4.12.19 Sue Blakeway
I visited the school on Wednesday 4th December and observed classes in years 1, 2 and 3 to monitor progress and development in mathematics and history. I also met with Ms Dermody, Assistant Head, to discuss curriculum planning in both subjects.
There is a purposeful atmosphere in the school and staff and children are all working hard to ensure learning and progress for all. Children are engaged in lessons that are well planned.
There has clearly been a lot of progress over time and the common approach to calculations was evident in both year 2 and year 3. Children are using clear and logical methods to add and subtract and the emphasis on place value ensures that there is understanding instead of a rote approach to using algorithms. Children are constantly questioned and there is common language used across the school. In year 2 one child said 57 minus 25 and was immediately reminded that the term is ‘subtract’. Notably, I did not hear one child refer to this operation as ‘take away’.
It is evident that the curriculum has been well thought out and has a focus on understanding. Staff were confident delivering the lessons and subject knowledge was secure. The lessons are progressive; children in year 3 show a better understanding and solve more complex problems than the children in year 2. Strategies for differentiation were very evident in year 3 where children have access to a range of appropriate resources.
In both classrooms the teacher asked probing questions and the children were expected to explain their reasoning. They contribute well in class and take pride in their contributions.
Next steps: ensure consistency in the use of methods for all set problems. Continue to develop the deep understanding of basic concepts; this is clearly beneficial to the children.
The curriculum is in the planning stage and there has been a lot of work undertaken to improve the subject knowledge of the teaching staff. There is now a coherent vision and plan for history throughout the school. The long term and lesson plans have been devised by teams of staff and there is progression as the children move through the school. There is a commitment to make a chronology of meaningful events so that children can understand the time lines and significance of history.
The children in year 1 were enjoying a Victorian day, focusing on the differences of school in the past to those in the present. There were clear explanations about how things have changed over time and questioning seen was skilful. Children are keen to contribute and share their ideas.
The carousel of activities available to the children gave them the opportunity to use some Victorian resources, namely blackboard and chalk. They were expected to write questions about artefacts and sort pictures into past and present.
It is evident that the work being done in year 1 will impact on work in later years. Ms Dermody confirmed that the work begins in Foundation stage and is developed year on year.
The model of curriculum planning is taken from the development of maths as this has been successful. The rigorous and thoughtful planning is having impact.