Holy Cross Catholic Primary School
What we want our children and young people to leave us with…
A sense of their dignity and worth as a person loved by God
A sense that creation is God-given and good and we have a duty of care towards our common home
The best academic qualifications they were capable of achieving to allow them to flourish in adult life
A sense of service to the world, especially to the disadvantaged
A sense that they are gifted and called to a vocation of service in life
Happy memories of their time in school, especially of how adults made them feel – a sense of belonging
We live and teach the values of Jesus Christ and where possible instil the messages of Pope Francis’s ‘Laudato Si.’
Through experiences, provide opportunities for our pupils that allows them to learn, achieve and progress in the breadth and depth of our curriculum.
Our pupils know their high five promises and leave as independent, proud, respectful, resilient, confident, articulate, emotionally literate, and with a love of learning.
We can all walk in someone else’s shoes.
“I want to be the very best I can be so I can do what God wants me to do
I want to be the very best I can be so God can do His work through me.”
Holy Cross Catholic Primary School
Holy Cross Catholic Primary School is proud to be a faith school. It is the active delivery of our key principles that underpin the reasons that catholic schools exist and the point of difference that makes us special:
Commitment to God
Commitment to our pupils
Commitment to Parents and Carers
Commitment to the Community
Commitment to Education
Commitment to Ourselves
It is manifest through:
Our responsibility to uphold the distinctive nature of our school.
Our mandate to put the well-being of our pupils first, respecting their rights and dignity, nurturing their individual sense of self-worth and serving their spiritual, academic and human needs.
Our focus on delivering the best possible educational programmes that suit each pupil, enabling them to reach their fullest potential.
Our delivery of the best possible Religious Education programmes for our pupils, and to relate these programmes to their daily lives and to challenge them to live the gospel values.
Religious Education in the classroom encompasses:
Teaching and learning what the Catholic Church believes and teaches.
Understanding and appreciating the ways the Catholic Church celebrates, lives and prays.
Teaching children how to respond freely to God according to their gift of faith.
Delivering the essence and spirit of the Gospel Values and the Bible stories
Guiding characteristics of Catholic schools:
1. The development of the spiritual, intellectual, moral, emotional, physical and social dimensions of pupils, since authentic human life and openness to God are inseparable.
2. The search for excellence, an integral part of the Christian message.
3. Evangelisation, that is, the encouragement to grow towards the vision of human life and well-being that God revealed in Christ, which is given expression by the Church.
4. A culture of love, based on God’s love for us, which enables individuals to develop the inner autonomy of self- love, self-discipline and self-direction. This enables them to love God and others and to respect the rights, freedom and intrinsic worth of all other people.
5. Moral principles, based on the teaching of Christ and the dictates of right reason and put into practice in every aspect of life.
6. Religious Education programmes which challenge each pupil and deepen their understanding of Catholic teaching.
7. Education that is inclusive, with a focus on the development of each individual’s unique talents, on pupils and families with particular needs, and on multicultural considerations.
8. Service, the will and vision to contribute a Catholic dimension to the development of the values and well-being of the wider community.
9. Co-operation and solidarity, as principles of right relations with all members of the school and wider community.
10. Parish interaction, which builds up the community of the Church and which supports parents, teachers and pupils.
11. Social justice in the face of discrimination, and commitment to an option for the poor at the local, national and international levels.
12. Leadership, to enhance the life of the Church and the well-being of the national and international community.
About the National Curriculum
The National Curriculum provides pupils with an introduction to the essential knowledge they need to be educated citizens.
Our curriculum is designed to introduce our pupils to the best that has been thought and said, and helps engender an appreciation of human creativity and achievement. We ensure children will develop cumulative knowledge across all subject disciplines through depth and breadth, with a focus on our local context. We have built in progression and continuity across all curriculum areas so that children are taught key skills and then given the opportunity to apply them.
We have carefully considered how to maximise the likelihood that our pupils will remember and make lasting connections between the steps they are taught over time. We want our environment to make our pupils full of expectation and create awe and wonder through interactive displays, lessons and high quality, first hand experiences.
We are constantly evaluating how well our pupils are learning and whether the content outlined in our curriculum is providing children with the knowledge they need to develop as proactive thinkers. We frequently ask ourselves, 'What is it we want children to take away from this lesson?' We believe that knowledge empowers our pupils and we are passionate to enable them to build deeper understanding and the capacity for skilful performance.
The enriched curriculum at Holy Cross:
Our curriculum seeks to provide continuity and progression across all subjects in a cross curricular way that builds on the learning experiences of the children. As we move from a topic approach to more subject specific, we still look where links are natural and knowledge will be reinforced.
We follow CAST’s Teaching and Learning Handbook but continually strive to question how we embed knowledge through the use of our working memory and metacognition.
At Holy Cross, we view English as a key tool for learning and for life. Learning to be literate unites the important skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing (transcription and composition). There is an agreed policy which works within the recommendations of the National Curriculum and the Early Years Foundation Stage. Our staff believe the development of knowledge, skills and concepts across the whole spectrum of English to be essential because of their:
potential for personal enrichment through facilitating access to texts, providing pleasure or information;
unique position as the essential learning tools both in and out of school;
status as communication skills for life;
crucial importance in the child’s social, emotional and intellectual development;
worth of study and critical analysis in their own right.
We work with parents and carers to support the children as they develop their skills at home and at school. A reading diary is kept by each child and we encourage parents to contribute to this. We have a range of structured reading schemes including Read, Write Inc, Oxford Reading Tree, as well as excellent relationships with Plymouth Library Services which allows us to enhance the reading opportunities for all children. Whenever possible, children visit our school library and bring many types of books home to share including fiction and non-fiction library texts, Read, Write Inc Bookbag books and Oxford Reading Tree books.
When children initially begin to read and write, we focus on phonics as the prime approach to reading and writing. As the children become confident readers, the emphasis shifts more to reading comprehension and creative writing. We believe that literate primary children should:
Communicate appropriately in written and spoken forms;
Read and write with confidence, fluency and understanding using fluent and legible handwriting;
Understand the sound and spelling system and use this to decode and encode accurately;
To be able to use a full range of reading cues (phonics and comprehension) to monitor their own reading and correct their own mistakes;
Have an interest in words and their meanings and a growing vocabulary;
Know, understand and be able to write in a range of genres in fiction on paper and on screen; Understand, use and be able to write a range of non-fiction texts on paper and on screen;
Plan, revise and edit their own writing;
Have a suitable technical vocabulary through which to understand and discuss their reading and writing;
Be interested in books, read with enjoyment and evaluate and justify their preferences;
Through reading, writing and drama, develop their powers of imagination, inventiveness and critical awareness;
Express themselves creatively through the study and critical appreciation of literature and poetry and perform these by heart;
Explore/empathise with others and develop relationships;
Understand and value other cultures through literature;
At Holy Cross we have high expectations for every child. Teaching for mastery in Maths is essentially the expectation that all pupils will gain a deep understanding of the Maths they are learning. For understanding in Maths to be secure, learning needs to be built on solid foundations. A mastery approach to the curriculum means pupils spend far longer on fewer key mathematical concepts whilst working at greater depth. Long term gaps in learning are prevented through speedy teacher intervention and those children who grasp the concepts more quickly are given opportunities to deepen their knowledge and improve their reasoning skills rather than accelerating on to new curriculum content.
Power Maths is used as a resource to ensure strong progression and coverage across the school as well as commonalities in teaching approaches. For instance the ‘discover’ section will provide pupils with the opportunity to think creatively and explore parts of the Maths curriculum through a practical, real-life context.
Fluency is promoted through IT programs such as TT Rockstars and Numbots. This allows children to monitor their own progress, motivate themselves and practice essential elements.
Problem solving is central and opportunities are given for pupils to calculate with confidence, ensuring an understanding of why it works so that pupils understand what they are doing rather than just learning to repeat routines without grasping what is happening. A high-quality Mathematics education therefore provides a foundation for understanding the world, the ability to reason mathematically, an appreciation of the beauty and power of mathematics, and a sense of enjoyment and curiosity about the subject.
The national curriculum for Mathematics aims to ensure that all pupils:
become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics, including through varied and frequent practice with increasingly complex problems over time, so that pupils develop conceptual understanding and the ability to recall and apply knowledge rapidly and accurately reason mathematically by following a line of enquiry, conjecturing relationships and generalisations, and developing an argument, justification or proof using mathematical language can solve problems by applying their mathematics to a variety of routine and non-routine problems with increasing sophistication, including breaking down problems into a series of simpler steps and persevering in seeking solutions.
At Holy Cross, we are committed to providing a range of activities which enable our children to develop their scientific curiosity, make observations, plan enquiries and evaluate findings. The aims of science throughout the school are to encourage the children to develop enquiring minds and to acquire practical and intellectual skills, which above all enable them to interact with the world with curiosity and intelligence.
The school currently follows the ‘God Matters’ agreed syllabus for Religious Education. The curriculum focuses on Christianity and the major festivals. Units of study in KS1 and 2 include Judaism and Hinduism as well as the other major religions. RE is linked to other subjects in the curriculum to enhance or consolidate children’s understanding. Children are urged to reflect on their own and other beliefs and values in a range of contexts. They are encouraged to show respect for the lifestyles of other cultures.
Daily sessions for Collective Worship are held based on our beliefs. Sessions are held either as a whole school, separate key stages or on an individual class basis. Acts of worship are led by the teaching staff following a planned programme appropriate to the group of pupils involved. Themes are designed to provoke thought, discussion and participation, exploring aspects of moral, personal, social and spiritual values. This is seen as a time of being together for quiet reflection, sharing and celebration. Individual classes or groups are also involved in leading collective worship and parents are warmly invited to join us in these. Every Friday we hold a Celebration Assembly to recognise the achievements of the children both in and out of school. There are also times when visitors, such as Ministers from local churches, are invited to lead these sessions.
Computing and Information Technology
We are a school which looks forward to giving the children as many opportunities as financially possible in this growing technological world they live in. We embrace the opportunities that technology offers in the classroom. We are continually investing in our computing hardware, currently, we have sets of ipads, laptops and chrome books that are used in the classroom on a rota booking system. This ensures that all classes have not only worked on computing and coding but they have also used these skills across different hardware to support cross-curricular work.
In addition to this, each classroom has a class iPad and laptop for the teacher and pupil to use and to show or present their work on a Smart TV and we also have access to AirServer to mirror between the iPad and the screen. We ensure that we teach the curriculum in a creative and innovative way. We have developed our own curriculum to ensure that the teaching and the topic is relevant and engaging for the children.
To ensure children have a wide exposure to all types of computing, they are provided with a Google account, which is a walled garden to ensure privacy and security through their google apps for education scheme. This means that all staff and pupils have access to unlimited storage and the ability to share and collaborate on a range of computer based learning. Communication has grown exponentially over the last few years and social networking has changed the way we talk to each other. We believe it is important to use these tools in an age appropriate way to teach the children good habits and reduce any misconceptions as they move into their next phase of Education. Therefore our Class Dojo is used to promote exciting and important learning projects. The school website allows quick and easy access to educational content and useful links, so offering full time access to work and information both in school via a fast broadband link and at home. All rooms are fitted with the most up to date interactive panels which helps to deliver the curriculum with a wide range of techniques in an innovative and highly visual way. The children work on a wide range of software depending on their needs, some of which has a community licence to load on home computers to enhance the home school links in this area. We offer a wide-ranging curriculum, which balances skills with application and the majority of children go onto secondary school with a good confidence using technology as an educational tool.
The school aims to develop a sense of fair play, team spirit and promote healthy activities through pupils’ knowledge of basic skills in a variety of sports. The pupils at our school develop many physical skills by taking part in sports that include gymnastics, dance, football, netball, tag rugby, tennis, basketball, cross country, athletics and swimming. There are school teams developing to play against Cluster schools. We have taken part in netball, tag rugby, cross country and athletic team events at a local level. Children in Year 3 follow a swimming course at the Life Centre. We are able to provide sporting opportunities through our extracurricular activities. These clubs are provided by both teachers and external sports coaches.
Personal, Social and Health Education
Through our PSHE education pupils develop the knowledge, skills and attributes they need to keep themselves healthy and safe, and prepared for life and work. Our Programme aims to develop skills and attributes such as resilience, self-esteem, risk-management, team-working and critical thinking in the context of three core themes: health and wellbeing, relationships and living in the wider world. It’s effective delivery impacts on both academic and non-academic outcomes for pupils, particularly for our most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
Design and Technology
Our Design and Technology curriculum has been designed to be taught through practical, cross curricular topics. Design and Technology is a practical learning process in which children investigate and respond to an opportunity or problem and make or modify something. It requires children to use and apply their knowledge, skills and understanding to devise a method or solution by generating ideas or a design; also to realise it practically through planning, making and testing or evaluation to find the best possible solutions. Critical and logical thinking along with decision making continues throughout the whole process. It is an activity which spans the curriculum, drawing on and linking many other subjects. In particular, it is closely associated with science, to which it also contributes. The overall aim of D&T is for children to have a deep appreciation for the creativity, precision and high expectations that go into designing the vast array of products around them. Through D&T, they learn how to evaluate, design, prototype and develop their own products with a focus on quality purpose skills which can be applied through their lives.
Modern Foreign Languages
Our school aims to ensure that all of our children and families from a wide background of cultures feel part of one community and have opportunities to celebrate their own cultures. We develop the pupils’ interest and curiosity in the similarities and differences between themselves and others through learning about countries, cultures, people and communities. Learning the basics of a foreign language helps pupils to extend and develop their language and communication skills and can enhance self-esteem. In Key Stage 1, we provide children with the opportunities to explore languages through our daily register and interactive games and activities linked to French and Spanish. In Key Stage 2, the children have a weekly lesson in French where they are taught a balance of spoken and written language. We use a wide range of ICT resources, as well as our links with specialist secondary schools and partner schools from abroad, to maximize all learning and enjoyment in the subject.
We strive to teach history as an exciting investigation into life in the past. In KS1 the children learn about life during past generations and influential characters from more distant history. They learn about how the past is different to the present.
In KS2 we extend this knowledge and children begin to have an understanding of British, European and world history, and its relevance to us. They look at history in a variety of ways, such as political, economic and technological. They use a range of different sources of information to study historical sources for evidence of the past. Our local area is used as a place of historical interest and is incorporated and visited throughout the curriculum. Children are encouraged to ask questions and draw conclusions to widen their knowledge.
Children are taught through an enquiry based approach, the skills needed for the use of maps and relevant field work. Knowledge and understanding of a variety of people, places and environments at different scales in the United Kingdom and abroad are included in the curriculum. An appreciation of the environment and protection of the natural resources in our planet is an integral theme throughout the primary years. The children carry out geographical enquiry inside and outside of the classroom. In doing this, they ask geographical questions, and use geographical skills and resources such as maps, atlases, aerial photographs and ICT.
At Holy Cross we recognise that we are all members of a world community and that we all have responsibilities to each other. Today we face issues that can only be addressed internationally: sustainable development, climate change, the changing world economy, security, and the widening gap across the world between those that have and those that do not. We aim to equip our pupils to play their full part in shaping the response to these issues. We are keen to develop many curriculum links in order to maximise the potential and to promote an understanding of global citizenship. We have a partner school in Uganda that will become part of our studeus and mutual support.
We feel passionate about the art experiences children get at Holy Cross. Our children are encouraged to discover and develop their creative talents across the curriculum as well as separately planned 2D and 3D Art sessions. Throughout both key stages our Art and Design curriculum is skills based. They are given the opportunity to experiment with a variety of techniques and materials and to develop an understanding and appreciation of colour, tone, form, texture, pattern, shape, space and line. We enjoy using our locality and local artists as a stimulus for many art topics and work collaboratively with our local University and artists to give our children the best opportunities possible.
The Music scheme ‘Charanga Music’ has been introduced across the school.
Rock Steady Workshops offer opportunities for children to work as part of a band and the introduction of ‘Sing!’ will create a before school choral opportunity too.
Worship opportunities also allow children to use their voice to praise collectively so that singing is seen as a celebration. These include a whole school Christmas performance, whole school masses and Year 6 performing an end of year production. These events promote a love of singing.
We continue to promote singing groups that have performed in many public areas with great appreciation. Pupil premium funding has been used to support specific children in learning a musical instrument, as we firmly believe that music can improve discipline and cognitive skills.
Educational visits, visitors and Residentials
There is value in being an inner city primary school as we are within walking distance of so many wonderful places. Day visits to subject related places is encouraged - from our historical city places to the University, Museum and library. We are also fortunate to enjoy visits from these places.
The school also has a programme of residential visits. Year 6 practise outdoor pursuits at Dartmoor Training Centre, Devon.
These arrangements extend the horizons of our pupils, add reality to their learning experiences and help supplement our philosophy of an all-round education; giving pupils constructive social experiences.
Early Years Foundation Stage
The Early Years Foundation Stage is a single framework, setting the standards for learning, development, and the health and safety of children from birth to five. The framework has four guiding principles to shape practice, to include: the unique child, positive relationships, enabling environments, and the learning and development of the child.
Learning and development comprises seven areas of learning, three of which are prime areas (communication and language, physical development, and personal, social and emotional development), and four of which are specific areas (literacy, maths, understanding the world, and expressive arts and design). Children are supported within these areas through a combination of adult led and child initiated activities. Learning is achieved through a mix of discrete, but mostly topic based learning opportunities, allowing for children to becoming immersed in learning in a contextual environment. Through supported play, children can explore, develop and use their curiosity and imagination, to help them make sense of the world. They practice skills, build up ideas and concepts, think creatively and imaginatively, and communicate with others, as they investigate and solve problems. Children have access to learning within the Foundation area, both inside and outside. Through careful planning and observational assessments, children are supported as they work towards the seventeen Early Learning Goals, which establish expectations for most children to reach by the end of the EYFS, with some children exceeding some of them. Practitioners also reflect on the three characteristics of learning, as they ‘build a picture’ of the children in their care. These include playing and learning, active learning, and creating and thinking critically. Staff work in partnership with parents and carers to establish relationships and to ensure that the needs of all children are met. There are daily opportunities for parents to discuss their child, with termly workshops and parent consultations available. Reading and library books are sent home, together with appropriate pieces of homework relating to the topic.
Special Education Needs
We are an inclusive Catholic school and aim to support all children by meeting their individual needs through Quality First Teaching, targeted interventions and individual support .There are four areas of need: Communication Interaction, Cognition and Learning, Social, Emotional and Mental Health and Sensory and/or Physical Difficulties.
Holy Cross supports children with difficulties across these four areas to ensure that they can achieve their potential. If a child is experiencing difficulties with their learning, that needs provision different from or additional to Quality First teaching , then their class teacher will work with the school SENCO (Special Needs Co-ordinator) to assess the child’s barriers to learning and formulate an individual SEND Support plan which is reviewed termly with the parents and child. Individual education plans (IEP) with specific targets may also be necessary for specific individuals and again these are a working document with the parents.
The Graduated Approach as laid out within the DFE Special Educational Needs Code of Practice (2014), is used to identify and manage the support for children with special educational needs. This is a 4 part cycle of Assess, Plan, Do and Review, leading to a growing understanding of the pupils needs and what is effective at supporting the pupil in making good progress.
We value and foster positive and supportive relationships with families and recognise the importance of working together to support the best possible outcomes for their child. Parents are kept informed of provision for their child and targets through SEND Support Plans.Once a plan has been agreed, the school will then implement the provision, documented, in a range of ways. (These can be found on our website in our SEN Information Report.) These plans will be regularly reviewed with parents and children to track progress and set new targets. Children are encouraged to reflect on their barriers to learning and what strategies work for them. Their thoughts and ideas are included on the SEND support plan, IEP or a one page profile. Sometimes, if a child is still continuing to cause concern, specific outside agencies may be asked for their advice and support. This is always done with the parent/guardians full knowledge and permission. Occasionally, for a small minority of children with such significant needs that the school considers that specialist assessment and interventions are required (that it is unable to provide), a request for an Education Health and Care Plan will be sought. This will involve working with the child, parents and specific professionals to identify provision and strategies that need to be in place for their education journey.
We believe that all children should reach their potential and we are committed to supporting them to achieve this goal. In all cases, we believe that working closely with parents and outside agencies heightens the chances of success. When a child exhibits learning or social and emotional needs, the school works closely with the child to ensure that they made appropriate progress and develop their self-esteem. Where English is a new or second language for a child, we will support them in feeling integrated and able to master a new language. When children demonstrate particular skills or abilities, they are identified and given opportunities to extend and practice these within the appropriate lessons and supported to celebrate their talents. Where special events, designed to challenge and extend more able children, are available then children are encouraged to attend. As part of teachers’ regular planning they ensure that the needs of all pupils are catered for including the more able as well as those requiring additional support.