Curriculum > Curriculum Overview

The curriculum describes all the activities and learning experiences that take place in our school. We emphasise the learning of basic skills within a broad and balanced curriculum. Our school curriculum is based on the National Curriculum.

Information regarding the specific themes and content for each class is located under ‘Classes’ pages.

Religious Education

Being a Catholic school, the teaching of R.E is given a high priority. Home, school and parish work together. The spirit of the school's mission statement affirms this with its emphasis on a Catholic community; a welcoming and all inclusive family, valuing the role and contribution of each member. Our commitment to this means that R.E is a vital, central part of our curriculum. It consists of our pupils experiencing the faith of the church in lessons, in worship and in relationships within the school.


Children are taught to communicate orally and in writing from Foundation stage onwards. English is broken down into 4 areas: Phonics and reading, Spelling, Grammar and punctuation and writing.

Phonics and Reading

We teach children to read through a very successful synthetic phonics teaching programme (Ruth Miskin Speed Sounds). Children are taught the 44 letter sounds and names through fun visual ‘ditty’ cards which provide useful reminders for spellings for each sound. The children practise sounding out the words (segmenting) and then blend these sounds together to read the whole word. As well as this, we teach tricky words which cannot be phonetically spelt and in Foundation stage and KS1 phonics sessions are taught and revised daily.

We have a high quality range of levelled reading books which are colour coded to match a reading level. These books start from red colour, where books are fictional stories with little or no words in, to Diamond level, where our more able readers are reading classic novels like Black Beauty. We recognise the need to continually challenge our readers, through these levelled books which run up to Year 6. The children choose their own books from colour boxes, so they can find a text that will motivate them to read. As well as this, children are encouraged to visit our school library and choose their own ‘free reading’ book.

We use a range of publishers from Pearson press, to Oxford Reading Tree, who provide books that support and inspire all ages, abilities and genders, from Floppy’s Phonics (completely decodable books) to Project X, science fiction themed books aimed at boys. Reading is taught at least twice a week through ‘text talks’ sharing of a variety of fiction and non fiction texts, that are read together, and explored in detail, using reading assessment focuses (AFs) which teaches children how to understand a text on a deeper level (comprehension).


Spelling is taught weekly from Year 1 to year 6. Children are taught spelling patterns and rules, as well as common spellings and are tested on these weekly to check on progress. Spelling is taught through dictation, handwriting and through interactive games.

Grammar and Punctuation

At St Joseph’s we recognise the importance of explicitly teaching correct grammar and punctuation from Year 1 up to year 6. We test the children every half term and determine personalised learning plans to challenge and extend our learners. In KS1 grammar is taught every 2 weeks, and in KS2 grammar is taught weekly.


The development of children’s ability to communicate in writing is given high priority and we achieve good standards in this important skill. We teach writing through personalised targets which is very successful and ensures good progress is continually achieved by all learners, regardless of ability.


Mental mathematics and oral work feature strongly in these lessons. As well as the learning of mathematical concepts, children are taught instant recall of addition facts and multiplication tables to ensure that they are well equipped with good basic numeracy skills.


Teaching which is lively, interactive and stimulating forms the basis of these lessons. All children learn science through observing, investigating and experimenting. As children progress through the school they are taught to use their scientific skills, understanding and knowledge, when applying scientific processes and practice to new topics.


In this subject, children learn about the rich heritage of our country and ancient civilisations. We make good use of the local museum, places of historical interest and visitors to school, including actors and drama groups who bring history alive for the children.


We aim to give children an understanding of their own and different environments, the use and misuse of natural resources, and other environmental issues such as pollution and conservation.


We have a first class ICT suite equipped with 30 computers. All classrooms are equipped with interactive whiteboards, which enable teaching and learning to take place in an exciting, stimulating way that was unimaginable a few years ago. We also have a number of iPads and netbooks for use in class.

Design Technology

From early work using construction toys and scrap material, children develop the skills to design, plan, make and evaluate their own creations using a variety of tools and materials.


We encourage children to develop their artistic skills in a creative and imaginative way, giving their ideas visual form. We teach the children about the work of famous artists and help them to gain an understanding of their visual heritage.


We enjoy an excellent musical tradition and there are many opportunities for children to take part in musical activities both inside and outside of the classroom. We have a school choir and, quite exceptionally in a primary school, we have our own school orchestra. From the earliest years, children are encouraged to take part in and enjoy musical activities, leading to children achieving very high standards by the time they leave St Joseph’s. The school offers musical instrument tuition in brass, strings, woodwind, keyboard and percussion, taught by specialist teachers.

Children share their music with the community in outside performances, and musical productions within the school, to which parents are invited.

Physical Education

Children are encouraged to keep fit as part of their education for a healthy lifestyle. Gymnastics, games and dance are taught in each year group and swimming is taught in Year 3.

We have school teams for football, netball, rugby, cricket and athletics, which regularly take part in matches with local schools. We offer an extensive range of after-school sports clubs.

Personal, Health and Social Education

In partnership with parents we prepare children for future adult life. Our personal, health and social education policy deals with all the issues relating to the physical, social and emotional well-being of each child. As part of this, the school has a programme of sex education which follows guidelines from the Catholic Diocese of Plymouth. Parents of children in Year 6 are invited to view teaching materials before they are introduced to the children and may, if they wish, withdraw their child from all or part of sex education, except for those elements taught as part of National Curriculum science.


Teachers use the outcomes of our assessments (currently based on curriculum level descriptors: 'levels') to summarise and analyse attainment and progress for their pupils and classes. Teachers use this data to plan the learning for every pupil to ensure they meet or exceed expectations. Teachers and leaders analyse the data across the school to ensure that pupils identified as vulnerable or at particular risk in this school are making appropriate progress and that all pupils are suitably stretched. The information from assessment is communicated to parents and pupils on a termly basis.

We celebrate all achievements across a broad and balanced curriculum, including sport, art and performance, behaviour, and social and emotional development.


We expect all children to spend an age-appropriate time each evening completing homework, and we ask all parents to co-operate with this policy. Reading, spelling and the learning of tables form the core homework activities in all age groups.