Park Hill Curriculum


Park Hill English Curriculum

At Park Hill School, we provide teaching and learning opportunities to develop all areas of English: spoken language; reading; writing and spelling; performance; punctuation and grammar. Our commitment to inclusion and equality of opportunity is shown through the range of strategies we employ to ensure engagement in lessons of our pupils.


Spoken Language

At Park Hill, particularly because many of our pupils begin their school life without the oracy skills appropriate for their age, we recognise the importance of spoken language in the development of reading and writing and, indeed, of the whole individual. The skills of speaking and listening are explicitly taught and children are given a wide range of opportunities to practise these skills and develop confidence and competence.

Throughout the School, children talk about their learning, developing ideas and understanding through discussion, asking questions, being able to listen carefully to others’ views and giving them time to respond, sometimes challenging others’ viewpoints, negotiating with others in group work and considering a range of viewpoints. Talk partners are often used as a strategy to encourage discussion in lessons. Relevant vocabulary is explicitly taught in lessons across the curriculum so that our children’s knowledge and understanding of vocabulary increases. Talk for Writing, which is used throughout the school in order to embed key vocabulary in children’s minds, is one such method that is employed on a regular basis.

For younger pupils, opportunities to develop their spoken language include role play within the indoor and outdoor learning environments where children can explore language in contexts such as a garage or a hairdresser’s or a café, for example.  As the children become older, opportunities are extended with the children preparing to speak to an audience using ICT presentations or posters as prompts. Children in Year 6 learn to use spoken language in a formal debate.

Spoken language is also developed through drama activities as children improvise, refine and rehearse scripts and learn to present these to an audience – for example – in their class assemblies.  Rehearsing ideas through role play and spoken language enables children to explore different genres, identify with characters and develop vocabulary: teachers often use this approach as preparation to improve the quality of written work.

During the year we run poetry performance competitions where children of all ages can showcase their ability to learn off texts by heart and perform poems of their choice with expression and actions.

Every week a talk homework topic is sent home for the children to talk about with their families and then come back into school to discuss with their teachers and peers.

We promote respect towards all languages and dialects that children may bring into school with them. We value all languages and recognise home languages as a stepping-stone to progress in the use of English.


At Park Hill, reading is taught as a separate lesson from writing. However, we very much try to link reading and writing activities so that often the same genre is being taught in both lessons. The children are taught reading skills, which are based around progression statements connected with:

  • decoding and blending (for Year 1)
  • recognition of ‘tricky’ words on sight (for Years 1 and 2)
  • retrieval of information from a text
  • interpretation of information
  • prediction of what might happen next
  • commenting on the writer’s use of language, structure and presentation
  • performance of a text
  • discussing what is read and justifying their views
  • identifying the writer’s purpose and viewpoint (for Years 3 upwards)

In Years 1 to 4, reading is taught in five 30 minute sessions, separate from the writing lesson, every week. We use a wide selection of differentiated guided reading books, the class libraries and the two school libraries as a source of books. In Years 3 and 4, some children on the Special Needs Register use the Rapid Reading Scheme.

In the reading lessons, our learning is based around the following cycle:

  • The teaching assistant reads a text with a group.
  • The teacher works with the group on the same text the teaching assistant has prepared with them the day before and the major part of the lesson involves interrogation of a text that the children have been reading. Questioning will relate to a particular progression statement pertinent to that year group and their ability. The teacher sets a follow-up activity for the group on the text they have worked on.
  • The other two days are used for independent reading, including using the Reading Eggs computer program (which is also available to use at home), and reading comprehensions. KS1 pupils (and KS2 pupils working on the Special Needs Register) also complete extra phonics and word recognition activities.
  • Every two weeks there is an unseen reading comprehension, which is usually differentiated two ways.

For years 5 and 6, reading is again taught separately from writing, although there is very much an overlap between the two subjects. Instead of being taught using different texts for each group, one text is used for the whole class.  Children often begin their reading lessons by answering questions on a short passage (or illustration), which can be taken from their class text or can be around a short video clip.  The question types used are those:

  • involving retrieval of information from the text
  • involving interpretation of the information given in the text
  • concerning authorial intent

During the main lesson, discussions take place on the text, centring around one or more of the progression statements appropriate to their ability. Written tasks are given as        follow-up activities to ensure secure understanding of what has been discussed.  A cold comprehension is also undertaken by the children on a weekly basis.

We have close links with our local library, Balsall Heath, and are often involved in projects with them. We make regular visits to the library and the librarians frequently come into school to speak not only to the children but also to their parents to help promote a love of reading and make them aware of the library’s facilities.


In writing, we base our learning around the Writing Cycle which takes the following format:

  • Immersion in a genre incorporating: Talk for Writing, role play, book talk, class discussion, paired discussion, sentence construction, punctuation and grammar work related to the end piece of writing to be written, modelling of the writing by the teacher, text marking of modelled texts in the same genre as the one to be written and short pieces of writing.
  • Planning for ‘The Big Write’ – this is very much a supported activity involving writing frames and differentiated success criteria.
  • Writing the ‘Big Write’ with the aid of success criteria provided by the teacher. Again, this is a supported activity.
  • Proof reading and evaluating own work. Sometimes, the children proof read together with a partner and evaluate it together.
  • ‘Close the Gap’ lesson – general learning point which the teacher has picked up from marking the books will be taught to the whole class. This is followed by the children working on their own ‘close the gap’ comments which have been highlighted by the teacher in their books.
  • ‘Cold Write’ – the children plan and write an unseen piece in the same genre. Children also write their own success criteria.
  • Again the children spend some time proof reading their own work and then evaluating it.
  • Older children sometimes produce first and then second drafts when they have had time to consider how they might be able to change it for the better.
  • Peer marking – this piece is marked by another child against the success criteria. The marker should state what they have particularly liked about the piece of writing and what they feel could be developed further. Both comments must relate to the success criteria. Sometimes, the children work in pairs whereby they look with a partner at their own piece of writing and then at their partner’s.
  • Performance of their writing might take place at any of these stages listed above. We try hard to make sure there is a real purpose and audience for the children’s writing.

Grammar and Punctuation

Grammar and punctuation points are taught at the beginning of English lessons, where they are relevant to the genre being worked on. There are also discrete lessons in grammar and punctuation from Year 2 upwards.

Phonics and Spelling

We use the Letters and Sounds programme for the teaching of phonics.

Letters and Sounds is a focused teaching strategy that teaches children how the alphabet works for reading and spelling and is taught through 6 phases:

Phase 1 supports the development of spoken language.

Phase 2-5 is a systematic approach to phonics teaching and word recognition skills

Phase 6- focuses on word-specific spellings and the rules for spelling alternatives.

Phonics is taught as a discrete session every day in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 2. Each lesson is taught by the teacher to the whole class, although the learning is differentiated according to ability within the lesson. (Children with severe special needs are taught phonics on a 1:1 basis.) Phonics is still taught to those children in Key Stage 2 who do not have a secure phonic knowledge. The application of taught phonics skills runs throughout the whole curriculum.

Spelling, appropriate to ability and age expectation, is taught for short periods of time on a daily basis in Key Stage 2 in line with statutory guidance. The children are then encouraged to apply the rules they have learned to their independent writing.

Handwriting and Presentation

At Park Hill we aim to equip children with the skills to write in a handwriting style that is fluent, joined and legible. Children throughout the school use a cursive script where all letters start with a lead-in from the line and have a tiny hook on the end of them, which makes it easier to join them. Lower case g, y and j are not joined and neither are capital letters. Some children begin to join their letters in Year 2 but it is expected that all children will be joining their letters by Year 4 when every child must use a pen for all their writing.

Differentiation and Equal Opportunities

Children on the SEND Register are given further instruction individually or in small groups, using interventions such as: Direct Phonics, Direct Instruction, Write Dance, pre and post tutoring of lessons, Precision Teaching, Language Land, Word Shark and Rapid Reading. Differentiation is provided for all abilities in lessons through level of texts, amount of support given, questioning and success criteria.

Teachers should be aware of the wide variety of ethnic groups within their classroom and should be proactive in ensuring all children have access to the English curriculum in some form, being careful not to exclude groups when questioning or when making references to wider society. Teachers should be careful not to assign ethnic groups generalised or stereotypical characteristics. The same ethos applies to teachers’ treatment of both genders.

Opportunities are made sometimes made available by the Gifted and Talented Leader for children on the GAT Register to take part in enrichment exercises, both within and outside of school.


The English Leader meets with the governor responsible for English on a regular basis to inform her of the direction and progress of the subject within school.

Policy Review

This policy should be reviewed every year.

Updated April 2016

L Bakalou



At Park Hill, our pupils learn about the wide range of skills, concepts, processes and knowledge that underpin mathematical understanding, in order to make sense of our world and to enable them to continue to achieve and enjoy future, life-long learning. This curriculum area covers a breadth of: counting, partitioning and calculating with numbers, securing number facts, handling data and measures, understanding mathematical relationships, understanding shape, space and measures.

‘Mathematics helps us to make sense of our world, providing a precise means of communication using numbers symbols and shapes. It is a powerful, universal language used to explain, predict and represent events and tackle problems in everyday life.’

Birmingham Curriculum Statement for Maths.

Organisation of Learning

Maths lessons are taught daily and pupils are streamed by ability in every year group except in year one. Lessons are planned by teachers using learning objectives drawn from strands in the National Primary Framework. These strands are organised into blocks of objectives which are covered over the course of a term and covered again in the subsequent two terms where the same objectives are revised and developed further.

Teachers select learning objectives from the Primary Strategy blocks as the focus of lessons which are taught in a cyclical sequence aimed, primarily; to build upon pupils’ knowledge of processes, concepts and skills, then to develop their understanding and ultimately, their application of these. At the end of the learning cycle, teachers and pupils review and evaluate their learning and identify any misconceptions which are followed up with ‘close the gap tasks’ and/or ‘next steps’.

The Learning Cycle for Maths

Teaching & Practising, Applying, Review of prior knowledge, Review of apply, close gap/next steps

At Park Hill we endeavour to make maths lessons enjoyable and engaging. Each lesson is generally organised using the former National Numeracy strategy’s three part lesson format of: a mental oral starter (whereby pupils revise and recall mathematical facts of increasing complexity and speed according to ability) which is approximately ten minutes long, a main teaching focus exposition followed by pupil tasks and finally a lesson plenary which serves to interrogate pupil understanding of the learning objectives covered and possibly future learning. This is by no means a strict ‘formula’ to which teachers must adhere. At Park Hill, teachers plan maths lessons which are fit-for- purpose to accommodate the context of their learners and subject matter. For example, the nature of a particular learning objective might mean that during a lesson, there could be a number of ‘mini plenaries’ in order to closely follow pupils’ understanding of what has been taught. Some lessons might have longer task times than others, particularly if the lesson has been planned as part of a sequence of lessons over which a number of related learning objectives are being taught or if practical tasks are being carried out which require time to complete.

Pupils work individually, in pairs and as part of a group in maths. They are encouraged to discuss their thoughts and answers with their talk partners, in order to develop their use of precise technical mathematical vocabulary.

Pupils’ tasks are often differentiated, according to the ability of learners although this is not always necessary as some tasks might be undertaken in mixed ability groupings or to suit the purpose of an activity.


At Park Hill, we endeavour to build on children’s naturally enquiring minds about the world around them. We place equal emphasis on extending knowledge and understanding, whilst fostering a sense of wonder. It is our firm belief that all children are able to reach their full potential when provided with a curriculum that is imaginative, purposeful and stimulating.


At Park Hill there are three important rules to follow:

Be kind

Be polite

Always do your best

We expect all members of the school community to behave in a considerate way towards others and we focus on what the children are good at, teaching responsible behaviour both in and outside school.

At Park Hill, we have a variety of rewards used to promote good behaviour. Children can earn individual rewards by collecting stickers, being ‘star of the day’ or ‘star of the week’ and by being awarded a certificate in our weekly Merit Assembly. Children can earn ‘cubes’ which are awarded to whole classes for good behaviour. Once the cube jar is full, the children then decide on a suitable reward for the whole class. In addition, at Park Hill we have four houses (Ali, Chamberlain, Lannaman and Tolkien). In return for good behaviour, children can earn house points or tokens for their house. The house with the most tokens at the end of each year is rewarded with medals and house cup.

If a child at Park Hill needs support with their behaviour, an individual behaviour plan will be drawn up for them in consultation with the child, parents and teaching staff. This plan will include targets and strategies to help the child progress towards, and sustain, improved behaviour.

At Park Hill we have two full time Learning Mentors who work with children. The mentors work with children on an individual and group basis addressing issues such as self esteem, social skills, playground behaviour and friendships.

The Early Years Foundation Stage

In the Nursery and Reception at Park Hill School, we provide an inspiring and stimulating environment both indoors and outdoors. Children are encouraged to make friends, play together and become self-confident. Our aim is to bring out the best in everyone so we constantly review the children’s learning. Thus we can ensure that each child makes progress in every area of the Foundation Curriculum and is prepared for the National Curriculum that begins in year one.

The Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum

Our curriculum follows the Foundation Stage curriculum which develops learning through three prime areas and four specific areas:

The prime areas develop quickly in response to relationships and experiences.

Personal, Social & Emotional Development

Communication Language

Physical Development

The curriculum is delivered through topics.

Autumn 1 Autumn 2 Spring 1 Spring 2 Summer 1 Summer 2
Nursery Myself Ourselves and our senses Exploring colour Journeys (travel and movement) Changes (people & plants) What is water used for?
Reception Me and my family Ourselves and our world Colour (primary, secondary & colour mixing) Making journeys Changes (life cycles of animals) Water in its different forms

The children experience a balance of planned and free play activities supported by well qualified staff. They are encouraged to become independent, confident, involved and happy learners.

Physical Education

The Physical Education curriculum is enriched by extra-curricular activities and after school clubs. Pupils take part in a range of activities including football, netball, swimming and dance.


Park Hill is an inclusive school and we aim to bring out the best in everyone. A pupil has special educational needs if they have a learning difficulty which calls for special educational provision to be made for them. All children have their educational needs met, normally within the mainstream setting. The views of the child are sought and taken into account. We work in partnership with parents, as parents have a vital role in supporting their children’s education. These learners tell us that they are offered full access to a broad, balanced and relevant education and that they are included in the activities of the school whenever practical. We actively seek to remove barriers to learning and participation through differentiation of work, materials, teaching styles and 1:1 support. We aim to identify children with SEN as early as possible. We actively engage support and advice from external agencies to help us meet the needs of all the children. Educational Psychologists, therapists, nurses and specialised teachers from external agencies regularly visit the school to provide support for children with special needs. Park Hill also employs additional staff and purchases resources designed specifically for these children. Termly reviews are held for children with special educational needs and individual education plans (IEPs) are produced. Parents are invited to attend the reviews so that they are kept fully informed of their child’s progress. Children contribute to their own IEP by commenting on their achievements and identifying targets for future progress.

Computing and cross-curricular IT

At Park Hill, technology is an integral part of children’s learning and we want to equip pupils for life in the modern world.  All classrooms are furnished with interactive whiteboards and we have a fully equipped  computer suite. All pupils have access to  iPads; in years 5 and 6 pupils are each issued with their own iPad to enhance their learning across all lessons. In computing lessons, pupils are taught from an early age about how computers and applications work, as well as how to use technology. This includes:  programming and coding; multimedia, the internet and world wide web; email and a wide range of other topics. Learning about how to stay safe in our age of technology is a key part of our curriculum.

Foundation Subjects

At Park Hill, the Foundation subjects are taught in a thematic or topic-based way. Cross-curricular links are made with Literacy and Numeracy. Opportunities for visits and visitors are sought to enrich the experiences of our pupils.


We bring History to life wherever possible by taking children to places such as the Black Country Museum and Sarehole Mill. The children do practical activities like making Egyptian pots in year 3 and role play, so they dress up and act out a day in the life of a Victorian pupils in year 6.


Geography at Park Hill involves the study of real places and real people. We learn how people affect and are influenced by the environment in which they live. Geography helps children to develop an understanding of the world around them, how it was formed, how it is changing and of their place within it.


Children use colour, form, texture, pattern and different materials and processes to communicate what they see, feel and think. Art at Park Hill provides opportunities for children to experiment with a range of materials, tools and techniques.


At Park Hill music is an important part of the school curriculum. Children with talent are encouraged to excel. All children have an opportunity to practice and perform regularly. Extra lessons and workshops are provided by the Music Service. The choir practices every week.

Design Technology

Design and Technology (DT) is about designing and making things and having fun. Our children love to make things and DT gives them the chance to re-create products from around the world. Through DT they learn a number of new skills such as problem solving, working together, planning and research.

Religious Education (R.E.)

At Park Hill, we value the diverse cultures and beliefs represented in our school community. Through Religious Education and Collective Worship children are taught knowledge and understanding of different faiths. This is a tool which equips them for life. We aim to create a strong sense of empathy and respect in our children. Collective Worship takes place on a daily basis when children are given time together to think and reflect.

Personal, Social and Health Education

The aim of PSHE is to establish confidence and self-esteem. We build this by encouraging children to learn for themselves and have high expectations. The School Council has been set up to promote Citizenship and to develop PSHE in our school. Through the School Council, pupils have their views heard. School Council elections are held annually and councillors hold their post for one year.

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