The Abbey Curriculum
One of the many benefits of an Abbey education is the small size of the classes, which promote strong learning habits and word patterns, allow for better focus in each pupil, and stimulate an enthusiastic love of learning.
Pupils are given experience in, and the opportunity to learn and make progress in, linguistic, mathematical, scientific, technological, human and social, physical and aesthetic and creative education. At the Abbey learning is fun and brought alive with frequent events such as Roman and Viking re-enactment days, fancy dress practical based maths mornings, and even a Victorian school day complete with Victorian discipline, as well as frequent trips to local places of historic interest such as Kentwell Hall, Sutton Hoo and Hedingham Castle.
The curriculum is based on the new National Curriculum but extends beyond it, and has been designed to stimulate and interest all pupils, regardless of ability, background or gender. The subject content and approach to teaching ensures continuity in learning as the pupils pass from Queen’s House, through The Abbey and onto the Senior School.
It gives pupils experience in, and the opportunity to learn and make progress in, linguistic, mathematical, scientific, technological, human and social, physical and aesthetic and creative education.
Areas of study
The curriculum is designed so pupils become fluent in the fundamentals of Mathematics, are able to reason mathematically, and are able to solve problems by applying their Mathematics to a variety of problems with increasing sophistication. Teaching is in sets throughout the school so teachers can ensure good progress is made, and pupils reach their full potential in the subject. Formal teaching is interspersed with practical and inter-curricular activities.
Events such as the popular Maths Morning, foster group work and problem solving with knights designing trebuchets, spies and detectives code breaking, pirates discovering lost treasure through the use of coordinates and maps, and using sweeties in measuring activities.
The English curriculum is designed to equip pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. Pupils learn to read for pleasure and information and appreciate our rich literary heritage. They acquire a wide vocabulary and a good understanding of grammar and punctuation, which is used to write accurately and clearly in a wide range of contexts and for different purposes and audiences. Our aim is to make the teaching of English truly inter-curricular, with writing activities linked to all subjects.
Authors and poets are invited into school to inspire and motivate pupils in their own work.
The Science curriculum aims to develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding of the disciplines of Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Pupils learn about nature, processes and methods of science through different types of science enquiries which help them understand the world around them. They learn about how Science affects their lives today and what discoveries will mean for their future.
The subject is very much practical based and pupils learn to work together to solve problems by designing experiments and carrying them out. Science is taught in our modern, spacious, well-equipped Science Room. Out-door investigations take place in The Abbey’s grounds including in the Nature Area, with its system of pond and steams, teaming with life. Pupils are also taken to Carlton Marshes to study ecology and habitat.
A range of computing programmes are used in the subject and there is a strong link to technology.
At The Abbey History is taught broadly chronologically from the Stone Age to the First World War, so pupils develop knowledge and understanding of British, local and world history; noting connections, contrasts and trends. Alongside more formal teaching, Pupils are encouraged to investigate a time period by looking at, and analysing, source materials.
History is brought alive for the pupils through special days where a ‘real’ Roman or Viking comes into school and, dressed the part, they take part in very enjoyable topical activities.
As this area is blessed with numerous sites of historical importance, their learning is further enhanced by trips to places such as Sutton Hoo, Colchester Castle, Hedingham Castle, Kentwell Hall and Audley End.
The Geography curriculum at The Abbey is designed to inspire in pupils a curiosity and fascination about the world and its people. They develop knowledge of globally significant places, and learn about the processes which give rise to key physical and human geographical features of the world.
Pupils collect and analyse data gathered through experiences of fieldwork that deepen their understanding of geographical processes. Fieldwork takes place in the local area, making use of the River Deben and local farms. They also learn to interpret geographical sources such as maps, diagrams, globes aerial photographs and Geographical Information Systems.
Pupils at The Abbey take part in our unique languages programme which entails the study of a different language every year so they learn a little of each and are able to see the connections between different language groups. Language is taught by specialist language teachers from the Senior School.
Pupils learn language mainly orally initially, with the written element of the subject becoming more important as they get older.
Language learning is reinforced in Year 3 and 4 when, as a culmination of their work on food and restaurants, they host an Italian and Spanish café, complete with chefs, waiting staff and bouncers!
At the Abbey, we recognise that music has a profound impact on a child’s development and our curriculum is designed to inculcate a love of music in all students in an environment where all can achieve and the most able will excel. All pupils increase their musical awareness and talent, self-confidence, creativity and sense of achievement.
Pupils develop the skills of performing, appraising and reviewing music from the Middle Ages through to the twentieth century, enjoying many cross-curricular links with humanities during the process. For example, when studying the Tudors in History, pupils study music of the Renaissance with a particular focus on English Elizabethan music. Other links include studying early Twentieth Century music and the impact of war whilst studying the two World Wars in English and History. Our exploration of music from other cultures (Chinese, African, Balinese and Indian) also relates to the wider curriculum; pupils study African Drumming whilst studying Africa in Geography. Pupils also study the folk tradition of the British Isles which links into History and English.
Pupils look at major works by leading composers of each age throughout their time at the Abbey. In Year 6, they undertake a Timeline project where music is placed in context, starting in the Middle Ages ending at the present day. Authors, scientists, artists and historical events are added to the timeline alongside composers and musicians and they compose short pieces using stylistic features of each era, using folk-song, Monteverdi, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Stravinsky, amongst others, to seek inspiration.
We aim to develop an understanding of the impact of key composers and musicians throughout Music History by listening to, and performing key works. Focus works include Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Pachelbel’s Canon, Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and Variations on Twinkle, Twinkle, Symphonies no.s 5 and 6 by Beethoven, Carnival of the Animals by Saint Saëns, Mars by Holst and interpretations of the Blues by Bessie Smith. They develop and extend their knowledge further by learning to compose using a range of musical structures, techniques and styles. Other benefits come through working in pairs and small groups as well as individually.
Pupils explore how music is created through a range of projects, from building their own instruments, learning about the science of music to playing a wide range of classroom percussion instruments exploring timbre, colour and musical effects.
All pupils learn a stringed instrument in Year 3 and the Recorder in Year 4. This work is supported by work in class, developing pitch and rhythm awareness which relates to the theory of music. All pupils learn to manipulate conventional notation, and to work with other methods of notation such as graphic notation to consider the properties of sound. All pupils also have access to a range of choral opportunities; all pupils in Years 3 and 4 are members of a Choir and pupils in years 4, 5 and 6 can participate in a range of choirs.Singing is central to the life of the school and community singing is developed in weekly hymn practices and assemblies.
We also encourage the use of ICT to further enhance pupils’ understanding and enjoyment of the creative processes of music.
Physical Education and Sports
Through our Physical Education and Sports curricula we aim to provide opportunities for our pupils to become physically confident in a way which supports their health and fitness, and to excel in competitive sport. Competing in sport also helps build character and embed values such as fairness and respect.
Throughout the year, the pupils have PE lessons every week and in their 2 afternoons of Games the girls play hockey, netball, tennis and athletics. In extra-curricular clubs they can also play football and cricket. Boys play rugby, football, hockey, cricket, tennis and athletics. All pupils take part in matches, galas and tournaments with other schools.
Year 3 and 4 pupils attend swimming lessons. Swimmers from all years and particularly those who attend extra swimming training represent the school in swimming galas with local schools and nationally.
Pupils are taught to design, write and debug programs to accomplish specific goals. They use logic to explain how simple algorithms work. They are taught how computer networks, such as the internet, work and how to use search technologies effectively. Pupils are taught to use technology safely, respectfully and responsibly.
Computing lessons take place in the Computing Room and tablets are available for use in Computing lessons and for independent research in all other curriculum areas.
Pupils use programs such as Scratch, a visual based programming language which enables them to learn to work in algorithms, and Lego Mindstorms where robots are guided around a Martian landscape.
Design and Technology
In Design and Technology lessons the pupils design and make products that solve real and relevant problems considering their own and others’ needs, wants and values. In doing so they acquire a broad range of subject knowledge and draw on disciplines such as mathematics, science, engineering, computing and art. Projects include designing a fair ground ride, packaging for breakfast cereal, a bridge, and moving toys.
Pupils use a range of tools and techniques to complete their designs and so gain the practical expertise needed to participate successfully in an increasingly technological world. They also learn to critique, evaluate and test their ideas and products and the work of others.
Cooking and Nutrition
Pupils in Years 5 and 6 have lessons in Cooking and Nutrition where they create delicious dishes using a variety of cooking techniques in order to master this crucial life skill, but also to understand seasonality of food and where ingredients come from. They also learn to understand and apply the principles of a healthy and varied diet.
Taking tasty treats home for the family is an added bonus!
Art and Design
At The Abbey Art is an integral part of school life, whether it is done in the purpose-built Art Room as part of a weekly lesson, outside as part of a History, Geography or Science lesson, or in one of the many extra-curricular clubs. Our thoughtfully designed Art curriculum fosters creativity, experimentation, imagination and an awareness of many different types of art, craft and design.
Pupils study the life and works of a variety of well-known artists, designers and architects, and use a range of tools and techniques to produce and develop their own work. Areas of study include Drawing, Painting, 3D work, Textiles, Collage and Printing.
Pupils collaborate with Queen’s House and the Senior School in special projects such as the 350th anniversary of the founding of the school in which they created giant sculptures.