School curriculum

//School curriculum
School curriculum 2018-03-19T14:36:33+00:00

School curriculum

At Merstham we have implemented the New National Curriculum which consists of core and foundation subjects.  See the termly Curriculum letters for each year group in our Class curriculum section for more details. In addition to the requirements of the National Curriculum, we have three Key Curriculum Drivers which are the specific learning foci we promote that ensures we are meeting the needs of all our Merstham learners. These foci and their core aims are:

Outdoor learning

  • Develop a sense of adventure by learning in the outdoor environment
  • Learning to understand and respect the world around us

Risk taking and problem solving

  • Understand and assess risk to be able to make sensible decision
  • To take risks and experience set backs in a safe environment
  • To develop a ‘can do’ attitude to problem solving that builds resilience

Understanding the core values of a Democratic society and developing pupil voice and participation

  • Understand our role within school and the wider community
  • Understand and respect social, moral, cultural and religious diversity

In addition to the Merstham Curriculum drivers, we deliver the national curriculum as outlined below:

The Foundation Stage
Children in our Nursery and Reception classes follow the ‘Early Years Foundation Stage’ curriculum. This details the characteristics of learning, and prime and specific areas that support all children to learn new skills, acquire knowledge and demonstrate their understanding. Learning in EYFS is predominantly child-initiated and is planned through meaningful contexts inside and outside the classroom enabling the children to develop in these areas. The three prime areas in the EYFS Framework are: • Communication and Language • Physical Development; • Personal, Social and Emotional Development. These prime areas work together and support development in all the other areas. The four specific areas are: Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design. These include essential skills and knowledge for children to participate successfully in society.


Developing a good use of English is a fundamental part of primary learning. By providing a language rich environment, children are encouraged to develop good communication skills and express their ideas both orally and in written form. Reading is given a high priority, not just as a vital skill to be acquired but as a pleasurable activity to be valued for its own sake.  In school children begin sharing picture books and then progress onto the Oxford Reading Tree.  Real books are banded according to level of difficulty and once children have progressed through these they become free readers. Parents are encouraged to share reading books with their children from the earliest stages. Phonic skills are taught from Nursery using Jolly Phonics and are developed throughout Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 with a range of games and activities from Letters and Sounds. Children throughout the school participate in an extended writing lesson every week where they apply their improved use of vocabulary, grammar, punctuation and their skills in planning and composition; they also improve work through a process of editing and redrafting. Throughout Key Stages 1 and 2 children work on developing a joined and legible handwriting style.

Reading and Phonics

Mathematics is a creative, connected and powerful subject.  Our high quality teaching is designed to develop our students deeper understanding by improving their fluency, reasoning and problem solving skills through rich and challenging mathematical experiences.

Our aim in all mathematics lessons is to provide children with:

Key questions that will facilitate and stimulate discussion; providing opportunities for children to articulate their reasoning clearly and challenge the reasoning of others through partner and whole class discussion.

The concrete models and images required to foster a deeper understanding of abstract concepts and algorithms.

Rich, engaging activities and problems which encourage them to make links between mathematical concepts and allow them to apply them cross the wider curriculum and within real life.

Regular, varied practice and application of number bonds, multiplication facts and mental and written arithmetic methods (in line with our calculation policy) to underpin their conceptual understanding and improve their arithmetical fluency.

No glass ceilings.  In every lesson, every child has the chance to push themselves to the edge of their own current learning and assess their own next steps.

Calculation Policy 2015

An emphasis on practical scientific activity at Merstham helps to encourage children to understand the world in which they live. Drawing on their own experiences and natural curiosity, children are encouraged to observe, study, question, plan, investigate and experiment. The scientific method of investigation is developed over the primary years and children are expected to relate their findings and draw their own conclusions from a variety of experiments. This enables them to record how things are and ways in which they may change. This is achieved by giving as much practical experience as possible.

Religious Education
At Merstham we teach the agreed syllabus for Religious Education in Surrey Schools.

The Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education in Surrey

The Merstham Curriculum
At Merstham the subjects of History, Geography, Art and Design and Design and Technology are taught through topic.  Whilst each topic covers elements of all these subjects, they will generally have a stronger focus on just one.  Each subject is given equal priority across the year.  See overview of intended topics to be taught throughout the year below. Our topics are planned over a two year cycle, with years 1 and 2, years 3 and 4 and years 5 and 6 covering the same topics. Our creative topics are planned following the National Curriculum and use the Chris Quigley Essentials Curriculum, ‘More Creative Themes for Learning’ and ‘The Dangerous Curriculum’ ideas.  We also endeavour to incorporate our whole school drivers whenever possible.

Intended Topics 2016-2017

History and Geography
Topics with an emphasis on these subjects cover knowledge and skills that enable children to find out more about people in society, both past and present, as well as the world in which they live.  This includes both their immediate environment, wider locality and the rest of the world. Children are encouraged to ask historical and geographical questions and suggests their own routes of enquiry.  Children will develop general and investigative skills, looking at artefacts and documents from the past, appreciating the chronology of time and recognising the impact of change. In geography, there is an emphasis on developing mapping skills, using atlases and digital technology.  A general knowledge of key world features is covered, in line with the National Curriculum. The school environment and locality are used as a resource in both subjects.  Trips are planned in order to enrich topics and bring subjects to life, making it easier for children to understand.

Art and Design
Children’s artistic skills and understanding are developed both in focus topics and in special ‘Big Picture’ weeks.  Children study the work of different artists to support and influence their ideas, as well as ensuring the basic skills of drawing, painting, collage, printing and other media are mastered.  We plan carefully to ensure the progression of these skills throughout the key stages.

Design and Technology
Design and technology allows the children to follow a design process, from initial planning stages, through to producing a finished product.  Children are then encouraged to evaluate and reflect on their decisions and the process.

Children are given the opportunity to undertake projects that often contain a real life context and incorporate skills from across the curriculum, including maths, science and computing.

We see children’s skills in computing and digital literacy as essential in preparing them for the digital world of tomorrow.  We have a progressive new computing curriculum which offers our children the opportunity to develop a diverse yet purposeful set of fundamental computing skills.  Along with the core strands of programming and e-safety, children at Merstham will also gain experience in digital animation, 3D modelling, game design, digital mapping, app creation, augmented reality and both sound and video editing.

To deliver this curriculum we have, and continue to invest heavily and strategically, in the hardware and software required to deliver it.  We have a dedicated programming suite of integrated PC’s, along with iPads and Nexus tablets and Apple TV in every classroom.  This breadth of hardware also ensures children have a rich experience of the three core operating systems – Window, iOS and Android.  Children also use a variety of programmable devices, including Beebots, Probots and Lego Wedo, alongside Data Loggers, Talkpoints and a range of Remote Control devices.

All children are given the opportunity to develop their computing skills through, not only regular weekly computing sessions, but through the digital experiences that are now integrated and provided across our curriculum.

Modern Foreign Language
At Merstham our Key Stage 2 classes learn Spanish as our Modern Foreign Language.  We begin by learning about ‘Tú y Yo’, meaning ‘You and Me’, where we find out how to greet others and learn other basic vocabulary like colours, numbers and animals.  We then move on to ‘Mi Ciudad y Mi Colegio’ (My Town and My School) where we learn how to talk about where we live and learn.  We are always building our understanding of sentence level and pronunciation and we also love to sing Spanish songs to help us develop our vocabulary!

At Merstham we learn to develop a love of music and the technical skills of analysing, appraising and performing in many different ways.
Music lessons within class are taken from the Surrey Arts ‘Charanga’ scheme, which covers the objectives of the National Curriculum with fun lessons and a range of musical styles.  Children develop skills in singing and the playing of instruments with units that build upon each other.
We are very lucky that Surrey Arts also provide free tuition to Key Stage 2 classes so that they can experience learning an instrument, which have included saxophone and clarinet.  Many children choose to carry on learning these instruments in private, small group sessions within school.  A recorder club is also available.  Children are give the opportunity to perform with the instruments they learn.
Singing is important to us as a school and is shown in the children’s enthusiasm.  Weekly singing assemblies go alongside special performances assemblies where children are able to show parents, carers and grandparents the special songs we have learnt.  Choir love performing at the Dorking Halls Music Festival and this year we will again be taking part in ‘Young Voices’, where a special choir sing at the O2 with 8000 other children.  Our love of singing is also demonstrated termly in Key Stage productions.