Curriculum - St Mary's and St John's CE School



At SMSJ, we combine our ambition for students to achieve outstanding academic results with an emphasis on children, developing and practicing our core values of Wisdom, Service and Hope alongside the other Christian values including those of friendship, compassion, respect, tolerance, forgiveness, thankfulness, perseverance and humility.

  • We are committed to promoting hope, ambition and core values amongst our children
  • We are committed to meeting the needs of every child across the whole curriculum
  • We are committed to focusing on the development of language and communication in every aspect of school life
  • We are committed to providing children with the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed
  • We are committed to providing a broad, ambitious, engaging and relevant curriculum
  • Rooted in the themes of wisdom, service and hope we strive to develop children who will have an impact on the wider world

At SMSJ we strongly believe that education is the key to social mobility; providing limitless opportunities for our pupils to shape their futures. We aim to develop the whole child - academically, artistically, physically, spiritually, morally, socially and culturally. We believe that the acquisition of knowledge and skill are of equal importance, and therefore have developed a curriculum using a cumulative and spiral approach. Subjects are taught discreetly, as individual subjects, but we do make cross curricular links that enable children to apply knowledge and skills in other areas and answer a ‘Big Question?’.

During their time with us we aim to equip pupils with the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life. To achieve this, we recognise the importance of key academic, personal and vocational skills, which prepare them for their next stage in life. Alongside investing in pupils’ cultural capital, our Christian values and our focus on the act of Service plays a huge role in preparing them to be educated beings, ready to make their own impact on the world. During their time with us we aim to ensure that your children live their lives with wisdom, service and hope. Our school Mission Statement is ‘...with God, all things are possible.’ (Matthew 19:26)’ and we try to live this out in all that we do.

Our intention is to aim for pupils to discover a love for learning, and develop a resilience that allows them to recognise their learning strengths or areas that require further development and then to understand the steps needed to improve. Our newly established curriculum, coupled with a newly refined and focused introduction on individual teacher feedback, aims to provide our pupils with support and strategies to take the next steps on both their personal and learning journeys.

At our school there is a focus on the importance of reading and writing, so that children become fluent communicators with a skillset that allows them to access all other subjects. We prioritise early reading, and are committed to developing a love of reading for all children. The teaching of reading and pupils’ acquisition of reading skills is now central to our curriculum. Becoming an effective and proficient reader is the gateway to learning for our pupils, and success in most other subjects is dependent upon learning to read well. Opportunities to develop and build upon our children’s communication skills further are planned for in lessons and opportunities created outside of the classroom through performing arts, a specialism at SMSJ.

We are committed to enabling our pupils to have high expectations of themselves in terms of their learning and behaviour. There is a focus to encourage our pupils to be independent learners who can also work well in collaboration with others. The aim is to develop our pupils’ supportive and nurturing skills towards their peers, as well as organisational skills to support their learning. These behaviours and expectations support personal development and ambition, and help prepare our pupils to take the next steps in their education - eventually becoming well educated, responsible global citizens.

Our curriculum is taught by teachers driven by leaders who have high expectations of our pupils. Teachers work with leaders and outside advisors to work towards delivering a curriculum that is interesting, and that extends children’s understanding of different subjects, taking into account the local context of our diverse community. We are committed to providing a curriculum that is flexible, ambitious, challenging, and caters to the needs of all learners.

It is our aim that no restrictions are placed on what our pupils can achieve, and it is an expectation that staff, pupils and parents recognise that their potential impact on the world is limitless. We are proud that our school is a safe, nurturing place, where each child is valued and their intellectual, moral and spiritual skills are developed. We see our role as providing an environment where our pupils experience fun and engaging learning opportunities every day.

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

In Nursery and Reception, we follow the Early Years framework. Lessons are planned based on exciting topics and stories to promote children’s love of reading as well as the children’s individual needs and interests. At this age your input is essential, therefore we offer an online assessment profile which means parents and carers can see exactly what their child has been doing in class and also contribute by describing learning they have been completing at home.

We run a structured morning for Reception children with daily Essential Letters and Sounds phonics lessons and daily Maths sessions, however we also have valued continuous provision time where children have the chance to apply their learning through their play in our exciting outdoor learning area and shared large role play area. During the continuous provision, children complete a range of child-initiated activities to enable them to apply key skills they have learnt in all areas of learning and practice their Early learning goals. Interventions are set up to support children and every child’s needs are catered for during this time.

Key Stage 1 (KS1) and Key Stage 2 (KS2)

We aim to make our children’s learning experiences varied and inclusive; achieving high standards, particularly in English and Mathematics, remains our main objective. We place particular emphasis on the acquisition of basic skills, but also provide excellent opportunities for Sport, Languages, Music and Art. SMSJ has the highest expectations for all children and all are provided with opportunities to discover and develop their own unique talents, particularly around our specialism of Performing Arts.

A detailed curriculum has been planned and designed by the Leadership Team and Subject Leaders, with input from the teachers to ensure it extends children’s core skills in Reading, Writing and Maths but also allows them to master key skills in other areas of the curriculum, such as History, Geography and Science. We have detailed progression of skills documents to ensure that each year group builds upon prior learning. Retrieval practise is a key strategy we use to support children’s development so they can always recap prior learning. Developing children’s key vocabulary is a priority of ours and is a part of every lesson.

Phonics and Reading

At SMSJ, we follow Essential Letters and Sounds established across Reception and KS1. In Reception, we have daily phonics lessons as well as daily writing and reading sessions. Child initiated Writing and Reading in Reception is promoted and we love seeing the progress the children make so quickly in this area.

We are incredibly passionate about the teaching of reading. The children begin in Reception and KS1 with Essential letters and Sounds learning the basics of fluency, however we focus on bringing those lessons to life with creativity and getting children excited about the text through a scheme called Power of Reading. The Power of Reading puts quality children’s literature at the heart of literacy learning and is built on years of research and best practice. Children take books home which match their reading level through a programme called Accelerated Reader and they are assessed regularly which ensures the children truly understand the books they are reading and match their ability accurately. We ask that parents and carers read daily with their children, as we strongly feel this is the most important thing for their development.

In KS2 children have whole class reading sessions based on their Power of Reading texts as well as additional texts we have added in which are again taught to develop children’s reading comprehension skills. This focusses on teaching children key reading skills such as inference and comprehension. These lessons are creative and active, allowing children to really love to read. Teachers also read 1:1 with children once a week and write in the children's online reading record so parents and carers are aware of their targets and can also support at home.


At SMSJ we use White Rose as a whole school tool for teaching Maths. This enables us to teach the children core mathematical skills alongside a mastery approach where children develop their reasoning, fluency and problem solving skills.

Please read our curriculum Maps below to get an overview of what is being taught across Neale house (Nursery to Year 4).

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