At the New Forest Small School we have carefully developed our own curriculum. This has involved adapting the National Curriculum to provide a richer and more thorough educational environment for our pupils whilst ensuring that the school’s philosophy is not compromised. Some subjects, such as the core subjects of English, Maths and Science, remain fairly faithful to the National Curriculum, However other subjects such as History are significantly different as we teach History chronologically.
We believe that school’s should provide a balanced and wide ranging curriculum throughout a child’s education. Subsequently all subjects listed below are taught all year round and are for all primary and secondary pupils.
The school follows the four key stages –
Key Stage 1 – The Kindergarten
Key Stage 2 – The Primary Classes
Key Stage 3 – The Pre-GCSE Secondary Classes
Key Stage 4 – GCSE Secondary Classes
The subject overviews below cover Key Stages 2 to 4.
THIS PAGE IS CURRENTLY BEING UPDATED
As a core subject we understand that English Language is fundamental to a child’s academic development as it is linked to all areas of the curriculum. Subsequently rather than overload the timetable with English Language lessons to the exclusion of other subjects we ensure that English Language is taught as an integral component of all subjects as well as through dedicated English lessons.
Our English curriculum has been designed to meet the requirements of the National Curriculum whilst incorporating the school’s academic approach. This means developing the essential skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening with an emphasis upon self awareness, self development, understanding context and making connections with their everyday lives and the wider world.
Writing skills initially focus on helping pupils to write in a clear print style before any attempts are made to develop cursive writing skills. This ensures that pupil’s writing is eligible from the beginning rather than teaching cursive from the outset which can result in some pupils developing an unreadable cursive scrawl. Whilst building up grammatical skills, punctuation and spelling pupils are encouraged to develop self expression in their writing and an appreciation of other people’s and culture’s perspectives.
Speaking and listening are an integral part of all subjects and are developed every day.
The importance of reading cannot be underestimated. Aside from providing us with the basic skills to function effectively in our world, reading provides us with an extraordinary insight into the inner worlds of others, and by extension ourselves, whilst opening our minds to the greater outer world. Given how crucial this growing awareness is for the pupil’s personal, social and academic development it is vital that English Language lessons engage and inspire pupils. To foster this we teach English through actively engaging pupils in class discussions where everyone has the opportunity to communicate and listen. To ensure that lessons remain relevant we help pupils to appreciate the shared universal human voice that can be found in all texts – whether they are reading the words of someone from the past or from today, from the other side of the world or from our locality. We use mostly whole texts rather than extracts and teach historical and cultural background so that pupils can appreciate context.
In a world increasingly bombarded with ‘alternative facts’, ‘fake’ news and propaganda we understand the importance of helping all children to explore, evaluate and challenge ideas and assumptions, to read between the lines, evaluate evidence, detect bias and think for themselves. The study of English Language through all text mediums is fundamental to teaching these skills.
In English Literature we have the opportunity to develop all the skills mentioned above but in greater depth. We always study whole texts, reading novels, poetry and plays in their entirety as a whole class. As we read texts together we regularly pause to reflect on and discuss the language and ideas expressed. This is then followed by a detailed analysis and discussion of the key themes, context, characters and historical / cultural settings. Our fundamental aims are to expand pupil’s outlook and minds and help to foster a love of literature in each child.
Texts studied include the Greek Myths, fairy tales, Aesop’s Fables, Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce, Ronia the Robber’s Daughter by Astrid Lindgren, Animal Farm by George Orwell, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon, The Lord of the Flies by William Golding, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, Hard Times by Charles Dickens, The Birthday Party by Harold Pinter, The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, Macbeth by William Shakespeare, An Inspector Calls by JB Priestley, The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, the poetry of Wilfred Owen, Benjamin Zephaniah, Shakespeare and many others.
After studying some of these texts we have gone on to perform them as a school play. This has included productions of Animal Farm, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Birthday Party, An Inspector Calls as well as comic adaptations of fairy tales such as The Firebird and Rumplestiltskin. We also take the pupils on school trips to see theatre productions such as Romeo & Juliet, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, A Christmas Carol, An Inspector Calls etc…
The texts in English Literature are also often taught to compliment the History syllabus. So for example pupils study some of the great 19th century novels by Dickens, Conrad and Wells when studying the 19th century in History.
Although students immensely benefit from smaller classes in all subjects, nowhere is this more true than in Maths. Most Maths lessons follow a combination of whole class teaching and individual guidance. Providing individual support and attention to pupils is essential to their success in Maths as each child invariably requires different levels of assistance, whether they need further stretching and challenges or they need reassurance that they are working in the right direction.
As with English our Maths curriculum has been designed to meet the requirements of the National Curriculum whilst incorporating the school’s academic approach. Our aim is to provide engaging and challenging lessons that are fun, interactive and relevant to the children’s lives. We want pupils to understand how integral mathematics is to their everyday world, from using money to using digital devices. We try to treat Maths as a series of puzzles and problems to be investigated and solved. We aim to stimulate in pupils a fascination and understanding of mathematics by firing their imagination.
In Year 10 most pupils will sit the foundation Maths GCSE exam before going onto taking the higher Maths GCSE in Year 11.
Our fundamental aim when teaching the Science subjects – Biology, Chemistry and Physics – is to inspire in pupils a fascination and wonder towards this amazing universe we inhabit. From the awe inspiring macroscopic universe of galaxies and black holes to the mind bending microscopic world of atoms and quarks, via the miracle of human biology and life on Earth, we view Science as a journey of discovery.
Science lessons should never be dull – their subject matter is far too extraordinary. If Science lessons are too dry and abstract many pupils will begin to switch off. Therefore it is essential that classes fully engage all children and not just the more scientifically inclined pupils. It is no coincidence that the majority of our pupils accomplish an equal balance of scientific and humanities GCSEs. To achieve this it is important to establish a balance between the practical work of scientific experiments and the more theoretical exploration of the big questions of existence. Children love to discuss the implications of scientific discoveries, the mind expanding possibilities that science opens up. And so sometimes we will spend whole lessons contemplating the nature of life, of the universe, of time and space, of other dimensions, of mysteries such as dark matter and energy or the possibilities inherent in genetics, robotics, computing etc… Within these discussions the teacher encourages pupils to use their scientific knowledge to find answers to their own questions and imparts new knowledge to help them grasp the seemingly ungraspable.
As fascinating as it is to ponder upon the philosophical possibilities of science it is necessary to back this up with practical work. This of course means plenty of hands on experiments, where the pupils are able to directly engage with science in action. Practical work also means observation, but not just looking. Real scientific observation involves looking at the world as if we have never seen it before and asking why and how? It requires training the pupils to avoid taking life for granted and instead to question and wonder. As Albert Einstein said, “The important thing is to not stop questioning.”
The school broadly follows the National Curriculum and prepares pupils to take either Dual or Triple Science GCSEs.
At our school History is regarded as an essential part of every pupil’s education. If we have any hope of understanding the great issues of our time we must study historical causation, the context of the key events, personalities and belief systems that dominate the news. Our modern world is the effect. History is the cause. As information becomes ever more democratic and universal it is easy to lose ourselves in a seemingly bewildering array of opinions. The key to navigating our way through these increasingly divisive and contradictory viewpoints lies in developing an historical perspective that enables us to see the bigger picture. The need for a rational, balanced perspective grounded in an understanding of historical context is as important as ever.
To understand history it is essential that children are given a chronological view of humanity’s extraordinary story. If we teach history in random chunks, for example jumping from Victorians to Tudors to World War 1 and 2, pupils will not be able to understand the the accumulation of factors that gave rise to these events and periods. It is like reading random passages from a novel and expecting to understand the plot, characters and themes. The overview of the history curriculum given below provides a guide to the areas we teach but can be subject to change.
In the Lower Primary Class the children learn all about our pre-history, from Australopithecus to the rise of homo-sapiens leading to the Stone Age, before moving onto the early civilisations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, China and South America. In the first year of Upper Primary pupils study the Celts and the great empires of Greece and Rome in depth, whilst in the second year they learn about the the rise of Christianity and the ‘barbarian’ invaders in the Dark Ages, looking at the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings in greater detail.
History in the upper school begins from around 1000 AD so Lower Secondary pupils at first study the Middle Ages in Britain and Europe, focusing on the Normans, the Crusades, and the Plantagenets. We then take in a more global perspective again and study the Incas, native Americans and the Song and Ming dynasties of China. In their second year we focus on the European’s ‘discovery’ of America, the devastation of the Mesoamerican cultures and the Atlantic Slave Trade. This is followed by learning about the Tudors, the Reformation and the religious wars including the English Civil War. Lower Secondary complete the year by studying the beginnings of the modern world as we look at the great ideas of the Enlightenment and the key events that it inspired such as the American War of Independence, the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution.
Upper Secondary pupils begin by studying the key events of the 19th century across the world, focusing especially on Britain, France, Germany, Russia and the US. We look at the clash between the emerging ideologies of liberalism, socialism, nationalism and conservatism, which lead to the revolutions in Europe in 1830 and 1848. We then focus on how European expansion and aggression led to the development of the Age of Empire, incorporating the obscene scramble for Africa and the carving up of much of Asia. The year ends with an in-depth study of World War One.
The history for the GCSE Class is of course determined by OCR exam board, but the topics we have chosen continue the chronological study of history as much as possible. The new History course begins with a 1,000 year overview focusing on immigration to and from Britain, before we return to an in depth study of the Elizabethan Age. In their final year the pupils study the rise of Nazi Germany in depth and complete their course with the Cold War.
Throughout all of their studies in History pupils are taught to view events from different perspectives, from the viewpoint of the winners and losers, from the context and restraints of the time but also from our 21st century ethical perspective. History should never be taught with cold dispassion, but with enthusiasm, ethical engagement and at times incredulity.
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