The curriculum rationale at Breakwater stems from our vision, values and aims for our pupils. We are excited to be developing a bespoke curriculum which is also tailored to reflect our context. Currently we are building upon a strong foundation which focuses on the core skills of reading, writing and mathematics. This allows the children to benefit from an increasingly broad range of subjects which will develop and deepen their knowledge as they progress through the academy.
At Breakwater Academy we teach linguistic phonics. The rationale for linguistic phonics is that children are taught to understand the relationship between spoken language and written words. It starts with what the children naturally acquire, spoken language, and teaches them the relationship between sound-spelling correspondences. Teaching children to read through linguistic phonics allows them to develop their decoding skills; this supports children in learning to blend graphemes (letters) for reading, segment phonemes (sounds) for spelling and manipulate phonemes (sounds) to develop accuracy in reading and spelling.
Linguistic phonics teaches the concept that all sounds can be spelled. We therefore do not promote silent letters, magic letters, or memorising whole words by sight. We appreciate parental support and ask that you read with your children in this way, encouraging children to use their decoding skills to read and spell.
All of our teachers receive training to deliver the Sounds Write phonics programme. Sounds Write takes children through systematic, incremental steps to teach children the 44 sounds in the English language and their multiple spellings.
Reading is the backbone of our curriculum. Across the whole school, children will read for at least 45 minutes every day, either in whole class reading lessons, other curriculum areas, or individually. Children start the day with whole class reading lessons, during which specific reading techniques are used to ensure that all children join in with reading aloud. The texts are high quality, often classical texts which are pitched just above the instructional level of the children. Teachers plan in advance which child reads which part of the text in order to push the faster graspers with more complex vocabulary or allowing opportunities for fluency for the slower graspers. As well as whole class reading aloud there are regular opportunities for ‘close reading’ and ‘art of the sentence’ where children are expected to answer questions and write specific sentences about the passage of text they have just read. After writing, the class then have an in-depth discussion about the passage they have just read. We run our reading lessons in this way in order to expose children to high-quality literature and develop their fluency and prosody.
Using the same text, teachers plan a learning sequence for writing. This begins with identifying the purpose for writing – to entertain, to inform, to persuade or to discuss. The skills needed for each writing purpose are built and the children have time to practice and consolidate this learning in their English books. They are reminded that their work is in draft form so they are ready to edit and improve. If after professional discussions with year group colleagues the teachers feel they need to return to the skills building, they are able to stop the writing process and return to the skills building element at any time during the writing process. The cycle of write, correct, improve, practice is encouraged to continue throughout a unit of work. We do not give teachers a time frame on how long a writing sequence may take.
At Breakwater Academy, we take a mastery approach to the teaching and learning of mathematics. Fundamentally, this rests on the belief that all children can – and, indeed, must – be successful in the study of mathematics. We do not accept that ‘some people cannot do maths’; we do not accept that mathematical study is boring or unnecessary; we do not accept that prior attainment should limit what a child is capable of learning. Mathematics is for everyone at Breakwater.
We recognise the importance of science in every aspect of daily life. Our Science curriculum is shaped by the National Curriculum for Science, our school values and the ethos at Breakwater, and is taught in discrete, stand-alone blocks. Our science curriculum aims to ensure that all children:
History is taught in the context of the texts children are reading in class. We want all our children to have access to powerful knowledge about our world, the complexity of people’s lives, and how we got where we are today. Children will study significant events such as the World Wars and learn about the lives and impact of key historical figures. By revisiting historical concepts such as war and peace, monarchy, government, and civilisation, the aim is that children will be increasingly able to discuss the process of change through time and make strong links across their learning. Our history lessons will enable children to ask insightful questions, analyse sources, and discuss cause and effect. We aim for our pupils to become critical thinkers who can engage with their society and the wider world.
Geography is taught in the context of the texts children are reading in class. Pupils develop an understanding of both the physical and human world, focusing specifically on the key geographical knowledge pupils need to understand the world around them. Our teaching equips pupils with knowledge about places and people; resources in the environment; physical and human processes; formation and use of landscapes. This is alongside developing geographical skills such as using maps. By the end of each of the Key Stages, key skills will have been visited and built upon a number of times alongside the acquisition of key banks of knowledge.
PSHE is taught every week across the school in a variety of ways – it pervades all areas of learning and teaching. Relationships Education is taught in discrete units. In EYFS children are taught the fundamental aspects of keeping safe, recognising emotions and learning who looks after us. In Key Stage 1, children practice these fundamental skills and are introduced to concepts such as gender stereotypes, features of healthy relationships, including online and the impact we can have within our community. In Key Stage 2, children build on these concepts alongside learning about the physical and emotional changes which puberty brings. Throughout PSHE the children learn how to assess risk in a variety of different situations and how to seek help if they require it.
Children engage in a variety of different sports during their weekly PE lessons. These include basic movements such as running and jumping, developing balance, agility and coordination as they apply these skills across a range of activities. They also participate in team games. In Year 3 to 6 children learn to swim.
This is currently taught in week long blocks at the end of every half term. The children explore a variety of different religions, beliefs and rituals, covering each of the six main religions: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism and Buddhism. This includes symbols, key figures, places of worship and key texts.
Technology plays a vital role in the society for which we are preparing our children. During their time at Breakwater, the children will learn the basic principles and processes of computer science, such as creating simulations. Our curriculum approach ensures that children are equipped with the digital literacy skills to use technology respectfully, safely and responsibly.
Children participate in weekly singing assemblies, which lead to performances to parents and or peers. They also study a range of genres to foster listening and appreciation skills. Music is one of our subjects identified for further development.
Children study well known artists and their techniques; where possible this is linked to the class text they are reading. Art is one of our subjects identified for further development.
The children learn Japanese in the summer term – this comprises of basic greetings, counting and self-introduction. They also learn about cultural norms and customs, including basic kanji. Languages is one of the subjects identified for further development.