The Billesley curriculum has been designed and planned in line with our vision statement:
Inspire our children to succeed
Create excitement for learning
The aim of our curriculum is to promote a thirst for knowledge and a love of learning. It covers a wide range of subjects and provides opportunities for academic, technical and sporting excellence. It has a very positive impact on all pupils’ behaviour and safety, and contributes very well to pupils’ academic achievement, their physical wellbeing, and their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.
Our children learn best when learning is purposeful, practical and structured and when lessons are engaging and challenging.
The curriculum is delivered through the principles of Philosophy for Children. These are to develop different skills and ways of thinking through all curriculum subjects and aspects of school life. The principles are:
Caring - when we think about what’s said; listen to others carefully; imagine how others feel; don’t interrupt; wait our turn.
Critical - ask big ideas questions; test our ideas; give good reasons; look for evidence; suggest conclusions. Collaborative: speak to each other; build on ideas; are friendly and helpful; share our experiences; work together.
Creative - make connections; think of new ideas; explore possibilities; compare things; suggest alternatives.
We actively promote British values through our curriculum, including encouraging tolerance, respect and kindness. We aim to ensure that children are prepared for life in modern British society by providing them with knowledge and understanding about a wide range of cultures and faiths. Our Religious Education is taught according to the Birmingham agreed RE syllabus, which teaches RE through values and dispositions across all of the major faiths.
At Billesley Primary school we fully recognise the importance of reading and thus wholly embrace all aspects of literature; the old and the new; the report and the comic; the novel and the webpage; all in a bid to immerse our children in stories and texts that broaden their horizons and open doors to new worlds. Reading takes on many forms at Billesley.....
Children from year 1 through to year 6 regularly engage in guided reading activities, using books and resources matched to their current levels of skill and understanding. Throughout the week children take part in both adult led and adult initiated learning, as well as being provided opportunities for independent work and to read for pleasure. In KS1 children read in small groups, each led by an adult to model decoding strategies and ask questions to develop reading comprehension skills. In KS2, reading takes a whole class approach, with children reading independently, in pairs, small groups and outloud, supporting each other to succeed. The children also work in pairs and small groups asking and answering questions to develop a deeper, contextual understanding of literature.
Children are guided to decode words, using a variety of different approaches, as well as to decode meaning through increasingly comprehensive textual analysis. Teacher led discussions take place requiring the children to engage in straight-forward recall, or to employ inference to determine character or author intention, as well as making observations and comments relating to textual layout and organisation. Our children regularly read plays, stories, comics, poetry, and nonfiction texts as part of their progressive reading journey.
Children are informally assessed on an ongoing basis during guided reading, culminating in moderated judgements being made each half term. For assessment we use a combination of teacher judgement and more formalised reading comprehension tests to ensure accuracy of provision. Reading is rigorously monitored to ensure our very high expectations are maintained and built upon. Teaching staff receive support and professional development opportunities on a timely basis to ensure we constantly improve and refine practice.
From Nursery onwards children are set weekly reading homework and are provided with either targeted reading material, or a self-chosen book, or both. We encourage and support parents to read with their children on a daily basis, recognising that parents play an incredibly important role in their child’s reading development.
Storytime regularly takes place across the whole school, in every class, such is the value we place on children being read to, and hearing stories read out loud. What better way for children to learn how to use appropriate vocal expression and intonation, than by hearing their teacher modelling those skills every day, through some of their favourite characters and stories at story time?
Our English Curriculum has reading at its foundation, with each year group assigned different authors and texts to learn about each term. Children read, discuss and dissect stories, poems and texts, analysing character and structure, form and purpose; using their newly acquired skills and knowledge to help them write their own stories, reports, recounts, book reviews and texts. Furthermore, all curriculum areas are designed with the aim of developing children’s reading skills. Our continuing aim is that reading (and writing) is at the heart of everything we do.
Our library is open every day and staffed by Year 6 children, offering all the children in the school independent access to new and engaging content on a regular basis. Add to this the Book Fair, author visits, poetry days and many, many other whole school reading events, and we are confident that children at Billesley increasingly understand the importance, and pleasure, of reading as lifelong and life enhancing skill.
The journey to being an effective writer begins in Nursery at Billesley Primary. We fully understand that before our children can be expected to pick up a pencil and engage in refined fine motor tasks, they must first become confident and proficient in whole body, gross motor movements ; running, jumping, climbing, crawling - the fundamental movement skills. The journey to the page begins in our carefully designed, physically enabling Early Years environments, where our children are encouraged to learn through movement; the physical language of learning.
Throughout Nursery and Reception children learn through carefully considered play opportunities that foster purposeful and progressive social interaction and ultimately, language; the next step in writing development. Before children can write, they must talk. At Billesley we foster a language rich provision, where all adults’ model ‘talk’, recognising that immersing our children in language is a key step on the road to developing our young writers.
As our children develop their ability to make marks on the page, and to ascribe meaning to those marks, phonics teaching then leads the way for the next part of the writing journey. Teachers in Early Years and KS1, model daily how to write (and read) different letters and sounds, building up to increasingly complex words, captions, sentences and beyond.
Our English curriculum has reading at its foundation, and writing is taught through carefully selected texts that motivate and inspire our children to pick up a pencil and get involved. Writing takes place on a daily basis, with children engaging in small writing activities at the beginning of a new unit of work, rehearsing new content and being guided to assess their own competency. As the unit progresses children are challenged to write at length demonstrating the key skills modelled and discussed during lessons. Their work is assessed each day and children are given personalised next steps tasks to address, enabling them to make constant progress.
From year 1 through to year 6, a piece of independent writing is assessed at the end of each unit of work (typically 3-4 weeks) and at the end of each half term. Teachers use carefully selected criteria to determine each child’s current levels of ability and award each piece of writing a score. This then enables us to track each child’s individual progress, and offer further challenge or support where necessary. Writing judgements are regularly moderated at Billesley to ensure the very highest standards of accuracy.
All Billesley Primary, all teaching staff have being trained by Pie Corbett and wholly embrace Talk for Writing, which supports children to imitate key language from stories and rehearse orally and pictorially before beginning the physical act of writing. Our children are also taught to write letters, instructions, reports, recounts, lists, diaries, notes; they are taught to use pencils, pens, keyboards, touchscreens - all in a bid to motivate them, and inspire them to write.
Teaching staff also receive regular in-house training enabling best practice to be shared within school and new initiatives to be delivered to all, in a coherent and timely manner.
Our aim at Billesley Primary is for all of our children, irrespective of background or ability, to become effective and enthusiastic writers; to be able to write with grammatical accuracy; with appropriate style and flair; with an awareness of the reader; and, to be able to write at length, within whichever genre they choose to express themselves - today, tomorrow and in the many years ahead.
At Billesley Primary children start formal spelling tuition when they have a secure working knowledge of Phase 3 Letters and Sounds. Their spelling journey then progresses from Year 1 through to year 6, with the children being taught how to spell words using specific spelling patterns and rules. The emphasis is on the children recognising and employing the spelling pattern, as opposed to just memorising (and then forgetting) words for tests.
Each year group is provided with a comprehensive spelling timetable itemising the specific patterns to be addressed each week, as well as a list of common exception words i.e. words that don’t follow the rules. All spelling content is derived from the National Curriculum 2014.
In years 1 &2 spelling work is closely linked to phonics, with National Curriculum 2014 and Letters and Sounds being used in tandem to plan, deliver, support and challenge our children to become confident and proficient spellers.
Years 3&4 and 5&6 share common exception words; these words are rehearsed and revisited in each adjoining year to consolidate and embed learning. Furthermore, at the beginning of each academic year, children revise spelling patterns from the previous year, to build on their existing knowledge, before moving on to addressing the statutory content for their current age group.
Spelling tests are sent home on a weekly basis and contain a mixture of spelling pattern words and common exception words. Throughout the year, children revisit previously taught spelling patterns and words, to consolidate learning. Spelling is also taught discretely as part of our weekly timetable to ensure that our children not only learn how to spell the words, but also learn their meaning, how to use them in context, and how to use the spelling rule to spell any new words they come across sharing the same spelling pattern.
At Billesley Primary we recognise that whilst phonics is not the only route to reading and writing, it is without doubt a highly effective and systematic approach, that supports and challenges children of all backgrounds and abilities, as they acquire, rehearse and perfect the skills to be effective readers and writers.
From first steps in Nursery, where Phase 1 of Letters and Sounds is introduced, our children learn to discriminate between different environmental and musical sounds, before progressing to making sounds with their bodies and voices. These experiences are delivered through play, exploration and exposure to a range of different media, as part of our continuous provision. This provision continues into Reception.
From Reception onwards children take part in daily 20 minute phonic lessons delivered with a visual, auditory and kinaesthetic approach to engage all learners at the appropriate level. Lessons are well paced, highly engaging and require all children to be active participants in their learning. Phonic lessons follow the structure of:
Every child at Billesley Primary has their own phonic tracking booklet, enabling individual progress to be carefully monitored. Importantly, this facilitates the early identification of children requiring personalised intervention, or indeed extra challenge, to reach their fullest potential. Our assessment model for phonics has been designed in accordance with Letters and Sounds (Appendix 3).
Our aim for a ‘typical’ phonic learning journey is:
Nursery: Letters and Sounds Phase 1 and Phase 2, as part of the continuous provision.
Reception: Letters and Sounds Phase 2 and 3 delivered through daily discrete, multi-sensory sessions where the children both read and write; and as part of the continuous provision.
Year 1: Letter and Sounds Phase 4 and 5 delivered through daily, discrete, highly focussed teacher led sessions, with a focus on the application of writing.
Year 2: Letter and Sounds Phase 5 delivered through daily, discrete, highly focussed teacher led sessions, with a focus on the application of writing in context.
Year 3: and beyond: Children not reaching the expected levels of phonic knowledge by the end of year 2 i.e. phase 5, would continue to access dedicated phonic learning as required.
At Billesley Primary we have the highest expectations of all our children and staff, and as such all aspects of phonics are rigorously monitored to ensure high quality teaching, accurate assessment and timely and effective intervention and challenge.
It is only too easy to view Mathematics as a jumble of numbers and meaningless symbols, but this really couldn’t be further from the truth. Soon after birth, we are already able to recognise a change in quantities and in shapes. We are all instant mathematicians! Our understanding of Mathematics is fundamental to our understanding of Science, Technology, Engineering and financial literacy. With this in mind, it is clear how important Mathematics is in providing an insight into the workings of our world; fostering essential problems solving skills and equipping us with the knowledge required for future employment. At Billesley, this journey begins in the Early Years setting.
During their time in Early Years, the teaching of Maths is delivered through their family group. This is then followed by child- initiated learning opportunities and assessed through ongoing observations and learning conversations. Maths opportunities are practical, physical and hands on, in order to support children’s physical development; we take every opportunity for children to engage in their learning outdoors.
As children enter Year 1, the structure of ‘how’ and ‘what’ they learn begins to change, and they begin to follow the National Curriculum. This is the beginning of their journey into Number, Measures, Geometry and Statistics; A journey which they will remain on through to Year 6 and beyond.
We teach Maths through a 3 stage process (where appropriate), beginning by using concrete objects and manipulatives to explain new maths phenomena. This approach then evolves into pictorial methods, where children are taught ways to express their understanding using pictorial representations of key facts and processes. Only when children are secure with concrete and pictorial, do they move on to using written methods and symbols. The abstract stage. This approach ensures that children’s understanding is embedded and they gain a deeper procedural knowledge.
A typical Maths lesson at Billesley always starts with a hook; engaging children by creating excitement for learning through stimulating contexts. Teachers then begin the process of effective questioning, modelling and ongoing assessment for learning. Maths is taught daily and children are given the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding and apply them independently. Their work is assessed each day and children are given steps to help address any gaps or provide further challenge, which enables children to make ongoing progress.
Children are assessed at the end of each half term. Teachers use a broad range of assessment tools, including standard tests, weekly assessment books, daily maths books and teacher assessment. These tools allow teachers to effectively monitor progress, target gaps in children’s understanding and provide a tailored approach to their daily practice.
Our aim at Billesley is for all children to have an equitable playing field in developing a passion for maths and to be the best they can be. Every effort is made so that children leave for Secondary School as fluent mathematicians; with an ability to reason and explain choices; to solve more complex problems and to achieve in maths commensurate with their full potential.
At Billesley Primary School, we follow the National Statutory Framework for EYFS and the National Curriculum for years one - six. We teach the knowledge, skills and understanding detailed in these documents through the three disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics. As children progress through the school, so does their confidence and knowledge of how to work scientifically. The main focus is that of developing scientific enquiry skills, which are taught throughout each of the contexts. This enables the children to develop their investigative skills of observing, questioning, fair testing, predicting, measuring, recording, analysing and concluding in a variety of situations.
Alongside this, through building up a body of key foundational knowledge and concepts, pupils are encouraged to recognise the power of rational explanation and develop a sense of excitement and curiosity about natural phenomena. They are encouraged to understand how science can be used to explain what is occurring, predict how things will behave, and analyse causes with an emphasis on a respect for evidence.
Emphasis is also placed on practical science work to facilitate each child’s learning, as this creates excitement for learning and encourages first-hand experience, confident and safe use of equipment and resources, co-operation, enquiring minds, the enjoyment of discovering surprising results and the development of investigative skills.
Throughout the year, the school enjoys acknowledging scientific achievements, observing natural events, global issues and taking part in National Science Week. During this week, we have a whole- school theme which is intended to promote the enjoyment and knowledge of science; activities, collaborative projects, visiting scientists and guest artists are invited to help create an inspiring, inclusive and immersive approach to learning.
Through our continuing emphasis on the importance of science, both in school and around the world, our children develop a clearer understanding of how science influences and changes their lives and how it is vital to the world’s future prosperity.
Art,Design & Technology
At Billesley Primary School, we strongly believe that art plays an integral part in children's physical, cultural, social and aesthetic development. Our aim is to teach Art and Design in a fun and creative way which ensures all children are engaged, inspired and challenged throughout each unit. We aspire to encourage students to develop and use their skills to create their own independent works of art, craft and design which reflects their own individual ideas and imagination.
The Art curriculum at Billesley is exciting and diverse, covering a wide range of artistic skills. Throughout their school life, pupils have the opportunity to work with a variety of different materials in order to produce art work linked to their theme. Each year group completes units which develop skills in painting, printing and 3D sculpture which enables children to experiment with a vast selection of different materials including pencils, pastels, charcoal, clay and a range of paints. They also learn about specific artists, including Andy Warhol and Cezanne, in order to inspire and stimulate their own artistic abilities.
Similarly, our Design Technology curriculum is geared towards enabling children to explore, plan and evaluate their own ideas in a thrilling and engaging way. Pupils develop knowledge and skills in construction, mechanisms and food technology and are taught how to use a range of material and equipment. Using creativity and imagination, pupils design and make products including C instruments; buildings, moving vehicles, healthy biscuits and money containers, which incorporate the skills of measuring, cutting, joining, sewing and food preparation All pupils are provided with a sketch book which follows them through the different year groups enabling them to study their progress and mastery of techniques as well as allowing them to keep a record of their wonderful, artistic achievements.
Geography is the subject which explores the world that we live in now, what it was like in the past and what it might be in the future. At Billesley, we teach geography in a creative and inspiring way to ensure children develop a curiosity and fascination about the world and the people who live in it that will remain with them for life.
The local area and the ‘Seven Wonders of Billesley’ are at the heart of the geography curriculum. Our children build on their geographical fieldwork skills year on year through practical experiences; collecting, analysing and communicating a wide range of geographical information in creative and interesting ways. During these fieldwork activities, children map, sketch, measure and record using digital technologies. This hands on approach to the local area ensures our children are aware of their local community and develops their relationship and respect for the area they go to school in.
Through WOW experiences, such as visits to the seaside, the Snowdome and our KS2 residential experiences, in a range of settings across the UK, our children experience different geographical regions within the UK.
Our children also develop their positional and locational knowledge of globally significant places including Rio & South America, Madagascar and deserts defining their physical and human characteristics. They study physical and human features of the world, how these are interdependent and change over time, including work about extreme weather, mountains and the North and South Pole. In lessons, children use a range of sources including atlases, maps, globes, aerial photographs and ICT. They investigate, compare and contrast different places and processes to develop a deeper understanding of how the world works.
History at Billesley is a creative, child led exploration which aims to inspire pupils’ curiosity to know more about the past. We endeavour to challenge children’s own perspectives of the past by showing them aspects of Britain and the wider world’s complex and captivating history. By encouraging children to question changes in society and culture over time and deepen their thinking through philosophical enquiry, we lead them to an understanding of how the world we know today was formed. WOW events at the beginning of a theme immerse children in what they are discovering, engaging them in the subject and allowing them to experience it in a different way.
Looking into Britain’s own beginnings is investigated in Year 3 with the Stone Age to the Battle of Hastings, delving into the many empires who invaded and settled in our isles. In some year groups we discover the local area and the fascinating roots of the Birmingham we know today. Inventor’s such as Matthew Boulton and entrepreneurs like George Cadbury have carved place in Birmingham’s rich history and give the children a sense of pride for their city. Venturing further away from home, years 4 and 6 unearth the early and ancient civilisations of China, Greece and Baghdad, identifying similarities and differences to their own lives and seeing the impact these cultures had on different societies. Additionally, Year 1 look at our impact on other places with Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America and how that lead to the beginning of one of the most powerful countries in the world.
Throughout all of these themes, teachers aspire to wow their children, make them think about and question what they find, hopefully encouraging a lifelong enchantment with history.
At Billesley Primary School we pride ourselves on providing a high quality Physical Education curriculum that enables all our children irrelevant of their background to perform at the highest level possible. Physical Education plays a vital role in developing the child holistically.
Physical development within the Early Years Foundation Stage focuses on improving:
• Special awareness
Physical Education within the primary years focuses on the National Curriculum key aims:
• To develop competence to excel in a broad range of physical activities
• To be physically active for sustained periods of
• To engage in competitive sports and activities
• To lead healthy, active lives
We believe that the key principles of the National Curriculum will only be sustained if we strengthen our partnership with parents and carers. We strive to do this through: parental workshops, assemblies, competitions and after school clubs.
We aim to provide opportunities for our children to become confident and physically literate in a way which supports their wellbeing. In addition to this, we aim to provide opportunities for children to compete in sport and other activities in order to build resilience and embed values such as team work, fairness and respect.
At Billesley we are committed to building an ethos of collaborative and competitive learners through providing opportunities for them to participate in a range of physical activities from the Foundation Stage right through to Key Stage Two. All of our children participate in intra school sport competitions and a high majority in inter school sports competitions.
By providing a wide range of physical development activities we aim to prepare our children to become physically literate individuals throughout their life.
In the past decade or so, ICT has made the world around us a really exciting place to be. It opens the gateway to an immense world out there. It enables children to access a vast amount of information which allows them to build on own experiences and knowledge.
At Billesley Primary school we believe that both staff and pupils are competent and confident in the use of ICT. Allowing areas of the curriculum to be more exciting and engaging to children as well as allowing staff to effectively teach areas of the curriculum with the use of ICT. We aim to keep pace with educational developments in this area and have a commitment to teachers having the necessary tools e.g. laptops, interactive whiteboards, iPads and training to do their jobs effectively.
Our vision at Billesley encompasses the following aims:
• To lead the school into new and innovative practises.
• To motivate, engage and inspire children and raise standards across the curriculum.
• Give all pupils opportunities to use ICT in every subject from English and Maths to PE and Music.
• To develop every pupil’s ICT skills through ICT lessons, allowing them to apply their skills and knowledge as well as consolidate their ICT capability.
• To teach pupils how to use the internet safely and know where to go for help if necessary.
• To keep pace with educational developments and ensure teachers have the necessary tools to do their jobs effectively, allowing them to be confident and capable to create effective creative learning experiences for all pupils.
We aim to make music a fun learning experience which engages and inspire pupils to develop a love of music as well as their musical talents, thus increasing self-confidence, creativity and a sense of achievement.
With the help of a specialist music teacher, each year group has a specially planned unit of work linked to the national curriculum.
During lessons children develop an ability to listen to, and appreciate a wide variety of music, whilst also having the opportunities to discuss and express ideas and feelings. They explore a range of musical elements, for example: pitch, tempo and dynamics and are provided with the opportunity to compose music using a variety of different musical instruments. Each unit of work also culminates with a year group performance where parents are invited to share and enjoy their children’s incredible musical accomplishments.
As well as this, all pupils in Year 2 are taught how to play the harmonica whilst pupils in Year 4 are provided with the opportunity to learn the ukulele. The school also offers additional musical clubs to pupils including choir and guitar lessons.