At Shebbear, our school curriculum is central to all we do. We want to ensure that we have a focus on developing strong basic skills, not least reading. However, we also want the children to learn through a broad school curriculum to include the humanities, science, the arts and through physical activity. We think that a broad curriculum which is based on the acquisition of a wide variety of knowledge and skills will enable our children to develop cultural capital which will support them as they move to the next stage of their education and beyond.
When planning the curriculum, the school takes into account the needs of all our children including those with special educational needs and disabilities. Lessons can be adapted and modified to meet individual needs. Central to our curriculum planning is ensuring access and equality for all of our learners.
In developing our curriculum, we have taken into account our local circumstances. This means that some of the themes are particularly pertinent to our rural location and reflect the day to day experiences of our children. However, we are similarly mindful of our rural and more detached setting, so ensure the children have wide access to different experiences and exposure to different cultures, people and countries.
Our curriculum is planned to ensure that children develop their skills and knowledge over time. The statement on reading and phonics explains how we teach and develop this most important skill. All of our plans are based on the national Curriculum programmes of study and objectives. The only exception to this is our RE curriculum which is based on the Devon Agreed Syllabus. Our curriculum for subjects other than English and mathematics is based on a two year cycle. This takes in to account our mixed age classes and ensures that the children have a full coverage of different topics over time. The plans below show the curriculum overviews. Each teacher then produces half termly plans which sequence the lessons so the children can build their knowledge. In order to take account of differing ages in each class, the plans are backed by skills development documents which indicate appropriate outcomes for the end of each year group.
Reading and Phonics
“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” — Frederick Douglass.
Reading is the most important skill that children will learn at school and as such, it receives a high priority in our curriculum, not least the acquisition of early reading skills. This is achieved through a systematic phonics programme. The school has recently adopted the Twinkl phonics programme (which has been approved by the Department for Education). Previously the school used a programme called Letters and Sounds which itself was a DfE designed phonics programme but is no longer supported with resources hence the decision to move to another scheme.
As noted above, the phonics programme is very systematic meaning that pupils build their knowledge over time. In school, the children entering reception start on level 2 (also known as phase 2) which focusses on learning the individual letter sounds. As they move into level 3 they will start blending these sounds together. It is expected that by that the end of reception, pupils will be secure in their level/phase 2 and 3 sounds. In Year 1 they will tackle level/phase 4 and 5 phonics which will develop both their knowledge of both reading and spelling conventions including words that doesn’t necessarily conform to a particular rule. Towards the end of Year 1, pupils undertake a phonics screening assessment. They are normally expected to identify at least 32 of the 40 sounds and words presented in order to meet the expected threshold. Those who fall below the threshold will receive further support in Year 2 in order to meet the threshold when they are assessed again at the end of Year 2.
Pupils in Year 2 will move on to level/phase 6 phonics which focusses further on improving the children’s spelling skills while also reinforcing their reading development.
Pupils are normally introduced to phonics in their pre-school setting although they may use other programmes to the one we use at Shebbear School.
You’ll find more information on phonics for parents and carers here:
Below are some documents which give a good overview of how we teach reading at Shebbear along with details of what the children will be learning along their reading journey, what is expected in terms of reading development and some ideas to help your child at home. The document ‘The Seven Aspects of Reading’ details how Shebbear School ensures these seven aspects are fulfilled to support every child becoming a good reader.
Helping your child with reading at home: We ask that pupils of all ages (including the oldest and most able readers) are heard reading at home as often as possible. We prioritise reading as a key element of the children’s homework. Hearing the children read helps build confidence and gives adults at home the opportunity to see how their reading is developing while having the opportunity to offer corrections and advice to improve further. As well as being able to read fluently, the children need to develop a good comprehension of what they have read. This may mean understanding what a particular word or expression means, being able to retrieve a particular piece of information, predict what may happen next in the story or being able to interpret what the author is trying to get across to the reader.
The following document may help with this by suggesting possible questions that you could use.
These links may also be useful when hearing your child read at home but also how to encourage them to read as much as they can.