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West London Free School - Primary

The Knowledge Schools Trust

We aim to provide children with a classical liberal education, regardless of background or ability.

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Curriculum

Curriculum

Our school has introduced an innovative new curriculum based on the Core Knowledge Sequence, developed by ED Hirsch’s Core Knowledge Foundation for elementary schools in the United States, but adapted for English primaries. This curriculum was first introduced in the UK by the charity Civitas and you can find out more about it here. The idea behind it is that all children should complete their primary education with a storehouse of general knowledge, along with the self-confidence and skills to use it. Lessons start promptly at 8.30am and finish at 3.30pm (Reception, Year 1 and Year 2). The Primary Knowledge Curriculum at our school prepares our pupils for moving on to our secondary school and for leading their lives as citizens in modern Britain. 

British Values

At our school, we value the diverse ethnic backgrounds of all our pupils, our families and our staff. We are cognisant of the Department for Education’s (DfE) requirement “to create and enforce a clear and rigorous expectation on all schools to promote the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs” and these values are part of our school culture. You can read here about how we incorporate British Values into our school life.

Reading

Reading is at the heart of our curriculum. It is a central part of every pupil’s life at our school. Every child in our school is a reader and so are their teachers.

We want to instil a love of reading for our children from the very beginning of school life and we do this by ensuring that we deliver a high-quality Reading curriculum using carefully selected texts and by sharing a wealth of literature. Children build the knowledge and skills to become confident readers throughout their time with us and this is evident by their continuous engagement, desire to read for pleasure and their understanding of a range of texts, authors and illustrators.

For our children, learning to read and becoming a reader is a priority for us. We have developed our Reading curriculum to ensure all children have opportunities to and develop understanding in:

  • Using their Phonics to lift the words off the page
  • Developing communication and language skills particularly by learning new vocabulary and key/familiar phrases
  • Applying their Phonics to read words, captions, phrases, sentences and longer texts
  • Daily Phonics, Reading and English lessons in EYFS and KS1
  • Daily Reading and English lessons in KS2
  • Reading as part of the wider curriculum
  • Sharing books, authors and illustrators during daily read aloud sessions
  • Opportunities to independently read and be immersed in a book
  • Engaging in book talk: likes, dislikes, puzzles and connections

We are also currently in the process of developing a School Library, with the help of our dedicated PTA.

Phonics

Essential Letters and Sounds (ELS) is our chosen Phonics programme. The aim of ELS is ‘Getting all children to read well, quickly’. It teaches children to read by identifying the phonemes (the smallest unit of sound) and graphemes (the written version of the sound) within words and using these to read words.

Children begin learning Phonics from the very start of Reception and it is explicitly taught every day during a dedicated slot on the timetable. Throughout the day, children will use their growing Phonics knowledge to support them in other areas of the curriculum and will have many opportunities to practise their reading. This includes reading 1:1 with a member of staff, with a partner during paired reading and as a class.

Children continue daily Phonics lessons in Year 1 and further through the school to ensure all children become confident, fluent readers.

We follow the ELS progression and sequence. This allows our children to practise their existing phonic knowledge whilst building their understanding of the ‘code’ of our language GPCs (Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence). As a result, our children can tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover. 

Children experience the joy of books and language whilst rapidly acquiring the skills they need to become fluent independent readers and writers. ELS teaches relevant, useful and ambitious vocabulary to support children’s journey to becoming fluent and independent readers.

We begin by teaching the single letter sounds before moving to diagraphs (two letters spelling one sound), trigraphs (three letters spelling one sound) and quadgraphs (four letters spelling one sound).

We teach children to:

  • Decode by identifying each sound within a word and blending them together to read fluently
  • Encode by segmenting each sound to write words accurately.

The structure of ELS lessons allows children to know what is coming next, what they need to do, and how to achieve success. This makes it easier for children to learn the GPCs we are teaching (the alphabetic code) and how to apply this when reading.

ELS is designed on the principle that children should ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’. Since interventions are delivered within the lesson by the teacher, any child who is struggling with the new knowledge can be immediately targeted with appropriate support. Where further support is required, 1:1 interventions are used where needed. These interventions are short, specific and effective.

Mathematics

Method and process are equally as important as the answer.  We ensure that our pupils have a bank of strategies and the mental fluency to confidently solve mathematical problems in a range of contexts. We encourage our pupils to explain their methods, talk to each other about how they solved a problem and find relationships and patterns in their processes and solutions. Mathematical vocabulary is at the heart of each of our lessons; ensuring pupils understand and use the correct terminology in order to communicate confidently in a shared mathematical language. Pupils also work in mixed-ability groups, giving every pupil the opportunity to challenge themselves and extend their own thinking through working with a range of their peers.


A strong relationship between conceptual understanding and procedural fluency are key for pupils to truly gain ‘mastery’. In order to extend, we believe in deepening thinking within the area of study, rather than accelerating onto the next topic. To deepen knowledge and understanding, we ask questions such as: How did you get that answer? Can you prove it to me? What strategy did you use? Is there another way? Can you show me?

We believe that Mathematics is an essential tool for life. We strive to develop great mathematicians, who use their fluency, reasoning and problem solving skills with confidence, throughout their school career and into their adult life. You can find a copy of the Calculation Policy that we use here.

Reception

This is the first official year of school for primary pupils and it is also known as the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). The DfE has a statutory framework for the EYFS. At our school, the curriculum for Reception pupils is based on this framework and comprises seven key learning areas. The Prime Areas of learning are Communication and Language, Physical Development, and Personal, Social and Emotional Development. There are also four Specific Areas, which are Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World, and Expressive Arts and Design. You can find out more about these learning areas on pp. 7-12 of the DfE's statutory framework publication.

In addition to this framework, we prepare our pupils for the Primary Knowledge Curriculum by introducing a variety of important knowledge-based topics in Reception. This means that our Reception pupils learn about notable events, people and places, such as the Magna Carta, Henry Moore and Ernest Shackleton. This approach is unique in Reception, however, we have the highest aspirations for all our pupils and they duly rise to the challenge.

Key Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2) and Key Stage 2 (Years 3 to 6)

In Key Stages 1 and 2, we teach daily English, Mathematics and Reading lessons. In addition to these core elements of the curriculum, we use our Primary Knowledge Curriculum specifically to teach Geography, History, Science and Visual Arts. You can find out more about the content of each of these areas, in each year group, here. Our pupils take enormous pride in their learning and in the presentation of their work; this is supported by daily Handwriting lessons, which begin in Reception. Scholarship is highly valued at our school; we believe all our pupils are scholars and we refer to them daily as such. We hold a weekly Scholars’ Assembly, where teaching staff choose a Scholar of the Week to receive an accolade in front of the whole school, which reinforces the importance of hard work and perseverance.

Religious Education (RE)

We believe that it is vital for all our pupils to learn from and about religion, so that they can understand the world around them. Through religious education, pupils develop their knowledge of the world faiths, and their understanding and awareness of the beliefs, values and traditions of other individuals, societies, communities and cultures. We encourage our pupils to ask questions about the world and to reflect on their own beliefs, values and experiences. We use the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham’s Religious Education curriculum, in order to deliver weekly RE lessons to all our pupils, from Reception up to Year 6.

Personal Development, Behaviour and Welfare: Core Virtues and Values

To enhance our curriculum and cultivate well-rounded, happy pupils, we have designed our own Core Virtues and Values programme for pupils from Reception to Year 6; this teaches children to develop an understanding of themselves, of others and their role as citizens in their local and wider community. Each term, we focus on our core values and virtues and how they relate to the personal, social and emotional development of our pupils. A themed whole school assembly is then used each week to reinforce the culture of our school.

Physical Education (PE)

Each pupil at our school from Reception through to Year 6, receives 2 sessions of high-quality Physical Education per week. One lesson per week is taught by our specialist PE teacher and the other is led by the Class Teacher.

Our Physical Education provision aims to do the following:

  • To ensure that all pupils experience a wide ranging and diverse Physical Education curriculum.
  • To promote the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle and highlight the benefits of physical activity on the body.
  • To provide extra-curricular opportunities for pupils to pursue their interests in sport and physical activity.
  • To develop student’s spiritual, moral, social and cultural experiences through a variety of sporting activities and competitive experiences.
  • To enable pupils to work independently and as part of a team in varied activities.
  • To establish and develop community with sporting agencies where pupils can further participate and fulfil their sporting potential.

In the Trinity term, we hold a Sports Day for our pupils. Activities include hurdles, javelin throwing, sack racing and the classic egg and spoon race.  Our families get into the competitive spirit by participating in a ‘Tug of War’ against families against each Year Group or School.

A link to an overview of the correct PE kit can be found here.

Music

All classes from Reception upwards receive a dedicated weekly Music lesson. This lesson teaches pupils key music skills, as well as developing their knowledge of renowned composers. In Reception, pupils experiment with a variety of percussion instruments and in Year 1 we teach whole-class recorder. Our weekly Singing Assembly supports pupils’ interest in music and we also have a school Choir. All our classes being named after composers reinforces the significance of music in our school.

Homework

In addition to reading books, all pupils, from Reception to Year 6, receive weekly Homework on a Thursday, which is due in on the following Monday. Homework consists of a piece of English and Mathematics and may include a task related to one of the other curriculum topics being studied by the class. Homework will build on what pupils have been studying in class, with the exception of research tasks for topic work. Parents and carers often ask how long homework should take in each year group, but this is dependent on the needs and interests of the individual pupil. Some Reception pupils will initially struggle to complete their homework and this is not something they will be chastised for; all we ask is that they have a try and we know that eventually they will learn to enjoy finishing their homework.

Extra-curricular activities

A range of additional activities support our curriculum and, unlike many other primary schools, we take our pupils on a trip each half term from Reception. We believe that making the extra effort to provide a range of extra-curricular activities will stimulate pupils’ interest, knowledge and passion in the subjects we are teaching them. We also offer a variety of after school clubs, from 3.30pm to 4.15pm, which are delivered by our staff. These clubs rotate each term and include arts and crafts, choir, cookery, dance, sports and story time.  Pupils can attend one of these clubs each term, free of charge. External providers also offer classes in dance, French and Spanish and these have a charge. Please see the Charging and Remissions Policy on our School Policies page.

In order to support working families, the school has recruited an external provider, The Club, to provide extended childcare onsite daily from 3:15pm-6:15pm. For more information and to book a place for your child please visit The Club page.

Curriculum Development

We know that our pupils, and their families, are excited about learning at our school, because we provide them with an inspirational curriculum. We are extremely proud of our pupils’ achievements and believe it is our duty to continually build on our good work and assess the impact of our curriculum. We have produced a Cross Curricular Statement, which explains how learning in one subject area complements that in another. As such, our teaching staff evaluate their lessons each week, our Headteacher conducts termly curriculum audits in conjunction with Civitas, and, as a Trust, we have established a Curriculum Committee to strategically oversee and ratify this process. We also hold a Primary Knowledge Celebration at the end of the year to showcase the incredible storehouse of knowledge acquired by all our pupils.