The three schools in the federation all share a core curriculum which has been carefully designed to be broad, balanced and diverse to prepare our children for lifelong learning whilst preparing them for national benchmarks and transition into secondary school. Our curriculum is designed to excite and engage pupils and is underpinned by having fun!
This leaves a great deal of leeway for the teachers in each school to use their own skills, experience and imaginations - and their individual sense of fun - to bring each part of the curriculum to life for the particular children in their class each year (they are not all the same!).
You can see the core curriculum below, and you can see more specific content by looking at the page each class has: just look at "Classes" under the "Parents" menu for each school.
Our curriculum has been designed to be broad, balanced and diverse to prepare our children for lifelong learning whilst preparing them for national benchmarks and transition into secondary school. Our curriculum is designed to excite and engage pupils and is underpinned by having fun!
When children come to our school at the beginning of the academic year in which they are 5, they enter our Reception class. They bring a great deal of valuable knowledge and experience and, through the foundation stage curriculum, we continue to develop this by means of ‘In the moment’ planning and learning through play-based activities. Furthermore, using the gentle introduction of a more structured learning approach, children follow a validated phonics and reading scheme, Read, Write, Inc to support reading and spelling.
These use the seven areas of learning:
- Communication and language
- Personal, social and emotional development
- Understanding the world
- Physical Development
- Expressive arts and design
Key stage 1
In Years 1 and 2, an increasingly structured approach to learning is developed, which includes the continued use of Read, Write, Inc to support reading and phonics. Children's maths skills are developed and extended with links to ‘real life’ problem solving. They are encouraged to be interested in everything around them and find learning exciting and fun. As well as developing their confidence and independence, they will also be supported in achieving their potential, across a wide range of skills in all subjects, with many opportunities for extended learning.
Key stage 2
Children in Years 3 to 6 build on all they have achieved in the previous key stages and, through good differentiation of work and strong teaching, we ensure all children are challenged. They are taught to become more responsible for their own learning and behaviour, as they develop an increased ability to co-operate with each other and show greater initiative and creativity in all aspects of school life. All opportunities for learning are valued at every stage and we look to extend children’s love of learning through an exciting and engaging curriculum and by providing a large variety of choices through extra-curricular clubs and activities. All children go on day visits related to the curriculum and key stage 2 children are offered the opportunity to participate in residential visits. Parents and visitors are encouraged to bring their knowledge and expertise into school. We are fortunate to have a wonderful learning environment and local area to support and enrich our learning.
Regular assessment is used throughout the year groups, to identify children’s needs and monitor progress. Children are fully involved in the assessment process and target setting. Those who, for whatever reason, are not reaching their potential, have an intervention put in place, which is supported by our special needs co-ordinator and highly qualified and experienced LSA’s.
The development of the skills of speaking, listening, reading, writing and drama, are essential for children to be able to use language effectively and access the whole curriculum. Learning outcomes for English can be cross-curricular and are planned for in all subjects, as well as dedicated English lessons.
Children are taught cursive handwriting from Reception onwards.
Pleasure in reading is developed at an early stage, as children listen to stories and share books at school and with parents at home. Reading skills are taught using Read, Write, Inc and other strategies, to help children develop excellence in literacy. A wide range of fiction and non-fiction books are available from our well stocked school library.
Children learn to write for a range of purposes and audiences. Specific language skills are taught and applied in the literacy sessions and are developed through cross-curricular links. Many computing resources are available including the recent addition of thirty laptops, to extend and develop children’s knowledge and understanding. Children can develop their skills to enable them to present their work orally, in writing, or using digital media.
Mathematics sessions begin with a lively mental starter. Children are encouraged to recognise patterns in numbers and be able to estimate. The areas of study include number, shape and measures and data handling. Children are given opportunities to discuss and present their methods and reasoning, using a range of mathematical language, diagrams and charts. Whole class teaching, group work and one-to-one teaching are used to give each child the opportunity to acquire the skills they will need that they can apply to everyday situations.
Through guidance and practical activity, children learn to apply the scientific skills of observing, classifying, hypothesising, testing ideas, recording and looking for possible solutions. They learn to use appropriate scientific equipment accurately and safely, to study physical processes including electricity, forces and motion, light and sound.
Our school’s grounds and the villages are a wonderful resource to stimulate and excite the children's curiosity when studying aspects such as living things and materials.
Forest school (see more detail on forest school HERE)
We are delighted to have two level 3 qualified forest school practitioners and access to woodland adjacent to all three schools. Pupils of all ages use the woods for a range of activities and we have found that this helps them gain an enormous amount of confidence which can then be transferred to more formal work, making them more willing to take risks with their learning. See more details about forest school HERE.
Children use IT throughout the school, with the availability of computers in all the classrooms. They are taught to use a wide range of ICT tools, including interactive whiteboards, programmable toys, digital cameras and sensors and computer software. They learn to make decisions about how, when and where to use ICT effectively.
The school has a ‘safe use of internet policy,’ which is always followed.
Design and technology (DT)
By studying everyday designs and through designing and making their own artefacts, our children learn to control and use a range of tools and materials safely, appropriately and economically. They learn to investigate, design, plan, make, evaluate and improve on their own creations.
To develop a sense of the past, children investigate their own experiences and those of their families, before gaining deeper historical understanding of local and world events. Our study of a historical period is usually accompanied by an off-site visit, a specialist visitor to the school and a costume/activity day to give insight into the lives of the people of that time.
Our extensive grounds, village and surrounding area, make an ideal starting point for key stage 1 children to study the locality and the people who live and work in it.
Key stage 2 children extend their studies to look at more global issues. They make informed use of secondary sources, such as the internet, books and DVDs, to develop an understanding of other cultures and countries from a geographical context.
The Performing Arts are a strength of our schools and music and singing is a key aspect of school life. Children learn to recognise the components and features in differing pieces of music. Furthermore, one-to-one music lessons are also available through our peripatetic music teachers.
Art and design
We facilitate a range of creative activities and give the children the skills and experiences that will enable them to express their ideas. They use a variety of media and techniques to create 2D and 3D exhibits. Careful observation and attention to detail is required, so that work of quality is produced, which is reflected in the wide range of media used in our displays.
The development of physical skills and fitness in gymnastics, dance, athletics, swimming and games, is of great importance for every child. Team participation and sportsmanship are encouraged at all times, through (COVID-19 allowing) a full programme of interschool competitions and tournaments. We have a specialist sports coach, who works to develop all children’s skills within PE. Furthermore, we have our own heated swimming pool at one of the schools and children participate in swimming.
The school follows the West Sussex agreed syllabus for R.E. using the Discovery R.E. and Understanding Christianity schemes. Children are encouraged to take a full part in termly church services and learn about comparative religions: Judaism, Islam and Hinduism, as well as Christianity.
Parents may withdraw their children from all or part of religious education and/or collective worship, if they wish. The personal development of pupils and the establishment of mindfulness, are important features during the primary years. The school assembly and religious education provide an opportunity to learn about the Christian faith and to gain an understanding of their responsibilities as members of a Christian community. We have strong links with our churches and regularly participate in services. Often, the Rectors will visit our schools to take assembly. Our ‘Friday assembly’ is a very special time when birthdays are celebrated and special successes, for example in sport, music and dance, are recognised and shared with the whole school. Pupils work towards gaining House Points and the House Cup is presented weekly.
Personal, social and health education
We aim to give children the knowledge and understanding that they need to lead confident, healthy, independent lives and to become informed, active, responsible citizens. PSHE Association resources are used throughout the school and we use Circle Time as a means of helping children to understand how to explore their thinking, personally and socially. Other resources such as videos and visitors (e.g. religious leaders, police and fire service) contribute to children's awareness of their responsibilities, rights and duties. Year 6 children develop a close link with Reception children, through a well-developed and successful buddying system. Children are involved in the decision-making in the school and across the Rother Valley group of schools, through the very active School Council.
Sex and relationships education
Aspects of the programme are taught throughout the school and are linked with both the PSE and science curriculum. Young children learn about life cycles and reproduction through observing the natural world: the life of plants and animals. Older children learn about the human body, reproduction and the changes that occur during puberty. Children are expected to develop awareness, respect and responsibility for themselves and others and to be able to cope with the physical and emotional changes of growing up. They are encouraged to develop their values and attitudes to relationships in a responsible manner. Year 6 children receive a sex education programme.
Parents are welcome to discuss any aspects of the curriculum with the head of school and have the right to withdraw their child from parts of the sex education programme.
Special educational needs
The DVSF schools are committed to providing an inclusive education and believe that all children can achieve success in a supportive but challenging environment. Children with additional needs are monitored through regular assessment and targets set for improvement. They may receive support in some aspects of their learning, in a small group or individually. Support may be given by the teacher or learning support assistant and may take place in the classroom or group teaching area.
The class teacher and inclusion co-ordinator work closely with the child and parents and value their input. We work to the requirements of the code of practice and fully utilise all the support services available through the local authority and health authority. More able children are identified through regular assessment and supported through extension groups within the classroom, across year groups, and with some opportunities to work with children from other local schools.
Modern foreign languages (MFL)
Children take part in fully integrated language lessons, supporting the topic of the term. The language taught is French. The teaching staff attend regular updates to develop their skills.
Links with the community
The schools are a focus for several events in the local community and these are excellent opportunities for the school and community to work together and share special occasions. We have close links with the churches in the village and, where appropriate, involve the personnel and use the buildings to deliver the curriculum. We maintain close contact with other services such as the police, through our neighbourhood police representative and local businesses. The school PTA, (Friends) organise many fundraising events throughout the year. Where possible, groups of children visit the local community to extend and expand their experience and knowledge and awareness of the wider world. Each year we support local, national and/or worldwide charities to develop an understanding of, and responsibility for others.
At DVSF, we recognise the value of working together to enhance your child's educational experience at school. We have a home/school agreement, which we ask parents to actively support. All children are expected to participate in the homework activities to reinforce and extend their learning. In the foundation stage and key stage 1, these tasks are mostly short and regular English and maths-based activities, which parents and children can enjoy together.
At key stage 2 the range of activities will widen and by Year 6, children will be required to complete homework more independently. Parents can help their child to take full advantage of these opportunities by providing encouragement, a regular time for homework, a quiet workspace and some of their time, and to ensure that homework is completed and returned on time.
All our children have a login and password for their own, school based, Office 365 account. This is used for teachers to set homework that can be accessed online, and for delivering work virtually, in the event of a local or national lockdown.
Children are expected to act responsibly and show a positive attitude to learning and all the people involved in their education. They are given opportunities to discuss acceptable behaviour and the requirements for achieving this. They are encouraged to become self-motivated to behave in a positive manner. We believe that, to achieve this, we must always recognise positive behaviour. We operate a house point system based on praise and other forms of encouragement appropriate to the age of the child. Exceptional behaviour or work is rewarded with an award and celebrated with the whole school.
If unacceptable behaviour occurs, appropriate sanctions are applied, and parents are kept fully informed if their child persistently misbehaves. We value the full support of parents in the implementation of our behaviour policy, which is available for parents to read.
Regular attendance is essential for children to gain full benefit from the opportunities provided at school, as poor attendance can result in children under-achieving. Therefore, we expect children to be at school when they are well and to arrive on time. If your child is going to be absent, please notify the school office by email before 9.00am on each morning of absence.
You will be informed of holiday dates and the dates of inset days well in advance and these dates are also available on our website. The law regarding term time holidays changed in September 2013.
Government changes about term time holidays make it impossible for the school to authorise any term time absence for holidays. Please do not ask for leave for a family holiday; we have no power to authorise it.
Absence from school is carefully monitored. Nationally the average child has an attendance record of 96% or more. This equates to approximately five days absence per child for sickness per year. With good support from our parents, which we very much appreciate, most of our children are now achieving excellent attendance records.