At Woodside Junior School we understand that the children we teach today will shape and influence the world tomorrow. Our curriculum, therefore, is not only broad and balanced, but one that equips our pupils with the knowledge, skills and attributes they need to thrive as individuals and members of society during the next phase of their education and beyond. We are passionate about learning and aim to pass this love of learning on to our pupils. We have been praised by Ofsted for the high priority given to supporting pupils’ personal development and welfare - a ‘key strength’ within the school. Therefore, in addition to the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum, we provide our pupils with opportunities to explore and develop their own values and beliefs, to make use of the outdoors, to develop a caring attitude to others and an appreciation of the diversity and richness of their own and other cultures.
At our school, every child is recognised as a unique individual, with his or her own personality and learning style. We celebrate and welcome the differences and diversity within our school community, which develops social awareness. This, in turn, helps our pupils to appreciate different perspectives and teaches them to recognise key strengths in others, empathise and to interact with their peers on a social level. These skills are invaluable in their later adult life.
The Woodside values of resilience, positivity, collaboration, being inquisitive, proud and responsible are the ‘golden threads’ that run through our curriculum and the ability to learn is underpinned in our school by the teaching of basic skills, knowledge, concepts and values. Our curriculum has been carefully planned and sequenced as we understand that knowledge and skills do not exist in isolation. In each curriculum subject, we ensure that pupils are taught knowledge and skills in an order that helps them to make useful connections to prior learning and future learning and to embed key concepts in their long- term memory. Each subject is carefully mapped out to help our pupils acquire and retain new knowledge and develop increasingly complex skills and give them opportunities to practice and apply them over time.
Not only have we designed our curriculum so that pupils can make meaningful links within a subject, but our cohesive curriculum has been carefully crafted to ensure that links are made across subjects. Our text-based approach to learning in English, where a high-quality work of literature (including fiction, non-fiction and poetry) is used, complements the topics being studied in History, Geography and Science. This provides our pupils with an opportunity to read and immerse themselves in engaging texts which further develop their knowledge and understanding and provides a purpose and context to their writing. Whilst we are committed to teaching the knowledge and skills required through the discreet teaching of individual subjects, our cross curricular links enable our pupils to successfully embed learning in their long-term memories whilst learning a curriculum of inter- connected topics which they find both engaging and enjoyable.
Our class teachers expect high quality outcomes and are firm in creating rigorous learning opportunities for our pupils. Mathematical fluency and confidence in numeracy is a key part of our mastery approach to mathematics. Pupils are given time to fully explore mathematical concepts and challenge comes from investigating ideas in new and complex ways- rather than accelerating through new topics. Reading is prioritised and is taught each day using VIPERS (vocabulary, infer, predict, explain, retrieve, and summarise). For those who have fallen behind their peers, we offer a systematic phonics programme in the autumn term to enable pupils to ‘catch up’ in Year 3. We encourage our pupils to think about and approach their learning as a musician, artist, scientist, historian or geographer would by analysing evidence, drawing on prior knowledge and making intelligent inferences about content learned.
We place a strong emphasis on the teaching of vocabulary- not only in reading and writing- but in all areas of the curriculum. Pupils are introduced to new vocabulary within contexts that stimulate their thinking and is revisited throughout the year in a wide range of subjects. This allows pupils to gain a rich understanding of the meaning of the words encountered and a deeper understanding of the content being taught. Our school is also currently exploring a more structured approach to the teaching of oracy via the Voice 21 education charity. We understand and appreciate that the deliberate, explicit and systematic teaching of a spoken language is absolutely essential to their future success in life. This is particularly important to our disadvantaged pupils, whose spoken language development is proven to be significantly lower than that of their more advantaged peers.
At Woodside School, our cultural capital not only equips the children with all the essential knowledge and skills, but also exposes them to a wide variety of experiences that promote character building, resilience and confidence – all the qualities that will open up doors to different paths in later life. These activities include lunchtime and afterschool clubs, mixed-age activities, arts and music events, sporting events, charity and enterprise events as well as ample opportunities for questioning, curiosity and creativity. We give our children an insight into what it means to be British in 21st century Britain, so that all pupils are fully prepared for their life-long journey of learning and understanding. To achieve this, our themed topics cover a range of cultures which have impacted on British society. School trips are focused on further enrichment with visits to London museums and places of worship as well as local shops and businesses. We also regularly invite guest speakers from our community into school to share their knowledge and experiences. Such speakers have included sports and music enthusiasts, STEM ambassadors, religious leaders and those seeking to raise awareness of environmental issues, diversity and inclusion. We also regularly take part in and attend events held by the local Amersham community including art competitions.
Music is one of the central building blocks of any culture, and the shared knowledge of music is crucial to cultural capital in understanding where we came from and our place in the world. Our inclusive approach to cultural capital ensures that each week, pupils listen to music from a wide range of cultures, traditions and time periods. Additionally, a number of our pupils receive peripatetic instrumental tuition in liaison with the Music Centre and participate in weekly Rock Steady music tuition. Our pupils perform in plays and concerts and also learn about well-known and more contemporary artists from a range of cultures.
As well as delivering weekly Physical Education lessons, we collaborate with outside sports providers in order to broaden the children’s experiences of multi-sports. Our football teams and cross-country runners compete locally and we liaise closely with the local high school for sports festivals and galas.
Our school is committed to active outdoor learning and we are fortunate to have extensive grounds with wooded areas and garden beds as well as playing fields to use. Currently three members of our staff are training to become Forest School Leaders. At present, our Year 3 pupils take part in Forest School as part of their transition into our school. Children, with the help of adults, learn to assess, appreciate and take risks as well as to make sensible and informed decisions about how to tackle the challenges they encounter. This, in turn, helps our Year 3 pupils to become more confident and independent as they embark on their junior school journey.
Excellent teaching and knowledgeable staff deliver our robust curriculum of carefully crafted lessons. All areas of learning are underpinned by strong subject knowledge of our staff and leaders who develop their practice through comprehensive CPD. Lessons are carefully planned and delivered to ensure that each new segment of learning builds upon the previous to advance more complex learning by the end of the lesson.
Our lessons are planned with clear outcomes and encourage children to be intrinsically ambitious in their own success. In some subjects we use ‘must’, ‘should’, ‘could’ and ‘could even’ activities and children are encouraged to decide their own level of challenge through self-directed learning. This encourages our pupils to be motivated and engaged, giving them a sense of autonomy, choice and responsibility for their own actions.
Our teachers make new learning ‘sticky’ by using images, guest speakers, videos, drama, stories, artefacts and the media as a stimulus. Hands-on activities in science, the handling of artefacts in history and an emphasis on using maps and atlases in geography ensure that our lessons are engaging and fun. Teachers model outcome and set high standards through quality first teaching which embraces inclusive teaching for all pupils.
Teachers check for understanding during lessons and this is used to shape and inform future learning. Assessments in both core and non- core subjects are used to identify gaps in learning and to seek out opportunities to accelerate progress. Knowledge organisers in science, history and geography underpin the learning that takes place in these subjects. Pupils are given opportunities to take quizzes and answer ‘big questions’ at the end of units to see if pupils have successfully ‘learned’ what was intended.
As a result of our carefully planned curriculum and high-quality delivery, our pupils develop detailed knowledge and skills across all subject areas and as a result, achieve well. Pupils produce work across the curriculum to a high standard and they learn to take pride in their presentation, learning and achievements. Disadvantaged pupils and those with SEND achieve the best possible outcomes during their time at Woodside.
Our curriculum helps pupils to develop the knowledge, skills and attributes they need to thrive as individuals, family members and members of society. Our PSHE curriculum and ‘personal development’ plays a vital part in preparing our pupils for life in modern Britain, providing them with the information they need to deal with the responsibilities and challenges they will face as they grow up. Our pupils leave Woodside equipped with the knowledge they need to talk about their feelings and well-being; nourish their physical and emotional health; celebrate their own uniqueness and feel a sense of pride in their achievements. Our curriculum equips our pupils with skills and aptitudes such as teamwork, communication, empathy, assertiveness, cooperation and resilience that are crucial to navigating the modern world and are increasingly valued by employers.
Our curriculum enables the acquisition of the key knowledge and skills needed to be able to make links and inferences about different ideas and opinions. Combined, this allows pupils to confidently take part in discussions about the world around them and ensures that they understand the democratic context in which British society functions.
We ensure that pupils leaving Woodside school are ‘secondary ready’ equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in the next stage of their education so that ultimately they can go on to lead successful lives.