Curriculum Subjects

Religious Education

Our Mission Statement makes it clear that the values expressed by Jesus in the Gospels are central to the life of our school.  For the children, we aim to provide them with an experience of belonging to a Christian community, in which our faith is both explicit and implicit.

Religious Education is taught according to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, as required by the school’s Trustees.  Teachers use a scheme called The Way, the Truth and the Life and lessons focus on both providing the children with a knowledge of the Catholic Faith and leading them to an understanding of the significance of religion in their lives.  They are encouraged to give a variety of responses to what they have learned and to measure their own development as Christians by reflecting on their relationships with others and with God.

Assemblies are another important part of the religious life of our community.  Every child attends assembly every day – with all the other children on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; with children in their Key Stage (either Infants or Juniors) on Tuesdays and Thursdays; and sometimes in their own classrooms.  At assembly we pray together, sing hymns together and reflect on aspects of our Faith within the context of our own experiences.

We also regularly celebrate Mass together as a community – on certain feast days, at the beginning or end of the term, and on Sundays throughout the year at Our Lady Help of Christians Parish Church in Folkestone.  In addition, both parish priests are frequent visitors to the school.  Fr Stephen leads the Junior Assembly on Wednesdays.

When they get to Year 3 (Class 4 at Stella Maris), the children are able to make their First Holy Communion – their preparation is provided by the school, and the whole school community joins in the celebrations when they receive the sacrament for the first time.

Note: All parents have a legal right to withdraw their child from the daily assembly or from religious education.  Any parent wishing to withdraw a child from either assembly or religious education should contact the head-teacher.  Pupils who are withdrawn from assembly or religious education are provided with appropriate alternative activities.

English

English is an exciting and rewarding subject at Stella Maris.  Much of it is built around a project called The Power of Reading.  This uses a wide range of really interesting and exciting children’s books as the context for the children to learn about the mechanics of reading and writing.

The books we have used include Aargh! Spider! for the Reception Class, Street Child for Year 4, and The London Eye Mystery for Year 6.

From the beginning of their school career at Stella Maris, the children learn phonics using the Letters and Sounds approach, and this is tracked through the school until they are secure and are able to read independently.  Books from the Oxford Reading Tree are used to support early readers.  Children in Reception are given a reading record containing a range of activities that can be done at home to support their learning in school.  They are also provided with ‘Book Bags’, containing a reading book and related activities.  At the same time, we encourage them to read for pleasure and to build their comprehension skills by discussing what they have read – this is partly done through Guided Reading sessions, which take place in all classes in the school.

The children are also taught to write at length, using many features of the Big Write approach, and are given the opportunity (a calm atmosphere, candles, quiet music) to write with care and thought about real issues.

We celebrate Book Week every year and award a trophy in the summer to the school’s top creative writer.

Maths

We believe strongly that maths is a subject best taught through practical activities.  From the very beginning, the children are taught to use blocks, toys, shapes and all kinds of other objects to help them develop familiarity with the ideas behind the world of maths.  We use Numicon materials to support us with this approach.

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There is a strong emphasis on mental maths as the children move up through the school.  This helps to build their mental agility, so that they have all the tools necessary to help them solve maths problems later on.  By the end of Key Stage 2 they are taught the more formal written methods for calculation – this helps them to increase the speed and precision of their work.

Our approach to the teaching of maths is intended both to equip the children with the numeracy skills they will need in later life and to foster a positive approach to the subject – maths TASC days and a Maths Week show them that maths can be fun!

Physical Education

 

At Stella Maris our pupils learn that sports and games are a fun, worthwhile activity.  They enjoy a wide range of different activities and are given the opportunity to take part in at least two hours of physical education every week.  Activities are designed to teach a range of skills and to help them develop an excellent team spirit.

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After school clubs, depending on the time of year, include football, netball, cricket and tag rugby.

 

We participate in as many inter-school competitions as we can, with considerable success.  Last year our cricket team won the Folkestone Town Council Kwik Cricket tournament for the second year in succession, and our football team reached the semi-finals of the Herald Cup.

Sports Day is one of the highlights of our school year.  The children compete in a range of traditional races, from the Long Distance race to the Egg and Spoon Race, and points are awarded to the first three places.  Each year the winning team is celebrated at assembly, with trophies awarded for the sprints and the long distance races.

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PE and Sports Premium funding.

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Science

There are two main strands to the teaching of Science in our school.  The first is to ensure that the children are taught the specific scientific knowledge set out in the National Curriculum, and covering topics including forces, materials, electricity and magnetism, light and sound, heating and cooling, and plants and animals.  The second is to encourage a spirit of curiosity about the world around them and to develop the skills of scientific enquiry: to be able to predict what will happen in a practical activity, to conduct a fair test and to record their results accurately, and to describe clearly what they have discovered.

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In the process of learning about Science we also try  to teach the children to appreciate the magnificence of the created world and  to develop an appropriate respect for it and an awareness of issues concerning  pollution and the environment.

Project Work

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We believe that children learn best when they understand the relevance of what they are learning, so much of our curriculum is taught through a cross-curricular approach.  One of the sources of inspiration for our project work comes from an initiative called ‘The Power of Reading’ – this provides a wealth of material based on a range of high-quality children’s books.

Another tool we use for teaching through projects is called TASC – Teaching Actively in a Social Context.  This helps the children to structure their learning, so that they are able to make decisions, work co-operatively and apply what they already know, as part of their investigation into a new project.

Projects cover a wide range of subjects – from the Gruffalo to Sir Ernest Shackleton – and help to motivate the children as readers and provide opportunities for them to write at length about their learning.

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Relationships & Sex Education

We are currently consulting on a new Policy for Relationships and Sex Education, developed in accordance with Education in Human Love, the Diocesan Policy for Relationship & Sex Education (Archdiocese of Southwark, June 2016).

Once the policy has been agreed details of the curriculum we will be following will be published here.