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Here you can find brief summaries relating to the subjects taught within the Prep department.
Children continue to develop their artistic techniques as they progress through the school. Their control and use of materials becomes more established, together with increased levels of experimentation. The introduction of specialist Art & design teaching, within a dedicated Art and design classroom equipped with a range of materials, tools and media brings added benefits. The children also learn to study and record the visual world analytically, developing appropriate vocabulary to help them understand, discuss and evaluate their own work and that of others. They continue to have an increasing appreciation and understanding of artists and the history of art, as well as appreciating and evaluating the work of a range of artists from their own and other cultures.
During their final two years at St Margaret’s, the children improve their mastery of Art and design techniques, expressing their ideas and feelings through imaginative creation in both two and three dimensions. This includes using a range of tools and media. They learn about great artists, architects and designers in history, with excellence in Art and design continuing to be celebrated through suitably mounted displays, presentations and displays of Art in assemblies, as well as entry into competitions and exhibitions. Children are involved in the selection, evaluation and display of their artwork and visit galleries and other venues outside school. In their final term, Year 6 pupils undertake a celebration of Art project where they research and choose artwork of a famous artist or designer with whom they particularly identify. Using similar media and equipment they produce their own major piece for display at their final Prize giving celebrations.
As ever, the children’s safety is our priority. To that end, there is continuing focus on e-safety at the appropriate level. A high-quality Computing education equips children to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and participate in our changing world. The children work on various devices and platforms which encompass an array of skills related to publishing, presenting, data handling and programming. They also work on formulating simple algorithms using educational ‘toys’ progressing to more complex coding using on-screen programs. There is much emphasis on exploration and discovery in the area of programming. The children become more digitally literate and learn to be active and responsible participants in our digital world. All Year 3 and 4 children learn to touch type with increasing fluency. Additionally, they are able to enhance their skills by attending a weekly Junior Computer Club.
As they prepare to move on to the next stage of their education, our children become more aware of both the benefits and inherent risks involved in all forms of technology. The focus on e-safety reinforces the need for them to be empowered through the knowledge and attitudes necessary to be safe in an online world. There is much emphasis on ‘awareness’ in the areas of social media and cyber bullying. The curriculum includes much creativity in publishing, art, photography, video editing and website design, as well as mastering aspects such as data handling and computational skills in databases and spreadsheets. Programming is taught throughout Years 5 and 6, building on previous experience. The children work with various coding programs which includes designing and making their own game. They also work with ‘LEGO Robotics’ which involves designing and making robots and programming them to perform challenging tasks. A highlight for many of the children in the final year is testing their programming skills in an international competition: ‘LEGO League’. There are also opportunities for further learning through a dedicated Senior Computer Club. As well as being highly skilled in many areas of Computing, our children are also taught the various concepts and attitudes needed to make them responsible and safe digital citizens.
Children build on earlier years’ foundations and develop their own design criteria, as well as using these to inform their ideas. Through gathering information about the needs and wants of the consumer, design decisions can be generated based on the availability of resources. Products are assembled, joined and combined using a variety of materials from Mod Roc to textiles. Our specially equipped Design and technology classroom enables free access to hand drills, junior hacksaws and a wide selection of scrap modelling. Children are taught to self-select the correct materials and tools for the task and are carefully instructed on their safe use. Pupils with specific skills or enthusiasm are also able to join the weekly Junior Construction Club, where they have the opportunity to extend their skills, and experience opportunities outside of the curriculum.
Practical activities are at the core of developing skills, knowledge and understanding. Children at the upper end of the school engage in an iterative process of designing and making a diverse range of products involving structures, textiles and mechanisms. Children are given a design brief and gather information about the needs and wants of individuals or groups. They critically evaluate the quality of their design, identifying the fitness for purpose of their products throughout the ‘design and make’ process. The extremely popular Senior Construction Club allows children to work collaboratively on a range of larger scale projects, so extending their own personal areas of interest. This culminates in the preparation of a large-scale group project presented on Open Day. Learning how to cook is a crucial life skill and children are inspired by a visiting Chef who gives them the skills and knowledge to design their own bread product. As they prepare to leave the school, our pupils celebrate their culinary skills, working with parents to plan, make, and then finally eat a three course meal together.
In Reading the focus is upon the pupils developing an extensive vocabulary. The breadth and depth of their reading improves as decoding skills become secure. It is vital that children become independent, fluent and enthusiastic readers who read widely and frequently. They should demonstrate understanding of figurative language and distinguish shades of meaning within their reading. Writing skills are consolidated so that vocabulary, sentence structure and knowledge of linguistic terminology become second nature. Class teachers help to develop the children’s creative writing to enhance the effectiveness of what they write, as well as increasing their competence and enjoyment. Children spell words as accurately as possible using their phonic knowledge and begin to develop an understanding of etymology. Throughout the school, high standards of written presentation are an expectation. During these two years children will have developed a confident, joined cursive style of writing, with the transition made from pencil to ink during Year 3.
During Years 5 and 6, class teachers continue to encourage and enhance the children’s enjoyment and understanding of language, focusing particularly on vocabulary to support their advanced reading and writing. By the end of Year 6 children’s language skills are sufficiently fluent and effortless for them to flourish in their new learning environment. Children understand nuances in vocabulary choice, and consolidate, practice and discuss a wide range of language. Their confidence, enjoyment and mastery of the spoken word will be extended through many opportunities for public speaking, performance and debate. This outstanding education teaches our children to speak and write fluently so that they can easily communicate their ideas and emotions to others.
The children’s understanding of the Earth’s key physical and human processes deepens as they learn about the formation and use of landscapes and environments. Children are provided with opportunities to reach explanations as this is based on the clear use of evidence and data collected, reaching conclusions about topics, places and issues they have studied. Fieldwork is a vital part of geographical research and we continue to visit a number of sites including a day long trip to Avebury and a two day residential stay at Mill on the Brue. Children begin to be able to see the world through the perspective of different stakeholders i.e. people and things that have an interest in or are connected to, an issue or place. They use and apply appropriate and increasingly specialised subject vocabulary, subject tools (digimap for schools) and fieldwork skills to recognise, identify, describe, observe, reason, explain and reach basic conclusions about the interaction of people with their environments.
Big questions and units that extend the children’s subject skills so that they are able to make judgements about things they learn, both from their own personal perspective and through empathising with the position of others, becomes our focus at this age. Children continue to evaluate what they have learnt and how they have learnt it, and are encouraged to come up with their own questions to investigate. Higher outcomes in Geography also involve children being able to apply what they have learnt in one context to another, and to understand concepts, as well as more discrete areas of knowledge which they learnt and understood. A highlight in Year 5 is the three day residential trip to Swanage and the Jurassic coast. Children are fascinated by the geology of this World Heritage Site, as well as looking in detail at the effects of tourism on the area. This fieldwork also informs other cross-curricular work back in the classroom. Children undertake investigations which enable them to use and apply specialised subject vocabulary, subject tools and fieldwork skills to recognise, identify, describe, observe, reason, explain, reach conclusions and make judgements, evaluate, apply and hypothesise about the interaction of people with their environments.
During Years 3 and 4 children look in much more detail at the chronology and duration of the history they are studying by drawing their own timelines. When looking at evidence, they begin to recognise that the past might be represented and interpreted in different ways. They begin to select and record information relevant to the focus of the enquiry with greater independence. Children use more technical vocabulary like primary and secondary evidence, pre-history, era, ancient, modern, civilisation, BC, AD and archaeology. They continue to gain mastery from our whole school study of the Victorians by looking at life in the locality, how children were used as workers in agriculture and workhouses, and finally at some important inventors of the time. Learning is brought alive through fieldwork trips to Caerleon to support the Year 3 unit on the Romans and to Salisbury Museum to support the Year 4 unit on the Saxons. This gives children the chance to see ancient ruins and artefacts and to re-enact aspects of daily life during these times.
During their final two years, children continue to place historical events on a timeline but now start to think about cause and effect. For example, if America had not joined the Allies during WW2 would the result have been different? They continue to recognise that the past might be represented and interpreted in different ways, as well as considering that events affected different people in different ways. The children use vocabulary like cause, effect, motivation and change. They continue to gain mastery from our whole school study of the Victorians by looking at more complex themes such as changes in the British Empire and monarchy, democracy and electoral reform and finally the values of Victorian Britain. In addition to this, the children visit STEAM in Swindon to support their unit on WW2 or the Victorians. During the Tudors unit, children may have the opportunity to visit the Mary Rose and Hampton Court. All of these fieldwork opportunities provide pupils with the chance to experience life during these times in a stimulating and very hands-on way.
In Years 3 & 4 lessons are highly interactive and dynamic, involving plenty of participation. The emphasis is on learning and using as many phrases and elements of vocabulary as possible, and above all on fostering the desire to participate in oral lessons without fear of mistakes or embarrassment. The importance of more formal, structured and systematic approaches to phonics and the relation between graphemes and phonemes creates increasingly accurate pronunciation and intonation. Throughout these years children broaden their vocabulary and develop their ability to understand new words that are introduced into familiar written material, using visual clues or a dictionary, as well as their previous knowledge of French. Written French and basic grammatical aspects of the language are carefully introduced to provide the children with a sense of achievement from rising to the challenges presented.
During their final two years, children continue to strengthen their interest for and commitment to French. The four key skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing are promoted through a wide range of activities, games and role-plays. Authentic resources such as songs, poems, interactive material and newspaper or magazine articles enhance the process. The pupils use these skills creatively to expand their knowledge and understanding, and to deal with the unexpected.
Children demonstrate an increasingly high level of accuracy and, as a result, use French more freely and spontaneously to express what they want to say, both when talking to each other informally or writing imaginatively. They develop their ability to write phrases from memory, and adapt these to create new sentences to express ideas clearly. They speak with growing confidence, fluency and spontaneity, finding ways of communicating what they want to say by asking questions or using the available resources more independently. In Year 6 children benefit from our partnership with l’École Saint-Louis, Chantilly, France and exchange letters and presents with their pen pals on a regular basis
It is vital to reinforce the children’s recognition of a range of language structures and to boost to their enthusiasm and enjoyment of other cultures. Therefore, children in Years 5 & 6 have the opportunity to study additional languages. Year 6 learn Spanish as part of the curriculum and access Mandarin and German through extra-curricular clubs. Classical Studies and Latin are also taught during the final two years in order to further our children’s grammatical knowledge and understanding of sentence structure. Our children leave us with a sense of respect towards the people, lives and traditions of other cultures.
The principle focus of Mathematics during this period is to ensure that all children become increasingly fluent when working with whole numbers and the four operations. The concept of place value (to include decimals) and its associated number facts, forms an excellent foundation to the children’s future mathematical journey. Clearly learning in this subject is an iterative process and earlier concepts are revisited and reinforced. Other activities include the weekly Junior Maths Challenge, and the use of a wide range of digital media and websites such as Mathletics and Big Maths to support children’s learning. The knowledge and understanding of specific mathematical vocabulary is vital across all the different strands: number, measurement, geometry and statistics. Focusing upon quick recall of times tables, up to 12 x 12, and number bonds leads to the ability to solve a range of real life problems, including those involving simple fractions. Mathematical reasoning and the enjoyment of identifying pattern and relationship plays a key part in these lessons.
Children continue to extend their understanding of the number system and place value, to include larger integers as they develop the connections between the many calculative strands. Establishing strong investigative skills is a vital part of their mathematical journey; breaking the whole into manageable pieces, working systematically and learning to persevere to solve a wider range, and increasingly more complex, set of problems. As well as building mathematical resilience and confidence through lessons, children continue to be challenged through a variety of other methods: solving the school’s weekly Senior Maths Challenge, as well as entering a number of external competitions such as the Primary Maths Challenge or the Dodecahedron Competition are all very popular activities, with many of our children either winning or being asked to attend further rounds. Using both written and mental methods of calculation, children develop skills not only in number but also in geometry, measure, statistics and shape. Our ultimate aim is for all children to become lifelong, independent mathematicians who have confidence to solve a wide range of problems using the tools that they have acquired during their St. Margaret’s journey.
In Years 3 and 4, pupils develop their recorder skills further and can read the notation for a wider range of pitches and time values. Every child has the opportunity to perform in the Year 3 & 4 Pantomime, complete with dance routines; this is an excellent method of enhancing ensemble skills and confidence on stage. Children begin to understand how sounds can be combined in layered structures and enjoy opportunities for group improvisation and composition. They identify and reproduce rhythmic and melodic patterns in aural training exercises and are introduced to various genres of music by listening to and playing a wide range of repertoire. Year 4 pupils master the basic strokes of djembe technique and learn to play rhythmically within an African drumming ensemble. Children have the opportunity to play and sing with their class and the Prep Choir in the Spring Concert.
Our aim is that every child will have a confident and independent approach to Music by Year 6. Pupils are encouraged to view themselves as singers and instrumentalists and all are trained to play and sing from notation. Their vocabulary should include a wide range of instrument names and key musical terms, encompassing both the classical tradition and modern techniques. Recorder technique is developed still further in Year 5, with a strong focus on musical playing in parts.
Pupils use iPads to research and present an individual music history project of their choice. Percussion work now includes Samba instruments in addition to African drumming, culminating in a pupil-led Samba performance in Year 6. Creating a totally independent composition using Garage Band also affords every Year 6 pupil the opportunity to express their own musical interests and ideas. A challenging and exhilarating experience for all Year 5 and 6 children is our full length musical with live band, sound and lights, for which they are trained in the Summer term.
Outdoor Learning in Years 3 & 4 is kick-started with the Year 3 children taking part in their first overnight camping experience in the school grounds. This exciting event focuses on using the outdoors as a springboard for developing team building, independence and general survival skills. Ultimately the overnight camp paves the way for the children’s off-site experience at Mill on the Brue, which takes place in Year 4. Outdoor Learning is a fundamental part of learning in accessing the curriculum in Year 3, particularly through History, Geography, Maths and Science. The children go on day trips to explore natural attractions in their local environment. On-site they are encouraged to take part in thematic role-play events, such as cave-man day, which involves the children sharing responsibility for planning and preparing costumes, props and activities. In Year 4 there is an emphasis on using outdoor learning to strengthen learning styles through collaborative learning experiences and prepare them for the transition into individual project work.
In Years 5 & 6 Outdoor Learning plays a significant role in strengthening achievement across all areas of the National Curriculum. It provides the oldest children with a wealth of opportunities to demonstrate more independence in their learning. At St Margaret’s the senior children are appointed lead roles in promoting links with the environment. Eco Drivers and School Council representatives share ideas for organising outdoor learning events, such as Den Building Day, with the wider school community. They also encourage their younger peers to participate fully in national or global events, such as Empty Classroom Day. Groups of children take part in the annual Calne in Bloom competition, helping to strengthen community links. Year 6 take part in Bikeability which promotes safety and independence on the road. Both Year 5 and Year 6 embark on residential trips further afield. Whilst the curriculum focuses differ, both activities help the children to strengthen a diverse range of effective learning skills, with particular focus on team-building, resilience, problem-solving and independence. In Year 6, Outdoor Learning focuses on helping the children achieve the highest level of academic success, as well as providing them with a key set of transferrable skills which primarily lay the foundations for success beyond life at St Margaret’s.
As our children progress, the focus leans towards competitive sport and the beginning of a regular fixture schedule both in Games and in the pool. The refining of key skills continues to be developed in PE, Swimming and Games lessons, where co-ordination, muscle control and physical development become more accurate and precise. A wide variety of clubs are offered, which include challenging activities and new experiences for children to demonstrate skills in a different environment, so giving increased opportunities for key skills to shine through in each individual child. The children develop a greater awareness of the benefits of living a healthy, active life-style, recognising the effects of exercise on their body.
Children continue to develop their skills within PE, Swimming and Games, whilst enjoying the competition of team sports both at home and through away fixtures, as well as developing tactical awareness, a heathy competitiveness and good sportsmanship. The prospect of competing on a regional and national level through IAPS and national competitions becomes increasingly prevalent. At this stage every child has a keen interest in at least one sporting activity that they will pursue as they continue their education.
All St Margaret’s children leave us confident in a range of sporting styles, techniques and skills, with an inherent enjoyment of a healthy lifestyle. In this way the foundations are in place for a life-long love of sport.
The overriding purpose of our developmental programme of learning is to develop the qualities and attributes children need to thrive as individuals, family members and members of society. Through the Year 3 Camp and a residential team-building experience at Year 4, the children are exposed to wider influences, both negative and positive, and begin to recognise the increasing responsibility they have towards personal safety, as they become more independent. Building on the core themes already encountered, opportunities to explore, clarify and challenge their own views and those of others in a safe and trusting environment is key; much of this is achieved through links with other areas of the curriculum, alongside developing positive relationships with both peers and adults.
At Years 5 and 6 the focus becomes more forward looking and a greater emphasis is placed upon preparation for entering the exciting world of senior school. There are increased opportunities to contribute to, and influence change within the school. Further posts of responsibility arise during these final years, most important being leaders of the ‘pupil voice’. Alongside this growing independence comes the recognition that they also have increased responsibility towards the physical, emotional and mental well-being of themselves and others.
Year 3 is the final year where six different units of work are taught. These units give pupils a deeper knowledge of world religions through looking at Sikhism and Judaism alongside Christianity. We look at the history of religion and also the Jewish Holocaust at an appropriate level. Pupils are encouraged to solve moral dilemmas sensitively and to develop empathy towards each other. In Year 4 we begin to study Religious education in termly units, enabling pupils to investigate faiths in more depth. The main focus is Christianity with a unit on Judaism. Pupils are also encouraged to draw on previous experiences and remember aspects from other religions. We introduce the Bible and pupils are shown how to find specific stories using the title, chapter and verse.
As children become more knowledgeable about world religions, beliefs and customs, we encourage them to look at increasingly challenging difficult questions and concepts related to God, and to question at a high level. Empathy and understanding of British Values also continue to be key features within lessons. Debating within lessons is encouraged to allow pupils to share their thoughts and to listen to and respect each others’ opinions. In year 5 Christianity, Islam and Hinduism continue the development of knowledge of other religions. Again, we look at the history and how each religious group worships within their community. In Year 6, Christianity is studied looking at advanced questions related to God. We also have a multi-faith focus where we explore how Christians, Muslims and Jews worship in the Holy Land. This research enables children’s enquiry skills to further develop, alongside their understanding and empathy towards religion.
In Years 3 & 4, our focus is to enable children to broaden their scientific view of the world around them. We encourage them to explore, discuss and develop ideas about everyday phenomena, and the relationships between living things and familiar environments. Children test their own questions and make observations, working scientifically. Increasingly, they make decisions about which types of scientific enquiry are likely to be the best ways of answering their predictions. Interpretation of data analysis becomes commonplace, with the children identifying patterns and relationships. Grouping and classifying, comparison and an understanding of fairness and reliability all play a part in developing a full range of scientific skills. Specific scientific vocabulary is used, with children being encouraged to reflect this in their own work.
Our principal focus at this stage is to enable children to develop a deeper understanding of a wider range of scientific ideas through exploration, questioning scientific concepts, and analysing functions, relationships and interactions more systematically. Encountering more abstract ideas helps them to understand and predict how the world operates. Skills that are developed include: selecting appropriate methods of scientific enquiry, observing changes over time, noticing patterns, grouping and classifying items, carrying out comparative and fair tests and drawing evidence-based conclusions. Many of these skills are developed through lessons held in a fully equipped Science Laboratory. Independent learning skills are developed through extended pieces of work, combined with a wide range of fieldwork activities in a chosen habitat. The children leave St Margaret’s with excellent investigative skills and a love of Science.