As a Catholic School, the Curriculum at St Francis is inspired by the teachings of the Gospel, taking into account the requirements of the Department For Education, Local Authority, and the Catholic Diocese of Brentwood. At St Francis, we endeavour to ensure that all pupils have access to the Curriculum. The work is planned to take into account progression and continuity. We are opposed to any form of discrimination on grounds of race, gender, ability or disability.
Religious Education is at the heart of our Curriculum. It is rooted in three aspects: teaching, worship and moral values.
At St Francis we aim to motivate and challenge each pupil to reach his/her potential. Our work is be based on the National Curriculum, the Core and the Foundation Subjects.
In delivering the Curriculum, we realise that it is essential for each child to experience different methods of learning through the effective use of a range of printed and practical materials including the use of ICT. Some of these learning skills are addressed through a whole class approach/small groups, and individual work. Within the class our children are grouped according to their abilities, with work differentiated to meet all pupils' talents, skills and abilities. Our learning activities are supported by the use of specialist teachers – SEN, EMAG, Teaching Assistants, outside agents and the voluntary involvement of parents.
Children study all subjects in the National Curriculum. These include Mathematics, Literacy, Science, ICT (Information and technology skills), History, Geography, Art, Design Technology, Music, Physical Education, Religious Education and Personal, Social and Health Education. Wherever possible, children are encouraged to explore thematic links between curriculum areas. Below is a brief outline of the subjects covered, and further insight is given on the sub menus available on the left.
Literacy at St Francis is given a high priority, being present in all areas of the curriculum. Speaking and listening, reading, writing, spelling and handwriting are all important elements of Literacy.
We create an environment in which all aspects of language are enjoyed in their own right, and in which children gain a love of the world of literature and communication.
As reading is a very important aspect of the curriculum, great care is taken to see that proper development takes place.
We have an individualised reading programme that matches each child to reading materials that meet his/her individual needs and rates of progress. We have a well-established Parent and Child home reading scheme where children are encouraged to take a book home each evening and read with their parents or carers. This spports the children’s reading from the early years. Reading sessions take place daily on an individual, paired, group or guided basis.
Each classroom has an extensive stock of books and a reading area to encourage the children and to stimulate their interest in reading.
In the Early Years and Key Stage One, phonics teaching takes a high priority.
The teaching of phonics is based on the ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme. From the second half of the Autumn Term children across the Key Stage are put into differentiated groups so they can work at a level and pace suitable for them.
We aspire to foster an environment that encourages development of language by providing a rich provision of opportunities to interact and communicate with each other. We stress the values of listening and speaking skills, and reinforce these areas across the curriculum.
The development of writing skills is an important aspect of our work. It covers all forms of writing for different purposes; factual, creative and personal. We aim to achieve progressive competency and accuracy in spelling, punctuation and syntax, and the development of a legible style of handwriting.
To emphasis its importance, Mathematics like Literacy, is taught on a daily basis at St Francis. It can be used to illustrate, to interpret and to explain. Above all, it can be a powerful means of communication.
We give children the knowledge, skills and attitudes to enable them to use mathematics in everyday life. The development of mental maths strategies are an integral part of Maths and children are encouraged to learn age appropriate number facts by heart and use these to problem solving. This includes learning multiplication facts (tables). An important and key feature of our mathematical teaching lies in its emphasis upon problem solving and investigational work. We also encourage the children to continue with their mathematics journey at home using the fun Mathletics web-based learining tool.
Children are given the opportunity to develop a range of skills they can apply to other situations. Our scheme of work allows for all Science attainment targets to be visited at least once every two years. This enables the children’s natural curiosities to develop into real scientific thinking. Children learn through investigation, research, asking questions and planning ways in which to find answers. In this way, they can build up a body of knowledge to support future scientific thinking.
As a Catholic School, religion is not just another subject in the curriculum but is a way of life. It permeates all our relationships, activities and every aspect of school life. It is rooted in three aspects: teaching, worship and moral values. We will use the liturgical year as a framework in which these elements are taught, experienced, explored and celebrated.
Religious Education also happens through regular prayers, assemblies and Masses. The whole school meets regularly for assemblies or collective prayers. Rev. William Nix acts as the school preist and celebrates Mass in school regularly throughout the year. The school celebrates Mass in the Parish Church on Holy Days of Obligation while the children are taught hymns and liturgical music which enhances all our worship. The children are also encouraged to attend Sunday Mass.
Underlying our teaching and our relationships are the Gospel Values of honesty and humility, justice and mercy. Our aim, within this context, is that all members of our community show respect and care for one another and extend their concern to the needy by prayer and charitable service. We also place a great emphasis on home/school/parish links.
As a Roman Catholic school, and given the importance of RE and Collective Worship in our school, parents and prospective parents should be aware that RC can never be confined to “timetabled slots” but may take place throughout the day in a variety of contexts other than those which are specifically structured.
Information and Communication Technology
The school has a computer suite as well as many other mobile appliances such as cameras, laptops and tablets. The children are taught computer skills such as word processing and data handling following the DFS guidelines for ICT.
Children become familiar with, and proficient at, using computers in ICT. Each classroom has at least one computer and an interactive touch screen smart board which is used as a tool for learning. Teaching of ICT skills can take place in the suite or using tablets or laptops. The school has an extensive wireless network that allows for whole classes to access the internet within their classrooms. The school also uses “Espresso” which provides teachers and parents with access to high quality digital information, including video resources. Every pupil is expected to use technology in a reasonable and responsible way.
Our History curriculum aims to give children the opportunity to develop the skills and ideas needed to retrieve information from books, ICT, pictures, people and places, the ability to examine and evaluate evidence and an understanding of chronology, cause and effect and the influence of the past upon the present.
The Geography curriculum aims to enable the children to develop geographical knowledge, understanding and enquiry, mapping skills and fieldwork techniques, an appreciation of the environment and the need to protect it and a greater understanding of the UK and the wider world.
Children’s work includes the study of places and covers a range of physical, human and environmental geography.
We endeavour to maintain a range of activities providing an environment, which will benefit the children’s physical, emotional and moral wellbeing. St Francis’ PE provision aims to embrace a range of games activities, gymnastics, dance, athletics, swimming and outdoor adventurous activities.
Children have the opportunity to develop individual skills such as co-ordination, balance and control. They plan, perform and evaluate their own and each other’s work. They develop an appreciation of the benefits of cooperation and teamwork and come to understand the advantages of healthy, safe exercise to their general physical wellbeing. We aim for at least two hour physical activity per class per week.
Swimming is offered at Key Stage 2.
Music is developed across all age groups from Reception to Year 6. The children are encouraged to compose, listen, discuss and perform with a variety of audiences in mind. They learn to appreciate music of different styles, cultures and times, and to use their voices and a range of instruments as expressive media.
We believe a love of music gained in childhood lasts a lifetime and that making music with others is a social, joyful and spiritual experience. We therefore, encourage children to understand, appreciate and create music but above all, to find enjoyment within this particular curriculum area. Whole school singing takes place regularly during assemblies and at ‘singing sessions’.
Modern Foreign Languages
All children from Year 1 study French and Spanish, where they develop their speaking and listening skills.
Design & Technology (D&T)
D&T has a unique contribution to make to a balanced curriculum and is seen to be of a holistic nature. It is primarily concerned with generating ideas, making and doing. It provides opportunities for children to imagine, make decisions, create solutions and put them into practice. D&T enables children to use appropriate apparatus and equipment. We teach D&T largely through a cross curricular approach while teaching specific skills as and when necessary.
Art & Design
All children are encouraged to draw, paint and create three-dimensional work using a variety of media and stimuli. An appreciation of the work of famous artists in different periods of history, the exploration of the immediate environment and other cultures and development of their own expressive ideas is encouraged. Through art, we hope that pupils develop an aesthetic awareness.
Work is displayed in classrooms and areas around the schools.
Personal, Social and Health Education
This involves the development of healthy attitudes, aspects of safe living and the development of good social and personal relationships. We presently follow a programme designed to develop children’s emotional literacy and time is given over to Circle Time and Class Councils.
Education in Personal Relationships
We believe in helping children to develop effective personal relationships, and elements are taught throughout the age groups through our RE, PSHE and Science curricular.
To monitor progress, achievement and standards, children undertake a variety of assessments, including formative tests, throughout their years at St Francis.
Reception children are assessed within the first few weeks of entry to school and then throughout the year as they work towards the Foundation Stage Profile.
Year 6 children are required to complete the Standard Assessment Tests (SATs) in Reading and Mathematics, which monitors their progress against National standards.
Year 2 children are assessed by their teacher and the results are moderated giving KS1 SATs results.
Years 3, 4 and 5 are set nationally produced tests in English and Maths which serve to complete the monitoring of progress throughout the school and are produced in line with the year 2 and 6 tests. All test results are used to inform future planning and parents are informed of the results of significant tests.