The Curriculum Policy at Stella Maris is a statement of our aims and principles relating to our independent Curriculum. It will be reviewed on a regular basis and updated when necessary. Stella Maris School's current Curriculum Policy can be found below or downloaded as a word document:
The Stella Maris Curriculum is planned to provide a structured and well-balanced education for all children from Pre-Prep 1. to Year 6. We provide a wide range of activities and opportunities for our children to ensure they make progress academically, socially, physically and morally. We endeavour through our school Curriculum to stimulate our pupils’ interests and imagination and motivate them, through a high standard of teaching and learning to realise their potential and achieve success.
One of our main academic aims as a school is to ensure that each pupil moves on to a good grammar school of parental choice. We advise parents about the various schools on offer and seek to find the right school for each child which will cater for their individual needs and abilities. In order to achieve this objective we concentrate on exam preparation and technique as the children progress through K.S. 2. but this is integrated into our teaching and we do not over coach children for these exams. The children achieve this success as part of their year on year progress.
The Trustees, Headteacher and Staff of Stella Maris School aim to provide a rich Curriculum which is tailored to individual needs.
Every child will have access to a broad, rich and exciting Curriculum which is differentiated according to age and ability. Our Curriculum is inclusive and caters for all children.
The topics that we are covering can be accessed below.
PLANNING OF THE CURRICULUM – PURPOSE/VALUES
At Stella Maris we have a set of common purposes and traditional values which underpin everything we do. All teaching and learning is based on these strong foundations.
• The Curriculum is designed to increase the knowledge, skills and understanding of our children.
• The Curriculum is designed to help our children develop as well-balanced individuals who will make a contribution to society.
• The Curriculum is carefully planned and structured at Pre-Prep, K.S.1 and K.S.2 to ensure that our children make maximum progress and achieve their full potential.
• The Curriculum is designed to engage the children in their education and to promote a love of learning.
• The Curriculum is designed to offer stimulating and exciting opportunities to encourage and motivate children by providing a programme of extra-curricular activities.
Throughout the school opportunities are regularly taken to extend the Curriculum beyond our statutory requirements. These include:
• Visitors, musicians, and themed assemblies by visitors.
• Use of the outside classroom area, locality/wider environment.
• Educational visits, trips to museums, the cinema, and other places of interest.
• Parental support in classrooms.
• Class trips and whole school trips to National Trust properties.
• Participation in local and national competitions, e.g. Young Writers’, National Maths Association Challenge and Heaton Mersey Youth Festival.
PLANNING OF THE CURRICULUM
The school week provides 23 hours and 45 mins teaching time for Pre-Prep, K.S.1 and K.S.2. It is delivered across a standard independent school year.
All aspects of the Curriculum are taught in classes or mixed year groups, with differentiated work.
The Pre-Prep curriculum is planned around the seven areas of learning and development:
• Personal, Social and Emotional Development
• Physical Development
• Communication and Language
• Understanding the World
• Expressive Arts and Design
We support the understanding that young children learn more effectively through play and practical experiences. Within the Pre-Prep Department the children are encouraged to become independent and confident learners. Activities are undertaken both in the classroom and outside of the classroom, in the designated Pre-Prep play area.
To assist the transition between Pre-Prep and K.S.1, the Pre-Prep 2 children spend time during the summer term working with the Year 1 children and teachers in the Year 1 classroom so they can become familiar with the new environment and K.S.1 expectations.
Within K.S.1 the children are taught a full range of curriculum subjects - English, Mathematics and Science as core subjects and R.E., Geography, History, ICT, DT, Art, Music, French and P.E. as foundation subjects.
Although teaching is more formal in K.S.1 than in Pre-Prep there is still a focus on practical activities in Year 1 to stimulate the children and help them to develop through this type of experience.
Within K.S.2 the children continue to be taught these same core and foundation subjects with the addition of Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning, in preparation for the grammar school entrance examinations which take place during the Autumn and Spring terms of Year 6. Within Yr.5/Yr.6 extra curriculum time is spent on exam preparation and developing exam techniques. For this reason the Curriculum at this stage is geared towards this important aspect with emphasis on Maths, English and Reasoning. During the Autumn term of Yr. 6 these key subjects will take precedence over the foundation subjects but all subjects will continue to be taught as we do not over-coach children for these external examinations.
MODERN FOREIGN LANGUAGE
All children from Pre-Prep 1. through to Year 6 have the opportunity of learning a foreign language. This is currently French. The weekly 30 minute lessons are delivered by a specialist French teacher who visits school each week.
Homework is set for all year groups, according to ability and age. It is used as a tool to reinforce and develop skills which have been covered during class lessons. Each year group has a recommended amount of time to be spent on homework each week. In addition to this it is expected that each child will read every evening, with the other homework activities spread across the week. The amount of time spent on HW activities and the nature of these activities can be found in our Homework Policy in the Policies section of this website.
Continuous assessment takes place across the school in a variety of ways. Assessment is always formative and summative. On-going assessment provides us with the evidence to track our pupils’ progress on a regular basis and helps us to build a complete picture of a child’s intellectual, emotional, social and physical development.
Children in the Pre-Prep are tracked and assessed against the Early Learning Goals within the Early Years Profile.
Within K.S.1 children are formally assessed in sight vocabulary, word recognition and spelling twice a year. On-going weekly assessments and tests also take place. NFER assessments are carried out in the autumn term when the children are tested in Mathematics, English and Reasoning. Various unit of work assessments are also used to track progress and understanding in the foundation subjects.
Within K.S.2 children are assessed in word recognition, reading comprehension skills and spelling on three occasions during the school year. NFER assessments are carried out in the autumn term and foundation subjects are continuously assessed to ensure progress is being made.
Year 5/6 take part in continuous examination assessments to track progress and ensure they are on target to pass the grammar school entrance exams of their choice. A variety of past papers are used.
Children with SEN provision will be assessed individually on a regular basis to ensure that programmes of support are working successfully.
SPECIAL NEEDS PROVISION/INCLUSION
Where there is a need for SEN provision individual requirements will be met across the curriculum. Every child is encouraged to develop at his or her own pace, relative to their ability. Where a child is identified as having a particular need whether academic, social, physical or emotional, a programme of support will be agreed by the class teacher, director of studies and the headteacher. Parents will be informed at regular intervals about their child’s progress and will be fully involved at every stage.
If this programme of support fails to provide the necessary foundations for the child to make progress than help will be sought from the appropriate outside agencies, following consultation with the parents.
REPORTING AND MONITORING
All work carried out by children is monitored and evaluated.
Reporting to parents takes place twice a year on a formal basis with a parents’ night to give the parents an opportunity to sit down and discuss their child’s progress. Written reports are made available to parents at the end of each term.
We operate an open door policy whereby a parent can drop in and speak to a teacher before or after school on an informal basis. Parents can also make an appointment at any time during the academic year to discuss issues at greater length if the necessity arises.
Individual and group target setting occurs on a regular basis. This helps to reinforce progression and helps children take ownership of their own learning and progress.
More detail of our monitoring and assessment arrangements can be found in the school’s Assessment Policy.
SEX AND RELATIONSHIPS EDUCATION (SRE)
Sex Education is not taught in the school as a separate subject but the foundations are laid as the children progress throughout the school. We follow the standard Catholic School guidance in this area.
Topics and issues are dealt with across our Science and R.E. curriculum which include growth, birth, life and death. Children have access to the PSHE curriculum and are encouraged to develop citizenship, respect for themselves and others, the difference between right and wrong and a strong sense of self-worth.
By educating our children to be aware of the world they live in and by giving them an open forum to ask questions and seek answers they feel comfortable in approaching teachers and other adults within school if they need advice or help.
SPIRITUAL, MORAL, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL OPPORTUNITIES
The trustees, headteacher and staff are keen that all of our children from Pre-Prep to Year 6 are provided with SMSC opportunities both within the planned curriculum and through independent work, extra-curricular activities and a wide range of opportunities and events.
We are a Christian school and teach the values and principles which underpin the Christian tradition. The children also learn about world religions as part of their R.E. lessons. Catholic children are instructed in the Sacramental Programme in line with the Salford Diocesan Guidelines.
Each week the whole school takes part in a themed assembly, led by the headteacher. During this assembly children’s achievements are recognised and two members of each class receive a merit badge for a range of different reasons. Merit marks are awarded on a daily basis for good work, effort and behaviour for Years 1 - 6. These marks are collected for each class and the winning house team get a special mention and win the trophy for the week. The Pre-Prep have a system of rewards by awarding online 'dojos' for good work and behaviour.
This system of rewarding children’s efforts and recognising achievements reinforces our curriculum and motivates the children to do their best.
Children are given opportunities to hold positions of responsibility as they move through the school. We have an elected Yr. 6 Head Boy and Head Girl at the beginning of each school year. Within each year group children have a rota for holding the position of House Captain for their class. Year 6 children act as Buddies for the younger children and help them to settle into school life when they first join our school.
These positions help the children to develop a strong sense of responsibility towards each other and enhances self-esteem.
A variety of clubs and extra-curricular activities are available at Stella Maris. These include:
• Personal tuition in piano/guitar
• Infant/junior choirs
• Infant multi-sports club
• Junior sports club
• Chess club
• Speech lessons/public speaking
• Mad Science
Twice a year pupils stage a school show for parents and friends. Every child has a role within the show and many of our children have the confidence and ability to sing solo on stage.
Stella Maris is “a small school with a big reputation.” Our pupils leave in Year 6 as mature, well-balanced, successful children who achieve multiple offers of grammar school places. This is the end product of an exciting, robust and stimulating curriculum, excellent teaching and an environment which encourages pride, respect, tolerance, positive thinking, good self-esteem and a thirst for knowledge and success.