The National Curriculum only forms a part of the curriculum a school should offer. Teachers at Cherry Orchard Primary School have developed the school’s own bespoke curriculum.
The Cherry Orchard Curriculum is based on the following key guiding principles:
• “Curriculum” is a blanket term used to encapsulate all that is taught or experienced in the school setting;
• The Cherry Orchard Curriculum will extend beyond the bounds of the national curriculum in every area, and will cover many areas of learning that are not part of the National Curriculum – the ‘COPS School Aims’;
• The Cherry Orchard Curriculum is about giving our children the best possible education that we are able to, and about preparing them in the most effective way both for the next stage of their school careers and ultimately for life;
• The Cherry Orchard Curriculum is underpinned by our ‘Three Rs’ – REALITY, RELEVANCE and RIGOUR.
• A key aim for the Cherry Orchard Curriculum is to give all children who leave our school a strong set of rich and happy memories.
We pride ourselves on providing an innovative, exciting and varied curriculum fit for the changing world of the 21st century. We have high expectations for children’s work and require pupils to challenge themselves and show enthusiasm and interest. In return, we make lessons interesting and varied and set great store by each child seeking to constantly better themselves.
Our approach to curriculum design has been recognised at a national level. In 2014, our work was used as a case study by ATL (Association of Teachers and Lecturers) and we have had a published article by Education Today on our ‘Learning without Limits’ approach.
The school’s work in developing an outstanding PE curriculum, the creation of its nurture provision and use of the Thrive programme, as well as our ground breaking work in developing the FLIC assessment programme have been recognised by the LA in its Effective Practice Database.
The Cherry Orchard Curriculum will continuously be developed through time, fuelled by the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of our teaching staff. This means continuous research into cutting edge teaching methods and ongoing review of best practice across a wide range of educational settings.
Resources to support the curriculum
There can be no doubt in this day and age that if a child is going to be able to communicate and excel, a strong proficiency in computing must be the cornerstone of their education. At Cherry Orchard we are well placed to afford these opportunities to children.
The ICT suite has 30 Internet connected workstations, three plasma screens, sound system and a range of peripheral devices. Alongside the suite’s relocation, the whole school has wireless, access making it possible for whole classes to work on individual laptops, accessing all the extensive range of resources available on the school system. Each classroom and work area is fitted with an interactive whiteboard, sound system, internet links, a number of workstations and access to equipment including programmable toys, sensors, digital microscopes, digital cameras and digital video cameras. The school has portable cabinets with class sets of iPads available for each Phase within the school, as well as around 50 new laptops across the school and we have provided each teacher with personal iPad. We are in the process of installing Apple TV in each classroom and we are constantly updating our facilities to move with the rapidly developing world of technology.
At Cherry Orchard we use the Arts to promote learning and to widen opportunities for children. Music is particularly strong. Our music tuition programme is very popular and there is the opportunity to learn the flute, fife, violin, keyboard, guitar, clarinet, cello, or piano. Children practice in groups and form ensembles for concerts at intervals throughout the year. Every child in Year 4 is taught a musical instrument for a full term, for free, via the county’s ‘FAME’ scheme.
Dance is encouraged to a high standard through Physical Education and the dance clubs formed to prepare for our school productions. These productions are also an impressive showcase for children’s singing, set design and acting talents. Past productions have included Joseph, We Will Rock You and Shakespeare Rocks! In 2016 the school will be performing the Lion King musical over 3 nights in July.
The Arts focus continues in after-school clubs and is brought in to the spotlight during our annual Arts week. Whilst we always encourage children to be creative, during this week it is especially so, as children are invited to express themselves freely and to fully explore their own talents and inspirations. Visiting workshops include pottery, African dance, drumming, performance poetry, book illustration, medieval music-making, painting, collage, photography, film and drama. We have also taken part in the ‘Voices & Visions’ Art Festival at Worcester Cathedral in previous years.
Extra-curricular activities, (held during the lunch break or after school), include recorder groups, football (boys’ and girls’ separate clubs), netball, fencing, chess, ‘Kwik’ cricket, cross country, athletics, tag rugby, drama, gymnastics, choir, orchestra and art club. From time to time, we also use outside coaches for activities such as karate, basketball, athletics, golf or rugby. In association with the local cluster of schools, we also run a range of sporting competitions and joint arts events throughout the school year.
Cherry Orchard’s School Council is very active. We feel that it is important that children have a voice when decisions are to be made. To reflect this, our motto is ‘working together for our school’.
Meetings are held weekly with a member of staff and representatives from each class. Each class member is elected during the early part of a new school year. Items for the agenda usually come from the pupils themselves and since we started we have looked at the ’golden rules’ for behaviour, playtime activities, developing the school site, improving the school building and a lot of individual concerns which have come from the suggestion boxes around school. Additionally, the Council has led on Community events - for example naming the new cycle ways or planning the new play area on Power Park.
It is great to share concerns and suggestions and together we believe we really can make a difference. In 2013-4, the School Council were instrumental in the design and subsequent build of a new trim trail for our school playground. The Cherry Orchard design was so good it has even been added to the company’s brochure!
Catering for the range of ability
We are committed to ensuring that children with special educational needs make the best possible progress and have been acknowledged for our work in this respect. This area is strongly co-ordinated and a wide range of programmes and activities are available, all child-centred. We focus on effective planning that sets up learning situations for children in which they undertake carefully staged tasks that are purposeful and geared towards their experience.
Challenge For All
All teaching at Cherry Orchard is designed to challenge children to acquire new skills, learn new concepts and apply these to varying situations. We recognise that children bring a wide range of prior experiences to their lessons and, as such, a range of attainment is a natural part of each classroom environment. To ensure that ALL children receive a curriculum experience that enables them to thrive, we operate a 'Choice & Challenge' ethos. We see it as core to our daily teaching that pupils are given the opportunity to surprise us; and they often do just that. We reject the notion of fixed ability and instead offer pupils the opportunities to challenge, extend and enrich their own learning journeys by offering an irresistible curriculum with tasks and experiences that challenge every pupil, regardless of their attainment. As part of our School Aims, we are looking for children to be reflective and take risks; the 'Choice' element of 'Choice & Challenge' is designed to enable our pupils to be active participants in their learning. A regular feature of lessons across the school is that pupils have the ability to select from a range of challenges, carefully constructed by the class teacher, thus building an understanding of their own progress in a subject and what they need to focus on next. We have based our work on the pioneering educational study by Dame Alison Peacock at Wroxham Primary School, entitled 'Learning Without Limits'. We wish for all learners at Cherry Orchard to be able to lift the lid on their learning within a culture that truly believes that every child is capable of anything.
We acknowledge that people learn in many different ways and we recognise the need to develop strategies that allow all children to learn in ways that suit them best. We take into account these different forms of intelligence when planning teaching and learning styles.
We offer opportunities for children to learn in different ways. These include:
• investigation and problem solving;
• research and finding out;
• group work;
• pair work;
• independent work;
• whole-class work;
• asking and answering questions;
• use of IT;
• fieldwork and visits to places of
• creative activities;
• watching media, responding to live
music and recorded material;
• designing and making things;
• participation in athletic or physical activity;
• after school clubs;
• guest visitors and performers;
• access to a range of resources.
Trips, Visits & Theme Days
Part of the Cherry Orchard experience is broadening horizons. We plan a stimulating range of exciting and educational visits for every year group. Trips have included Severn Valley Railway, Goodrich Castle, Malvern Hills, Hartlebury Museum, Tudor House Museum and Bishops Wood. There are also trips to the cinema, the theatre, visits to areas of local interest such as Worcester Cathedral and weekly swimming in Years 3 and 4. Touring Theatre Companies also visit the school, as well as the school itself going out ‘on tour’ to sing at the local Nursing Home. As children reach the later years, they then have the opportunity to go on residential visits. Year 5 stay at a chateau just outside Paris, to immerse themselves in the culture and try out their French phrases. Year 6 enjoy an outdoor pursuits week based at an Outdoor Centre. Both of these trips help children to further develop their independence and responsibility.
A valuable way of making the curriculum ‘come alive’ is through Theme Days. These range from days in which the focus is traditional storytelling such as Fairytale Day to History studies such as those of the daily life of Norsemen in Viking Day. Each year we have an Arts Week, which brings in a range of performers to school and provides a lot of opportunities for ‘awe and wonder’. We have a variety of curriculum-based theme days and events as well as specific ones such as our ‘World Book Day’ and the Science and P.E. based ‘Healthy Living week’.
A growing feature of our 21st century curriculum is the connection with the ‘real’ world, offering pupils the chance to engage with, and work alongside, real audiences for their work. Recently, this has included South Hereford Audi, The Hive in Worcester and The Malvern Hills Geo Centre. We welcome the chance to utilise the broad scope of opportunities that our parents and community can offer us for these real audiences. Perhaps your workplace or hobby could provide one of our classes with their next great client? These events provide opportunities to set challenging learning objectives, to widen children’s horizons and to help strengthen the essential bonds between children and adults. Please contact the school if you think that you might be able to help.