Subject Summaries

English

We believe that English transforms lives and that better English creates more opportunities to succeed in life. At Exminster Community Primary School we strive to encourage our pupils to embrace English and explore reading, writing, speaking & listening skills using a variety of teaching methods.

English develops children’s abilities to listen, speak, read and write for a wide range of purposes, so using language to learn and communicate ideas, views and feelings. It enables children to express themselves creatively and imaginatively, as they become enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry and drama, as well as non-fiction and media texts. Children gain an understanding of how language works by looking at its patterns, structures and origins. Children use their knowledge, skills and understanding in speaking and writing across a range of different situations. Our English curriculum is planned to encourage and facilitate independent learning for all our children and use and apply this wealth of knowledge, cementing this into all areas of the curriculum.

We aim to make children competent and confident writers, able to write their own fiction, poetry and non-fiction texts. The teaching of spelling, grammar and handwriting is the key to the skills necessary to develop fluent, confident writing. We use many ‘Talk for Writing’ techniques valuing the importance of being able to ‘talk it’ before children ‘write it’. We immerse the children in core texts, ‘magpie’ ideas capture our own at word and sentence level, then progress onto independent writing. We fully believe in the principles of imitate, innovate and invent within our teaching and learning sequences.

We acknowledge and value the role of parents and carers in nurturing their child’s language skills before school and continuing through their time in school. Your child will learn the 44 sounds that make up the phonetic alphabet and will learn to blend these sounds together to read and segment the sounds to write words. Your child will learn through a semantic phonic approach of reading and writing. Our talk partner work throughout the school is an opportunity for children to listen to one another, respond, rehearse and discuss strategies and methods of how they have learnt something. We develop and extend the skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening through a variety of teaching and learning approaches. Children are encouraged to become independent readers and writers. We always give children the opportunity to write for a purpose and apply their skills in order to achieve their targets and grow through reflective approaches. Children follow a carefully balanced programme of guided reading from books of graded difficulty. Every class has a dedicated reading session and we encourage them to take home a range of books to share with their parents. We share whole school passion for reading and encourage a love of reading at school and home.

“I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted. Books shouldn't be daunting, they should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage.”
Roald Dahl 

In addition the school has Bug Club in order to support children in learning to read.

Mathematics

Mathematics equips pupils with a uniquely powerful set of tools to understand and change the world. These tools include logical reasoning, problem-solving skills and the ability to think in abstract ways. Mathematics is important in everyday life and its importance is universally recognised. Mathematics is a creative discipline. It can stimulate moments of pleasure and wonder when a pupil solves a problem for the first time, discovers a more elegant solution to that problem, or suddenly sees hidden connections.

We aim to enrich the mathematical experiences of all learners. By using rich mathematical activities and challenges, we aim to develop children's subject knowledge, problem-solving and thinking skills. We aim to produce agile mathematicians who are flexible in their approach and not stifled by reliance on one rigid method.

We aim to provide all pupils with some direct teaching every day, which is oral, interactive and stimulating. Teaching styles and lesson structure provide opportunities for pupils to consolidate their previous learning, use and apply their knowledge, understanding and skills, pose and ask questions, investigate mathematical ideas, reflect on their own learning and make links with other work.

Our approach to teaching is based on four key principles:

  • A dedicated mathematics’ lesson every day
  • Direct teaching and interactive oral work
  • An emphasis on mental calculation
  • Activities differentiated in a manageable way so that all pupils are engaged in mathematics related to a common theme, unless group objectives are diversely different

Science

Much of our investigation into the world stems from scientific enquiry. This encompasses materials, physical processes and life sources. It is a practical subject that encourages both curiosity and analytical evaluation.

We aim to foster the skills of prediction, observation, investigation and analysis in an atmosphere of enjoyment and enthusiasm. Whilst highlighting how scientists have made enormous contributions to our understanding and quality of life. We also need to illustrate and build upon the skills and experience that everyone has access to.

We aim to help children to:

  • develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding through the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics 
  • develop understanding of the nature, processes and methods of science through practical activity 
  • be equipped with the scientific knowledge required to understand its uses and implications today and for the future. 

Formal Sex and Relationships education (SRE) is delivered to Years 5 and 6. The biological aspects of sex education form the core with a significant emphasis placed on the importance of family, love and relationships. Parents are fully informed on the programme before the children embark on this course of study and are given the opportunity to discuss any queries with the class teacher. Parents do have the right to withdraw their child from all or part of the SRE programme.

Physical Education

Physical Education is concerned with the skilful management of the body. It aims to develop physical competence in order that children are able to move effectively, efficiently and safely in a variety of life situations. Learning through action is an essential skill developed alongside personal awareness and achieved through observation of themselves and others. The achievement of this occurs through a combination of motor and cognitive development. The linking of physical activity and mental process of making decisions, judgements, selecting, selecting, refining, adjusting and adapting movement to suite the given situation is an area in which P.E. accelerate achievement through good practise and regular structured opportunity

All staff and children are enthusiastic about PE and this is shown through teachers’ attitude towards the teaching of PE and the energy that children put into their learning and additional opportunities. Both children and staff have a positive attitude towards physical education and sport, often celebrating achievements during whole school assemblies. A large majority of children are engaged in a breadth of experiences, through learning and practising skills, attending festivals and competing in tournaments at both inter and intra school levels. These are organised by the Dartmoor partnership which we have been a part of for several years. Clubs are very popular with the school with good numbers attending each club; some of these successfully run throughout the year, while others change to add variety and link with our common curriculum.

Children have cross curricular links with healthy lifestyles and share in a whole school vision of maintaining our ‘Healthy Schools’ status.

Computing

Computers are now part of everyday life. For most of us, technology is essential to our lives. ‘Computational thinking’ is a skill children must be taught if they are to be ready for the workplace and able to participate effectively in this digital world.

The new national curriculum for computing has been developed to equip young people in England with the foundational skills, knowledge and understanding of computing they will need for the rest of their lives. Through the new programme of study for computing, the children will learn how computers and computer systems work, they will design and build programs, develop their ideas using technology and create a range of content.

The focus of the new programme of study moves towards programming and other aspects of computer science. An area that the children in KS1 will cover will be creating and debugging programs. In KS2, the children will use logical reasoning to explain how algorithms work.

The children will have an allocated time in the computer suite each week and have access to laptops and tablets.

Music

Exminster Community Primary School values music as a powerful, unique form of communication that can change the way pupils feel, think and act. It brings together intellect and feelings and enables personal expression, reflection and emotional development. As an integral part of culture, past and present, it helps pupils understand themselves and relate to others, forging important links between home, school and the wider world. The teaching of music develops pupils' ability to listen and appreciate a wide variety of music and to make judgments about musical quality.

It encourages active involvement in different forms of amateur music making, both individual and communal, developing a sense of group identity and togetherness. It also increases self-discipline and creativity, aesthetic sensitivity and fulfilment. With this in mind, we recognise the importance of providing stimulating opportunities for the children to experience, explore and create music throughout their education at Exminster. This is done alongside a whole host of instruments which the children learn throughout their time at Exminster, including ukuleles, ocarinas, recorders, djembe drums, steel pans and horns/trumpets.

A huge part of the musical scene here at Exminster are our Key Stage One and Key Stage Two choirs. Our Key Stage One Choir begins after Christmas each year, with the view that the older children in KS1 will then progress into the Key Stage Two choir the following year. The Key Stage Two choir comprises of children from 7-11 years old, both male and female, and we are currently working on a set of songs to perform in a choir of over 7,000 school children at O2 in January 2015!

Instrumental lessons can be arranged on a whole range of musical instruments. Currently we have Keyboard/Piano, Violin, Harp, Guitar and Drum lessons taking place in school, and in the near future we will be offering flute and clarinet lessons too.

Art and Design

Art and design stimulates pupil creativity and imagination. It provides visual, tactile and sensory experiences and a way of understanding and responding to the world. Pupils are encouraged to use colour, pattern, texture, line, tone, shape, form, space and different materials and processes to communicate what they see, feel and think. Through art, craft and design activities they learn to make informed value judgements and aesthetic and practical decisions, becoming actively involved in making images, objects and learning to shape their own environment. They explore, through discussion and the making of art, the ideas and meanings in the work of artists, craftspeople and designers. They learn the part that art, craft and design plays in their own and others’ lives in contemporary life and in different times and cultures. This enables pupils to become involved in, enjoy, understand and appreciate the visual arts which enriches their personal lives and enables them to understand the role they play in society.

We give children as many opportunities as we can to develop their techniques, including their control and their use of materials, with experimentation and an increasing awareness of different kinds of art, craft and design. We use sketch books to record observations and use them to review and revisit ideas.

We use a range of art and design techniques, including drawing, painting and sculpture with a range of materials (e.g. pencil, charcoal, paint, clay) Children can investigate and find out about the greatest artists, architects and designers in history and use them as inspiration to use a range of materials creatively. They can design and make products and use drawing, painting and sculpture to develop and share their ideas, experiences and imaginations

Design Technology

Design and technology prepares children to participate in tomorrow’s rapidly changing technologies. They learn to think and intervene creatively to improve the quality of life. The subject calls for pupils to become autonomous and creative problem solvers both as individuals and as members of a team. They must look for needs, wants and opportunities, responding to them by developing a range of design ideas for making products and systems. In their designing and making, pupils combine practical skills with an understanding of aesthetics, social and environmental issues, function and industrial practices. As they do so, they reflect on, learn from and evaluate present and past design and technology, its uses and effects. Through D&T all children can develop innovation and become discriminating and informed users of products.

Through a variety of creative and practical activities, we encourage children to develop the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to engage in the process of designing and making. We offer opportunities to work in a range of relevant contexts such as their homes and school, gardens and playgrounds, the local community and the wider environment.

As part of their work with food, children learn how to cook and apply the principles of nutrition and healthy eating. Learning how to cook is al life skill that enables pupils to feed themselves and others affordably and well, now and in later life.

History 

History at Exminster Primary School will ignite pupils’ curiosity about the world in which they are living, inspiring them to find out about the past. Through our History teaching, we aim to foster an enthusiasm for learning about the past and the events that have shaped the world in which we live in today. Pupils will develop their own present identities by learning about their own personal history and also local, national and international history. Teaching should develop pupils’ ability to ask perceptive questions, analyse evidence, think critically, argue effectively and develop perspective and judgement. History helps pupils to understand the complexity of the world in which we are living in.

The History curriculum aims to ensure that all pupils know and understand the history of different countries in chronological order, from the earliest times to the present day: how people’s lives have shaped this nation and how Britain has influenced and been influenced by the wider world. Children should understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world, for example: the nature of ancient civilisations; the expansion and dissolution of empires; characteristic features of past non-European societies; achievements and follies of mankind. They should gain an understanding of terms such as ‘empire’, ‘civilisation’, ‘parliament’ and ‘peasantry.’ They will understand historical concepts such as continuity and change, cause and consequence, similarity, difference and significance, and use them to make connections, draw contrasts, analyse trends, frame historically-valid questions and create their own structured written accounts of events. They should understand the methods of historical enquiry, including how evidence is used, and understand how and why contrasting arguments and interpretations of the past have been constructed. We will explore the connections between local, regional, national and international history, as well as investigating the connections between cultural, economic, military, political, religious and social history.

Geography

Geography provokes and answers questions about the natural and human world, using different methods of enquiry (both primary and secondary sources) to help pupils do this, and it also helps them to view people, places and environments from different perspectives. It develops knowledge of places and environments throughout the world, understanding of maps, and a range of investigative and problem-solving skills, both inside and outside the classroom. As such, it prepares pupils for adult life and employment. Geography is a focus within the curriculum for understanding and resolving issues about the environment and sustainable development. It is also an important link between the natural and social sciences. As pupils study geography, they encounter different societies and cultures. This helps them begin to understand the complex inter-relations between nations and how they often rely on each other. It can inspire them to think about their own place in the world, their values, their rights and responsibilities to other people and the environment.

We believe through Geography our children will -

  • Be equipped with skills, knowledge and understanding to  investigate, question and make sense of the world around them.
  • Understand that they are citizens in an interdependent world which is constantly changing and the role they play in their locality, their country and globally is important.
  • Develop independent thinking, tolerance, and empathy.

Teaching and learning 

  • Use real experiences and real issues to make the geography ‘come alive’ through fieldwork experiences.
  • Provide opportunities for discussion, debate and higher level critical thinking.
  • To have strong geographical knowledge and good understanding of the world they live in and the physical and human processes that shape it.
  • Cater for a variety of learning styles, discovery, engagement and child lead enquiry
  • To ensure that the curriculum reflects the richness of our multi-cultural society

Religious Education

At Exminster Primary School Religious education contributes greatly to the children’s education by provoking challenging questions about meaning and purpose in life, beliefs about God, issues of right and wrong and what it means to be human. It aims to awaken their spiritual understanding and help them to begin the search for answers to a great many questions.

Through an enquiry based approach our School aims to develop the children’s knowledge and understanding of Christianity, which is taught in both KS1 and KS2 alongside that of other principal religions; these are Hinduism, Islam and Judaism and non-religious worldviews such as Humanism. These enquiries take the form of key questions which are designed to engage the children in both learning about and from religions and worldviews.

RE offers the children opportunities for personal and spiritual reflection in a safe and caring environment.

Languages – French (Key Stage 2 Only)

Every child in Key Stage 2 has the opportunity to study French and develop their interest and insight into the culture of other nations. We believe that through learning a foreign language, children will develop communication and literacy skills that will prepare children for future language learning. Children will develop linguistic competence, extend their knowledge of how language works and explore the difference and similarities between languages. Teaching and learning in French is based on the principle of 'present, practise, perform' and aims to be fun and enjoyable.

Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE)

PSHE helps to give pupils the knowledge, skills and understanding they need to lead confident, healthy, independent lives and to become informed, active, responsible citizens.

We encourage pupils to take part in a wide range of activities and experiences across and beyond the curriculum, contributing fully to the school life and community. In doing so children learn to recognise their own worth, work well with others and become increasingly responsible for their own learning. They reflect on their experiences and understand how they are developing personally and socially, tackling many of the spiritual and cultural issues that are part of growing up. We believe that the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) are key lifelong skills.

Our programme is enriched by outside visitors, assemblies and termly 'Rainbow Days'.

Inside school

Theatre groups, authors or poets often visit our school to bring Literacy alive. The whole school can be involved in writing and performing poetry, talking to actors and watching productions.

Within our recent redesign of our creative curriculum we are committed to providing memorable experiences and enrichment activities for the children. This allows the children to 'live' their topic.

Every year, there are many opportunities for children to ride their bikes to school. Activities include gaining their cycling proficiency badges, a biking club, performing a biking display at fetes, attending bikers breakfast.

We all love Rainbow Days because these are days where we are not in our usual classes and get to work with children of all ages. We do many creative activities and have whole-school themes such as Book Week, Poetry Week, Problem Solving Week, International Week, History Week and Art Week.

We have a well-established School Council. Two representatives per class are elected and attend meetings every two weeks. They discuss any whole school issues, raise issues highlighted by their peers, manage a budget and elect the charities to support and how to raise funds. They have also been involved with activities such as the learning walk to West Exe school for children with little or no sight, supporting the Tour of Britain cycling race, liaising with the chair of governors, discussing issues with the chair of the local parish council.

We have established links with Birqa Jato school in Nkemte, Ethiopia. We are involved in projects such as sending out a story sack for the children to enjoy, writing stories and sending information about our school. Children are very excited to receive parcels from Ethiopia and look at the photographs of their school and surroundings. It highlights similarities and differences between the two schools and children's lives in different parts of the world.

School and Home

Our school has an inclusive attitude to learning. This includes the parents. We believe in letting parents and carers know what and how we are learning. We encourage two-way dialogue between school and home and support this through Parents' Evenings, workshop meetings, curriculum information, Reading Records and invitations to our class assemblies. We also believe that home learning can help reinforce what we learn at school. All our children get home learning, but our teachers are careful to make sure that it is kept to an appropriate level.

Most importantly though, is our annual Parents verses Staff & Governors sporting event!

Outside School

We enjoy exciting activities during our residential trip in Year 6 such as abseiling, archery, raft building, climbing, problem-solving and canoeing. We also enjoy educational visits in all year groups. Recent visits have included exploring coastal walks, forest walks, visiting interactive museums, exploring the Eden Project, visiting the local fire station, living life as a Tudor for a day and many more.

Children enjoy performing for live audiences. Our choir has recently performed to an audience of 1000 at the English Riviera Centre, they have performed at Exeter Cathedral and are performing at the O2 Arena in January. Every year our eldest children sing to elderly at the local day care centre.

Our children with statements of special needs visit the Donkey Sanctuary every 2 weeks and enjoy riding the donkeys.