Through the SPIRIT of SMSJ we aim to support all of our pupils to be the best they can be within our ever changing, diverse and eclectic society and ensure everyone has an opportunity to thrive, learn and achieve. Our school values are interwoven throughout each element of our S.P.I.R.I.T.
Children benefit personally from active participation, developing greater awareness of their own rights, more self-confidence, heightened self-esteem, leadership skills and improved confidence. We actively promote children’s rights to participate throughout their primary school journey. In every classroom high status and adequate time is given to listening to and acting on children’s views. In turn pupils are also taught to respect and value each other’s similarities and differences and support one another. In our school we listen positively to children and show respect for their opinions. Through this shared approach we foster an environment in which all pupils are confident to participate in a wide range of events and activities including collaborative work, creative arts, public speaking, orienteering, sporting teams and events and activities which extend into the wider community. Through our School Councils our children understand that they have a right to be heard in decisions which affect them, which in turn promotes the development of a rights respecting attitude. Kagan groupings are used in lessons to support working co-operatively and collaboratively developing their ability to lead, listen, justify ideas and work interdependently. As part of our curriculum we place a huge value on experience which will broaden and enrich our children. Experience days, trips and visitors are planned for every pupil throughout the year to open up their minds to new opportunities which they may never have experienced before.
Young children enter school full of curiosity and wonder and it is our responsibility to embrace this enthusiasm for discovery throughout their education. Our children must be taught what innovation is, what it means to be innovative and the impact innovation has on individuals and society as a whole. Through our projects we offer opportunities to discover significant people, important inventions and discoveries. Creating innovative minds that can adapt and face future unpredictable challenges begins by providing open, creative classrooms and spaces for people to grow in trust to take risks in their own learning. Opportunities to uncover innovation are provided throughout the curriculum and are most prominent in our Team Action Challenges and the Innovate element of our project-based curriculum. These motivate and energise pupils to challenge ideas and think outside the box and take ownership over their own learning. Pupils also have access to a well-resourced Learning Resource Centre, 3D immersive space, enrichment activities and clubs, competitions, outdoor spaces and technological construction to further drive a passion for investigation and innovation and embrace our learners’ enthusiasm for discovery.
We strive to create young learners who will continue to be independent thinkers in their lives and beyond the classroom. We believe that being able to think and act independently remains one of the most important skills that a person can learn. Independent learning environments are rooted in the understanding that we are all individuals and each and every culture, ethnicity, talent and interest of everyone must be nurtured. Greater levels of independence are promoted through Kagan groupings, independent research in our Learning Resource Centre and teaching with a high emphasis on language, thinking skills, debate and questioning. Working walls and resources are also prominent features throughout school to support pupils in their own learning. By offering independent learning to teach new skills we are also helping them to develop qualities such as patience, concentration, self-help, self-discipline and self-trust. One of the major obstacles preventing children from becoming more independent is a fear of failure. It is our aim to create more independent learning environments where pupils see failure as an opportunity to learn and develop a growth mindset to persevere and never give up, even when something is difficult. Self -reflection is an important process in learning and opportunities are provided throughout school for children to reflect, review, evaluate and adapt their own learning. Self-assessment is also seen as a valuable tool in all areas of the curriculum to allow children to gain greater ownership over their own learning. To complement our curriculum, home learning challenges allow pupils to guide their own learning and interests and enable children to expand upon prior class-based learning.
William Butler Yeats – ‘Knowledge is not the filling of a bucket but the lighting of a fire’.
To allow our children to become risk takers it is essential that we create a safe place where everyone is able to speak freely, everyone is respectful and supportive to one another, and where open and curious minds are embraced. Classrooms must be places where lessons are challenging enough so pupils need to take risks, where children are taught strategies and techniques to overcome problems and where the support and resources are available for children to discover and explore new ideas. Through our school Excellence Criteria we have a shared set of expectations throughout school to aim high and always strive to do our best. By encouraging pupils to take responsible risks we are promoting the skills of perseverance, focus, improving and reflecting. Rather than become the person who says ‘I can’t do it’, we say ‘I can’t do it yet’ we hope that our pupils will learn how to take intellectual as well as responsible physical risks by providing a supportive environment for encouraging safe and appropriate risk taking. Through our Forest School curriculum taking calculated risks whilst outdoors is fundamental to the programme. Children learn that through fear they limit their exposure to new and exciting experience and opportunities. The Forest is a wonderful place to lose inhibitions and simply ’have a go’.
Roles and Responsibilities
We want our pupils to see themselves as global citizens. We follow a rich Catholic R.E curriculum and also ensure that we learn about and celebrate all faiths. These take the form of multi-cultural days, visits from various faith leaders and of course learning from our pupils and wider communities and celebrating the faiths of our whole school family.
As a Voice 21 trained school our teachers strive to develop our pupils’ oracy skills through deliberately planning tasks such as collaborative problem solving, peer teaching and presentations. We use the oracy framework to understand the physical, linguistic, cognitive, social and emotional elements of oracy so that our pupils are able to communicate effectively in a range of situations for a variety of audiences.
There are many opportunities for our pupils to take on leadership roles through House captaincy, sports leaders, librarians, team captains. Becoming a school councillor in one of our many teams is an exciting opportunity. Through these pupils gather to discuss various school issues and project ideas and to come up with practical solutions for improvement. Our councils discuss a wide range of topics, including school financing, renovations, sports activities, cultural activities, after school clubs and many more.
Skills for Life
One of the most important jobs we do as teachers is ensuring that our pupils receive a good academic education but one that provides them with the firm foundation they need in order to succeed in their life. Character building is just as important as academic success, and our children need to know that their behaviour and choices will have an impact upon their success.
KS2 pupils take part in a careers week and have the opportunity to take part in activities alongside a professional such as brick laying, hair dressing and nursing. Other professionals also work alongside our pupils both on site and off site and provide a real insight into various types of work.
All pupils develop in their role within the community through our School Houses. Each is associated with a community charity or organisation such as The Food Bank, old people’s home, parish church or British Heart Foundation. Every child in each house group is responsible for supporting and celebrating these through a class assembly, organising an event to raise funds, creating an awareness display, organising a community event and raising awareness through our school website. Through each of these we demonstrate our commitment to caring for others within the local community.
Pupils in Key Stage Two are invited to be part of the school Y.E.S Team (Young Entrepreneurial Students) to plan, organise and run a variety of fundraising events throughout the year. Through the school council and questionnaires, the children are then responsible for allocating funds to the projects that they feel will be most beneficial for the school.
Our PSHE curriculum is broad and balanced and within the theme ‘Living in the wider world’ the children have opportunities to learn and understand about rights and responsibilities, taking care of their local environment and find out money, finance and entrepreneurship.
Within each of these experiences our children are developing those moral characteristics they need to be successful in the future such as responsibility, respect, honesty, compassion and empathy.
Our Key Stage 2 pupils are always offered the opportunity to go on a residential which means