At St John the Divine we aim to provide children with a broad and balanced curriculum which develops curiosity and fosters a life-long love of learning. We follow the National Curriculum, finding as many opportunities to enrich children’s learning. We aim, where possible to base learning around a topic or a theme, as we believe that this enables children to make logical connections and deepen their understanding.
Our Values encompass all we do at St John the Divine; they underpin our vision and our mission. We celebrate 11 values over the course of each year, one for each month we are in school. The values are rooted in the Fruits of the Holy Spirit and complement British Values and the high expectations we hold for our children’s behaviours.
Over the course of each month we focus on the value, what it means to us and how we can demonstrate the value in all that we do. We share the values with our parents in monthly Value Newsletters, now written by our Worship Leaders, and we strongly encourage parents to talk with their children about the Values – We develop the way we share these with parents every year and this year we ask children & parents to contribute to developing our understanding of each value by writing prayers, mottos and identifying positive examples of the value being demonstrated in our community. These are displayed in school for all to see.
School Vision and Mission
Our School vision has been written by stakeholders to reflect the school, based on where we are now and our hopes for the future for the children and community we serve. The vision was reviewed in the Summer of 2018. Our Mission is the practical manifestation of our vision over the next 3 years; it sets out our academic aims and personal aspirations for every child in our school so that they are ready for the next stage of their educational journey, so that they can contribute to the local community and wider world with courage and confidence.
Behaviour – Social and Learning Behaviours
Whilst there is a link, here at St John the Divine we make a clear distinction between social behaviour and behaviour for learning. The former relates to our everyday behaviours – social niceties, good manners, tolerance and respect to others. Whilst the latter focuses on children’s attitudes to learning and learning behaviours and the respect they show themselves. Here we encourage children to take ownership of their learning and understand the role they play in their education and we equip them with the skills and knowledge to ask questions, make links in their learning, to solve problems and to face challenges head on. These behaviours are recognisable through our school values and children are rewarded for their demonstrations.
The Connected Curriculum
The Connected Curriculum is a project-based approach to teaching the foundation subjects from the National Curriculum which offers meaningful links between disciplines resulting in purposeful outcomes for learners. A foundation subject is the focus of several consecutive lessons forming a short project; opportunities are made within these projects to make links between different curriculum areas thus deepening pupils’ understanding of themes studied. Time to revisit prior learning is planned for while ensuring new knowledge and skills are taught each session, resulting in greater strides of progress over a sequence of lessons. Purposeful repetition of content supports learners to consolidate learning before being extended to apply this knowledge into new and wider contexts.
This approach was first trialled by an experienced teacher for one whole term. The planning format was adapted based on feedback from this teacher. CPD was delivered to staff before the Connected Curriculum was rolled out.
At the end of the first term, teacher and pupil interviews were conducted to ascertain what difference they thought the new Connected Curriculum had made. Pupils were positive – “if you do chunks, you remember more,” “it’s easier to remember when you do it more,” while another child recognised their own progress within a foundation subject – “you get better at painting ‘cos you have more time to practise.” Teachers were also overwhelmingly positive with one claiming I have “been able to teach more in-depth and engage pupils more fully in a project,” while another claimed it was “easier to cover the curriculum in different ways and to provide opportunities to revisit because objectives are covered in more than one area.” Additional CPD continues to be given at the start of each term to support teachers with the planning process for the term ahead.
Teaching in the Moment
Driven by the aim to raise engagement levels in Early Years, we undertook a change in approach to Continuous Provision in Nursery and Reception. The environment is arranged so that all pupils can select and access all resources throughout the day both inside and outside. Children direct their learning, while highly-skilled practitioners teach within the child’s play by modelling language, explaining, demonstrating, exploring ideas, encouraging, questioning, providing a narrative for what they are doing and facilitating further learning opportunities for children. The day is arranged so that carpet sessions, which include pre-planned adult-led interactions, are timetabled for the start and end of the morning and afternoon thus allowing a long, uninterrupted period of child-led learning throughout both morning and afternoon sessions. Each child is a ‘focus child’ once every half term which results in a greater number of observations during that week. During the rest of the term, poignant moments are recorded for each child. These observations are recorded in each child’s learning journey book. Parents and Carers contribute to this book through home learning activities, ‘wow moments’ and the planning sheet for the ‘focus child’ weeks.
Whole-school themed weeks are held in the first week of each full term. Themes are chosen to promote the learning behaviours we know children need to be successful, such as, collaboration, effective communication and resilience as well as some areas of the curriculum that would benefit from further exploration. Themed weeks are launched with a visitor, workshops or whole-school assembly to generate enthusiasm and inspire learners. Learning from the week is shared and celebrated through exhibition with the rest of the school and families at the end of the themed week, uniting the whole-school community for the term ahead.
Sustained Enrichment Activities
Our children have the opportunity to participate in a range of exciting projects with a range of organisations based here in London. This year projects include Key Stage Two classes working with architecture students from Westminster University to re-imagine our school environment, participating in the second year of the Arts Explorer’s programme with artists at the Southbank Centre as well as a class writing a chapter for a published book as part of the Imagine a Story project with the Southbank Centre. Groups of pupils have also developed strong partnerships with St Gabriel’s School when attending Maths Masterclasses and working together for the annual Science Fair. Key Stage One classes have the opportunity to perform in the Lambeth Sounds Music Festival again this year. Early Years continue to make strong links with Myatt’s Field Park on their weekly visits to deepen their understanding of the natural world.
A wide range of after-school clubs are offered free of charge for all parents so that children’s learning can continue after school has ended. Clubs include sporting, cultural, creative and linguistic activities run by teachers and teaching assistants. Private music tuition is also offered by the Music Teacher.
Through the curriculum mapping process we have identified key visits across the year and across the school to enrich the curriculum. The purpose of these events are to deepen children’s learning, through real life experiences that they can hook their learning on to, to make purposeful links in the children’s learning journey and to support an understanding of the opportunities related to living in the capital city.
Curriculum Review and Progression Maps
At the end of the first year of trialling the Connected Curriculum across the whole of Key Stage One and Key Stage Two, all staff participated in a Curriculum Review. This process identified themes or projects that had been successful and gave opportunities to discuss new themes which might lead to greater success. Middle Leaders had opportunities to give and receive insight to the practice of teaching their subject which informed CPD plans and themed weeks the following academic year. Following this Curriculum Review, the curriculum maps were updated with new themes for the next academic year. High quality resources were purchased for these new themes. Curriculum maps are reviewed and refined annually to ensure maximum impact for learners.
Keen to ensure progress is made between year groups within a Key Stage and across both Key Stages, Middle Leaders created progression maps for foundation subjects detailing progression of National Curriculum objectives, skills, knowledge and understanding. These documents are used to support teachers planning and also guide Middle Leaders when monitoring progression across the school of an area of learning within their foundation subject, for example, in Geography, map-making from Years One to Six.
Religious Education and Collective Worship
The RE curriculum document provided by the Southwark Diocesan of Board Education is the basis for the teaching and learning of RE. Staff work very closely with the church community and ensure that pupils have the opportunity to learn about the Church as a family. Participation in worship is much valued; each day begins and ends with a prayer. Through cross curricular work, children develop a sense of awe and wonder and are taught to work collaboratively and share experiences. They learn to take responsibility and develop an enquiring mind in the context of their religious beliefs and practices.
Through the curriculum we aim to:
- Develop inquisitive, enquiring minds and a passion for learning
- Equip children with the skills to interact in an ever changing world
- Teach respect for all, for the environment and all God’s creations
- Encourage children to set high expectations for themselves and foster an understanding of the importance of the children fulfilling their God given potential.
- Develop reflective children, who seek to extend themselves; who persevere and learn from their mistakes
- Empower children to have the courage and confidence to take calculated risks
- Uphold the Christian ethos of the school whilst respecting the cultures and beliefs of others
Here at St John’s, everyone is committed to the values espoused within the Gospels. As modern British values have evolved from a time when we were historically Christian, our Gospel values and British values are fundamentally the same.
Through the teaching of our curriculum, we believe in and promote core British values including democracy, respect, tolerance, acceptance, peace, being non-judgmental, humility, justice, the rule of the law, the dignity of each human being and individual liberty, forgiveness, generosity, fairness, discipline and hope.
Here at St John the Divine we believe that children learn best when:
- There is a safe and secure environment which promotes good relationships and encourages self-control and self-esteem in all
- Cultures, values and beliefs are respected and reflected in the curriculum and in the daily life of the school
- What children can do is taken as a starting point and they are encouraged to make attempts which are valued in the context of high expectations
- The learning environment is rich, relevant and stimulating
- Children are interested, motivated and confident in their individual abilities, show enthusiasm and an eagerness to progress and have a range of strategies that enable them to succeed
- There is provision for a wide variety of learning opportunities and experiences that allow freedom to develop ideas that actively involve the learner in appropriately differentiated and challenging activities
- Adults work alongside children, sharing and developing their experiences as well as their skills and enabling them to reflect on their learning
- Clear boundaries and patterns of behaviour are set
- There is a positive, true and effective partnership between school, home and the community.