Our curriculum at Birley Spa Primary Academy

The curriculum is the totality of pupils’ learning experiences.  At Birley Spa Primary Academy, we believe that our curriculum should be broad, balanced, and relevant and meet the needs of all children whatever their ability.  It should give them the knowledge and skills to flourish in an ever-changing global society.

We have redesigned our curriculum through a process of discussion with pupils and staff to capture the core values that make our school an exciting and rewarding place to learn and teach.  Through this process, we identified the key aspects of our curriculum that are the essence of our school.

Curriculum Intent

As a school, we have identified six characteristics that we believe are fundamentally important and underpin every aspect of our children’s cognitive, social and emotional development and learning. These core behaviours are:

  • Creativity
  • Resilience
  • Endeavour
  • Aspiration
  • Team work and collaboration
  • Empathy and tolerance

At Birley Spa, we foster a belief that every pupil can flourish as an inquisitive, intuitive and inspirational critical thinker and leader. Together, as a learning community, we work passionately to develop our core behaviours, as this provides a richness to learning both inside and outside of the classroom-learning environment. Everything we pursue as a school seeks to develop our pupils beyond them solely achieving a high academic attainment. We strive to provide them with a set of personal strengths that will enable them to achieve their full potential both here and beyond life at school.

The aims of the curriculum at Birley Spa Primary Academy are to:

  • Promote high standards in reading, writing and mathematics.
  • Promote high standards in all subject areas, behaviours for learning and in presenting work.
  • Allow children to develop a true knowledge of themselves.
  • Enable children to acquire knowledge and skills in all curriculum subjects.
  • Enable children to be confident and safe in the use of IT.
  • Promote spiritual development.
  • Promote physical and mental development and well- being and have awareness of the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
  • Enable children to be aware of the importance of and participate in the arts and related cultural themes.
  • Provide enriching activities both in and outside of school that lead to the children being inquisitive about the world around them.
  • Enable pupils to develop moral sensibility through carefully taught values.
  • Develop a sense of community with school being part of the local and wider communities in which our children live.
  • Develop the personal and social skills of each child.
  • Develop the best relationships with home as possible.
  • Provide equality of access and the opportunity for all pupils to make progress.
  • Provide the highest possible exclusive provision for children with additional needs.
  • Be relevant to children and prepare them for their next phase of their education and their future.

The Organisation of the Curriculum

The curriculum is planned effectively, providing continuity and progression.  It promotes an enjoyment of learning and a commitment to learning and achieving.  Through the provision of rich and varied activities, we aim to:

  • Encourage the best possible progress and the highest attainment for all pupils.
  • Enable pupils to make connections across different areas of learning.
  • Help pupils to think creatively and solve problems.
  • Develop pupils’ capacity to learn and work independently and collaboratively.
  • Enable pupils to respond positively to opportunities, challenge and responsibility.
  • Enable pupils to acquire and develop a broad range of knowledge, skills and understanding and build on this each year.

The Long Term Curriculum plan highlights a school wide focus subject each half term or term (dependent on the length of terms).  Our curriculum is taught through discrete subjects and topic areas where relevant:

  • Units of work are planned, usually over half a term’s duration.  These medium term plans contain the detail of the work to be covered with a progression of learning objectives. The plans indicate how the work will be differentiated and what the pupil outcomes will be; plans also demonstrate how knowledge is built cumulatively across the subject areas.
  • Short term planning is carried out in more detail across the curriculum (through the use of ActivInspire flipcharts, wherever possible).
  • Children are taught within their year groups. Smaller support groups are established where appropriate to enable the teaching to focus on a particular age range or level of ability and these can be mixed across the two classes within a year group.
  • Units of work are planned using the framework of the National Curriculum.
  • The RE scheme of work follows the Sheffield Agreed Syllabus.
  • The PSHE scheme of work follows the “Jigsaw” programme and our safeguarding curriculum is underpinned by the SCARF programme.

Curriculum Statements for Each Subject


At Birley Spa, we believe that all children should:

  • Learn how to communicate effectively (developing speaking and listening skills).
  • Be confident in expressing opinions and articulating feelings.
  • Develop and build a rich and varied vocabulary.
  • Learn to write in a range of styles for a range of purposes in a range of contexts.
  • Use, and understand how to use, grammar and punctuation correctly.
  • Apply spelling conventions confidently and accurately.
  • Produce effective and well-presented work.


Pupils have access to a wide range of reading opportunities that include:

  • Daily reading sessions.
  • Whole class reading (developing comprehension skills).
  • Reading with an adult (developing decoding skills).
  • Regular independent reading.
  • Home/school reading.
  • Hearing books read aloud on a daily basis.
  • Reading in other curriculum subjects, including ICT texts.

The Teaching of Reading

Reading is taught on a daily basis and the children work on differentiated tasks (using the same text).  During a teacher led session, there will be a focus upon the Content Domains that that child needs to develop skills within.  The remainder of the children will carry out a range of independent activities that are related to the skills and fluency that they are working on.


From Foundation Stage through to Y2, children have access to a rigorous phonics programme based upon the use of the Letters and Sounds programme and incorporating Read Write Inc Strategies.  The foundations of our Phonics teaching are Teach Practice Apply.

Writing Across the Curriculum

Children have the opportunity to write for a range of audiences in a range of different contexts. At Birley Spa Primary Academy, we use the Teaching Sequence for Writing (Read, Analyse, Plan, Write, and Review) to structure our teaching and learning of writing.  Children are taught the grammatical processes required writing effectively and we develop their creativity and extend vocabulary through the text-types covered.   To ensure the children have a consistent approach to learning grammar the school uses the Active English Programme.

At Birley Spa, we model our planning on the teaching sequence for writing and engage our children in purposeful and contextually relevant writing activities.  The model:

  • Immerse: Children have a real audience and purpose with an established outcome.  Children are immersed in a broad, rich and engaging reading curriculum including picture books, graphic novels, ICT and film. Children engage, experience and empathise through planned drama, speaking and listening opportunities.
  • Analyse: Children actively unpick the features and characteristics of chosen text/genre.  Children own and understand the success criteria of the agreed outcome.
  • SPaG: Age related grammar and punctuation is explicitly taught in context  using the Active English programme.
  • Plan: Children use the features of the text and the success criteria to plan their writing.  Children are guided through modelling, demonstrating and supported composition with the teacher and through self-assessment.
  • Write: Children use their knowledge of reading and SPAG to help them compose their writing.
  • Edit and Review: Children are given opportunities to edit their own writing and receive clear feedback linked to the success criteria.  Children reflect on their outcome against the original audience and purpose and plan for future learning.

At Birley Spa, we aim to find imaginative and engaging writing opportunities for children to practice and apply their skills, rather than being restrained by prescriptive text types. Our children complete an ‘Independent’ challenge (roughly every three weeks).  This allows teachers to evaluate areas that may need additional focus during the following week.  It also allows the children to identify their next steps in learning.  We place considerable importance on grammar at every stage, along with the formal skills of spelling and punctuation. Learning to understand the structure of language is seen as integral to the development of reading and writing skills.  This is taught in two ways; firstly through daily, directed subject knowledge (using Active English), leading to the application of skills during English lessons.


When you walk into a Mathematics lesson at Birley Spa Primary Academy, you can expect to see the class working together on the same topic, whilst at the same time addressing the need for all pupils to master the curriculum and for some to gain greater depth of proficiency and understanding. Challenge is provided by going deeper rather than accelerating into new mathematical content. Teaching is focused, rigorous and thorough, to ensure that learning is sufficiently embedded and sustainable over time. Long-term gaps in learning are prevented through pre teaching, effective, speedy teacher intervention and effective home learning. More time is spent on teaching topics to allow for the development of depth and sufficient practice to embed learning. Our Friday Maths lessons are devoted to reasoning about previously taught concepts or engaging in a deeper understanding of the concepts taught. Therefore, there will not necessarily be new learning every lesson. Carefully crafted lesson design through the use of ActiveInspire Flipcharts provides a scaffold, conceptual journey through the Mathematics, engaging pupils in reasoning and the development of mathematical thinking. Teachers incorporate the following elements into every maths lesson:

  • Teach
  • Practice
  • Apply (using Reasoning and Problem solving/Depth)

In this way, every child is given the opportunity to practice the new skill learnt and is presented with routine and non-routine problems to solve. Every lesson, children are given the opportunity to attempt a deeper learning challenge (when ready) and to present verbal and written explanations. Language is a key element to success in Mathematics and we use our Mathematics Working Walls to highlight key vocabulary throughout school.  Children will be proficient in the use of apparatus to support their understanding of key concepts and this will be evident in all year groups not just in the Key Stage 1 classes.

At Birley Spa Primary Academy, we base mathematics on several key principles. These are:

  • A dedicated mathematics lesson every day based on age-related expectations.
  • Direct teaching and interactive questioning with the whole class and/or groups.
  • The use of models and images to provide children with a concrete understanding of the number system.  This includes the use of Numicon.
  • Personalised differentiation, with all pupils engaged in mathematics lessons that are related to year group expectations.
  • Developing maths skills across the curriculum, for example creating and interpreting graphs in science, working with temperatures in geography and using number lines in history.

As a school, we use a ‘mastery approach’ towards mathematics teaching.  Supported by the NCETM – Developing Mastery in Mathematics Document (2014), we ensure that:

  • Teachers reinforce an expectation that all pupils are capable of achieving high standards in mathematics.
  • The large majority of pupils progress through the curriculum content at the same pace. Differentiation is achieved by emphasising deep knowledge and through individual support and intervention.
  • Teaching is underpinned by methodical curriculum design and supported by carefully crafted lessons and resources to foster deep conceptual and procedural knowledge.
  • Practice and consolidation play a central role. Carefully designed variation within this builds fluency and understanding of underlying mathematical concepts in tandem.

Maths lessons can vary according to the needs of each group of children, however many aspects of a maths lesson will be consistent throughout school.  The usual lesson format is: Revisit/Anchor task, Teach, Practice, Apply, Review (Plenary).  We have organised our curriculum so that topics are revisited regularly and pupils who find specific concepts more difficult to grasp will be given extra support during, before and/or after lessons as capacity allows. Those who demonstrate a secure knowledge will be encouraged to “get going” independently at the beginning of the lesson.   We nurture positive attitudes by matching the task to the child. We feel that successful learning enables children to develop confidence to meet the challenge of new work. To ensure a coherent approach to pupils’ learning, account is taken of what each individual already knows. We model ways to apply learning to everyday situations and help children to develop this skill.


We teach Science through a thematic approach and where links are tenuous as discrete lessons and units, as we feel this provides a basis for our children to learn about different aspects of the Science curriculum. We expect this to help children develop as Scientists and enjoy practical activities alongside content based activities. We encourage lots of investigational Science and questioning to further children’s knowledge. The Science curriculum includes:

  • Objectives for the knowledge of Science mapped out into half termly topics.
  • Working scientifically objectives, which will be used throughout these topics to help teach the concepts.

We aim to enable all children to become successful Science learners by:

  • Asking and answering questions.
  • Planning and predicting.
  • Obtaining and presenting evidence.
  • Drawing conclusions.
  • Evaluating and explaining evidence there is a skills ladder, which shows the progression of these skills from Foundation to Year 6.

There are progression documents for each curriculum subject so that teachers and children are aware of how knowledge and skills are built upon.  This also allows teachers to plan for any gaps in knowledge or skills.

Art and Design

At Birley Spa Primary Academy, Art & Design is taught as part of the school’s overall curriculum and the skills, techniques and experiences of this subject embody the Art and Design curriculum.   Discrete lessons also support the teaching of art skills.  Opportunities to experience, practise and develop skills acquired are provided across the curriculum through cross curricular themes. We encourage children to participate in a variety of creative experiences through which we aim to build the confidence of all children as the appreciation and enjoyment of the visual arts that enriches all our lives. As creativity is a core value at it takes a lead in many cross curricular lessons.

Foundation Stage Pupils should be taught:

  • To explore and use media and materials: children sing songs, make music and dance, and experiment with ways of Birley Spa Primary Academy changing them. They safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function.
  • To be imaginative, children use what they have learnt about media and materials in original ways, thinking about uses and purposes. They represent their own ideas, thoughts and feelings through design and technology, art, music, dance, role-play and stories.

Key Stage 1 Pupils should be taught:

  • To use a range of materials creatively to design and make products.
  • To use drawing, painting and sculpture to develop and share their ideas, experiences and imagination. To develop a wide range of art and design techniques in using colour, pattern, texture, line, shape, form and space.
  • Talk about the work of a range of artists, craft makers and designers, describing the differences and similarities between different practices and disciplines, and making links to their own work.

Key Stage 2 Pupils should be taught:

  • To use a range of materials creatively to design and make products.
  • To use drawing, painting and sculpture to develop and share their ideas, experiences and imagination To develop a wide range of art and design techniques in using colour, pattern, texture, line, shape, form and space.
  • Talk about the work of a range of artists, craft makers and designers, describing the differences and similarities between different practices and disciplines, and making links to their own work.


IT is an increasingly important part of children’s present and future lifestyles. At Birley Spa Primary Academy, we believe it is essential that all pupils gain the confidence and ability that they need to prepare them for the challenges of a rapidly developing and changing technological world. We want our children to be digitally literate and able to make confident use of a variety of computing resources that are embedded across the curriculum. Furthermore, our aim is to equip them to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world. As such we have introduced a computing curriculum which allows children the opportunity to learn a variety of key skills across each year and progressively increase their technological ability as they progress through the school.

As a school our aim is to ensure:

  • Children are confident, independent and knowledgeable about Computing and are well prepared for the Computing of the future through improving skill level and capability.
  • Children are well prepared for the digital world in which we live.
  • Children become enthusiastic, engaged and successful learners and responsible citizens, including within the digital world.
  • Computing will be an enjoyable experience in a safe environment.
  • Children will be taught how to use technology safely and respectfully, keeping personal information private.  They will have a clear understanding of how to keep themselves safe online.
  • Children will have a wide and varied experience of using IT. They will be taught areas of computing which could help them in other areas of life, like coding, which encourages critical thinking and problem solving.
  • Children will learn how to complete a range of basic tasks using IT which will form the basis of future learning and IT use.

Design and Technology

Design and Technology provides our children with an opportunity to tackle problems of a practical nature. The cross curricular nature of Design and Technology offers a setting for the children to apply knowledge and skills from a number of other subjects including art, language, maths and science.

Skills are developed using tools and machines in designing and making artefacts and food products with an emphasis on healthy living. Working with a variety of materials aims to help children learn important life skills. Children learn independently and in groups, learning to cooperate, plan, design and make and evaluate their work. They learn to make their own decisions with help and encouragement. From Foundation to Year 6 children have the opportunities to design, make and evaluate their projects.

Modern Foreign Language (MFL)

Foreign Language teaching is part of the Year 3 – 6 curriculum at Birley Spa Primary Academy All children in Year 3 – 6 are taught French through themed-weeks each term. Where possible, we expose children to other languages, including the home languages of pupils for whom English is an additional language.

Aims and Objectives:

  • Teaching at Birley Spa Primary Academy should reflect the entitlement as defined in the Primary Languages Framework.
  • Teaching should be an engaging and enjoyable experience for all learners, providing them with opportunities to experience achievement and take pride in their learning.  teaching should enable children to recognise and explore the structural similarities and contrasts between English and foreign languages.

Teaching should support learners in developing their speaking, listening, reading and writing skills.

should provide opportunities for learners to express themselves practically in another language lessons should provide opportunities for learners to apply strategies to improve their learning; for instance, contextual inference, peer assessment, making conceptual links between subject areas.

Teaching should support children’s exploration of cultural identity.  Learning should lay the foundations for further study at secondary level.


At Birley Spa Primary Academy, geography is taught through our different curriculum topics and skills taught discretely in Geography lessons. Each topic is carefully planned to engage and excite our learners, and our medium term plans map out which curriculum skills and objectives will be covered in each topic. Geography provides a way of exploring, appreciating and understanding the world in which we live and how it has evolved. It explores the relationship between the Earth and its people through the study of place, space and environment. Children will also understand their locality and how it has developed over time, and be given opportunities to use maps, charts and other geographical data.

The aims to the geography curriculum are that children:

  • Develop knowledge of globally significant places and define different physical and human characteristics.
  • Understand the processes the give rise to key physical and human geographical features • Are able to collect and analyse a range of data gathered through experiences of fieldwork.
  • Interpret a range of sources of geographical information, including maps, diagrams and photos.
  • Communicate and present geographical information in a variety of ways.
  • Have the opportunity to study a contrasting environment through a fieldwork residential to Castleton in Year 5.


At Birley Spa Academy, history is taught through our different curriculum topics and through discrete history lessons. Each topic is carefully planned to engage and excite our learners, and our medium term plans map out which curriculum skills and objectives will be covered in each topic. As children progress through school, they will learn more about the past in Britain and the wider world. Throughout the years, they will develop a chronological framework of key significant events and people. Children will be given the opportunity to compare aspects of life from different historical periods, and use different sources of information to help them investigate the past both in depth and in overview, using dates and historical vocabulary to describe events, people and developments.

The aims to the history curriculum are that children:

  • Know and understand the history of Britain from the earliest times to the present day.
  • Know and understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world, including ancient civilisations and non-European societies.
  • Understand that evidence is used to make historical claims, and why there may be different interpretations.
  • Gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge into different contexts.
  • Use their understanding of historical concepts to make connections, draw contrasts, ask questions and create their own written analysis or narrative.
  • Understand the impact of historical events and social change  upon their own lives and times.


At Birley Spa Primary Academy, we value and promote the enjoyment and confidence that comes with being musical. We aim to develop children’s musical potential by giving opportunities for self-expression and creativity in a whole-school and classroom context, as well as through extra-curricular groups. In Year 4 children receive whole-class instrumental tuition on the trumpet and use these lessons to develop skills in critical listening.  There is then the opportunity for children to continue their learning in this instrument through 1:1 tuition.    Children are taught how to work with others to make music and how individuals combine together to make sounds. We regularly use our voices to sing songs that help us represent and understand our school values. Singing during Assembly introduces new genres and songs into the children’s repertoires and encourages challenging singing of rounds and harmonies. Regular concerts and opportunities within school and in the local community provide performances to showcase our talents, a highlight being the Young Voices Concert, which invigorates musical life around the school.


  • Are provided with a high-quality music education, which inspires them to develop a life-long love of music through the Charanga programme.
  • Learn to sing and use their voices effectively for self-expression and creativity.
  •  Develop an ability to listen to, and appreciate a wide variety of music, including different styles, periods and cultures.
  •   Have opportunities to explore and express ideas and feelings about music, in a variety of ways, for example through dance.
  •  Have an active involvement in creating and developing musical ideas using voices and instruments – both tuned and un-tuned.
  • Develop self-discipline and creativity, sensitivity and the ability to be a critical listener. 


At Birley Spa Primary Academy, we believe that physical education in a safe and supportive environment is a vital contributor to both pupils’ physical development and wellbeing and also their mental wellbeing. Progressive learning objectives, combined with differentiated and varied teaching approaches, endeavour to provide stimulating, enjoyable, aspirational and appropriately challenging learning experiences for all pupils.

Through the development of different key skills, it is intended that pupils – irrespective of their innate ability – will enjoy success and be motivated to further develop their individual potential.

Our goal is to ensure that all children are suitably supported and stretched accordingly, to promote an ethos of perseverance and relishing a challenge. Naturally, safety of our children is of paramount importance and we strive to ensure that our pupils can learn, develop and grow in PE, in an environment where they feel safe.

Core values are consistently promoted and reinforced in PE All children are entitled to a vast and exciting PE curriculum, and we strive to ensure this is delivered to the very best of our ability.   Part of our offer in PE includes working with local sports clubs including football and rugby.  We have also introduced Mindfulness Yoga as part of our PE curriculum offer.  The children in Year 4 are involved in school Swimming.  Our broadening range of enrichment activities after school include multi sports, performing arts and football.  We have a system of playground leaders who develop games with the other children during lunch times.


RE will be provided in line with the legal requirements, and in accordance with the locally agreed syllabus for Sheffield. Our aims in RE are for pupils to:

  • Develop knowledge and understanding of Christianity and the other principal religions represented in the UK.
  • Enhance children’s SMSC development and the ability to make reasoned and informed judgements about religious and moral issues.
  • Develop positive attitudes of respect towards other people who hold different views and beliefs from their own, and towards a society of diverse religions and beliefs.
  • Develop an understanding of the influence of beliefs, values and traditions on individuals, communities, societies and cultures, from the local to the global.

RE is based around half termly themes and is taught as a cross curricular approach and, discrete  lessons.  There are planned RE weeks within the Long Term Plan.  At KS1 Christianity and Judaism are the main religions studied while in KS2 these continue alongside Hinduism, Islam and a general overview of all faiths.

Home Learning

At Birley Spa Primary Academy, we believe that home learning is an important part of a child’s education as it promotes responsibility, independence and time-management. They also learn to take pride in work outside of school and it gives them chance to practise key skills, or do some preparation work for the next lesson, as well as helping them see learning as a life-long process, not just for in school.

Each year group will have a menu of activities to choose from during the course of a topic.  This is aimed at encouraging the children to work collaboratively with adults at home as well as developing research skills, demonstrate creativity and allow the children to express their ideas.  The children will also be set mathematical tasks, reading tasks and in KS1 Phonics tasks to complete.  From September 2020, this will be via the online learning platforms Tapestry and Showbie Pro Plus.

Staff will record in Home School Diaries when children have been heard to read- in Guided Sessions and in 1:1 session.  We expect children to read at home daily as well as practising spellings and times tables.

The Role of Governors

Governors monitor whether the school is complying with its funding agreement and teaching a “broad and balanced curriculum” which includes the required subjects, through:

  • Supporting the use of appropriate teaching strategies by allocating resources effectively.
  • Ensuring that the school buildings and premises are best used to support successful teaching and learning.
  • Monitoring teaching strategies in the light of health and safety regulations.
  • Monitoring how effective teaching and learning strategies are in terms of raising pupil attainment.
  • Ensuring that staff development and performance management policies promote good quality teaching.
  • Monitoring the effectiveness of the school’s teaching and learning policies through the school self-review processes. These include liaising with subject leaders, termly Headteacher reports and engagement afternoons.
  • Attending appropriate governor training.

The Role of Parents

We believe that parents have a fundamental role to play in helping children to learn. We do all we can to inform parents about what and how their children are learning by:

  • Holding consultation evenings to explain our school strategies for teaching literacy, numeracy and health education.
  • Informing parents of the work that the children will be studying.
  • Providing opportunities for parents to share in learning within the school especially through Showcase events at the end of a topic/ theme.
  • Offering home learning that is designed for the parents to complete together.
  • Sending regular reports to parents in which we explain the progress made by each child and indicate how the child can improve further and hold meeting where appropriate.
  • Explaining to parents how they can support their children with homework. We suggest, for example, regular shared reading with very young children, and support for older children with their projects and investigative work.