Leaders have received good support and challenge… This has helped the school to devise a curriculum which has been well thought through. It is particularly strong in reading, history and science. In these subjects lessons carefully build on what pupils have learned before and what they need to learn next. Pupils rise to meet these expectations and achieve well. Pupils are enthusiastic about science. They are keen to be ‘super scientists’. Year 6 studied the circulatory system and dissected a pigs heart. In their work pupils wrote up their findings using the correct scientific vocabulary. They used their computing skills to write a simple animation programme explaining the working of the heart. As they had been reading Pig Heart Boy in class pupils could discuss the moral issues around transplantation.
The very broad and balanced curriculum is effectively planned and delivered. Leaders recognise the need to continually reinforce literacy and numeracy teaching across the curriculum. However, they are equally committed to ensuring that pupils’ learning is deep in subjects beyond English and mathematics. Staff plan different aspects of the curriculum around a number of broad enquiry questions that are designed to spark pupils’ curiosity. For example, Year 2 pupils have recently developed their skills in a range of subjects by answering the question, ‘Why would a dinosaur not make a good pet?’ This diverse and engaging curriculum plays a vital role in sustaining pupils’ thirst for knowledge while greatly expanding their understanding of the world.
The curriculum is interesting, exciting and engaging for pupils. Subjects are brought together in topics that are interesting, relevant and engaging for pupils. Each new topic is introduced by an opportunity for pupils to consider ‘what they already know’ and ‘what they would love to find out’. Each topic ends with time to reflect. These approaches are embedded in the school’s culture and, increasingly, parents and carers are taking up the invitation to join their children in the reflection activities and to add their evaluations to the topic. Pupils are encouraged to consider and discuss complex issues. For example, in their topic about the Aztecs, Year 6 pupils were considering the impact of religious beliefs and practices on people’s lives. They were enabled to organise the information their reading and internet research had provided and to use it to help them answer key questions about aspects of the Aztecs’ religious practices, including human sacrifice. Pupils were reflective in the lesson, responding thoughtfully to effective use of questions and prompts. They showed mature understanding and empathy and listened very well to each other’s ideas.
The use of 'Learning Challenge' books, where pupils pursue topics from an enquiry to a finished product, indicate the good levels of pupils' independent learning skills. Marking is very regular and purposeful because teachers give pupils time to respond to guidance given and often engage in written dialogue, thus improving pupils' self-awareness as well as their work. Marking is also sensitively managed. For example, pupils explained that they are very proud of their independent work in their 'Learning Challenge' books and do not like to see marks on it. Consequently, teachers use sticky notes to write comments and provide guidance.
The imaginative curriculum successfully builds on pupils’ skills and knowledge as they move through the school. It meets the needs and interests of all pupils because it is effectively linked to national and local events. The imaginative curriculum underpins effective teaching across the whole school. Subjects are creatively linked and teachers present exciting activities which fire pupils’ enthusiasm. ‘Learning in our school is fun, because every day is different’ is a typical comment from the overwhelming majority of pupils who think teaching is good. Pupils achieve well in all subjects because the well-planned curriculum enables them to use their reading, writing and communication skills across all subjects.
The school is successfully changing to a more skills-based ‘challenge’ curriculum which pupils enjoy and gain much from. Teachers have adapted to the recently introduced ‘challenge’ curriculum well and are teaching it with skill and enthusiasm. Subjects are linked cohesively, giving meaning and purpose to pupils’ learning. Opportunities to extend pupils’ reading, writing and mathematical skills through other subjects are utilised regularly and effectively. For example, after carrying out a virtual experiment on the computer Year 5 pupils used what they had been taught in mathematics to construct accurate line graphs which showed clearly the pattern formed by the results. Stimulating writing tasks, often based on interesting and innovative questions, are helping to raise standards. Teachers pay very close attention to pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. For example, topic questions such as ‘Why is Queensbury a cool place to live?’ and ‘What would it be like without electricity?’ provide pupils with excellent opportunities to celebrate local culture and appreciate how much they benefit from advances in science. The recently introduced ‘challenge’ curriculum addresses pupils’ learning needs well by providing frequent opportunities for problem solving and skills development.
The introduction of a revised curriculum that the school calls the ‘Learning Challenge Curriculum’ has greatly enhanced the development of pupils’ key skills across other subject areas, in a stimulating and exciting manner. ’Wow days’ are a key feature of this. The Reception class had a ‘Wow day’ about building, when children constructed a house with a design and technology focus. Their families were invited, with a high number of parents attending. Year 2 have a ’Wow day’ planned on mechanisms; the challenge is to build a vehicle linked to a character in the class storybook.
The interesting curriculum motivates the pupils. They really enjoy the learning challenges during afternoon themed lessons. For example, they are encouraged to research information about America, the Egyptians or the Romans at home prior to the lesson. Afternoon community groups bring pupils of different ages together and provide opportunities to work with each other, to share ideas and to explore the social, moral, cultural and spiritual elements of the curriculum. They recently took part in a themed week about living in modern Britain. Pupils explored what this meant to them.