At Willow, we see ourselves as a “developing” academy, always looking to improve our performance and practice. We provide an exciting curriculum that is broad, balanced and fully inclusive, that inspires and engages all children to learn through understanding the world around us.
Project based thematic approach to foundation subjects:
All year groups choose these based on history, geography or science as an initial stimulus for learning. Units of learning are then identified and combine objectives from across the whole curriculum. Skills and knowledge are then taught and applied in a carefully thought out journey towards a clear outcome; promoting children to be engaged by the purpose to learning and enabling them to learn at greater depth and with increasing independence.
To support this thematic approach the school use ‘Cornerstones’ resources as a scaffold and structure. Hooks for learning, purposeful opportunities and creative approaches are used effectively to engage all children.
Religious Education (RE) at Willow Academy we follow the Doncaster Local Authority agreed syllabus for RE. http://www.doncaster.gov.uk/services/schools/locally-agreed-syllabus-for-religious-education
RE is provided for all pupils, and is inclusive and broad minded. Parents do have the right to withdraw pupils from RE: if you wish to do this, make an appointment with the Headteacher. The school does not support selective withdrawal from RE and strongly advises against it as we believe all children benefit from having an understanding and respect for all faiths.
Modern Foreign Languages and PE are also taught in isolation where necessary using high quality first teaching and specific intervention when appropriate.
Mathematics objectives are linked to the White Rose Maths Hub and include both the teaching of skills and knowledge and the application of these. Where necessary, additional objectives are taught discretely.
We have a very structured approach to how our teachers plan maths education, which enables children to learn new concepts, practise them and apply them in different contexts to deepen their confidence and understanding.
- Have opportunities to use, extend and test ideas, thinking and reasoning.
- Explore maths and look for patterns, rules and properties, leading to an understanding of mathematical rules.
- Talk about maths to adults and children, and have space and time to think about ideas and methods, or to ask questions.
- Use mathematical vocabulary and use symbols, images, diagrams and models to support problem solving and reasoning.
- Use and apply mathematics in and beyond the classroom, making links to wider contexts.
- Calculate with accuracy and efficiency and be able to check their own solutions.
- Review and take responsibility for their own learning, making suggestions and following their own ideas regularly.
- Use effective feedback from teachers or from other pupils to improve their work.
Our children practise mental maths on a daily basis and we now have the Mathletics package too.
Our teachers take a structured approach to teaching age-related writing skills and children are given opportunities to practise and apply these skills in writing for different purposes. They are also supported to develop the skills for self- and peer-assessment of writing and to edit, re-draft and improve their own work and give suggestions for improvements to others. Our teachers have high expectations of handwriting and presentation and the children are encouraged to take pride in their written work. Children who produce their best work will often have it displayed for others to appreciate.
Where possible writing is linked to the theme that the children are studying. Additional skills such as handwriting, spelling or grammar may also be taught discretely, when necessary.
How we teach Reading at Willow Academy.
We aim to develop a passion for reading and literature at Willow Academy and we encourage all our children to read for pleasure. Our children have a daily reading lesson which incorporates reading skills, grammar, punctuation, spelling and comprehension.
In Foundation Stage, discrete phonics sessions are taught daily, based on ‘Letters and Sounds.’
In Reception, the children build on these skills and are taught to recognise letter sounds and names. They are taught how to blend and segment words into their individual sound patterns and are given daily opportunities to apply these to their reading and writing. They are also taught to recognise, read and spell some high frequency words.
In Key Stage 1, children have a systematic, discrete phonics lesson each day, following Letters and sounds. We use ‘Phonics’ bug’ which is a web based resource providing engaging and interactive activities to enable children to develop their skills. Children are given daily opportunities to practice and apply their skills and are encouraged to use their phonic knowledge in their reading and writing across the curriculum.
In Foundation Stage, reading skills are taught using a wide range of reading materials. We develop childrens enjoyment of books and aim to ignite a love of reading. They are given opportunities to ‘play’ out the stories they enjoy through role-play, story sacks and small world in the continuous provision.
In Reception, children have the opportunity to read individually with an adult and are introduced to the Oxford Reading tree scheme which continues throughout Key Stage 1 and 2. Rooted in reading for pleasure and with systematic phonics at its heart, Oxford Reading Tree's well-loved characters, breadth of fiction and non-fiction, provide the resources to develop children into confident readers. Children further develop their enjoyment of reading through use of a reading area within each classroom as well as adult led story sessions and have opportunity to visit the school library and borrow a book to share with family at home.
In Key Stage 1 and 2, reading skills continue to be developed using Oxford Reading Tree and a wide range of new fiction and non-fiction titles to suit their individual reading level. To further promote reading for pleasure, each classroom has its own reading area, with a wide range of books including stories, non-fiction and topic related books, where children can freely enjoy. Children’s comprehension skills are developed through whole class shared reading of texts, daily guided or reciprocal reading sessions, individual reading to an adult and independent reading.
Bug Club Reading
All children also have ‘Bug Club’ accounts, providing access to a wide range of reading material suited to individual reading levels. This can be accessed at both home and school. https://www.activelearnprimary.co.uk
Learning beyond the classroom is a vital part of ensuring that our children succeed. It helps teachers to maximise the learning time in class, and gives pupils the opportunity to extend and deepen their understanding. All children are expected to use the Bug Club and read at least 5 times per week at home, this is recorded in their Reading Journal.
We use Mathletics along with other resources for Maths homework.
Homework activities are linked to the topic’s Imaginative Learning Project and are set by the class teacher at the start of each half term.