The Abbey Curriculum
The Abbey curriculum is designed to be exciting and challenging to all of its pupils. At its core, pupils study English, Mathematics, Science and ICT. The work is closely linked to the National Curriculum, although we do have the flexibility to ensure that the pupils develop a love of learning and a genuine enthusiasm for a wide variety of subjects. We recognise that children thrive academically when work in the classroom is balanced by a broad range of challenges outside it. Art, Music, Sport, Drama and our wide range of clubs and activities play an important part in the children’s all-round education. Success both inside and outside of the classroom is vital in making children feel secure and happy.
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 increasingly sophisticated real-life problems. Teaching is in mixed ability sets in Year 3 and 4 and in ability sets in Year 5 and 6. To ensure all children reach their full potential in the subject, setting is reviewed each year so that the school is best able to meet the needs of all learners.
Formal teaching is interspersed with practical and cross-curricular activities, as well as with fortnightly investigative sessions. Prep is used to support the children’s learning in class and all children have access to Mathletics and MyiMaths to further extend their subject knowledge. This dynamic approach enables the children to appreciate and enjoy Mathematics and to fully prepare them for their lifelong Mathematical journey ahead.
Progress and attainment in Mathematics is recognised and shared regularly in fortnightly Celebration Assemblies. In addition, events throughout the year – such as Maths Day, Pie Day and UKMT Maths Challenges – give the children a chance to apply their learning outside of the classroom.
“All the reading she had done had given her a view of life that they had never seen.”
Roald Dahl – Matilda
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 at The Abbey are introduced to a wide range of literature, composition styles and technical knowledge within the context of an exciting and engaging English Curriculum. During English lessons children are encouraged to think creatively and in a highly inquisitive manner. A range of thought provoking and dynamic English topics facilitate this approach to learning and ensure that all children develop a lifelong appreciation of literature and spoken language.
Throughout their time at They Abbey pupils learn to read for pleasure and information, and also a means to 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.
Learning about English does not end in the classroom; we organise trips, visiting speakers, performers and much more.
The Science curriculum aims to develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding of elements of Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Pupils learn about nature, processes and methods of science through different types of scientific 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 collaboratively to solve problems by designing experiments and carrying them out. Science is taught in our modern, spacious, well-equipped Science Room, out-door investigations also take place in The Abbey’s grounds.
At The Abbey, the Forest School programme is delivered in our unique and beautiful outdoor learning area. By following a progressive programme facilitated through skills, games and curriculum based activities the children develop their self-awareness, self-regulation, intrinsic motivation, empathy, good social communication skills, independence, a positive mental attitude, self-esteem and confidence.
Children follow their own interest both independently and collaboratively learning and incorporating new skills along their journey. Our pupils become confident in their use of tools and further develop their interests and wonder in the outdoor world.
At The Abbey, History is taught chronologically from the Stone Age to the Second World War, so pupils develop knowledge and understanding of British, local and world history. Alongside more formal teaching, pupils are encouraged to investigate a time period by looking at, and analysing, source materials.
As East Anglia and Essex have numerous sites of historical importance, the children’s learning is further enhanced by educational trips to places such as; Sutton Hoo, Colchester Castle, Hedingham Castle and Audley End.
Geography, at The Abbey, aims to inspire a curiosity and fascination about the world and its people. Pupils will extend their knowledge and understanding beyond their local area to include the United Kingdom, Europe, South America and the world. They will have opportunities to develop geographical skills and they will use maps, atlases, 8 point compass, globes digital/computer mapping to locate countries and describe features of areas they are studying.
In addition to locational and place knowledge, they will gain an appreciation of life in other cultures through studies of human geography. Pupils will also learn subject specific vocabulary during their studies involving human and physical geography. They will learn about key aspects of rivers, mountains and seas and they will also look at types of settlements and land use. Pupils will consider environmental challenges and challenges to traditional values in settlements. Abbey pupils will understand what it means to be a global citizen and respect other cultures and environments.
At The Abbey we believe that the learning of foreign languages is a crucial aspect of preparing young people for life. Spanish is a fun, exciting and inspiring language, spoken by over 400 million speakers in 21 countries. In Years 3 to 6, pupils have two lessons a week. Assessment is continuous and Year 6 pupils sit a speaking and listening end-of-year exam during the Trinity term. The programme aims to open our pupils’ eyes to a different vision of the world and to other cultures in an inspiring and stimulating way. We want to instil confidence and passion through enjoyment. In order to create confident and passionate linguists, we use songs, rhymes, poetry and stories to aid learning and at the same time inspire creativity. Pupils play games with a real linguistic and cultural purpose. The ability to communicate confidently in real-life situations is crucial and pupils love activities such as the Spanish café. There is a dedicated Spanish classroom at The Abbey. When pupils step into it, the magic begins and with that their journeys to become happy, confident and successful language learners.
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 a wide range of contrasting eras, enjoying many cross-curricular links with different subjects during the process. For example, when studying the Egyptians in History, pupils study musical influences that Ancient Egyptian music has in our world today. 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. 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, Carnival of the Animals by Saint Saëns, The Planets by Holst and the contemporary music of artists such as Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley. Pupils 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 through our string scheme. 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 musical notation, and to work with various methods of notation such as graphic notation to consider the properties of sound.
All pupils also have access to a range of choral and ensemble opportunities. Any pupil who demonstrates a love for singing can join The Abbey Choir and pupils in Years 5 and 6 can join The Abbey Chamber Choir, a choir focussing on challenging vocal ability. Any pupil learning an orchestral instrument can join The Abbey Orchestra as well as one of the other many ensembles for different instrument combinations (Guitar Ensemble/Percussion Ensemble etc.) Singing is central to the life of the school and community singing is developed in weekly singing practices.
We also encourage the use of ICT to further enhance pupils’ understanding and enjoyment of the creative processes of music. A core focus in placed on the development of music technology skills in Year 5.
Through our Physical Education (PE) and sports curricula we aim to provide opportunities for all of our pupils to become physically confident in a way which supports their health, fitness and enables them to excel in competitive sport. Competing in sport also helps to build character and embed values such as fairness and respect.
Throughout the year, all pupils have a PE lesson and two extended Games lessons. The PE curriculum has a modern concept and includes such sports as; gymnastics, orienteering, tri golf and table tennis, depending on the year group. Our Games program has a slightly more traditional slant and includes hockey, netball, cricket and athletics for the girls, whilst the boys play rugby, hockey, football, cricket and athletics.
The school offers an extensive range of sports through our extra- curricular activities which take place before school, at lunchtime and after school.
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 Computer Room and tablets are available for use in Computing lessons and for independent research in all other curriculum areas.
In years 3 and 4 pupils use programs such as Scratch, a visual based programming language which enables them to learn to work in algorithms as well as taking part in a touch typing course.
In Years 5 and 6 pupils continue to use Scratch to develop their understanding of algorithms. As well as this pupils use Crumble to build and program external devices including toy cars and robots.
The Abbey is proud to be an innovative school, offering engineering as a curriculum subject to its Year 5 and 6 pupils. We have a bespoke syllabus designed to enhance our pupils’ other academic studies with particular focus on science, mathematics and computing. Being a pioneering school in this field allows us to adapt the learning experience to the needs and desires of the pupils and school year-on-year.
The principles of engineering are delivered through hands on, project based units that mainly cover: mechanical, civil, chemical and electrical engineering. In addition, environmental engineering permeates every element of our studies. Naturally, practical skills feature heavily, but our pupils are also taught to apply engineering concepts and terminology. Pupils are encouraged to become responsible 21st century citizens who understand that problems have many solutions. It is our aim to help equip our pupils for the challenges of the future in an ever changing and increasingly technological world.
Food Technology is taught in Lower KS 2. Its focus is largely practical allowing pupils to develop an understanding of healthy living and to have opportunity to explore their creativity. Pupils learn the fundamentals of using a kitchen safely and they develop practical skills that enable them to develop safe and efficient working habits. Opportunities are provided for them to develop competency in a range of cooking processes and skills. During the year we look at how food is sourced and seasonal foods are often used in practical sessions. Children also develop an awareness and understanding of food from other cultures and the social and economic contexts of food production. We hope that during the year families of The Abbey will enjoy some tasty treats prepared by the pupils.
At the Abbey we provide the children with a fun yet challenging Art curriculum. The lessons are taught in very small groups which enables us to be ambitious with the tools and equipment we allow the children to use. From enormous sculptures in the style of Oldenburg to intricately carved printing blocks the children enjoy a variety of media and learn a diverse range of techniques. Always starting with an artist as inspiration, the children are encouraged to be intuitive when discussing art work and begin to gain an understanding of Art history.
We ensure that our children have the opportunity to display their art work in various public exhibitions throughout the year; including Bury St Edmunds Cathedral, The Peter Pears Gallery in Aldeburgh and our very own art exhibition at The Abbey Hall! We celebrate Art as a valuable part of our rich curriculum and are lucky enough to have the facilities to enable this, including a kiln for firing our ceramics and a well-resourced art room.
Drama is an important aspect of life at The Abbey, one which seeks to build skills in stagecraft and theatre-making, but also to develop the spiritual, moral, social and cultural identities of our children.
The content of the Drama curriculum is rich and varied, including schemes of learning that are;
- Text-based – exploring Shakespeare and other plays practically whilst also developing literacy skills
- Issue-based – for example, exploring civil rights, peer pressure, social isolation etc. and develop their send of empathy
- Skills-based – for example, learning practical techniques in masked drama, physical theatre and voice work
Drama learning at The Abbey can be categorised into three components, with each component fostering a number of valuable and transferable skills that students can utilise in any classroom and beyond. These components are Creating, Performing and Responding.
Creating – This area of Drama helps students to develop their creative and collaborative skills and every single Drama lesson includes an element of group work. Students are given the chance to lead and motivate one another, to plan and prioritise, to support and help one another and to time-manage. Through working collaboratively with their peers students develop stronger working relationships and grow in confidence.
Performing – This area of Drama helps students to develop presentation and communication skills which will assist them in a range of situations from job and university interviews, to speaking at meetings, delivering speeches, and having confidence when meeting new people.
Responding – This area of Drama develops students speaking and listening skills. A large part of Drama learning takes place through discussion of key concepts and evaluation of drama work, through which students are able to develop verbal reasoning skills and the art of constructive criticism and self-reflection.
At the Abbey we teach Mindfulness. We practice as a whole school every Monday morning in assembly and the Year 4 pupils follow a curriculum designed by Mindfulness in Schools Project. This is followed up with a refresher programme in Years 5 and 6. The children benefit through this in many different ways – helping with nervousness, stress, anger, difficult situations and also sleeping.