How we organise learning time
There are never quite enough hours to cover all the things we would like the children to learn and experience. Year 1 children study 12 different subjects; children from Year 2 upwards study 13. We are very keen to ensure that children receive a broad, balanced, connected and dynamic curriculum. In the first place, we want them to reach the highest possible standards in reading, writing and mathematics. But it is equally important to us that they have a full entitlement to enjoy learning in other subject areas. To that end, teachers have been provided with clear guidance regarding how much time should be allocated to different subjects. This information appears below.
A quality primary experience is not based upon coverage though. Doing more does not necessarily mean more will be learnt, or indeed that learning will be a more satisfying experience. Teachers at Barnes are expected to create rich, extended learning experiences so that the children have the chance to engage in deep, meaningful learning, by studying a subject in depth. It is far more likely that lasting and more purposeful learning will transpire in these circumstances. Teachers plan learning theme work throughout the year, and also earmark one week every term when the exclusive focus is the learning theme so there are no discrete English or mathematics lessons that week. Skills learnt in reading, writing and mathematics can be applied during the week within the learning theme focus. In addition to this, one week in the Autumn and Spring Term is devoted to one of our special theme weeks: On Camera (film making) and our annual Arts Week.
Teachers have been guided to apply the adage ‘less is more’ if they find that there is insufficient time to get through everything. That means that rather than hurriedly trying to cover everything, they focus on ensuring that what the children do is done well, with the maximum amount of learning being extracted from the topic under study.
Our learning themes
Mindful of the points raised above about the importance of children enjoying rich, extended, connected, dynamic and extensive learning experiences, we have developed, over time, our own skills-based learning themes. We combine together four curriculum subjects: art, design and technology, geography and history in a captivating way around a focus. Some themes continue throughout the duration of a term; others last for half a term. As part of this work, visits to places of interest are organised to intrigue and excite the children. We are fully committed to using the rich cultural capital that the city of London has to offer.
Subject specialists teach sport, French and music. All classes have a weekly music lesson with Karen Warner, a dedicated music teacher with a wealth of teaching experience as a music specialist. Helen Leissle leads French. Zoubida Bahlouli teaches French to Y3–Y6. Assemblies in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 are regularly conducted entirely in French. Tom Pashely, another subject specialist, teaches sport to all pupils in the main school. Jon Kaufman, a table tennis specialist, teaches all Key Stage 2 children how to play this game. Olivia Berners-Price, an art specialist, works at the school for six hours a week teaching art skills (the focus is on the creative process) to small groups of children. Olivia only works with six pupils at a time. In this way she can focus on developing the children’s understanding of the creative process. During the 2015-16 academic year Jeanefer Jean-Charles, a dance teacher and mass movement choreographer, worked at the school for one day a week enabling and empowering all teachers to be able to teach dance. In 2018-19 Jeanefer returned to lead several year group training sessions with staff and children.