Our approach is founded on the belief that the curriculum should be child-centred, based on practical, hands-on, concrete experiences, so that each child can build his/her knowledge, skills, concepts and attitudes through understanding.
We assess where each child is when they enter school at whatever key stage. We begin from that point and take the child through the curriculum at a pace appropriate to individual needs, so that each may be offered an equal opportunity to achieve their full potential.
We use a thematic topic based approach as a vehicle to teach all areas of the curriculum and develop basic skills.
As teachers we strive to improve the teaching and learning in our school through a process of on-going personal evaluation. In the same way we believe that the children should develop the skill to evaluate their own performance against agreed success criteria leading to the setting of achievable targets designed to help them move on their learning. This approach is a way of developing lifelong learning skills that can be adapted to any area at any stage of life.
Through our curriculum we aim to:
- enable all children to learn, and develop their skills and to be successful in their own way;
- promote independence, resilience and ownership of learning;
- develop each child as a confident, effective and reflective learner for life;
- teach children the basic skills of literacy, numeracy and information and communication technology (ICT);
- enable children to be creative and to develop their own thinking;
- teach children about the developing world, including how their environment and society have changed over time;
- help children understand Britain's cultural heritage;
- appreciate and value the contribution made by all ethnic groups in our multi-cultural society;
- enable children to be positive citizens;
- develop within the pupils exemplary character traits (middot) linked to the study of role models from the Torah;
- instil a sense of community in order to foster a lifelong incentive to be actively involved in communal life;
- help children understand the importance of truth and fairness, so that they grow up committed to equal opportunities for all;
- enable children to have respect for themselves and high self-esteem, and to live and work cooperatively with others.
The curriculum at Etz Chaim has been carefully planned to ensure exciting and purposeful learning takes place. Our curriculum is flexible and children and teaching staff have the freedom to change direction when it is appropriate. Having this flexibility to respond to children’s needs and interests ensures our learning is always relevant, exciting and fun.
We have developed an integrated curriculum which is:
- Broad - it introduces children to a wide range of knowledge, understanding and skills.
- Balanced - each part is allocated sufficient time relevant to the children’s age and experience.
- Relevant - subjects are taught in a meaningful way that relates to children’s lives and experience now and in the future.
- Memorable – the curriculum provides practical experiences and rich opportunities for high quality learning and wider personal development and well-being.
- Differentiated - subjects are taught in such a way that matches children’s individual needs and aptitudes.
Our Jewish ethos and values permeate all aspects of school life and learning within it. Every child, whether or not they are of the Jewish faith, will we believe, benefit by learning the ethics and moralities associated with Judaism, the code by which we live is the code accepted by wider society and leads to valued citizens who are able to make a positive contribution to their community and the wider world.
We teach the curriculum content through ‘topics’. These topics come from the International Primary Curriculum (IPC). Each half term, there is a cross curricular class theme and many of curricular subjects are linked to this 'topic'. Not all units of work fit into the 'topic'. To ensure that the children experience all learning opportunities some units are taught as stand-alone units. The curriculum has been planned to ensure an effective balance of all subject areas.
We use the IPC to teach Science and the foundation subjects of history, geography, art, music, design technology, physical education as well as personal, social, health and citizenship education (PSHCE).
Many of the topics lend themselves to allowing teachers to teach the literacy objectives through the themed work that they will do, making it more meaningful and giving it a purpose. However there will be some areas that will be taught discretely. Numeracy will be taught daily, through Abacus and Numicon, but the skills taught in these lessons will often be called upon within aspects of the IPC, giving the children a forum in which to reinforce their learning in a relevant context.
The Governors of Etz Chaim have taken the decision to follow the National Curriculum through the IPC and discretely where necessary.
As a faith school, the Jewish calendar shapes much of school life and the children are actively encouraged to develop good middot (character traits) and perform mitzvot (good deeds) where possible. The children learn how they can make a positive contribution to Jewish and British society. We celebrate the Chaggim (festivals) but also respect the holydays of other faiths.