Our Christian vision is reflected in our curriculum
Understanding our children, their strengths and their next steps is at the heart of all decisions taken regarding the curriculum. We chose to write our own curriculum for the children in order for them to flourish.
|In what ways does the theologically rooted Christian vision shape the curriculum, including the extracurricular offer?|
While a theologically rooted Christian vision shapes the curriculum, efforts are made to ensure that our school remains inclusive and respectful of pupils from different religious backgrounds or those with no religious affiliation. Our aim is to create a supportive and nurturing environment that reflects Christian values while embracing diversity.
We focus on oracy as the core of our work. This directly supports all children but especially those with special needs, who are in receipt of pupil premium or who speak English as an additional language. Learning is strengthened with the use of symbols and visual prompts. We aim high and all learning is organised with Bloom’s Taxonomy as the thread which runs through it, enabling children to think about, discuss and learn from higher order concepts. Staff training and development play an important role with staff at STC having access to high quality CPD opportunities such as working with National trainers for Talk for Writing and the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM). We carefully plan our enrichment activities linking them directly to learning. These, again, are chosen by our staff and are tailored to each curriculum plan. An example is below. Our Curriculum can be viewed by clicking here.
The teaching of Christianity is a core component of the RE curriculum. This includes studying Bible stories, exploring Christian beliefs, and understanding the practices and rituals associated with Christianity.
We encourage a sense of service and community engagement. Extracurricular activities may include community service projects, charitable initiatives, and partnerships with local churches or organisations. These opportunities are reflected in our enrichment plans.
|How does our curriculum reflect our value of Unity?|
Demonstrating our value of unity, our staff wrote the school's foundation curriculum together from scratch (during the pandemic lockdown) carefully considering the key knowledge and skills pupils need to be prepared for their future roles in society. Whilst adhering to the National Curriculum requirements a bespoke STC curriculum tailored to meet the learning needs of a rich diversity of pupils with a wide range of early life experiences was established.
Learning is exciting, meeting the needs of children and building over time.
All children are included, income is not a barrier to in class learning or enrichment, all can participate in a wide range of opportunities. We offer clubs and trips which are subsidised or free. We have created an environment which enables learning and personal growth. Diversity is celebrated and shared experiences provided to the pupils help foster a deep appreciation and respect for learning, culture and individual views and beliefs.
Subject plans build knowledge and skills carefully from Early Years and the curriculum is supported with theme and enrichment plans for every year group.
Pupils in Y5 researched food insecurity and created infographics to raise poverty awareness through their lessons exploring social justice and community. They met with local councilors to discuss the issue. Also, pupils worked with local food providers to test their food safety knowledge and collect food donations in order to cook for the school community, at their own street food event 'Five Feast'.
|How does our curriculum reflect our value of Perseverance?|
True inclusion is achieved at STC as it is a place where all are welcomed and valued. Children achieve well at every stage of their development and make significantly more than expected progress. We identify individual needs early and establish the appropriate support and challenge pupils require in order to reach their full potential. Pupils work hard and alongside our promotion of the Rights Respecting Schools' values, our pupil leaders demonstrate their passion for subjects and areas of the curriculum helping to encourage a love of learning, instilling ambition and a drive to succeed in all that they do, in their peers.
Specific, targeted support for multiple language learners (EAL children) leads to outstanding progress (2023 data). Support is designed to meet the needs of our demographic including children with adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), Special Educational Needs, pupils from Minority Ethic Backgrounds and pupils who have deep mastery of skills and knowledge.
Pupils' attendance is above National figures. We promote the manta 'every day counts' helping parents and pupils to understand the importance of attending school. The UN rights of the child state 'all children should have access to education' and being in school is in the 'best interests of the child'. Pupils demonstrate they understand these rights and their responsibilities through attending every day. Pupils are ready and motivated for learning by being punctual, they respectfully support their peers to do the same.
How are teaching staff supported to grow and develop?
Thoughtfully selected CPD is planned and delivered for and by staff with dedicated time to complete it. CPD includes opportunities for staff to share best practice both within school, the DHMAT and the wider diocese. Staff at STC frequently led training and network for other schools including aspects of: the curriculum, leadership and management, SEND and supporting EAL learners.
Through our curriculum we encourage pupils and staff to engage with others in the community to bring learning to life. We have built a link with PGL travel, Ross-on-Wye, who have supported us with practical projects including improving and maintaining our school gardens/environment. In addition they help us by volunteering their time to support pupils in lessons.
' We had an awesome time and are really happy that you’re pleased with the results. We’ve also had the feedback from the Neighbourly team just yesterday, so it was a fab way to keep that volunteering ‘feel good factor’ going, so thank you! Word of mouth has been really engaging for folk who were nervous of taking the next step! And we’ve assured the team that St Thomas’ is a warm, welcoming place and the end to end experience is super rewarding, so please add to Neighbourly – we’d love to come back!' Kathryn ESG Manger PGL
|How does our curriculum reflect our value of Love?|
Big questions are explored across the curriculum including RE. We link with our community by showing our true commitment to our values and the needs of wider society. The curriculum is designed to incorporate courageous advocacy work. with the themes driven by the pupils interests in topical events that affect people within the local area. The results of this have built strong links with groups and individuals and helped drive change within Herefordshire. Our Year 5/6 pupils formed part of the 'Stories of Change' project, helping raise awareness locally and Nationally about the pollution of the river Wye. Pupils campaigning attracted attention from BBC's Countryfile which in turn led to opportunities to involve other members of the school, their families and local advocates who also share a love of the local environment and need to protect it for future generations.
Parents say they feel they understand what their children are learning (parent surveys) and delight in being involved in shared learning experiences including open afternoons, parent workshops (phonics, maths, reading, SATS) and enrichment sessions.
Our video resource channel allows us to share the wonderful learning taking place in school every day and also enables our pupils to reach a wider audience to raise awareness/ demonstrate the impact they have on causes in which the pupils are invested. We highlight some of our projects that include working with our neighbours at the Coningsby museum, our Rights Respecting Schools aims, campaigning to raise awareness of the pollution of the river Wye, collective worship and our multi lingual welcomes for families new to English. Our Mediation channel helps pupils and parents take time to focus their thoughts on the moment and share being still and present.
|How do we know that the curriculum is having the intended effect for pupils?|
The most important in-school factors in improving outcomes are effective teaching, including from teaching assistants, teachers and early years practitioners, and strong leadership of SEND, from the SENCO, the senior leadership team, nursery manager, governors and trust leaders.
Continuing, or continuous, professional development and learning (CPDL), is undertaken which increases knowledge, understanding and experiences of subject areas and role. CPD is an ongoing and planned learning and development process at STC, part of an innovative monitoring and CPDL cycle.
Subject leaders regularly monitor, review and develop the curriculum through use of book scrutiny, pupil, staff and parent voice, open lessons, and pupil attainment. In addition to regular teacher assessments, there are statutory teacher assessments in core subjects at the end of each key stage. These assessments provide a more comprehensive view of a pupil's academic achievements and are reported to parents.
We collect and analyse data on pupil performance to identify trends and areas for improvement. This may include looking at the performance of specific groups of pupils, such as those with special educational needs or those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Continuous formative assessment helps teachers understand how well students are grasping concepts in real-time. This can inform instructional decisions and interventions to support students who may be struggling. We have designed our own 'flashbacks' to support retrieval practice across the curriculum subjects and use 'cold and hot' tasks to help assess pupil depth of understanding of concepts taught.
Networks across the trust enable staff and pupils to share their love for the curriculum and pass on knowledge gained through working with the pupils. Many of our teachers leader these groups on behalf of the trust.
Teachers and school leaders engage in ongoing reflection and feedback sessions to evaluate the effectiveness of the curriculum. This can lead to adjustments in teaching strategies, resources, or curriculum content.
Pupils speak with enthusiasm and passion about the subjects they are learning. Peer mentors and subject ambassadors have set up and run clubs for other pupils including Geography, Maths and gardening.
Parents are often asked for feedback on their child's progress and their satisfaction with the school. This feedback provides valuable insights into the perceived effectiveness of the curriculum and teaching methods. We hold regular meetings with parents to discuss individual pupil progress. These meetings provide an opportunity to share information on a child's development and address any concerns.
|How is spiritual development an intrinsic part of the curriculum?|
At St Thomas CE Primary, spiritual development is not a standalone aspect but is interwoven into the fabric of the school's ethos, curriculum, and daily life, creating a holistic approach to education that nurtures the spiritual well-being of students. We foster a Christian ethos and values. Spiritual development is integrated into the school's culture and daily life, impacting interactions, decision-making, and relationships.
Collective worship experiences provide opportunities for reflection, prayer, and exploration of spiritual themes alongside, discussions linked to moral choices, courageous advocacy and current local and world news events. Topic work and PSHE sessions provide pupils with opportunities for reflections and contemplation. This may involve exploring moral and ethical issues, discussing personal beliefs, and engaging in activities that encourage introspection.
Religious Education plays a central role in spiritual development within the curriculum. It provides pupils with opportunities to explore faith, beliefs, and values, fostering an understanding of different religions and worldviews. We invite faith leaders and individuals from different faith communities into school to share their experiences and reflections on spirituality.
Spiritual development is not confined to the
We establish connections with the wider community, including local churches and faith groups. This engagement provides students with a broader understanding of spirituality in different contexts. Choir church is held weekly at school by leaders from Holy Trinity Church which serves a large parish to the west of the city and is part of the West Hereford Team Ministry. Pupils enjoy sharing music and singing together, they have opportunities to share with parents and the wider community at events linked to the church calendar.
At STC we respect and celebrate the diversity of religious and non-religious beliefs within our communities, fostering a sense of understanding and tolerance.
Artist and author Razwan Ul-Haq led workshops for pupils in Key stage 2 involving calligraphy and reflections on Islam.
Jane Silver-Corren worked with pupils in Key stage 1 and lower Key stage 2 to share dancing, music, games and celebrations which form part of her life following Judaism.
'Thank you again for inviting me to your school. I had the most wonderful day. The children were so attentive and interested in the artefacts and activities and I was really happy that even those with additional needs fully participated in the Jewish Education sessions.
It was a real pleasure for me to work in such a diverse school. I was able to make references to a range of other faiths and traditions that the young people could relate to which I think we all enjoyed and appreciated. The staff were also very welcoming, friendly and accommodating which made a big difference to me because as an outside visitor I have been slightly more anxious about going into schools since the pandemic.'
We frequently invite members of staff and parents who practice faiths other than Christianity, to share experiences with our school community. These include celebrations from Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism alongside talking with pupils about their beliefs, spirituality and daily routines.
We engage with families to promote understanding and reinforcement of spiritual values at home. Our online learning platform Seesaw, has the class 'Shine bright your light' where we share our thinking around the values we explore together in school. Pupils and their families contribute to this class demonstrating how they may put the values in to practice at home.
|How does the Christian vision shape |
the learning experience for pupils who are deemed to be vulnerable and/or disadvantaged?
At STC we aim to create a learning environment that reflects Christian values and principles. When it comes to pupils deemed to be vulnerable and/or disadvantaged, the Christian vision helps influence the learning experience in several ways:
Inclusivity and Compassion: We foster a sense of community where all pupils, including those who are vulnerable or disadvantaged, feel accepted and valued.
Pastoral Care: We prioritise pastoral care offering additional support to students facing challenges. This can include emotional, social, and academic support to address the specific needs of vulnerable or disadvantaged pupils.
Values Education: Our Christian vision includes teaching moral an ethical values. This helps to positively influence the behaviour and character development of all students, helping vulnerable or disadvantaged pupils build resilience and a strong moral foundation.
Social Justice and Service: At STC we are committed to social justice and community service. Pupils are encouraged to engage in courageous advocacy projects including within the local community through projects including the Archbishop of York, Young Leaders award. These projects help foster a sense of responsibility and empathy for others, which can be particularly beneficial for those facing challenges.
Inclusive Teaching Practices: We employ teaching strategies that cater to diverse learning needs. This involves different levels of scaffolding, modelling and instruction, personalised learning plans or additional resources and provisions to support pupils who are deemed vulnerable or disadvantaged.
Partnerships with families and communities: Promoting strong partnerships with families and local communities is key to success at STC. This collaborative approach can provide additional support systems for vulnerable or disadvantaged pupils, ensuring that there is an holistic network of care around the student.
|How does being part of the trust enhance the school’s curriculum?|
Working in unity with our family of trust schools we continue to develop and reflect on the curriculum offer we provide for our pupils. We actively participate in the collaborative opportunities provided by the trust to maximize the benefits of being part of a broader educational community. This helps to enhance our Christian character.
Shared Resources and Expertise: Being part of a trust allows STC to share resources and expertise. This results in a broader range of teaching materials, access to specialists, and collaborative professional development opportunities for teachers. This sharing helps enrich the curriculum and provide students with a more diverse and comprehensive educational experience enhancing the overall quality of education.
Consistent Values: The DHMAT values of Family, Grace and Service teamed with its principles guide all member schools and align with each schools' individual values. This consistency in values contributes to the development of a strong, shared ethos across DHMAT schools. At STC, a Church of England school, this reinforces our Christian character and ethos, aligning with our focus on the spiritual, moral, social, and cultural development of pupils.
Professional Development: The trusts facilitates professional development programs that help teachers integrate the Christian ethos into their teaching practices. AT STC this enhances the delivery of Religious Education (RE) and collective worship.
Collaborative Planning: The DHMAT encourages collaborative planning among schools. This has lead to the creation of cross-curricular projects that incorporate Christian values and themes into various subjects, promoting a holistic and integrated approach to education at STC.
Access to Faith Leaders: DHMAT has connections with local faith leaders and organisations. It provides schools including STC with opportunities to invite in guest speakers, organise visits to places of worship, and engage in community outreach activities that align with the Christian character of the school.
Monitoring and Evaluation: The trust involves a level of oversight and support. This includes monitoring the implementation of the Christian ethos and evaluating its impact on students. Regular reviews and assessments help STC identify areas for improvement and ensure that the Christian character of the school remains central to its mission.
|Which Religious Education syllabus do you follow? How does this link to wider learning?|
At St Thomas we follow the Herefordshire Agreed Syllabus and as part of that Understanding Christianity. Staff training is secure thanks to the support of the Diocesan team. Using INSET time to enable real discussion and time for making learning work for our children is invaluable in developing their learning in Religious Education.
Learning in terms of Rights Respecting Schools, Eco Schools and our work with the ex director of music from Hereford Cathedral School as well as NMITE (Herefordshire’s University) and Stride Active (Herefordshire Sports) develop children’s broader learning and help to both find and nurture talent. When coupled with the school’s work using JIGSAW (PSHE) links with the police, local business and charities children at St Thomas are learning how to live in their world – how to be responsible citizens, who are emotionally intelligent, eco aware and resilient – able to let their lights shine for themselves and others.