Welcome to the home page of the Coombes School
Literacy and Numeracy
The government guidelines for the National Numeracy and Literacy Strategies are well documented and more information is available on the DfEE website. For those visitors to our site who are not familiar with the British Education system there is currently a period of change in our Education System for the Core Subjects of Numeracy and Literacy. The Office of Standards in Education OFSTED is a key part of this The schemes are designed to improve standards across the board. This initiative has had a mixed response. The amount of time that is to be allocated to these subjects and the very prescriptive nature of the schemes has led to a squeeze on time for other subjects.
At the time of writing, there is a rising groundswell of opinion that suggests that a more rounded education serves a future citizen better - one that develops the harder to measure qualities - the spiritual and creative, as well as those more easily measured.
At the Coombes we are working very hard with the support of the children, parents, the governing body and friends to ensure that all these things which we hold dear remain at the heart of our teaching. We have adopted the guidelines voluntarily and follow them faithfully. We endeavour to ensure that both the Literacy and Numeracy hours at the Coombes are based on innovative and multi-sensory approaches.
The Whole Curriculum
Individual teachers have additional particular areas of responsibility that make best use of their skills. We have a strong team whose specialisms and interests bring a great deal to the school. Each teacher is a leader offering guidance in the way the needs of each subject are met - both the core subjects and the foundation subjects.
All the teachers work together to ensure that the foundation subjects of music; physical education; dance and gymnastics; information technology; history; geography; drama; religious, social and moral education; design technology and art are taught in a stimulating and complementary way.
Invited experts share their knowledge with us. Shepherds show us their shearing skills when the time comes for our small herd of sheep to be shorn. Weavers bring their looms, spinners their wheels and we learn about what we can do with our fleeces.
We celebrate Chinese New Year every spring by making our own Dragons. Here is the Year 2 Hot and Cold Dragon in the playground. The children practice choreographed dances and perform these for the other children, the staff and for their families. We look at Chinese customs and traditions, and create a Chinese restaurant to explore the flavours of Chinese cooking. Parents and other adult helpers contribute a great deal to our Chinese New Year celebrations. We are twinned with a group of primary schools in Wenxhou province in China, their teachers have visited us and Susan Humphries, Headteacher, and Susan Rowe, Deputy Head Teacher have visited our sister schools. This project brings together many of the strands we feel are so important to a varied and stimulating curriculum
The Teaching Structure
The Infant Department
(from the term in which they reach 5 to the summer term in which they reach 7; Foundation 2, Reception, Year 1 and Year 2)
The children belong to family groups with children from all age groups for the duration of their time with us. They stay in the same family group with the same teacher during their life at the Coombes. This continuity is invaluable. The teaching groups are comprised of broadly age-banded children, but the academic needs of the individual children (as well as group size, gender spread and social/emotional maturity of the child) are taken into account when the staff group allocate children to groups. Here is where the children meet other teachers, get to know different teaching styles and learn to find their way about.
Literacy, Numeracy and Curriculum Groupings are slightly different in order to ensure that there is a fair distribution of numbers of children in each group. Again, the specific needs of the child are our prime consideration. We want the children to feel a sense of success and achievement in their groupings.
A child's specific academic and social needs will be the final determinors of the group placement.
The class sizes do not exceed 30 and are, very often, much smaller with Learning Support Assistants and teaching which ensures that the children's needs are very carefully assessed and met in group sizes appropriate to their needs, (including one-to-one teaching and support when needed). The teaching staff is divided into two teams.
Each teacher is paired with a teacher in the other team, with a particular area of responsibility: All the teachers have an input into the curriculum structure and putting it to work. The areas of overall responsibility rotate every 2 years. The weekly staff meetings guide the general direction of the school and this is where plans are made for the following half term. These and other team and partnership meetings are the forum for cross planning and exchanges of ideas and views.
(from the term in which the children reach 3 years until the term in which they reach their 5th birthday)
The nursery unit has places for 26 children in two sessions each day - morning and afternoon. The nursery shares the same aims and ethos as the infant department.
The teachers are helped by Learning Support Assistants and Supply teachers from a small pool as needed. Further support comes from trainees on practical placements. These trainees have to meet all the requirements of the National Curriculum as well as teaching in the 'Coombes style'. They are carefully mentored by our staff group, and given daily feedback about their progress. Much needed voluntary support comes from parents, governors and other friends.
Home and School, an Educational Partnership
We are supported in myriad ways by parents, grandparents, carers and friends who join us in the Coombes. They are welcome in school at any time.
We like to draw on the talents and professional skills of our parent group who are an enormous resource to support their children's learning. In October 1999 we were chosen as the Launch School for a Nationwide initiative called the Campaign for Family Learning as we firmly believe that schools do not solely educate children. A child's first and best teachers are his or her parents or carers at home and by working in partnership with home we all benefit.
We visit local businesses and places where parents work such as farms, shops and garden centres. Our lending library is entirely run by volunteer parents who give a regular amounts of time each week to help support the children in library skills. Parents come into school to listen to readers, help plant bulbs and harvest apples. They offer their services to help make costumes for plays, bake cakes for fundraisers and, of course, attend the Schools' Association (Parent Teacher Association) events and much much more.
We are very grateful to have the support of parents and welcome their ideas. Parent governors have been elected by the Parent group to represent their views on the governing body.
The Year 2 Chinese dragons prepare to dance for the rest of the school and an invited audience of parents and grandparents and friends. Many parents give their time to help prepare the costumes. Teams of parents work with the staff on preparing tokens of love given to the children at certain times of the year - Valentine's Day, Christmas Day, at the end of each year.
The Coombes shares a site with the neighbouring Arborfield, Newland and Barkham Church of England Junior School, in the Village of Arborfield, between Wokingham and Reading in the County of Berkshire. We have close links with nearby Arborfield Garrison, our neighbouring Junior school and schools in Reading and Wokingham.
Our local Education Authority is the Wokingham District Council, set up after the Local government re-organisation which saw the end of Berkshire County Council. We are supported by a Board of Governors and have an active Parents and Teachers Association, here called the Schools' Association.
The children attending the Coombes come from a wide geographical area including Reading, Wokingham, the smaller towns and villages of Mortimer, Eversley, Winnersh and of course Arborfield and Barkham.
We have links and partnerships with organisations and supporters in the local community, in all parts of the United Kingdom and in the wider world.