In the Lower School we agree long-term plans, which indicate the topics to be taught in each term and to which year groups. We review our long-term plans on an annual basis. Medium-term plans give guidance to the objectives, learning outcomes and teaching strategies that we use when teaching each topic, including suggested resources, activities and ways to differentiate to ensure the needs of all the pupils are being continually met. Although the National Curriculum is often used as the basis for the long and medium-term plans for KS1 and 2, at St Mary’s we often go beyond the expectations of the National Curriculum.
The Director of Lower School is responsible for the overall planning and organisation of the curriculum which is supervised and reviewed by the Assistant Director of Lower School (Academic). Subject Leaders and Subject Co-ordinators ensure that their subjects provide continuity and progression from the EYFS to the end of KS2. Curriculum booklets for each year group can be found below.
Specialist teaching forms part of the curriculum. In all year groups the pupils are taught by specialist Music, French, Forest School and PE teachers. This allows for a stimulating and challenging curriculum in which the pupils can thrive.
All year groups have a music lesson each week. Singing is a strong feature of the school. In Year 2 and beyond the girls are given the opportunity to learn to play the recorder – each girl needs an Aulos recorder and Recorder Magic Book 1. In this way, every child learns to read music and many go on to take up an additional instrument.
In the spring term the infant girls have the opportunity to take part in a group LAMDA exam. Girls in the Preparatory class have a drama lesson each week while Year 1 and 2 pupils have drama lessons in the spring term, in preparation for their exam. These lessons are led by Theatre Arts Academy. At the end of the academic year the junior department puts on a production, staged at the Senior School. The production is performed on two evenings and all girls are expected to attend. Year 6 girls take on the lead roles, while other year groups support the singing.
Forest School is part of the curriculum. We encourage the girls to be outside in all weathers, so it is really important that the girls wear layers and are warm. Prep pupils have a Forest School session weekly; girls in other year groups have one afternoon Forest School session for one term of the year.
PE is an important part of the curriculum and girls should have the correct PE kit in school at all times. Please see the uniform guide, which can be found on the school website, and ensure that all kit is named. From Year 1, each class swims for one term at First Strokes swimming pool, across the road from the school. Pupils are expected to wear the correct swimwear – a black swimsuit, swim hat and googles. The girls may join the netball club from Year 3 upwards. An additional weekly netball squad session is provided (by invitation) for girls in Years 5 and 6. Netball matches are arranged against other local independent schools and schools in the Colchester Primary League.
Our professional ballet teacher
engages the Preparatory girls in a ballet session. Taking place in the Dance Studio, the children enjoy interpreting the music.
In Key Stage 1, home learning is set to support the girls in their learning, with the active involvement of their parents or carers. At Key Stage 2, girls are encouraged to work more independently, so that by the time they leave they are able to cope with the formal homework schedules they will encounter at senior school level. They will be encouraged to manage the activities with little help and to prioritise, while recognising that they must hand in home learning on time, no matter how busy their lives outside school may be.
A copy of the home learning procedure can be found in the Curriculum Policy on the website.
To help with managing the tasks set, a Homelinks letter for every year group is sent home each Friday. Home learning is expected to be completed and handed into the class teacher by the following Thursday.