Parents & Carers

Willow Tree Primary (4)

Our Curriculum

Our rationale:

The ethos of Willow Tree Primary School is rooted in our motto, ‘Learning, Laughter and Friendship’.

We are committed to educating the whole child and we want our children to become resilient, confident learners, who encourage others and pride themselves on achieving the very best they can. Our children treat each other with respect, everyone is valued and all are given the opportunity to achieve and celebrate personal success. With this in mind, the curriculum at Willow Tree has been designed to allow children to acquire knowledge through sequenced work units with regular revisits and recalls integrated into planning, which sometimes is enhanced by special events and visits. Planning differentiated lessons to meet the needs of three key groups including disadvantaged and SEND pupils is a key principle in our approach. Where required, personalised learning, intervention and resources are used to meet need and ensure the best possible progress.

Kagan Co-operative Learning

At Willow Tree, the whole curriculum is underpinned by Kagan co-operative learning. Kagan structures help children engage in their learning and give them opportunities to collaborate in a variety of ways as well as work independently. PIES (positive interdependence, individual accountability, equal participation and simultaneous interaction) principles are employed through the structures in order to develop the necessary attributes for children to succeed both now and in their next stages of education whilst preparing them for future employment. This teaching approach is pivotal in developing a range of thinking and social skills whilst fostering mastery of a variety of academic content.

For more information about Kagan and the structures that we use, visit the Kagan Co-operative learning page.


At Willow Tree, developing reading for all children is a key priority to enable them to access all subjects across the curriculum.

All subjects are taught as discreet sequenced units, this is to ensure that teaching is focused and learning concentrates on subject specific knowledge. Links are made between subjects only when a clear connection can be made. This is to provide children with opportunities to apply and connect knowledge. Teaching our subjects in this way ensures a clear and coherent sequence to learning.


We have a rounded approach to assessment which includes quality marking and feedback to improve children’s work, tracking data and monitoring progress in order to assess alterations to children’s long term memory.

Willow Tree Primary (5)

Cultural Capital

Our curriculum prepares children for the next stage in their education and future employment by giving them the opportunity to develop knowledge, specific types of thinking skills and social skills essential for the world of work. We use carefully selected Kagan structures throughout school which mean that these skills can be developed and tailored specifically to a child or group’s needs. This begins in Early Years through play based activities and focused sessions that begin to build children’s knowledge of phonics and number.

The curriculum is designed not only to meet the aims and content of the ‘EYFS Curriculum’ and the ‘National Curriculum’ but also to meet the needs of the children in our community. When units of learning are planned, as well as sequencing the building and application of knowledge, context is also considered to ensure our children are exposed to important figures, events and experiences that will allow them to become rounded individuals with high aspirations for themselves.

Development of cultural capital helps children engage with society and it is a vital part of our curriculum; this is further supported by the wide range of opportunities we provide which are available to all pupils irrespective of their circumstances, special needs or disability. One highlight of the year is our Year 6 careers fair in which over 30 visitors talk to children about their careers over a two day event. As well as this, personal development and wellbeing is achieved through our PHSCE curriculum, our work on British Values and discreet work on issues such as mental health supported by charities such as the NSPCC and Compass Buzz. Children’s voice is important and we listen to their views through our reading champions, wellbeing warriors and school and eco councils.

Performing in music, drama and sport activities are highly valued as part of the broader curriculum to enrich the knowledge and skills taught in subject lessons. Having a swimming pool on site means that every class from Year one to six has a weekly swimming lesson. 100% of children leave Willow Tree being able to swim at least 25 metres.

Children build positive attitudes to learning and actively play a full part in the life of the school. At Willow Tree, we complement our curriculum with a wide programme of before and after school clubs. These cover a wide range of physical, artistic and language activities and are changed on a termly basis.

We provide a curriculum that strives for our children to be the best they can be and when they move on to secondary school they should demonstrate the following:

  • Children have good subject knowledge across all subjects.
  • Children are considerate, respectful and take responsibility for their behaviour.
  • Children respect and value differences.
  • Children are resourceful, resilient and open to new ideas.
  • Children respect and value differences; and actively demonstrate citizenship at all levels.
  • Children know how to keep safe.
  • Children show positive attitudes to learning, embrace opportunities to learn from mistakes and are able to take responsibility for their own learning.

The school curriculum 

The Primary curriculum has 3 stages: Foundation Stage (Nursery and Reception), Key Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2) and Key Stage 2 (Years 3 to 6).

There is a whole school curriculum plan, which is reviewed and developed bi - annually by the teaching staff. Each class has a basic timetable and curriculum scheme appropriate to the level of the children's ability and needs. The school curriculum consists of the National Curriculum, which is taught through a creative and cross-curricular way, and other learning opportunities such as Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE), Citizenship and Spanish in KS2.

Foundation Stage

The Foundation Stage curriculum is planned and assessed using the areas of learning. It is based on ongoing observation and assessment in the three prime and four specific areas of learning, and the three learning characteristics, set out below:

The prime areas of learning:

• communication and language

• physical development

• personal, social and emotional development

The specific areas of learning:

• literacy

• mathematics

• understanding the world

• expressive arts and design

The Foundation curriculum leads on to the National Curriculum which is more subject based, but taught in an integrated way through a topic-based approach

National Curriculum (NC)

The National Curriculum is central to our planning and assessment procedure. The staff work closely together to prepare a structured programme of learning based on the National Curriculum, which is both broad and balanced and is delivered through subject teaching and cross-curriculum topic work.

The core subjects are Maths, English, Science and Computing.

The foundation subjects are Music, Art, Physical Education, History, Technology, Geography and Religious Education (RE).

For each subject and Key Stage, programmes of study set out what pupils should be taught and attainment targets set out the expected standards of pupils' performance.
We continually assess the children's learning throughout the year to ensure progress and continuity in their development. Assessment is also vital to inform our planning. Children are assessed for NC purposes at the age of 7 (Key Stage 1) and 11 (Key Stage 2).


We aim to provide a curriculum that enables all children to attain their full potential in literacy. We provide the experience of language within a structured, progressive, balanced and varied programme of study.

In Spoken Language, children have opportunities to participate in a wide range of activities, for example, collaborative work in groups or pairs, sharing opinions, questioning, role play, performing to an audience in school productions.

We teach the skills that enable children to become confident and competent readers. Our library provides a rich and diverse selection of reading materials.

We teach children to write in a meaningful way for a variety of purposes and audiences.


In the teaching of mathematics we aim to enable children to be actively involved in experiencing the mathematical curriculum in a variety of ways. It is important that not only do they develop their understanding of mathematical concepts, but they also acquire skills that they will need to use in everyday situations.

From Foundation stage to Year 6, children are given opportunities to develop mental and oral skills, to learn and practise basic skills in number, shape, space, measures and handling data and to apply those skills to problem solving tasks and investigations.


Science is an integral part of modern life and we aim to challenge our pupils and stretch their imaginations.

In KS1 pupils are involved in:

  • asking simple questions and recognising that they can be answered in different ways
  • observing closely, using simple equipment
  • performing simple tests
  • identifying and classifying
  • using their observations and ideas to suggest answers to questions
  • gathering and recording data to help in answering questions.

During years 3 and 4, pupils should be taught to use the following practical scientific methods, processes and skills through the teaching of the programme of study content:

  • asking relevant questions and using different types of scientific enquiries to answer them
  • setting up simple practical enquiries, comparative and fair tests
  • making systematic and careful observations and, where appropriate, taking accurate measurements using standard units, using a range of equipment, including thermometers and data loggers
  • gathering, recording, classifying and presenting data in a variety of ways to help in answering questions
  • recording findings using simple scientific language, drawings, labelled diagrams, keys, bar charts, and tables
  • reporting on findings from enquiries, including oral and written explanations, displays or presentations of results and conclusions
  • using results to draw simple conclusions, make predictions for new values, suggest improvements and raise further questions
  • identifying differences, similarities or changes related to simple scientific ideas and processes
  • using straightforward scientific evidence to answer questions or to support their findings.

During years 5 and 6, pupils should be taught to use the following practical scientific methods, processes and skills through the teaching of the programme of study content:

  • planning different types of scientific enquiries to answer questions, including recognising and controlling variables where necessary
  • taking measurements, using a range of scientific equipment, with increasing accuracy and precision, taking repeat readings when appropriate
  • recording data and results of increasing complexity using scientific diagrams and labels, classification keys, tables, scatter graphs, bar and line graphs
  • using test results to make predictions to set up further comparative and fair tests
  • reporting and presenting findings from enquiries, including conclusions, causal relationships and explanations of and degree of trust in results, in oral and written forms such as displays and other presentations
  • identifying scientific evidence that has been used to support or refute ideas or arguments.


We believe that ICT is a key part of our children's learning. Wherever possible, the technical skills they acquire through specific ICT teaching are set in a cross curricular context. This learning commitment is supported by the school's networked computing system which links the classroom and the ICT suite computers to the Internet.

Art & Design

By observation and experiment, children develop an awareness of colour, shape and texture in the world around them and an ability to express their response to it through the use of different materials. Children are given experience of a range of artistic styles through being introduced to the work of artists from different periods. Our children's work is displayed around the school, in classrooms and on the school website.


All of our children have a class music lessons in which they play a wide variety of games encompassing listening, composing and performing. We hold a KS1 and KS2 music assembly each week where we learn new songs together.

Lots of extra-curricular musical activities take place at Willow Tree. Music teachers offer tuition on the guitar, piano, drums, woodwind, string and brass instruments and we have an active Choir.

Design and Technology

Children are given the opportunity to develop their design and technology skills by combining their designing and making skills with knowledge and understanding in order to design and make products.

From an early age our children enjoy constructing models and are asked to explain processes they have gone through. Children are encouraged to plan their designs and choose the materials they will need from a wide selection of resources.

During their making they are encouraged to discuss and evaluate their progress in order to improve their design where it is needed.


Through History we aim to foster in the children an appreciation of change and continuity, an awareness of the nature of evidence, an empathy with the past, an ability to pose historical questions and a sense of chronology and time.

Our children learn about famous people, events and developments in British history, and also study an ancient civilisation. Our curriculum aims are supported and enhanced by visits to places of interest, visiting speakers and special curriculum days during which the staff and children dress up and take part in historical role play activities.


Geography is the study of the environment, local to global, and the physical and human forces that shape it. In order to develop a true understanding of their environment, we encourage our children to ask questions about and show an interest in their surroundings.

The children develop a knowledge of distant places and different cultures and are encouraged to care about the world they live in, appreciating the effects that humans have upon it.

Map skills and aspects of physical Geography are taught in the context of the places studied.

Physical Education

Our Sporting Aims are to help children to:

  • Participate in physical activity and a healthy lifestyle
  • Develop and understand the importance of good sporting behaviour
  • Learn how to be part of a team
  • Value both group and individual achievements
  • Take part in competitive activities

In addition to the National Curriculum programme of study for PE and Games, children in Key Stage 2 take part in district and school competitions in the following sports: netball, rounders, football, cricket, athletics, rugby and swimming.

All children from FS2 to Y6 swim in our school pool weekly.

Religious Education

Our children also learn about all the major world religions and we aim to foster links with other faith communities.

The ethos of the school forms the basis of the moral education at Willow Tree. We expect everyone in the school to show consideration and tolerance for others.

We follow the agreed North Yorkshire syllabus for R.E., which aims to teach children about religion and to ensure that they learn from the moral teachings of religions.

Assemblies are held every day and take a variety of forms, including class assemblies. We like to end the week with a Star Award assembly where we can share in the work and achievements of the children.

Should parents not wish their children to attend collective worship or Religious Education, they can be withdrawn and suitable arrangements may be made following consultation with the Headteacher.


All Key Stage 2 children are taught Spanish.

Personal, social, Health & Citizenship Education (PSHCE)

This programme of study incorporates Drug education and Sex education. PSHCE provides essential knowledge, skills and understanding for all our pupils. It comprises of three strands:

  • Social and moral responsibility
  • Community development
  • Political literacy

In our school we aim to ensure that all our pupils will value their achievements, deal with risks, meet the challenges of life now and in the future and identify their values and strive to live up to them.

Pupils are encouraged to become involved in the running of the school through our School Council. This includes decision-making, taking responsibility and learning about democracy.

Reading at Willow Tree Primary School

We want to help all our children to be successful readers who love reading.

We hope that the information on this page will help you to understand our approach to reading and phonics, and give you ideas for how you can help at home.

If you have any questions about reading or phonics, please speak to your child's class teacher.


At Willow tree we teach 'Synthetic Phonics' using the Letters and Sounds programme. The children learn how to read and spell words using their phonic knowledge. We use a wide range of teaching techniques and resources in our daily phonics sessions.

Tricky Words

We also encourage pupils to learn words 'by sight'. These words are the common words that are not easy to build up using phonic methods (the tricky words!) and need to be practised until they are instantly recognisable.

Reading Books

We have a wide variety of both fiction and non fiction reading books to enable children to develop reading skills and broaden their experience of different texts.

Children in the Early Stages of Reading will read books closely matched to the Phonics being taught. These books are from the 'Bug Club' Reading Scheme. Children will remain on these until they have learnt and are able to apply the phonics taught in Phases 2 to 5.

Following this all of our reading books are organised into 'Book Bands' which is a method used to group books according to their level of difficulty. Once your child can confidently apply their Phonics they will move onto a wider range of books which are still structured to help their reading development.

The children will move through the book bands in the following order as their reading skills develop.

After the children have moved through all of these levels they are given a 'free choice' of reading book from the extensive collection of fiction books and novels. The children are guided in their choice of book by their teacher to ensure they can access the text and understand the content. The children are encouraged to select books which cover a range of fiction and non fiction genres.

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