At Westmeads we have a whole school theme-based curriculum which means the children are excited and motivated to learn and they can learn together sometimes across the age range. We link subjects together e.g. art with geography, history with ICT, literacy with science, etc. Creative arts and a vibrant learning environment are essential parts of our themes. We also focus on achieving the highest possible standards for all our children in the basics of literacy, maths and science. We take advantage of being so close to the beach to visit weekly in terms 2, 4 and 6 where we learn outdoors and engage with nature. Our curriculum is further enriched by visiting teachers, artists, musicians and sports teachers. We also have a cookery room where we cook a variety of foods and soon hope to include produce from our garden.
We follow the National Curriculum in all subjects.
We follow guidelines in terms of teaching a wide range of genres and spelling which progress through the year groups. Children are inspired in their writing by a wide range of stimuli including links with our themes for example Science Fiction stories linked with our theme on Space, and Persuasive posters linked with the Seaside. Children begin to check and edit their own work in the infants and they are involved in the next steps in their learning through our learning journeys for writing which each child progresses through at their own pace.
The children are taught to read using systematic synthetic phonics based on Letters and Sounds. They are encouraged to also use other cues to decode texts and enjoy learning to read and gain pleasure from reading and sharing books. Activities are interactive, investigative and fun.
We have recently added to our range of reading scheme books to encourage children to read a wide variety of texts confidently and with expression. Children read their reading books 1:1 with adults in school on a regular basis with those children who find reading more difficult receiving additional support and encouragement. All children in school are also grouped by ability into guided reading groups where they work with their teachers on focused reading activities.
We place a high value on reading and enthusing the children about books. All the children spend time in the school library at least once a week and choose books from the library to take home along with their reading book. We also hold regular reading events such as World Book Day activity days, inviting parents in to read with the children, and visits from authors, poets and storytellers.
Speaking and Listening
We believe that developing good listening skills and the ability to articulate thoughts are vital and children are engaged in plentiful discussions as whole school, classes, groups and in pairs as well as drama activities and outdoor learning activities which give rise to an enormous amount of high quality talk! Children have weekly assembly and PSHE themes which they discuss and learn the conventions of discussion and asking questions.
In maths we follow the National Curriculum guidelines and use a wide range of approaches and resources to enhance children's learning and appeal to different learning styles. We place a high emphasis on the children having a thorough understanding of number and calculation and learning mental maths skills and knowledge that will help them throughout their lives. Children know their next steps with regard to their targets which they are involved in setting with their class teacher, six times across the year.
Science and Design Technology (D.T.)
Science is taught linked to our themes wherever possible. We make good use of our grounds in studying plants, mini-beasts and habitats as our pond and garden are full of wildlife. Children enjoy practical investigations and often use their science knowledge to inform a Design Technology project for example, their knowledge of electrical circuits to design a game which lights up. We have a kitchen for the children to use in school so they have opportunities to cook a savoury and a sweet dish. Our science learning is integrated with our themed curriculum; for example, when we study the ‘Changes’ theme we studied materials and life cycles.
Information and Communication Technology
The children learn about communicating and enhancing their learning using computers, Interactive White Boards, programming robots, using tape recorders and digital cameras. Where possible, our ICT learning is integrated with our themed curriculum and the children have access to computers in the classroom so that they can put into practise the skills they have learnt in small groups in the I.C.T. area.
History and Geography
We study a skills based curriculum in these subjects linked with our themes. For example, for our Local Area theme we study local history and geography field work skills. We bring the subjects alive through drama and outdoor learning as well as visitors to school and trips.
We teach a wide range of games including football, hockey, rounders, tag rugby and basketball, building skills from the Reception classes upwards. We have a hall where we do gymnastics and dance as well as our outdoor area for all outdoor games.
The children also learn yoga and ‘gentle touch’ as a way of relaxing and preparing for learning.
We study all major religions in the world following the Kent Agreed syllabus and the children learn about tolerance and diversity as well as about specific customs and practices within different religions and cultures.
We have a specialist music teacher who teaches the children in groups of fifteen. During their time at Westmeads, the children all learn the violin, recorder and to play a range of percussion instruments. We also enjoy singing together and learning new songs in singing assembly every week. We stage performances including singing at Christmas and in the summer for parents, carers, grandparents and friends.
Developing children's social skills and ensuring their emotional well-being is central to our ethos at Westmeads. Each week key themes such as "working together" or "respecting differences" form the basis of our assemblies and our PSHE sessions in class.