Our Early Years Foundation Stage Unit offers a wide variety of experiences and opportunities for our children to develop the key characteristics of effective teaching and learning:

  • playing and exploring - children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’
  • active learning - children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements
  • creating and thinking critically - children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things.

Our children’s personal, social and emotional development is vital to ensuring resilient motivated learners. Our dedicated team of EYFS staff ensure their needs are met every day. Child initiated learning is a fundamental part of our practice in EYFS enabling our children to develop quickly into increasingly independent learners.

At Key Stage 1 a high emphasis is placed on ensuring our children have a firm grounding in the basics: phonics, reading, writing, arithmetic and problem solving. We follow the Letters and Sounds phonic programme. Our children achieve well in the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check and KS1 SATs in Year 2.

In Key Stage 2 we focus on developing a range of transferable skills, challenging our children to work at greater depth and mastery within each year group’s age related expectations. One of our fundamental aims is to prepare our children to thrive within a fast changing technological and globalised world.

Our curriculum is stimulating, creative and challenging. We encourage our children to question everything, think critically, problem solve, reason and build upon their God-given talents each and every day.

The Arts are very important to us here at the Oratory – our children love to sing, dance and act! We ensure that every child in Years 4 to 6 will have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument. Every child will have a string instrument to learn and play, and we host numerous concerts. Our children take part in numerous musical and dance events organised by Generation Ladywood in conjunction with Birmingham Town Hall and Symphony Hall. Children in Y5 perform on an annual basis at The Old Rep Theatre as participants of the Shakespeare in Schools Festival.

We place great emphasis on being a 'physically active school' and as such we host sporting activities throughout the year. We advocate the daily mile.

The National Curriculum

The guide below explains about the new National Curriculum, introduced from September 2014, and which became statutory from 2015:

Curriculum Overviews

See the appropriate year group pages for Curriculum Overviews and planning relating to each class:

REAL Projects

REAL Project based learning refers to our children carrying out an extended project over a 10 – 12 week period that produces a publicly-exhibited display such as a product, publication, or presentation.

The distinctive feature of REAL project based learning is the publicly-exhibited finale of a body of work.

We have chosen to focus on REAL project-based learning because it incorporates enquiry, critical thinking and problem solving, and in our experience when our children have had the opportunity to ‘showcase’ their learning in a variety ways, ie. creation of a product, assembly, demonstration or had work published they have become more motivated and engaged which has resulted in even greater progress.

Also see: Further Information on REAL Projects (pdf)

Reading and Phonics Schemes

The school uses a combination of different reading schemes in order to provide our children with a wealth of varied reading experiences: Oxford Reading Tree, Rigby Star and Collins.

Our predominant reading scheme is Bug Club which has been a fantastic vehicle to raise the profile of reading in our school and develop a reading for pleasure culture. We use this scheme to support us in the teaching of reading, predominately in reciprocal reading and phonics. Bug Club is available in both hard copies and online.

Letters and Sounds is our phonics programme. This resource was published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2007. It aims to build children's speaking and listening skills in their own right as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills for children starting by the age of five, with the aim of them becoming fluent readers by age seven.

There are six overlapping phases. The table below is a summary based on the Letters and Sounds guidance for Practitioners and Teachers. For more detailed information, visit the Letters and Sounds website.

Phase Phonic Knowledge and Skills
Phase One (Nursery/Reception) Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.
Phase Two (Reception) up to 6 weeks Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.
Phase Three (Reception) up to 12 weeks The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the "simple code", i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.
Phase Four (Reception) 4 to 6 weeks No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.
Phase Five (Throughout Year 1) Now we move on to the "complex code". Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.
Phase Six (Throughout Year 2 and beyond) Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.

Communication Skills

Embedding good communication skills is a key focus of our curriculum in the Early Years Foundation Stage Unit and throughout Key Stage 1 and 2. Communication is fundamental to children’s development; children need to be able to understand and be understood. Communication is the foundation of relationships and is essential for learning, play and social interaction.

Communication impacts on all areas of life:

On Education

  • Poor language predicts poor literacy skills and, without the right help, between 50% and 90% of children with persistent communication needs go on to have reading difficulties. Vocabulary at age 5 is a very strong predictor of the qualifications achieved at school leaving age and beyond.
  • The reading skills of 5 year olds with good and poor oral language skills were followed up; at age 6 there was a gap of a few months in reading age. By the time these young people were 14, this gap had widened to a difference of 5 years in reading age.
  • Only a fifth of children with speech, language and communication needs reach the expected levels for their age in both English and Maths at age 11. Only 10% get 5 good GCSEs including English and Maths.

On Employment

  • Employers now rate communication skills as their highest priority, above qualifications, with 47% of employers in England reporting difficulty in finding employees with an appropriate level of oral communication skills.
  • More than 8 out of 10 long-term unemployed young men have been found to have speech, language and communication needs.
  • The cost to our economy of youth unemployment is substantial. A 2007 study by the Prince’s Trust put the economic cost of youth unemployment through lost productivity and benefits payments at £4.69bn a year.

On Health

  • Poor communication is a risk factor for mental health.
  • 40% of 7 to 14 year olds referred to child psychiatric services had a language impairment that had never been suspected.
  • Without effective help a third of children with speech, language and communication needs require treatment for mental health problems in adult life.

Source: ‘All Together Now’, The Communication Trust – Every Child Understood.