The Stour Academy Trust follows a thematic creative curriculum as a way of achieving the outcomes set by the new national curriculum for Art and Design, History, Geography, Music and Design and Technology.
Within carefully selected topics, children make meaningful links between art, music, history, geography, design technology, English, mathematics and science. They are helped to understand how these subjects bring a deeper understanding to their lives, other people and the world.
Through further experiences, children dive deeper into their understanding whilst developing new skills for a range of purposes.
Writing, reading and mathematics are applied to theses lessons, enabling children to master skills meaningfully. In turn, the foundation subjects enhance the learning of English, mathematics and science.
We become the
View our newsfeed to see how our creative curriculum is embedded in our day to day learning!
You can find out more about our curriculum below:
Rewards for reading give children the sense of achievement and success. We encourage our Children to read as much as possible.
Each night a child should read to an adult and it must be noted in the Home Reading Diary (as evidence) for the child to receive two stickers (immediate reward). If a child reads on their own they receive one sticker (immediate reward). If a child reads on their own and with an adult they could receive three stickers.
Once a child has filled up a bookmark of stickers, they can select a book from a wide range on offer, which they can keep. This is completely free!
We take responsibility as teachers for the teaching of reading and pledge to support parents in encouraging children to read at home without judgment. We ensure that all children in the class have quality teaching time with the class teacher every week. We recognise the importance of a reading culture for children and ensure those opportunities are provided in school.
We aim to foster children who are enthusiastic, fluent and responsive readers who can learn and gain pleasure from the written word. We aim to provide pupils with opportunities to interrelate, consolidate and reinforce these skills within a broad and balanced curriculum.
At the forefront of our reading curriculum is our ‘reading for pleasure’ agenda, where we strive to provide experiences that encourage children to be intrinsically motivated to read, through ensuring they experience the rewards that reading practices bring. We commit to using research to support our practice, ensuring our teaching of reading is up to date and our teachers are fully trained and part of the training process, taking part in action research projects and being proactive in advancing their own practice.
Our broad and balanced curriculum ensures that teaching of reading is tailored to the children, with a clear understanding of the skills needed to be a successful reader and how these develop during each term and year. Teachers are clear of the barriers to learning to read and are forensic in identifying these in individual pupils and groups and they use a range of strategies to overcome these, including careful deployment of skilled adults. They also recognise the importance of ‘reading miles’ and plenty of opportunity for children to read independently is incorporated into the daily class timetable.
When teaching reading, teachers focus on the two dimensions: Word Reading and Comprehension (both listening and reading). As stated in the 2014 National Curriculum, it is essential that teaching focuses on developing pupils’ competence in both dimensions; different kinds of teaching are needed for each. Teachers recognise that skilled word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Underpinning both is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words.
Phonics is taught systematically using ‘Letters and Sounds’, and a focus on combining phonic skills with other skills for reading words is taught and encouraged in a range of contexts and across the curriculum.
Teachers recognise that good comprehension draws from linguistic knowledge (in particular of vocabulary and grammar) and on knowledge of the world. Comprehension skills develop through pupils’ experience of high-quality discussion with the teacher, clear teacher modelling of effective comprehension strategies, as well as from reading and discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction.
All pupils must be encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, and to gain knowledge across the curriculum. Reading widely and often increases pupils’ vocabulary because they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech. Reading also feeds pupils’ imagination and opens up a treasure-house of wonder and joy for curious young minds (2014 National Curriculum).
Environments that encourage a reading for pleasure culture is promoted throughout our academies and prescribed reading spaces such as libraries and book areas are well stocked and up to date with books that are class appropriate (in age, difficulty, interests or topics etc). Children are given ample opportunity to spend time in these spaces, allowing them to choose and discuss the books that they are selecting and reading.
Children are given the opportunity to borrow books from the library:
- One book may be chosen by the class teacher in collaboration with the child,and this book goes home to read with an adult. These books are banded according to ‘Book Bands’ and reading levels.
- A second book is selected by the child also. The library book remains in the class so children always have the opportunity to read throughout the school day.
- Home Reading Diaries are given to each child to record what they have read each night and an adult signature should be recorded in the diary every time as evidence the child has read to an adult.
- All books are registered using ‘Micro Junior Librarian’ to record books borrowed by each child and as evidence of the books read.
We ensure we pay close attention to the following aspects of reading:
- Word recognition
- Using strategies when reading texts
- Language, reading comprehension and enjoyment
Speaking and listening
At The Stour Academy Trust, speaking and listening is a core part of our curriculum, supporting learning in all areas. Discussion between pupils is encouraged throughout all lessons to share ideas and deepen understanding. Ambitious vocabulary is modelled by members of staff so pupils have examples on which to model their own communication. We have high expectations of listening skills which are carefully developed in their school time, frequently checking that children are fully understanding and processing every situation.
Developing children’s writing is a priority in our trust, with our Creative Curriculum being key in captivating our pupil’s attention and motivating them to write. At the start of the week, a hook is always given, creating a context for the children to write and igniting their imagination. This cross curricular approach also means that our children are fully immersed in a topic and able to draw upon learning from lessons outside of writing time. Children apply progressively more complex skills from their year group’s National Curriculum objectives in a range of genres and write for a variety of purposes, ensuring that they are publishing their work termly.
Handwriting is an important focus in the 2014 curriculum and children begin to write in a cursive, joined up style in Early Years. We have a daily focused handwriting session where children are discretely taught letter formations and apply this in writing words and dictated sentences focusing on spelling, punctuation and grammar.
EGPS (English grammar, punctuation and spelling) is taught throughout English lessons and other areas of the curriculum when children are writing. A weekly focus is planned for in grammar and punctuation but previous skills are consistently revisited, building up the bank of National Curriculum expectations. Spelling is taught through the No Nonsense Spelling series, using the revisit, teach, practise, apply format, with Reception, Year 1 and 2 also doing Super Spell, a high frequency word learning programme.
Parental involvement is incredibly important in literacy learning and there are several ways you can support your child at home including:
- Reading to your child
- Listening to your child read and asking questions about what they have read.
- Playing spelling games with your child
- Encouraging writing for different purposes e.g. postcards, diaries etc
- Talking to your children about different experiences they have will also help broaden their vocabulary.
Click the links below to view the progression in English across the year groups.
You can view our English Policy below:
Click the link below to find out more about the English national curriculum
Mathematics is essential to everyday life and, therefore, in every classroom at The Stour Academy Trust, it is taught is creatively on a daily basis. It is essential that all children develop a good mathematical understanding and all teachers strive to ensure that the basic principles of maths are taught to support children become independent, successful learners. In line with the current National Curriculum, we provide a maths curriculum which enables our pupils to:
- become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics, including through varied and frequent practice with increasingly complex problems over time, so that pupils develop conceptual understanding and the ability to recall and apply knowledge rapidly and accurately.
- reason mathematically by following a line of enquiry, conjecturing relationships and generalisations, and developing an argument, justification or proof using mathematical language
- can solve problems by applying their mathematics to a variety of routine and non-routine problems with increasing sophistication, including breaking down problems into a series of simpler steps and persevering in seeking solutions.
This, in turn will broaden children’s knowledge and they will develop a sense of enjoyment and curiosity.
The aims of the National Curriculum emphasise the importance of all pupils mastering the content taught in each year group. The expectation that the majority of pupils will move through the programmes of study at broadly the same pace. However, decisions about when to progress should always be based on the security of pupils’ understanding and their readiness to progress to the next stage. Pupils who grasp concepts rapidly should be challenged through being offered rich and sophisticated problems before any acceleration through new content. Those who are not sufficiently fluent with earlier material should consolidate their understanding, including through additional practice, before moving on. (National Curriculum page 3).
In order to follow and meet the requirements of the National Curriculum, all schools within The Stour Academy Trust follow the scheme of work designed by the White Rose Maths Hub.
This scheme of work focuses on a mastery approach and allows pupils to fully immerse themselves in their learning through a range of problem solving activities which will require them to broaden their mathematical understanding.
We encourage parents to support their children in developing their basic Mathematical skills; particularly to support their fluency and mental ability. This can be achieved in a number of different ways:
- Counting basic objects within the home environment
- Telling the time at home
- Using money in real life situations
- Helping weigh materials on scales
- Learning times tables and number bonds to 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100.
When supporting your child with their homework, it is most beneficial if you continue using the methods which are used in class; this avoids any confusion. Click below to find our Calculation Policy, which outlines how we teach key concepts in all year groups which you can also use to help support your child’s learning at home.
Number facts and Times Tables
The Curriculum places a focus on children knowing their Number Bonds as well as their times tables up to 12×12. This knowledge is imperative for all children to develop and become fluent in because it is essential within many different mathematical areas- written methods of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division; problem solving; fractions, decimals and percentages; measure; and money to name a few.
Starting in the Early Years, children begin to learn their number bonds to 5 and 10. This continues into Key Stage 1 and these should be secure by the end of Year 2. By the end of Year 4, the expectation is that all children know their times tables.
The order in which children should learn their times tables (as outlined in the National Curriculum) is:
Year 2- 2, 10, 5, 3
Year 3- 3, 4, 8, 6
Year 4- 7, 9, 11, 12
Year 5 & 6- revisit and revise all of the times tables and focus on recalling fluently the division facts; e.g. 4 x 6 = 24; 24 ÷ 4 = 6.
This year, we are developing our very own Times Tables Rock Band and all children are challenging themselves to improve their knowledge and recall of times tables on a daily basis. All children, from year 1 and up, have a log in so that they can also access this online resource at home and continue to compete against themselves in order to beat their original time score.
Please do support your child with this at home as it is a fun and interactive way to learn!
Useful Websites to use at home
Below are some websites which have fun games and activities which you could use at home to support your child in an exciting way.
General Maths Games:
Click the link below for a guide for supporting your child with their mathematics
Long Term Plans
Programme of Study
Click the link below to find out more about the Mathematics national curriculum
The national curriculum for computing aims to ensure that all pupils:
- can understand and apply the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science, including abstraction, logic, algorithms and data representation
- can analyse problems in computational terms, and have repeated practical experience of writing computer programs in order to solve such problems
- can evaluate and apply information technology, including new or unfamiliar technologies, analytically to solve problems
- are responsible, competent, confident and creative users of information and communication technology.
At Thistle Hill Academy, children are encouraged to communicate ideas and information in a variety of forms using equipment and computer software to enhance their learning. While all classrooms in the school are equipped with a desktop computer connected to the internet and a smartboard, the staff and children also use a range of technology like laptops, digital cameras, iPads and other IT devices throughout the school.
The Computing Curriculum can be divided into three inter-related strands:
- Computer Science
- Information Technology
- Digital Literacy
Pupils need to understand what algorithms are – this is the basis of what they need to know in order to write computer programs. Each programming language has its own vocabulary and grammar but they all follow the same type of logic. It is possible and beneficial to learn computer science away from computers or other digital devices. Role play and kinaesthetic activities can help pupils develop logical reasoning.
Pupils need to be able to write algorithms and programs. They also need to be able to find mistakes (bugs) and fix them. When children write programs they will learn that there are often different ways of getting the right outcome, and they need to be able to evaluate the programs to decide which is the most efficient.
The computer science strand also requires knowledge of networks and how searches are performed.
Most of it this will be covered by using technology to support other subject areas though it may be necessary to teach some discrete skills. Students should understand that technology is everywhere, be able to identify the technology they encounter and have a basic understanding of how it works. This will link to work on programming and algorithms.
Appropriate activities include word processing, creating images, taking and using photographs and video, creating music and animations, using and creating databases, producing websites and contributing to blogs. As well as creation of digital materials pupils should have experience of manipulating and editing their own work and resources from elsewhere. They need to know how to use the tools available but also to have an element of digital literacy – awareness of audience and good design principles. Pupils should experience a range of different applications and software, initially the teacher will select the programs they use but over time pupils should be encouraged to make decisions themselves.
Pupils also need to know how to store and organise their files so that it can easily be found again. They need an understanding of the devices they can use including: hard drive, USB sticks, school network server, and the cloud storage on the internet.
Children need to be able to use technology safely. They need to keep their personal information private and treat other people with respect. If something
goes wrong or they see something they don’t like they should know what to do and where to go for help. As children get older they need to know about how to use technology responsibly. As well as thinking about how their online behaviour affects others they need to be aware of legal and ethical responsibilities, including respecting copyright and intellectual property rights, keeping passwords and personal data secure and observing terms and conditions for online services. They need to understand the main risks relating to:
Content – being exposed to illegal, inappropriate or harmful material
Contact – being subjected to harmful online interaction with other users
Conduct – online behaviour that increases the likelihood of, or causes, harm
You can view our Long Term Plan for Computing below
Resources you can use at home
Your child has access to Purple Mash, a whole world of fun and exciting learning opportunities in one safe place. Purple Mash is a comprehensive suite of online learning tools and content, designed to be used by Primary aged children in the classroom and at home.
Find out more here: https://2simple.com/parents
What should you do first? To begin with, it’s a good idea to log in to Purple Mash with your child. We suggest the following:
- Familiarising yourself with the menu icons.
- Looking at any set tasks that have been given to your child (2Dos)
- Finding out about Class Blogs and Display Boards accessible via the Sharing Icon
- Exploring the grammar, maths and spelling activities which match to the National Curriculum
- Play one of many fun, educational collaborative games such as 2Race
- Delve into the Science area and find out about all the areas of Science it covers
- Investigate the Topics area to support securing their knowledge of the wider curriculum
- Tour the Computing area trying out some of the tools such as 2Code, 2Go and Logo
- Get creative in the Tools section, from making an animation to building a printable 3D model
- Learn through play in Mini Mash (For children aged 3 to 5).
During some of our lessons we may also make use of a computer program called Scratch; this program enables pupils to develop knowledge, understanding and skills in computer programming. It is a programming language where children can create interactive programs such as stories, games, and animation. As children create with Scratch, they learn to think creatively, work collaboratively and reason systematically. Scratch is designed and maintained by the well-established and respected Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT in the USA.
The program is available to anyone as a free download and can be found at the following address: http://scratch.mit.edu/scratch_1.4/
Scratch provides a structured and open-ended means to develop computer programming skills across all abilities.
We follow the Kent Agreed Syllabus for non-church schools. You can find an overview of the scheme of work for all years here:
The school places a strong emphasise on compassion, respect, friendship and truth as values that help create and sustain the ethos of our school.
Find out more about the RE curriculum here:
We feel that it is essential for our children to have knowledge and some understanding of foreign languages. During their time in KS2, your child will have the opportunity to study Spanish in regular weekly language lessons.
The focus of study in Spanish will be on practical communication. The teaching will provide an appropriate balance of spoken and written language.
In the younger classes, we introduce children to a variety of modern foreign languages through games and fun activities.
Find an overview of what we study in Spanish below:
Click the link below to find out more information about the MFL curriculum.
Our school follows the national curriculum for Physical Education and aims for each child to:
- develop competence to excel in a broad range of physical activities
- be physically active for sustained periods of time
- engage in competitive sports and activities
- lead healthy, active lives
To see an overview of the areas that we cover in PE and what your child will be learning about term by term, please view the document below:
To find out more about the national curriculum for Physical Education, click here.
As part of our on-going commitment to your children’s well-being, we follow a PSHE curriculum.
You can find a whole school curriculum overview of what we teach in PSHE below:
You can find out more about PSHE below:
We promote independent learning, allowing children to develop as life-long learners. Using BLP, we are empowering children to consider how they learn best by providing them with a range of strategies
Building Learning Power consists of four learning muscles: RESILIENCE, RECIPROCITY, REFLECTIVENESS and RESOURCEFULLNESS.
To begin with, we will be focusing on resilience and exploring the various strands: managing distractions, perseverance, absorption and noticing, teaching children strategies to use to help them become better learners. During each lesson, one of these strands of learning will be developed in addition to the skills and knowledge of the subject being taught.
Each class has their own learning hero, someone who is an inspiration or of interest to the children. This allows them to identify with this learning hero and see how they have used their learning muscles to overcome any difficulties faced. This is followed by assemblies in which the children are nominated for displaying these learning depositions.
Here are some statements the children have made about how resilience has helped them with their learning:
‘It has helped my learning as I can now manage my distractions and stay focused.’
‘My learning has improved because I try until I succeed’
‘It has helped me overcome challenges because I don’t give up’
‘I now persevere with my learning’
How can you help at home?
Here is a link for the BLP website:
Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.
Confucius, Book of Rites
We all feel the enjoyment that listening or dancing to our favourite music can create, singing our favourite songs, and understand the power that a great soundtrack has to build drama or add tension to a film.
At Thistle Hill we aim to give every child the opportunity to experience the power of music to enhance our lives, as well as capitalizing on the benefits it gives in other areas of the curriculum.
Without music, life is a journey through a desert.
Singing, playing instruments, performing, and composing are enjoyable, creative and fulfilling learning experiences in their own right, but research shows that this learning extends beyond the musical curriculum.
- Making music in the early and primary years increases listening and concentration skills, and enhances a child’s ability to discriminate between sounds. This improves phonetic awareness and helps to develop language and literacy skills.
- There is a positive impact on spatial reasoning, which is linked to mathematical thinking and on physical co-ordination, which supports handwriting skills.
- Music-making in small groups promotes teamwork and the development of leadership skills, as well as being hugely enjoyable.
- Pupils’ confidence can be enhanced if they have opportunities to perform.
- Music-making has social and emotional benefits, helping children to improve their mood and relieve stress
Our school council works hard to make changes and improvements to Thistle Hill and the way we do things. They listen carefully to their classmates and look around for anything that they feel could be done differently and make suggestions about what to do. They work closely with the Senior Leadership Team and the Headteacher to make Thistle Hill the best it can be!
Our school council is made up of representatives from our KS2 classes, 2 representatives for each class. The meetings are also attended by the elected Head Boy and Head Girl. At their meetings, they all have an opportunity to share their opinions and views, as well as those of their classmates, and help to make decisions.
Some of their recent projects;
- Created a pupil voice school development plan
- Voted on new play equipment to be ordered for KS1 and KS2 playgrounds
- Implemented rotas for using the football pitch and basketball court
- Shared an important safeguarding message with all children, designing and presenting an assembly
- Improved our school environment with library monitors and litter pickers
- Designed parent surveys to hear parent voice on behaviour and bullying
- Designed pupil surveys to hear pupil voice about behaviour and reading
- Designed and created an e-safety display
- Planning and advertising the summer fete
Some of their ideas for future projects;
- Organising School talent show
- Fundraising event ideas
- Community event ideas
- School sporting events and teams