We aim to lift as much of the curriculum as possible off the page and make it exciting and tangible. Many of our lessons are enhanced by local visits, interesting visitors and the historically rich environment of Salisbury, both the Cathedral and City, which is quite literally on our door step.
Early Years Foundation Stage
We follow the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) guidance when planning the curriculum for our youngest children. It provides a framework that covers all areas of learning for the young child.
• Personal, Social and Emotional Development
• Communication and Language
• Physical Development
• Understanding the World
• Expressive Arts and Design
We enrich this curriculum with additional activities linked to our topics; this may involve going on local visits or welcoming visitors to school. Topics include ‘All about me’, ‘People who help us’, ‘Pets’, ‘Castles’, ‘Dinosaurs’, ‘Water’, ‘Growth and change’. We include weekly music and dance sessions and make the most of our beautiful school grounds for walks, nature activities and picnics. Learning is child- centred and fun. Many of our activities are ‘child led’, following the interests of the children. ‘Teacher led’ activities tend to be those where new skills and concepts are introduced. Subsequent, carefully planned activities, allow the children to explore and develop what they have learnt. The children often work 1:1 with a member of the teaching team or are involved in small group work as well as independent and whole class activities. Each child has an individualised learning programme devised by the EYFS team according to the ‘next steps’ required to further their understanding. Children are able to learn and play in all three of our Early Years classrooms and extensive outdoor classroom/ garden each day. Every area of the curriculum takes place both in and outdoors throughout the year.
Key stage 1 - Years 1 and 2
We follow the National Curriculum and the Letters and Sounds Framework for KS1. Synthetic phonics and a range of other approaches are used to teach reading and writing. We have a unique joined handwriting programme, which begins in Year 1, when the children learn cursive writing by singing each letter formation. This sung programme has amazing results especially with those who are reluctant to hold a pencil! Every classroom provides a stimulating environment in which literacy is encouraged. The children have access to a broad range of texts and we have various reading schemes, both fiction and non-fiction, from which to choose. These are enhanced by a well-stocked library, Internet access and multimedia resources. We take every opportunity for mixed age learning and English lessons afford endless possibilities. Children from the Upper School often write short stories for a younger age group and then delight the Lower School children by visiting us to read them. Who better for critical feed back than the children! Year 2 children spend time reading to the Nursery and Reception children and parents often join us for special reading events. Year 2 enjoy recording their own stories to share on long car journeys. There’s nothing better for concentration than listening to their own voices!
“Why?” If a child understands why a technique works they have a much better chance of being able to apply that method in a different context. We aim to convince children that Maths isn’t a ‘black and white’ subject; the goal is not the answer, but the process and there are many different ways of arriving at the answer. Mathematics is a key part of the curriculum as it is a skill for life. The National Curriculum for Maths is used as a guideline. A variety of schemes and support materials are used throughout the Lower School with Years 1 and 2 using Abacus as the core scheme. Children are introduced to Numeracy through practical, mental and written mathematical activities differentiated according to their age and ability. Mathematical skills and understanding are explored in all curriculum areas. Within our teaching there are open-ended activities that focus upon mathematical processes providing the children with a stimulating diet of exploratory and practical activities. An emphasis is put on realistic and everyday situations when, through role-play or investigations, children can develop confidence and enjoyment while learning and reinforcing mathematical concepts. Parents are encouraged to practise, develop and extend their children's experience of number and mathematics at home through practical activities such as cooking, board games and playing cards. Teachers may ask a parent to help a child at home with a specific activity. In the Lent term, we have a 'Monster Maths' week when the whole of the Lower School work in mixed age groups exploring and investigating. A year group from the Upper School join us to work on mathematical problems and share skills.
Science teaching aims to stimulate and excite pupils' curiosity about phenomena and events in the world around them. Children will learn about varied aspects of the world and how it works. They will develop scientific concepts and carry out investigations. Where possible, science is incorporated into topic work to give it relevance in a wider context and to all aspects of life. Investigative and exploratory work involves children in the gradual development of their ability to observe carefully, predict outcomes, plan and carry out experiments, test fairly their predictions and record and interpret results. Children learn about a wide range of scientific subjects including habitats, electricity, growing, forces, healthy eating, nature and conservation and changing materials. We use the school grounds and local areas of interest such as the Salisbury Water Meadows and Mottisfont to explore and investigate. Our Head of Science regularly visits the Lower School to conduct creative and interactive science workshops including rocket launching!
Drama and performance
There are many opportunities during the year for children at all stages to perform, both in class and to an audience. These include class assemblies, drama activities within lessons, puppet shows and choral speaking. There are many special events to which parents and grandparents are invited. The grandparents' tea party provides a stage for the children to talk about their love for their grandparents through song and thoughts. May Day is a celebration of dance and song and our children assume an important role in the delivery of the Christmas story. We are blessed that our Nativity service can be conducted in the beautiful surroundings of the Trinity Chapel in Salisbury Cathedral. Our children often sing at outdoor events in our beautiful grounds and participate in local events. One of these is the Christmas Tree Festival in St Thomas' Church where they sing and play their recorders. The year ends with our Lower School play which is especially written for the childen by a member of staff. This ensures every child in Year 2 has an appropriate part to play and also that all children from Nursery are involved.
The children participate in a wide range of activities to develop their creative talents. Art is seen as integral to the whole curriculum and is often used to complement other areas of the curriculum. We visit various installations in The Close and Cathedral and organise art workshops with specialist teachers, including making clay keys and gnomes! Our grounds are a natural starting point for sketching and creating natural pictures. Professional illustrators also visit to inspire the children and Year 2 use the local and wonderful resource of Roche Court. Music threads through our day with creative compositions and very accurate singing. Some children have music lessons with the many talented perepatetic staff who visit the school. The children also learn how to be a good audience by attending lunchtime informal concerts given by their friends.
History and Geography
Children at the Cathedral School are steeped in History the minute they drive into the Close. They start with people, places and events they are familiar with, in order to be able to make comparisons and see change where it happens. We encourage them to bring any artefacts, photographs or books to school that might be of additional interest regarding a particular History topic. Through the use of role-play and primary source material, the children have first-hand experience of an evidence-based curriculum. There are regular trips to the local Museums and the Cathedral. A favourite is the Year 2 trip to the Cathedral to see the secret keys and the items they unlock! Local people are also invited to share their stories and we have a variety of visitors who love to return to share some Living History with the children.
Like History, Geography is taught as a cross curricular subject. We again use our local area where we visit the Water Meadows and our extensive grounds. Map reading skills and compass points are incorporated into pirate maps and Easter egg hunt activities. It’s amazing how quickly map skills can be acquired when the treasure is chocolate! We make good use of friends, family and Gap students who chat to us about their different lifestyles and weather. Sometimes we learn about exotic islands and the children have been known to finish this topic with a bit of Limbo dancing!
French, RS, PE and Games
These are all taught by specialist staff from the Upper school as separate subjects and help secure the easy transition of the children from the Lower to Upper Schools.