‘At the heart of the educational process lies the child’
‘The school curriculum is at the heart of education’
These two key quotes from the history of education can be interpreted as being at odds with each other. Both have important messages for education and in terms of ensuring schools achieve their core aims; both are of equal importance. The needs of the child are fundamental, and unless these needs are effectively met children cannot learn well. At the same time, the school curriculum must be carefully considered to meet the needs of the children it serves. A school’s curriculum comprises all learning and other experiences that the school plans for its pupils. The ‘national curriculum’ forms one part of the school curriculum but not all of it. Often referred to as the ‘hidden curriculum’, a school’s curriculum incudes everything a child learns by attending the school. This includes the transmission of values and beliefs conveyed in the classroom, in whole school events and in the social environment.
Our curriculum is designed to promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, social, mental and physical development of children and to prepare children for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life – both further into their education and beyond into adulthood. The aim is to develop the whole child, maintaining positive mental and physical well-being alongside allowing them to achieve their full potential academically and personally.
A key element of our curriculum is helping children to learn how to learn and to be ready for learning. We encourage children to learn about the main parts of their brains and how our emotions impact on the capacity of the brain to learn. As children learn about the different parts of the brain, the functions they perform and the way one part of the brain can stop another part working effectively when emotions are heightened, they are able to understand the importance of preparing the brain for learning. We use mindful practise through our core breathing exercises at least three times each day in order to support the brain to be ready to learn. We also actively encourage the children to have a positive approach to being actively challenged in their learning and to develop a growth mindset. Please see related policies including the curriculum policy and teaching & learning policy.
Philosophy 4 Children (P4C)
Children in Yorke Mead have the opportunity to engage in P4C sessions. These sessions encourage the children to think about things using the 4 c’s – creative, collaborative, caring and critical thinking. Using P4C children explore those philosophical questions where there is no one clear answer. Children learn the value of sharing their own opinion whilst also listening to the opinions of others.
Schools are in a unique position, as they are able to help prevent mental health problems by promoting resilience as part of an integrated, whole school approach that is tailored to the needs of their pupils. A whole school approach is one that goes beyond the teaching in the classroom to pervade all aspects of school life, including:
- culture, ethos and environment: the health and wellbeing of pupils and staff is promoted through the ‘hidden’ or ‘informal’ curriculum, including leadership practice, the school’s policies, values and attitudes, together with the social and physical environment;
- teaching: using the curriculum to develop pupils’ knowledge about health and wellbeing; and
- partnerships with families and the community: proactive engagement with families, outside agencies, and the wider community to promote consistent support for children’s health and wellbeing
(DfE Mental Health & Behaviour in Schools November 2018)
At Yorke Mead we directly teach children strategies to support their emotional wellbeing and our curriculum is designed to support children in developing an understanding of the Five Ways to Wellbeing (Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Give and Keep Learning). We recognise that there are key skills to support children in being able to thrive and that children should be given opportunities to practise and develop these skills. We do this through:
- Mindful practise and core breathing daily
- Ensuring children understand the working of their brains
- Direct teaching about emotions and use of emotion coaching strategies
- Philosophy for Children teaching
- Three R’s Programme and Penn Resilience training
- Forest School Learning
We also understand the important role the arts play in supporting the children’s emotional well-being, and value dance, music, art and drama in their own right and for this.
At Yorke Mead each child receives the core offer of at least two hours of physical education. The PE curriculum ensures the children develop the key skills development of agility, balance and coordination, healthy competition and cooperative learning.
In addition to the core PE teaching our curriculum further enhances children’s physical health through:
- Play ranger activities two lunchtimes per week
- Daily Mile activities
- A wide range of PE related after school clubs
- Engagement in the local sports partnership
- Forest School learning
- Wide ranging outdoor play facilities
Reference should also be made to the school Relationships Education, Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) and Health Education Policy for further details about how our curriculum supports development of physical health.
Schools with Soul
The vision and values of Yorke Mead place an emphasis on creating an environment in which children grow into happy well-rounded individuals with a love of learning. Children thrive and grow in this way if they have a rounded education. Spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) education is a key part of this. With this in mind Yorke Mead undertook a Schools with Soul Health Check to highlight the very important work that is undertaken to encourage the SMSC development of our children.
The National Curriculum
- Core Subjects: English, Mathematics and Science
- Foundation Subjects: ICT, History, Geography, Design Technology, Art, Music, Physical Education
- Non Statutory Subjects: French, Personal Social Health Education
- Curriculum Policy