At Birchwood our whole school curriculum is concerned with the holistic needs of all of our children. Birchwood is committed to teaching all of the National Curriculum and has developed a localised curriculum that is embedded in our curriculum plans. Our curriculum aims to develop key knowledge and skills across a range of subjects to enable effective learning. Birchwood is a place where learning is fun and all children succeed.
Our curriculum is stimulating, challenging and enriching with the highest aspirations for achievement and progress. We enrich the National Curriculum subjects by teaching through cross curricular themes and discrete subjects areas that are aimed to improve the children’s ability to; ask questions, investigate, interrogate information, present and argue whilst developing a range of skills and deep knowledge. Our Curriculum is designed to be flexible to the changing needs of our children and wider community. As such it is under a continuous cycle of review and evaluation. Our children contribute to curriculum design by informing us how they learn best and what they enjoy learning most.
The specific aims of our curriculum include: promoting the very highest standards in Literacy, Numeracy, Science and Computing; enabling children to acquire knowledge and key skills across the curriculum; promoting spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and in doing so ensuring high levels of involvement and wellbeing. We want to ensure children have the opportunities to participate in the arts, to grow an awareness of the humanities including R.E, to prepare our children for transition to secondary school and the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life.
At Birchwood our children experience a broad and balanced curriculum enabling them to grow and learn in an environment without prejudice or inequality. The curriculum aims to equip children for their futures in a rapidly changing world recognising the importance of technology, science and communication. We will help children develop a sense of identity, promoting fundamental shared values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. We want our children to accept responsibility for their behaviour, show consideration and understand how they can contribute positively to society. Children will be given the opportunity to learn the benefits of physically and emotionally healthy lifestyles, by participating in personal, social and health education.
‘Rich Opportunities and Memorable Experiences’ will enable children to explore their talents and abilities through developing and appreciation of the arts, taking part in a wide range of physical activities, developing a sense of self in a supportive environment, experience music through performing, singing and playing instruments and by experiencing social, moral, spiritual and cultural education which broadens children’s awareness and understanding of the world and their place within it.
Reading is the gateway to accessing all areas of the wider curriculum. At Birchwood, we value the skill of language as essential to children’s future participation in society, and we have placed the reading National Curriculum and books at the heart of our own school curriculum, with our overall aim being inclusivity. We want all children to be confident, fluent readers who have developed a love of reading. It is vital that our children learn discrete reading skills in a progressive sequence and that we foster a love of reading through developing a positive reading culture at both home and school - reading for pleasure enhances levels of text comprehension, will increase knowledge of grammar, breadth of vocabulary and will ensure better general knowledge.
Our children are confident speakers, listeners, readers and writers and are given opportunities to use and practise these skills in every subject. As a result, our children read widely, are immersed in quality texts and experience a range of audiences, purposes, and forms. Our school curriculum has a two-dimensional focus on word reading and comprehension, which impacts positively on their ability to listen and read.
Phonics and Early Reading at Birchwood
We teach early reading through the systematic, synthetic phonics programme ‘Little Wandle, Letters and Sounds Revised’. Right from the beginning of Reception, children have a daily phonics lesson which follows the progression for Little Wandle, Letters and Sounds Revised and this continues into Year 1 to ensure children become fluent readers.
We teach phonics for 20 minutes a day. In Reception, we build up from 10-minute lessons, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible. Every Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers.
At Birchwood, we ensure that all children in school complete phase 6 phonics, as achieving early fluency in decoding is a necessary first step in acquiring the key skill in reading. Little Wandle's Keep Up and Rapid Catch Up programmes are used to support closing the gaps for children.
Structured daily reading sessions across school focus on building children's fluency in reading. Children from Reception to Year 5 have three reading practice sessions a week, in small groups with an adult focusing on developing them as a reader. VIPERS are used across school to support the teaching of content domains.