Junior School Curriculum

A Stimulating and Inspiring Curriculum

St Chris Junior School is centred on your child’s learning journey. It is an environment where the focus is on the development of learning habits to encourage children to become lifelong learners.

Children are given opportunities to develop their creativity, curiosity and compassion through a series of topics.

Topic Based Approach to Learning

Each term, for each class in the Junior School, there is a focused topic from which much of the curriculum is derived. Recent topics have included India; Space; Vikings; Africa; Communication; Migration and Rainforests.

Our topic-based approach facilitates learning that is centred within a context from which literacy; maths; science; art; humanities and personal social, health and economic (PSHCE) education is developed.

In the Nursery and in Reception, we follow the EYFS framework. Please click here for further information.

Which Subjects do Children Cover in the Junior School?

On a normal week in the Junior School, children spend time covering all three core subjects in-depth (English, maths and science) with the curriculum also covering art; music; French; humanities; PSHCE; computing and Physical Education.

English

The importance of instilling in our children an understanding and appreciation of language in all its forms is the focus of the English teaching in the Junior School at St Chris. We believe that English is one of the most important tools you’ll ever need and so the teaching and learning is orientated to unlock each child’s potential. Our aim is to make our learning sessions fun yet informative, so that the children learn and experience the pleasures of English within a vibrant and exciting atmosphere. Attention is paid to the teaching of the structures of language in order to enable the development of our children as exciting writers and readers. Creativity is at the heart of what we do.

Maths

The mathematics teaching at St Chris is geared towards enabling each pupil to develop within their capabilities; not only the mathematics skills and understanding required for later life, but also an enthusiasm and fascination about maths itself. We aim to increase pupil confidence in maths so that they are able to express themselves and their ideas using the language of maths with assurance. Children have the opportunity to discuss their thoughts and reasoning on a daily basis.

Science and Technology

At St Chris we prepare children for life in an increasingly scientific and technological world. In order to develop scientific thinking we have built a practical and challenging science curriculum that builds on children’s natural curiosity and enthusiasm for learning. Teachers encourage children to question, investigate and collaborate to understand the world around them. Each year Nursery and Junior School children are immersed in Science Week which further enhances our science curriculum.

As part of time spent in the Senior School each Thursday, Year 6 pupils take computing lessons. Pupils learn about programming fundamentals using a program called Scratch. They also learn about, and create, animations.

Art and Design

During art sessions children have an opportunity to work with a wide range of media. Drawing inspiration from their class termly topic, they develop a variety of techniques to design and create exciting art projects as they progress through the School.  In preparation for their transition into the Senior School, Year 6 children also get to work in the Senior School pottery department, learning key skills which enable them to create and glaze their own pieces of pottery.  The children’s art is celebrated through arts festivals and display days.

Drama

As part of the topic they have been studying that term, to support the English curriculum, the children in each class perform a Morning Talk once per term to the rest of the School and their parents. These performances usually take the form of a review show and are a wonderful showcase for the children’s learning.  It gives them the opportunity to express their work in an exciting and dynamic way and it is wonderful to see how the children’s confidence develops term by term throughout the Junior School. There are also many extracurricular drama activities.

Music

The Junior School is a creative place where music plays a major part in everyday life.  The School sings together often at the daily Morning Talk, there are class presentations each term and regular instrumental and singing performances. Twice a year we hold a Junior School Gathering where the School comes together with their family to sing communal songs, class items and ensemble pieces.  All singing and performing is led by music staff and accompanied from the piano or guitar.

In Year 2, all children learn either the violin or ‘cello as part of our Strings Programme. The children love learning instruments and huge numbers enjoy taking instrumental and singing lessons provided by our large team of outstanding visiting teachers – find out more by visiting the Junior School Activities page.

Music is taught to all pupils each week by a specialist teacher, and class teaching is kept as active and as practical as possible. Each year group is taught separately but there is close progression between year groups. Some example curriculum topics include:

  • Year 1 and Year 2: exploring long and short sounds and high and low sounds; what do different instruments sound like; tempo and dynamics – making sounds loud or soft and fast or slow; how do we combine different sounds and instruments and what effect does that make.
  • Year 3 and Year 4: exploring descriptive sounds (e.g animals in music); looking at arrangements (e.g call and response and radio jingles); pentatonic scales; painting with sound (e.g sunset over the sea) and exploring melodies and scales.
  • Year 5:  performing together (creating a class orchestra using tuned percussion and keyboards); journey into space (clusters and attack and decay); cyclic patterns; composing to a brief.
  • Year 6: performing together; lyrics and melody; cyclic patterns; composing to a brief; famous composers.

In Year 5 and 6 projects using ICT in music are introduced, for example using Logic, Garage Band and Sibelius.

Music in class lessons is tailored to link to the main class topic, providing cross-curricular learning. For example, when pupils studied a topic on communication topic, they composed Morse code pieces based on their own names using long/short sounds. When they studied Egypt, the children created a fabulous soundscape around the journey and life cycle of the River Nile.

French

Languages are introduced to pupils at an early stage, in a fun and engaging way.

From Reception to Year 5, Junior School pupils are taught by a native speaker and follow an informal, introductory curriculum. The French experience is exactly that – a cultural exposure designed to excite and interest the pupils in the Junior School. In Years 5 and 6 the programme changes slightly and pupils come to the Modern Foreign Languages department in the Senior School, and are taught by Senior School teachers in preparation for joining Year 7.

Humanities

As well as teaching a range of geographical and historical skills and knowledge related to the term’s topic, we try and foster a sense of wonder at the beauty of the world around us with regular Forest School sessions in our wilderness garden, whole school celebrations of the changing seasons with wassailing in the orchards or pressing apple juice, and growing and cooking with the vegetables we grow in our kitchen garden. Through Be Green club or the School Council children have the chance to discuss the issues affecting our environment and children are often involved in presenting their ideas in Morning Talks.

Physical Education

At St Chris we understand that our body and our mind are connected, and that physical activity makes us happier as well as being good for our physical health.  From the Nursery onwards, each class takes part in physical education and swimming lessons each week, all taught be specialists.

The children benefit from our extensive 25-acre site, playing fields, sports hall, onsite Forest School and gardens, as well as our indoor swimming pool and the kind and nurturing teaching methods of the St Chris Swim School, who inspire confidence in even the most nervous of swimmers.

Lessons include invasion games, health related fitness, gymnastics, creative dance, outdoor and adventurous activities and athletics. There are also a range of sports clubs and teams.

Forest School

Children from the Nursery to Year 4 participate in weekly Forest School lessons. Forest School offers children the opportunity to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland environment.

Play

Play is an essential part of the day in the Junior School. There are many opportunities for individual or group play with courts for ball games, marked out play areas, an adventure trail and a quiet garden. We also have an orchard where the children are encouraged to climb the trees.

G.R.I.T (Guts, Resilience, Initiative, Tenacity)

G.R.I.T is a programme of study based on the principles of developing Guts, Resilience, Initiative, Tenacity. It supports learners to employ this approach in their everyday lives and helps them to sustain their learning in a positive way. This module of learning includes a range of strategies, such ideas as Deliberate Practice in which the children are encouraged to challenge themselves and to see the benefits of developing a G.R.I.T attitude.

G.L.I.S.S (Girls Lean-In Sessions)

These are weekly sessions that are based on the principle of empowering our female students to take a full an active role in their twenty-first century lives. The sessions develop strategies for a range of issues including: dealing with friendships, developing positive approaches to challenging situations and confidence boosting fun.

B.L.I.S.S (Boys Lean-In Sessions)

These are weekly sessions that are based on the principle of empowering our male students to understand the, at times challenging role, of males in society. The sessions develop strategies for a range of issues including: developing positive approaches to challenging situations, confidence boosting fun and conflict resolution.

Morning Talks

Morning Talks, the St Chris name for an Assembly, take place three times a week in the Junior School. There is a rolling programme of visiting speakers and Morning Talks also provide an excellent opportunity for music and performance – both as a collective and in smaller groups. All classes give a termly presentation of their topic to the rest of the Junior School and parents.

Transition to the Senior School

Children in Years 5 and 6 spend one afternoon each week in the Senior School being taught art, science and cookery in specialist facilities by Senior School teachers to help aid their transition to Senior School. All Junior School pupils are guaranteed a place in the Senior School. We do not undertake further entrance tests or SATS. Children undertake Cognitive Ability Tests (CAT) in Year 6 in order to provide baseline information for the Senior School academic team.

A Typical Day in the Junior School

8.30am

Start of the school day.

Children can be dropped off from 7.30am for Breakfast Club. Click here for more information

8.40am Registration
8.50am Morning Talk
9.10 to 10.10am Session 1
10.10 to 10.30am Morning break
10.30am Session 2
11.45am to 12.30pm Start of Lunch (year group dependant)
12.30 to 1.10pm Playtime
1.10pm Session 3
3.20pm

End of the day

Children can join a club (until 4.30pm) or go to After School Care (until 6.30pm). Click here for more information