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St Francis Church of England Aided Junior School

"Let your light shine bright"

Click on NEWS above (NEWSLETTERS below on phones) for the latest updates from school including what we have been learning, achievements, routines and dates for your diary. Thank you for your continued support, Mrs. Lakey and your St Francis' family.

Curriculum Subject Information

St Francis' Curriculum Overview

Curriculum Intent

Underpinning our curriculum is a nurturing and caring ethos, lifting our St Francis’ family up to let them shine bright, in line with the teachings of Matthew 5:14-16 and St Francis of Assisi. We have structured the requirements set out in Curriculum 2014, so that pupils have opportunities to:  


  • close gaps in KS1 knowledge and skills
  • build new knowledge and skills
  • gain first-hand experiences 
  • understand what the separate subjects are about
  • make links between subjects 
  • apply basic skills in different contexts 
  • deepen their learning through social interactions  
  • promote independent learning through presenting tasks in small steps
  • think critically, collaboratively, creatively and use caring thinking
  • consider the protected characteristics, human rights and how we respect individuality and difference
  • understand career opportunities and how they link to current and future learning
  • look for the voices dominant in the curriculum materials and consider who's voice is missing

“The school is a beautiful and welcoming environment for the children... Everything about the school’s presentation is high-quality. · The National Curriculum subjects are high profile in classrooms and corridors.” Angela Westington, March 2022 DfE Reading Audit.


We provide a vocabulary rich, broad and balanced curriculum where skills and knowledge are built upon incrementally across the year groups. Subject coordinators’ work together to ensure topics that link, are taught in a way that promotes depth in learning. Teachers, HLTAs and TAs explicitly help children to see the links between topics and previously taught materials.  


We are consciously adapting our curriculum to help children needing to escape educational poverty.  All pupils are treated as experts at their current level of learning and we all learn from each other, helping each other to let their light shine bright. Catch-up learning is provided alongside our curriculum so further gaps in learning are not created.


We actively promote the spiritual, moral, social, cultural and physical development of all our pupils and stakeholders. Children are taught the value of critical, caring, collaborative and creative thinking when learning together across all subjects. This enables pupils to:  

  • access and acquire future opportunities through gaining equality of mind and spirit 
  • develop a set of skills to access and process information 
  • use critical thinking to support lifelong decision making  
  • grow in the knowledge and wisdom of what constitutes a good life 
  • develop thinking skills that will prepare them for careers that have not been created yet
  • through looking in, up and out, develop a sense of persepctive, meaning and purpose to their lives

The teaching staff and fellow pupils are alert to the electricity of learning in our community and through nurture, praise and recognition of new skills, pupils’ learning is embedded.  


Working in line with the Equality Act 2010 and Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014, we do not discriminate access to our curriculum for any pupils, we make reasonable adjustments to enable access for all. For more information about how this works for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities, please click here.


The long term plan of what is being taught in each year group can be found above. Weekly curriculum updates are shared on the Newsletters that are e-mailed to parents at 7pm on a Thursday, these are also posted on this website, click here.  Some of our curriculum experiences are also reported on this website click here.


Should you wish to find out more please ask your child's class teacher, speak with the school office. If you or someone you know can contribute to our curriculum either through sharing your experineces, career information or joining us for careers week, please let us know. If you would like to find out more about our curriculum as a whole, please book an appointment with Miss Cooper, Curriculum Leader. 


“St Francis’ staff achieve strong outcomes with their children. The 2019 year 6 combined reading, writing and mathematics scores were above national and the reading outcomes overall are high.” Angela Westington, March 2022 DfE Reading Audit. In 2023, results had continued to improve with 72% of children (not in receipt of an EHC plan) achieving national expectations in Y6 combined reading, writing and mathematics in 2023. 


How is the St Francis' Curriculum Structured?


As a small school, teachers coordinate a range of curriculum subjects, some with ambassadors from the teaching support team. Since 2013, coordinators have set the units of work across each year group, working together to ensure cross curricular links support children in knowing more and remembering more.  


Coordinators agree the curriculum overview with the subject governor, both ensuring that learning builds children's knowledge and skills from year 3 to year 6.  The coordinator provides termly updates to the subject governor on the quality of education.


Parents are informed of the subjects covered on this website and in weekly newsletters. In termly pupil progress meetings parents are able to view their child's workbooks and teachers are available for meetings throughout the term. 


Teachers plan the curriculum with a focus on developing the key skills necessary for confident and effective learning, which is enriched through the provision of additional activities and opportunities. They amend medium term plans for the units, to best meet the needs of the children in their class with teaching assistants supporting in meeting the needs of individual children.  Plans are quality assured by the coordinator and senior leaders before they are taught and teachers then prepare the resources for teaching and learning. The teaching team look at workbooks and class portfolios of evidence weekly, discussing strengths and areas for improvement to maintain a high standard of outcomes for children. The coordinator also undertakes at least one monitoring deep dive a term and attends Durham County Council and Diocese subject meetings. The Headteacher and Deputy attend the Durham County Council Assuring and Ensuring the Curriculum training sessions so they have up to date knowledge of strategically managing the curriculum subjects.


We welcome visitors into the school to share their knowledge and skills with the children. We also ensure that we have close links with the local community and our children are regular visitors to local events and places of interest.


Every subject in our wider curriculum follows the National Curriculum (click here) and are structured around four key aspects of learning, these are:

  • Key Concepts - I understand ...
  • Key Knowledge - I know ...
  • Key Skills - I can ...
  • Key Vocabulary - I use ...

We believe in providing our children with an exciting, stimulating curriculum through which they can develop into critical, creative, collaborative, and caring thinkers. The curriculum includes non-statutory subjects as we believe these help prepare children for the future. These are Philosophy for Children, Careers, Health and Citizenship education. 


"Pupils said that the philosophy work they do makes them think deeply about sometimes difficult topics. I was impressed by their depth of thought and the breadth of vocabulary that they used in conversation. For example, they spoke to me about the racist attitudes they sometimes encounter outside the school and how they must ‘rise above it’." Ofsted 2019

Our Beliefs about Learning


Every child can make outstanding progress, from their starting points, when they feel safe, secure, believed in and an important part of our family.  We always use research evidence to guide the decisions we make about how we deliver the curriculum and the Education Endowment Fund has informed much of our practice. 


Our research has shown us that the following approaches really support pupil learning…


Growth Mindset

Our systems for praise and rewards focus not on the best work done in the class, but on the efforts and attitudes pupils show for their work. Research shows that pupils who are praised for the effort they put in always try hard at their work – and consequently do much better than pupils who are praised for being clever.


Zones of Regulation

The Zones of Regulation is an internationally-renowned intervention which helps children to manage difficult emotions, known as ‘self-regulation’. 


Self-regulation can go by many names such as ‘self-control’, ‘impulse management’ and ‘self-management’.  Self-regulation is best described as the best state of alertness for a situation.  For example, when your child takes part in a sports game, they would need to have a higher state of alertness than when, for example, they were working in a library.


From time to time, all of us (including adults) find it hard to manage strong feelings such as worry, anger, restlessness, fear or tiredness, and this stops us from getting on with our day effectively. Children who feel these emotions often find it hard to learn and concentrate in school.  The Zones of Regulation aims to teach children strategies to help them cope with these feelings so they can get back to feeling calm and ready to learn. These coping strategies are called ‘self-regulation’.


FAIL and The Learning Pit

Learning something new or hard causes every person to initially FAIL (First Attempt in Learning) and be confused, worried and anxious – in other words, they go into ‘the pit’. To get out of the pit you need to show resilience.


At St Francis' we acknowledge that failing and ‘the learning pit’ is an important part of everyone’s learning journey and it cannot be avoided. What you have to keep trying and never give up. As part of our St Francis' family children are supported by staff, their peers and their families to develop a resilient attitude to learning. 

We encourage children to;

  • Think about what I know already

  • Ask their clever friend

  • Seek adult support

  • Use resources / books


Thinking Maps

Arranging your thoughts and structuring ideas can be a difficult thing to learn. Our ‘thinking maps’ help learners to organise, understand and present their ideas.


The Thinking Maps model programme consists of eight maps that correspond with fundamental thinking processes.

  • The Circle Map is used for defining in context

  • The Bubble Map, describing with adjectives

  • The Flow Map, sequencing and ordering

  • The Brace Map, identifying part/whole relationships

  • The Tree Map, classifying/grouping

  • The Double Bubble Map, comparing and contrasting

  • The Multi-Flow Map, analyzing causes and effects

  • The Bridge Map, seeing analogies

  • These maps are a "common visual language" for students in all subject areas.


Philosophy for Children (P4C)

The term "philosophy" is the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, and comprises ALL areas of speculative thought, including the arts, sciences and religion. We have taught P4C since 2013 as the thinking skills it creates are fundamental to the transferable skills needed for success with any future challenges. P4C is about getting children to think and communicate well; to think better for themselves.  These lessons not only develop their creative and critical thinking skills, but they also allow children the opportunity to discuss topical, relevant and global issues.


We were part of an EEF research project and work closely with SAPERE to ensure we deliver national standards in our lessons.  

St Francis' Curriculum Contributors

If you have any questions or comments relating to the curriculum please contact Miss Cooper, Curriculum Leader.

Ceop Newsletters