Reading is a key focus at Holy Trinity and it is how children across the school start the day. In Key Stage 1, every child reads in a small group with an adult every day (following a scheme called Daily Supported Reading). We use Oxford Reading Tree and Collins Big Cat reading schemes alongside a wide selection of other books in order to teach children to read.
Our last OFSTED report noted that children here are ‘keen readers both in school and at home’.
There has been a big focus on teachers improving their subject knowledge and love of children’s literature in order to inspire the children. We have introduced a scheme called ‘40 books’ which makes available high quality age-appropriate literature for children to take home weekly – children and parents have commented on how much they love this. Each child is paired up with another child with their 40 book so that they can discuss it and enthuse about it!
In Key Stage 2 we have introduced a new scheme in which children read high quality, engaging texts as a class. Reading for pleasure is kept at the heart of all sessions and writing in the lessons is minimised in order to make talk central. Our children enjoy having open-ended discussions around the text both with their partners and as a class to share their reading experiences. The children are taught key strategies which enable a deeper understanding such as prediction, inference and summarising. These strategies are formatively assessed so that lessons are tailored to the needs of the children.
Our Writing outcomes at Key Stage 2 are consistently some of the highest in the borough and nationally. This is because teachers love teaching the subject. Grammar and spelling are taught in the context of exciting topics and genres. Writing is linked to work in Humanities, Science and RE as well as being inspired by classic and modern texts. Children here are very proud of their writing.
Children in EYFS and KS1 have daily phonics teaching, using the DfE’s Letter and Sounds Phonics programme.
Letters and Sounds is a systematic approach for teaching children to read using phonics. It is used in many schools in England, but is not a mandatory part of the National Curriculum. It is split into six phases, from starting to learn about sounds at nursery into Reception to becoming fluent readers around age 7.
Traditionally, children were taught letter names like ay, bee, sea from the start. However, letter names don’t always represent their pronunciation – examples include double u or em – and this might confuse children when they try to pronounce words made up of these letters.
The phonic approach encourages us to directly link letters (graphemes) to sounds (phonemes), and to teach children pure sounds like ah, b, k when encountering the alphabet. So, children learn how to put sounds represented by letters or letter groups (like ch or igh) together to read words in a more straightforward way
Speaking and Listening/Oracy
Children at Holy Trinity love debating and drama! In recent years, Year 6’s have put on a performance of Macbeth at RADA. They also enjoy debating subjects such as the morality of war and conflict. Our Year 4’s particularly like discussing ‘Which is more dangerous – a volcano or an earthquake?’
OFSTED noted that our children ‘are articulate in lessons and enjoy asking questions and using their thinking skills to seek out answers’.
Mathematics is taught every day too. The aim of our maths lessons is to explore ideas in a fun and engaging way, and therefore we encourage children to solve problems and practical tasks, working in groups and independently. Children are taught with the aid of concrete resources and visual representations in all year groups, to help teach concepts rather than ‘tricks’. Children are given the opportunity to regularly self assess, often choosing their own level of challenge; there are no set groupings in maths and each child is given, or self-selects, tasks based on how confident they feel with the concept being taught.
With a lot of ‘facts’ to learn and memorise, an extra session of ‘Mini Maths’ is allocated each day, to give protected time to this important learning. The focus of these sessions is on the fun! We learn a particular counting skill or set of facts, and then play a game or take a quiz to practise.
Our policy describes our particular approach, how we group children, how we mark work, and our emphasis on reasoning, problem solving and developing fluency.
At Holy Trinity we believe that through the study of Science, children develop a sense of the world and how it works! We believe has the capacity to encourage collaboration, investigation and can be a spiritual experience that widens the minds of our children.
All year groups have specified Science learning objectives that are in line with the National Curriculum. Science is taught discretely for most of the year however, some topics act as the driving force behind learning across the curriculum (such as “Space” in Year 5). Children need to develop scientific understanding by understanding the key objectives outlined on the National Curriculum however, we treat this as the minimum requirement. Our teachers go above and beyond in Science by encouraging children to be active learners who ask questions and actively seek out answers through experiments. For example, in year 4 we will not just “identify the different types of teeth” as the National Curriculum states, but we will question “which drinks are the most harmful to our enamel?” by leaving egg shells (similar in composition to teeth) in liquids for an extended period of time and observing the impact.
Although our Science teaching is grounded in knowledge, we want our children to experience moments of awe and wonder of our natural world. For this reason, we encourage many trips in the local area. We have strong links with the Francis Crick Institute in Camden; year 5 visit the lab annually and scientists from the Crick Institute come to school to do experiments with other classes. In addition, we visit the Hampstead Heath Education Centre in the summer term to engage in observations of the natural world that link to our topic.
RE (Religious Education)
RE teaching is particularly strong in our school. We follow a scheme of work provided by the LDBS (London Diocesan Board of Schools) in which every topic has a big question while each lesson has a further question linked to the overall theme. Our latest SIAMS inspection talks about the ‘outstanding practice’ and noted that ‘attainment and progress are high and at least in line with other core subjects with many pupils demonstrating greater depth’.
History and geography are central to the curriculum in our school as they are the focus of many of our termly topics. We want children to build up both knowledge and skills in these two subjects. Our history and geography teaching also links to our ethos as a Rights Respecting School and to our vision which focuses on aspiration. We want our children to be empowered through their understanding of history and geography to feel capable of leadership and advocacy in the future.
In each history topic, we pose a Big Question with smaller weekly questions aimed at building up children’s historical enquiry skills and understanding of key historical concepts like chronology, cause and consequence. Children also develop their critical thinking as they think about how there may be different versions of events. We want children to know about the history of this country (including important events and people in our local area) as well as about the influence and legacy of Ancient Civilisations.
In geography, we want our children to build up secure knowledge of the names of oceans, mountains, rivers as well as continents, countries and key cities. They also undertake fieldwork locally to build up geographical skills such as map work. Through focus on a specific area either locally in London, in Europe or in the Americas, children learn about human and physical geography, building up a picture of what it might be like to live in other parts of the world.
Our children are taught by specialists in the subjects of Art, DT, Computing, Latin, Music and PE.
Art & Design
Art & Design provides children with opportunities to explore, express and communicate their feelings about the world they inhabit, whilst gaining experience of it. They foster an understanding of other people, cultures and events both contemporary and historical. We are therefore committed to providing all of our children with a wide range of artistic and cultural experiences that draw upon the diversity and wealth of opportunity London has to offer. Art & Design make a huge contribution to the British economy and offer a wealth of employment possibilities. We believe that is our duty to ensure children have the skills to access these opportunities later in life.
We feel that participation in the arts has the potential to improve levels of engagement and increase our children’s enjoyment of learning across the curriculum. We want our arts provision to challenge our children, building their knowledge of the arts and their creative capacity, whilst developing their critical thinking, problem solving ability and resilience in exciting ways.
Our Arts Leader, Keeley McCleave, graduated from St Martin’s School of Art and has had work published in several publications. She is now a member of the Cultural Leadership Community, which promotes good practice across London. Keeley is continually developing the art & design curriculum to include new ways of working and new technologies. We believe we are a trailblazer school for digital art & design.
We actively seek to engage with artists, galleries, museums and cultural organisations. Recent projects include Steve McQueen’s Year 3 Project in conjunction with Tate Britain and Take One Picture with the National Gallery.
Design and Technology
Design and Technology has links with several other curriculum areas, including art & design, science and computing. Where appropriate, we link our design & technology work to other curriculum areas in order to make meaningful products. Design and Technology education involves two important elements – learning about the designed and made world and how things work, and learning to design and make functional products for particular purposes and users.
Design and Technology education helps develop children’s skills through collaborative working and problem-solving, and knowledge in design, materials, structures, mechanisms and electrical control. They are encouraged to be creative and innovative, and are actively encouraged to think about important issues such as sustainability and enterprise.
Design and Technology is about providing opportunities for children to develop their capability. By combining their design and making skills with knowledge and understanding they learn to create quality products. Children like making decisions for themselves and doing practical work. They love creating products they can see, touch – and even taste – for themselves. They feel proud to have done so.
We are very fortunate to have specialist computing teaching. Our Key Stage 2 classes have two trips a year to the Camden City Learning Centre (CLC) where they take advantage of the experts and equipment to learn a range of computing skills from coding to robotics to augmented reality. We teach digital literacy in school – every child in KS1 and KS2 has a weekly lesson in our tech lab with Nathan Pallas who comes to us once a week from Gospel Oak. Children learn how to operate various different types of software as well as building up a digital portfolio that links to their topic work in class.
Finally we teach digital literacy in school. All teachers have had CPD in animation-making and understand how to link this to work in English, Science and Humanities. We also partner with outside providers such as the Barbican, Film and TV Workshop and WacArts to bring specialist film-making teaching to our pupils.
Under the National Curriculum 2014, we have a choice of teaching a modern or an ancient language and we decided to partner with the Latin Programme to bring this ancient language alive. The children have a weekly lesson from a specialist which focusses on links to the work we do in English on grammar and the derivations of words. Learning Latin helps children when they progress to secondary school and have a choice of MFL since they will have had a good grounding in how language works as well as knowing the root words of many of the words they will come across in French and Spanish lessons.
Children here are also lucky enough to have specialist music teaching. Every class has teaching from one of our in-house experts or from Ashley Miller, a very experienced music teacher who visits us from Gospel Oak once a week. Children learn to appreciate a wide range of musical genres as well as composing their own work using Garageband and logicPro software.
Year 4 also take part in the Wider Opportunities scheme run by Camden Music Service. They learn to play the ukulele and have the opportunity to showcase their skills to the school community in a range of concerts throughout the year. We also perform at borough-wide events (such as the bi-annual Camden schools concert at the Royal Albert Hall).
Private music lessons are also available on site (booked through Camden Music Service)
PE is taught by Ivan Pastore, a former GB gymnast. He works with classes across Key Stage 1 and 2 teaching gymnastics, athletics and ball games. Children in Years 3, 4 and 5 also go swimming at the Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre (https://www.better.org.uk/leisure-centre/london/camden/swiss-cottage-leisure-centre) for one term of the year. Both Key Stage 1 and Kety stage 2 children have specialist dance teaching.