Curriculum and Assessment
The areas in the primary school curriculum are: Language, Mathematics, Environmental Studies, Expressive Arts, Religious and Moral Education, Personal and Social Development, as well as extra-curricular and recreational activities.
Learning in the school is based on a range of strategies, including investigating, problem-solving and discussion, in addition to the exposition by the teacher (or "direct teaching methods") and often involves activities using a wide variety of materials. Each child will be assessed to determine his or her level of work. Group and individual methods will form the basis of the teaching in order that the curriculum can be tailored as far as possible to fit the needs of the child.
Each year the school produces a Development Plan which details areas of development within the school curriculum.
For session 2005/6 the main priorities are to:
- To review the existing programme for Science and produce a new programme which is consistent with 5-14 Guidelines and has flexibility to cater for composite classes;
- To become an Eco-School;
- To examine programmes of study, 5-14 Guidelines and planning in order to establish, where possible, cross-curricular links;
- To participate in ELC Race Equality and Additional Support for Learning training;
The development of each child's language is pursued through an integrated programme of language work involving listening, speaking, reading and writing. Early reading material is based on the child's own natural language, progressing through a graded reading programme.
To this is linked the child's writing combined with speaking and listening. Later on the child pursues his/her reading through appropriate fiction and non-fiction material. He/she also learns skills of comprehension and reference to help him/her understand more of what he/she reads and to assist him/her in finding information. Along with reading will develop the necessary knowledge and skills of spelling, punctuation, language structure, and handwriting, each at a level appropriate to the child's needs.
Writing will form an important part of this development and the child will follow a programme which will start with simple stories, scribed by the teacher, and move on through different and more complex forms of writing activities.
Much emphasis will be laid on speaking and listening with a programme which will include such activities as discussion and Drama.
In West Barns School mathematics is viewed as a problem-solving activity supported by a body of knowledge, which will enable our pupils to understand the world about them, and equip them with the mathematical knowledge and understanding, and numerical skills which they will require in life and for future studies.
We aim to offer all our pupils, from the most able to the least, a mathematics curriculum which is stimulating, challenging, progressive, relevant and enjoyable.
As in other aspects of the curriculum, Mathematics follows the 5-14 guidelines to set its attainment outcomes which are reached through a structured course which includes opportunities for discussion between the pupil and teacher, and among pupils themselves; appropriate practical work; practice and consolidation of fundamental skills and routines; problem solving; the use of calculators and computers; investigational work, and the application of mathematics to everyday situations.
In order to take account of the differences in ability and attainment which can exist among children of the same age, efforts are made to match the pace and level of work to suit individual children.
Targets for Language and Mathematics
Literacy and Numeracy have been designated by the Scottish Office and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate as curriculum areas in which attainment has to be improved within schools. To that end they have initiated Target Setting for Language (Reading & Writing) and Mathematics.
Performance in National Tests is tracked within the school using a database and there is a good level of dialogue between Head Teacher, Principal Teacher and class teachers about the progress of the pupils.
Environmental Studies sets out to develop in the child an awareness and understanding of his/her environment in terms of himself/herself, the part he/she plays, can and will play as a member of society.
The work, which the child will undertake, is split into the five components of Science, Social Subjects, Technology, Health Education and Information Technology, which is balanced to give historical, geographical and scientific perspectives.
Much of the work which is done is based on first-hand experience, involves activity and experiment, and is designed to promote understanding rather than merely remembering.
The term Expressive Arts covers the areas of Art, Drama, Music and Physical Education.
Mostly these subjects are catered for by the class teacher, but we have at the moment visiting specialists in Music, Physical Education and Brass Instruction, and each session there will be swimming instruction for children in P4 at Dunbar Leisure Pool under the guidance of a swimming instructor.
The purpose of the Expressive Arts is to further the child's knowledge or skills in each of the main areas, but much of the work will be integrated into other areas of the curriculum e.g. scenery, costume, music, dance for a Drama production; puppets or gymnastics or music within a language theme.
Art includes drawing, painting, work with clay, printing, model making, etc.
Drama will include voice production, body movement, use of space, mime, role-play, etc.
Throughout school children are given opportunities in public performance.
Religious, Social and Moral Education
In Religious Education we aim to help the child develop fully as an individual; to be aware of the significance of religion to the individual and to society, and to have some knowledge and understanding of some of the religious beliefs and practices which they will encounter during their lives, e.g. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc.
By the end of their primary schooling we hope that our pupils will have a framework which will help them appreciate what religion is, and some understanding of what it involves.
During Religious Education, and in other areas of the school curriculum, we have the opportunity to explore with the child the different attitudes, standards and values which they themselves hold, and are held by others.
Our school chaplain is a regular visitor to the school and visits the classrooms to talk to the children as well as taking some assemblies throughout the session.
At no time do we expect a commitment from any child, and parents are free to withdraw their children from religious and moral education, and religious observance if they so wish.
As the society in which our children are growing up in is increasingly multicultural, we endeavour to give them some awareness and appreciation of the enrichment of the culture and traditions of British society introduced by the many different nationalities who have settled in the United Kingdom.
Our aim is to foster and encourage positive attitudes and good relations between people of differing ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and to actively discourage negative and adverse attitudes and activities.