We aim to make learning as exciting and stimulating as possible and deliver the national curriculum through topics or themes that we know children will enjoy. We believe this thematic approach helps children to make links between subjects and gives them the opportunity to practise their literacy, mathematical and IT skills in a child-focused context. Topics range from the ever-popular Pirates to Space to Dragon Tales and to geographical themes like Africa and the Rainforest. Every area of the curriculum is encompassed within the theme and children are given lots of opportunity to develop research and enquiry skills and encouraged to continue this at home through their Homework Journals.
We teach a specific phonic session each day using the ReadWriteInc programme and children very quickly learn to recognise sounds and blends which helps them become fluent and confident readers. We use Oxford Reading Tree as our main reading scheme as well as ensuring that children experience and enjoy a wide range of good quality literature.
Music, art, dance and PE also figure prominently in our curriculum and children are taught by specialist teachers in these areas of the curriculum.
At Heelands our school ethos is underpinned by our six core values of Friendship, Respect, Self-belief, Cooperation, Challenge and Responsibilty which we focus on each half-term. Our values were chosen by our whole school community as those we thought were the most important for our young children. Our values are threaded through every aspect of school life, they form the basis of all assemblies and are explicitly taught.
Children learn to understand what each value means and how we can demonstrate it in the way we behave, in our approach to learning and in the way we treat others. When children demonstrate the value they earn a coloured pebble which they bring to Friday's assembly, these are counted at the end of the half-term to find the winning class. Teachers also choose a Values Champion from their class who wears the class medal for the coming week. Parents are invited into school for the launch of each new value to do a creative activity with their child which helps to reinforce the value at home too. Values Visits are extremely well-supported by families which demonstrates how important this aspect of learning and development is.
Carol Foster is our trained Forest School leader and children get to experience true outdoor learning – whatever the weather! – on our Forest School site. They have the opportunity to climb trees, make dens, use tools and equipment and cook over the campfire which is always the highlight of the sessions. Forest School gives children the opportunity to collaborate and work together to solve problems and to follow their own ideas independently. In our surveys Forest School is always the thing that children love most about school!