We believe that it is important for all children to express themselves clearly and confidently in speech and that this has a strong impact on their learning across the curriculum. In the early Years we emphasise role-play, the learning of nursery rhymes and retelling of stories. We continue with role-play areas in Key Stage 1 and develop the use of drama in all age groups. As children grow older they develop skills with activities such as performing plays, presenting reports to camera and debating in school council. Throughout the curriculum there is an emphasis on giving oral explanations to show understanding.
Children also need to be able to listen with full concentration to adults in school and to each other. In the classroom and in assembly discussions children are encouraged to contribute their ideas and to listen and respond to the ideas of others. All Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 classrooms have Sound field systems to support partially hearing pupils and these make listening easier in whole class activities for all the children.
Reading at Yorke Mead builds from the children’s phonics skills. We use the Letters and Sounds programme to deliver phonics daily throughout the Early Years and Key Stage One. Children in Reception will bring home a pot of sounds and later a pot of words to support development of their phonics skills and sight vocabulary.
All children are encouraged to take home books to read or to share with an adult. Each class has a reading area with a library and access to the school reference library. Parents of children in Year 1 are invited into school each week to share a story sack with a group of children.
We use books from several different reading schemes that are organised according to the level of difficulty as well as non-scheme books. In Key Stage 1 the children have a home-school reading diary to share with an adult at home. Key Stage 2 children are expected to record their reading in their diaries themselves and to carry out regular book reviews. Each year we organise an author week and celebrate World Book Day, and there will be several book swap days throughout the year to enable children to have access to new books.
Children can also enjoy books using recorded versions on cassette or CD as well as interactive stories on the computer. Teachers and Teaching Assistants hear pupils read in groups and as individuals and every teacher reads stories to their class during the week. Years 1, 2 and 3 are paired with years 4, 5 and 6 for partner reading each Friday. We are also fortunate to have a well-established system of adult volunteer helpers who will hear children read.
We encourage children to write freely from the time they start Nursery, starting with emergent writing. Children use their phonics skills to learn to write the sounds they can hear in words. They will also be directly taught tricky words and common words. They learn how to write for different purposes including writing instructions, reports, letters, poems, diaries and imaginative stories. Sometimes work will be word-processed. Finished writing may be presented as a booklet, in a class book or as part of a display as well as in the children’s individual exercise books.
Handwriting, spelling, grammar and punctuation are taught as specific skills. Children are encouraged to write in a fluent, joined style from year 1 and there is a strong emphasis on using their phonics to support spelling. To encourage the children to develop neat joined handwriting we have a system of certificates that the children earn which lead to their ‘pen license’.
We encourage children to initially use emergent writing techniques to spell words, and as children become more confident formal spelling tests are introduced. This will usually be during Year 1 sometime.
Spellings are taught in line with the National Curriculum phonic and spelling expectations for the age group. Children may choose to tackle 5, 10 or 15 of these spellings each week depending on the level of challenge the spelling pattern presents to them.
In the Early Years children develop an understanding of Mathematics through a variety of planned group and individual activities. In Key Stages 1 and 2 we follow the National Curriculum, providing a structured daily Maths lesson for every class that caters for all abilities. All areas of Maths are covered: . Place value and numbers, fractions, measurement, shape, position, statistics. Children learn through practical activities working individually, in pairs or in groups as well as practis ing a variety of skills that gradually introduce them to the formal written methods. They learn number facts such as multiplication tables and extend their learning by carrying out Maths investigations.
A key aspect of learning mathematics at Yorke Mead is children being able to explain their methods of working in order to get the answer.
Knowing key facts is essential for the development of effective mathematical calculations and we encourage children to learn to instantly recall addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. Children initially focus on learning their number bonds moving onto times tables once they begin to develop the concerns of counting in groups and multiplication.
Each class studies science throughout the year, covering the National Curriculum strands, for instance; rocks, animals, plants, light, forces. These strands are taught through the ‘working scientifically’ strand. . We are fortunate in having extensive school grounds and excellent local study centres. Links with the DT curriculum enable the practical application of scientific knowledge and we use a variety of ICT resources including a digital microscope and data logger to support our science work.
In Key Stage 1 the emphasis is on direct experiences and discussion. For example, we handle and describe materials, test their absorbency then draw diagrams, fill in tables, compare results and draw conclusions about their characteristics and appropriate uses.
At Key Stage 2 children record data in increasingly more complex ways. They hypothesise, plan and carry out experiments, write up their results and draw conclusions. Topics include electricity, forces, seed dispersal and the human body.