We are always conscious of the need to maintain good links with our First Schools and Upper School to ensure continuity of learning, and the requirements of the National Curriculum make effective liaison even more important. As we share Key Stage 2 with First Schools and Key Stage 3 with the Upper School, our curriculum is jointly planned and is constantly reviewed to make sure that it meets statutory requirements, builds upon what has gone before, is broad, balanced and relevant to the needs of the children in our care, and provides a sound preparatory base for the future. We are part of the Dorchester Area Schools Partnership, an organisation representing the whole pyramid of First, Middle and Upper Schools in the Dorchester Area, and frequent meetings are held between colleagues in the different schools to promote development and continuity of records and curriculum.
In accordance with the National Curriculum, all the children at St Mary's are taught English, Mathematics, Science, Humanities, Technology, Art, Information & Communication Technology, Music, Drama, PE and Games, Personal and Social Education, and Religious Education each week, with French being introduced in Year 6. There are daily Literacy and Numeracy lessons for Years 5 & 6.
In English and Literacy we seek to develop the ability to communicate effectively using the written and spoken word. We encourage reading, for pleasure as well as for information, and hope the children will make full use of our Library, read regularly at home, and grow to love books.
Our Numeracy and Mathematics teaching is based upon the National Curriculum Attainment Targets: Number and Algebra, Shape and Space, and Handling Data. Mental maths also features in most lessons. We use a variety of published schemes and supplementary material and, through Investigations and Problem Solving, pupils are given opportunities to link mathematical ideas and relate them to real situations.
Humanities comprises both History and Geography with associated Social and Environmental Studies. The work is generally organised in termly or half-termly units of study, and a number of visits are arranged to stimulate interest and give the work more relevance.
Science is studied throughout the school, with all children using the excellent laboratory facilities. We seek to capitalise upon the children's natural enthusiasm and curiosity, and emphasis is placed upon investigative practical work. We hope the children will develop lively, enquiring minds and the ability to think and work scientifically.
A Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education (PSHCE) programme runs throughout the school. In KS 2 some work on Safety includes a visit to Streetwise, which is an interactive Safety Centre. Also we have visits from the Life Education Van which helps the children with the social and moral issues to do with looking after their bodies and making choices in life. While we recognise that parents have the legal right to withdraw their child from the sex education aspects of this work, we hope they will first discuss this with the Headteacher. In KS 3 the course focuses on relationships with others and contains work on alcohol, solvent and drug abuse as well as sex education. We enjoy much support from outside agencies, including the Police and Health Education Nurses.
Information and Communication Technology is taught throughout the school and is used at all levels across the curriculum. Our many computers are networked together and give everyone opportunities for word-processing, design, spreadsheets, decision-making, simulations, data-handling, control technology and research using CD_ROM and the Internet. Everyone’s work is stored on the central server of the networked system.
In Religious Education, while ever mindful of our Church of England Foundation, we endeavour to give the children an understanding of Christianity and its importance in life. Simple comparisons are also made with some other major world faiths. We have assemblies each morning; as a whole school twice a week and as a Key Stage Group or Tutor Group on other mornings. Our assembly programme includes a variety of visiting speakers including local vicars.
We recognise the legal right of parents to withdraw their child from RE and Collective Worship, but it would be appreciated if the implications of such a move could be discussed first with the Headteacher. Although we are a Church of England school, we welcome those of any, or no, denomination, and it is customary for all children to participate in these aspects of school life.
The Expressive Arts - Music, Art and Drama - are taught each week in every Year Group and opportunities are sought to work collaboratively. Our bands perform in school and at local events, our work in Art is particularly admired, and our dramatic productions are much enjoyed.
We are now part of the Dorchester Pyramid scheme for the provision of instrumental music lessons and are able to offer specialist tuition on a wide range of instruments. We need to make a termly charge for these lessons which depends upon the number in the group. Further details are available upon request: if you would like your child to be considered for the opportunity of learning to play an orchestral instrument, please let us know.Technology incorporates Food Technology, Textiles, Control Technology, Graphics and Resistant Materials. These operate in all Years on a cyclical arrangement, with each child spending several weeks on one aspect before moving to the next. Each child also has a separate Art and Design lesson each week which further develops creative ability in 2- and 3-dimensional work.
Our library provides an attractive, up-to-date resource centre. It is open throughout the day and is often used by children involved in personal research for project work. Children are shown how to look for the information they need, and are encouraged to borrow up to 3 books at a time.A computerised library management system, with finger print scanner is used to help children to find the books they want and keep a useful record of what they have borrowed. Library monitors from Year 8 help the staff to operate the library at lunchtimes.