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CURRICULUM

The school is organised into 8 classes plus the Nursery. All children in Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 are in classes of 30 pupils or less.
You are welcome to consult a teacher regarding your child's education. Formal parent's evenings are arranged in the Spring and Summer terms.
All children follow the National Curriculum Programmes of Study.
Teaching time is: 22 hours 35 minutes for Key Stage 1
23 hours 50 minutes for Key Stage 2
The National Curriculum consists of four Core and six Foundation subjects:

CORE SUBJECTS:
English    Maths 
Science   RE

FOUNDATION SUBJECTS:
Art & Design     History     Geography     Music    Physical Education     Languages     Citizenship     Computing     Design and Technology
Religious education is compulsory in all schools and, in Catholic schools, is considered a core subject.

FORMAL ASSESSMENTS 
Children will be formally assessed at 7, and 11. These are known as Standard Attainment Tasks (S.A.T.s). Year R children are assessed using the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP) at the end of Reception year. Year 1 pupils will also undergo a formal phonics check.
 

FOUNDATION STAGE 
In the Foundation Stage the children are assessed in 3 prime areas:
Communication and Language, Physical Development and Personal, Social and Emotional Development and in 4 specific areas:
Literacy    Maths
Understanding the world
Expressive art and design
 
PHONICS
Phonics are taught through a combination of Letters and Sounds and Jolly Phonics. Children take part in a formal assessment in Year 1; should a child not meet the required standard at this time, he or she will be reassessed in Year 2.

Throughout their time at the school, the children are continually assessed by their teachers and their progress noted.
In addition, the children in Years 3, 4, and 5 sit end of year tests.
THE CORE CURRICULUM SUBJECTS 
 
 
RELIGIOUS EDUCATION
Religious education at St Thomas' is taught according to the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. All children, from reception to Year 6, follow the RE programme "Come and See" adopted and approved by the Bishop's Conference.
Children are prepared for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion in Year 3. The courses are offered in conjunction with the Parish Sacramental Programmes.
A Mass is usually celebrated each week. The youngest children may not have Mass, but a prayerful service, leading to an awareness of the existence of God in their lives. Mass for the whole school is celebrated regularly throughout the year. Each class in turn leads assemblies, developing a theme from the syllabus. A warm invitation is extended to all parents and parishioners who would like to join us for these acts of worship.
Daily prayers are said at the start and end of each day.
Fund raising for a wide range of charities enables our children to develop a sense of community with the wider world.
As a voluntary-aided Roman Catholic school the religious ethos is to be found across the whole curriculum and not confined to the RE sessions. On this basis, it is difficult to envisage the withdrawal of children from certain specific periods of the timetable.

English
 At St. Thomas' we provide an environment in which pupils learn to communicate effectively, purposefully and with self-confidence. The Literacy Strategy guidelines form the basis of the teaching of English and the Literacy Hour gives opportunity for whole class and group teaching. Through shared and guided reading and writing we ensure that our pupils are given the opportunity to study and enjoy a wide variety of texts and to develop a range of written styles suitable for a variety of purposes and audiences. It is important to note that at least once a week the children have a period of "extended writing".
Pupils are encouraged to make full use of the school's library facilities. Regular 'Book Weeks' are held so that they have the opportunity to meet and talk to visiting authors and illustrators.
Parents' support in helping their children read, learn spellings or complete other language work at home plays a vital role in their progress.

Mathematics
All classes have a daily numeracy lesson. A systematic approach to the teaching of mathematics following the guidelines in the National Numeracy Strategy is used. It encourages mental agility and promotes an enjoyment of mathematics together with an application of skills to solve problems. Our school makes use of a variety of schemes to deliver the curriculum ensuring that the needs of all pupils are met.

Science
Much of the Science work undertaken at our school is practical in nature; the pupils undertake various
investigations and are encouraged to ask why things are the way they are and why things change. Every care is taken to ensure safety. Again a variety of schemes are used in developing work for the pupils and there is an extensive resource base.
 
THE FOUNDATION CURRICULUM SUBJECTS
History
Our pupils are encouraged to learn through enquiry and research. They explore a variety of source materials and artefacts. Videos are also used to help them understand how peoples' lives have changed and what might explain those changes. Field trips and visits by theatre groups and experts from local museums are arranged.

Geography
Through the programme of study for geography our pupils develop their knowledge of their local area and compare it to selected overseas localities. Physical and human features are explored and the impact of change on the environment is discussed. Practical work is an important aspect of the teaching of this subject.

Art & Design
Art provides an opportunity for our pupils to express themselves creatively using a variety of materials and media. We encourage them to understand and appreciate different styles of artists and art. They develop their ability to express feelings and opinions about their work and that of others. At the same time we help them respect the value of everyone's efforts. A gallery of artwork is regularly updated in the school.

Design & Technology
All our pupils are encouraged to develop their design, making and evaluative skills. Cookery, sewing and woodwork are used to enable each child to explore their ideas as well as to learn specific skills in these areas.

Music
We have a variety of instruments, including some from other cultures. These enable our pupils to practice and perform their own compositions and to accompany themselves when singing. There are many opportunities to explore musical preferences, encouraging the children to enjoy and learn about different musical styles.
Our pupils are able to receive additional tuition for piano, keyboard, woodwind and brass. Teachers from Music for Schools visit St. Thomas' on a weekly basis.

Physical Education
All of our pupils take part in gymnastics, athletics, games and dance activities. In Years 5 and 6 there is an opportunity to participate in outdoor activities under the supervision of qualified leaders. All of our Juniors are taught swimming skills for one term each year. The sessions take place weekly at The Black Lion Leisure Centre.
St Thomas' takes part in many competitions both local and national and joins with other schools for tournaments and swimming galas.
Health, safety and hygiene issues and how they relate to activities are regularly discussed.
 
Computing
The core of computing is computer science, in which pupils are taught the principles of information and computation, and how digital systems work.The ability to use information communications technology (ICT) effectively is an essential life skill. We aim to give our pupils regular practice at using a range of programs and equipment. They have timetabled access to the computer suite enabling them to develop their ICT skills and they are able to carry out research to enhance their studies in other subjects using a broadband Internet connection. Digital cameras, tape and video recorders are also used to support and develop cross-curricular work.

Languages
From the beginning of Year 3 pupils begin to have formal French lessons in school. We also have two after-school language clubs - Spanish on Monday evenings and French on Tuesdays.

Citizenship 
Citizenship helps to provide our pupils with the knowledge, skills and understanding to prepare them to play a full and active part in society. They will understand how the United Kingdom is governed and how its laws are made and upheld. It will also give them the knowledge to manage their money well and make sound financial decisions.

Extra curricular activities
We have strong links with Gillingham Football Club. They hold coaching sessions after school. There are also after school netball, basketball, cricket clubs and multi-skills club depending on the time of year. Year 1 and 2 pupils are offered a football club through our link to the Howard School Sports Partnership. Separate dance clubs are held for infants and juniors.
Recorder, knitting and art groups meet at lunchtime. Peripatetic instrumental tuition is provided by the Music for Schools Foundation, Medway School of Music and Medway Music Association.

Parental permission is required for any after school activity and are notified in writing of times and dates if their children are involved.

The Governors have a sub-committee, which reviews curriculum issues. The various subject policies are available to view, on request. Additional information may be gained from the class or head teacher.

Sex Education
All our pupils are taught this subject in the context of the Catholic faith, within science and environmental studies. In Year 6 our pupils are helped to come to a knowledge and understanding of the physical and emotional aspects of growing up through discussion with the school nurse and their teachers.

Special Educational Needs (SEN)
* Should a pupil require special help e.g. reading difficulty, they may be withdrawn to be taught in a small group for a part of the week.
* Additional support teachers are provided, to give advice to classroom teachers on techniques that may be used to alleviate problems. You will be invited to take part in this process.
* Pupils at School Action and School Action+ will have an Individual Education Plan.
* Pupils at School Action+ may receive additional support from a classroom assistant.
* Pupils with Statements of Educational Special Need receive the help indicated on the statement.
* The SEN Policy is available from the SEN Co-ordinator at the school.

Homework
This may range from frequent reading to parents, to completing set schoolwork or undertaking research work for topics. Your support, encouragement and interest are important. The Homework Policy is available in school.
 
PLEASE SEE EACH CLASS' CURRICULUM LETTER FOR SPECIFIC SUBJECT CONTENTS