘TRY’ and ‘WOW’ questions are used to remedy misconceptions, reinforce learning or to move learning on further, in a bid to challenge and extend. During lessons, the children have access to a range of resources that help develop and further their understanding. A range of questioning techniques are also utilised, in order to further develop conceptual understanding.
Children are encouraged to self or peer-assess their learning and that of others within their classroom. Children are able to work as individuals, in pairs, as groups or with the teacher or TA. Where possible, children are encouraged to work in group sizes of their choice and are able to present their work in ways that suits them and the intended audience.
All systems that we have in place at Whitgreave are monitored rigorously. Regular lesson observations, book and planning scans, pupil questionnaires and continuous, relentless monitoring and evaluation ensures that every child makes at least good progress.
Humanities at Whitgreave consists of the subjects: History, Geography, Religious Education (RE) and Modern Foreign Languages (MFL).
Geography at Whitgreave aims to provoke and answer questions about the natural and human worlds, from different perspectives. It develops a knowledge of places and environments throughout the world and an understanding of maps. Geography is a focus within the curriculum for understanding and resolving issues about the environment and sustainable development. As pupils study Geography, they will encounter different societies and cultures, it will therefore inspire them to think about their own place in the world, their values, and their rights and responsibilities to other people and the environment.
History at Whitgreave is taught to fire pupils’ curiosity about the past in Britain and the wider world. Pupils will be taught to consider how the past influences the present, what past societies were like, how these societies organised their politics, and what beliefs and cultures influenced people’s actions. As they do this, pupils will develop a chronological timeline for their knowledge of significant events and people. In History, pupils will be taught to find evidence, weigh it up and reach their own conclusions. To do this they need to be able to research, sift through evidence, and argue their point of view.
RE at Whitgreave is concerned with helping pupils to reflect upon the experiences and mysteries of life and the contribution of religious and spiritual dimensions. At Whitgreave, we endeavour to make RE stimulating, with real life experiences and a forum where prejudice and stereotyping can be challenged and discussed in a safe way. The school curriculum aims to promote pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and prepare all pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life.
MFL at Whitgreave is taught to provide an opening to other cultures and will foster pupils’ curiosity and deepen their understanding of the world. We aim to enable pupils to express their ideas and thoughts in another language and to understand and respond to speakers, both in speech and in writing.
The Arts are foundation subjects which cover Design and Technology, Art, Music and PE. They are lessons which our children particularly enjoy, as they develop and apply their skills.
Staff utilise National Curriculum, which outlines skills which need to be developed, along with the School Curriculum. Milestones are used to show the progression and skills that need to be taught and are used as a tool for assessment and progression. Staff utilise creative opportunities to develop and embed teaching and learning within subject areas. Learning is planned as part of an on-going journey, which develops and embeds key skills throughout. Each journey culminates in an end product. Teachers develop learning through a wide range of strategies, including demonstration, modelling, questioning and through facilitating learning.
Music plays a large part of life at Whitgreave. School employs specialist Music Teachers to teach children to play brass instruments and woodwind instruments. In addition, school employs a Singing Teacher, who works with all children within school and in particular, the Whitgreave School Choir, who recently won the Signal 107 FM Little Voices Competition. Whitgreave also has a Radio Station, which is currently being developed within school.
Whitgreave employs the services of Sports Plus, which is a specialist company that supplies schools with qualified Sports Coaches, to support teaching and learning within PE. The Sports Coach also works closely with Whitgreave staff and the Subject Leader, in order to develop good quality provision throughout school.
Within each Year Group, targeted children are chosen as Sports Leaders. These children are encouraged to support the PE staff in the set-up and delivery of lessons. They are expected to set an example for all to follow, and it is fair to say that they thoroughly enjoy their responsibilities