The Curriculum at Birley Spa

What does your child learn at school each day? Find information about our curriculum subjects here.


Curriculum Overview



At Birley Spa Primary Academy we believe that all children should:

  • Learn how to communicate effectively (developing speaking and listening skills)
  • Be confident in expressing opinions and articulating feelings
  • Develop and build a rich and varied vocabulary
  • Learn to write in a range of styles for a range of purposes in a range of contexts
  • Use, and understand how to use, grammar and punctuation correctly
  • Apply spelling conventions
  • Produce effective and well-presented work


  • Pupils have access to a wide range of reading opportunities that include:
  • Daily Guided Reading sessions- Teacher led sessions at least twice per week.
  • Whole class reading (developing comprehension skills)
  • Reading with an adult (developing decoding skills)
  • Regular independent reading
  • Home/school reading
  • Hearing books read aloud on a daily basis
  • Reading in other curriculum subjects, including ICT texts

All pupils have been given a Home/School Reading Diary. It has been designed to help families support pupil’s learning at home, keeping you informed about the reading pupils do in school. When it’s not being used, please remind your child to keep their diary in their book folder, or school bag, so it is always available. It will be filled in by pupils when they read independently and by every adult who hears the child read.  Teachers will regularly check the diary to ensure that pupils are consistently reading at home and are choosing appropriate books. They will also record when your child has been heard to read in Guided Reading.


From Foundation Stage through to Y2, children have access to a rigorous phonics programme based upon the use of Letters and Sounds programme and incorporating Read Write Inc Strategies.  The foundations of our Phonics teaching are Teach Practise Apply. The children are taught discreet sounds and then given opportunities within the continuous provision and within other areas of the curriculum.

The Department for Education’s guide for parents, “Learning to Read Through Phonics”, includes information about the Phonics Screening Test that every child has to take in Year One.


Writing Across the Curriculum

Children have the opportunity to write for a range of audiences in a range of different contexts. At Birley Spa Primary Academy, we use the Teaching Sequence for Writing (Read, Analyse, Plan, Write, Review) to structure our teaching and learning of writing.  Children are taught the grammatical processes required to write effectively and we develop their creativity and extend vocabulary through the text-types covered.   To ensure the children have a consistent approach to learning grammar the school will be implementing the Active English Programme from October 2019. 

The children will complete an Exciting Writing challenge 1 x per week.  This allows teachers to evaluate areas that may need additional focus during the next week.  It also allows the children to identify their next steps in learning and to develop the stamina to write for an extended amount of time.



Spelling is a statutory element of the National Curriculum.   Spelling rules, word families and common exception words will all be taught. This is best done through a consistent, systematic approach which builds on the phonics teaching that has been in place for a number of years.

The National Curriculum provides a comprehensive list of spelling rules, families and exceptions to be taught when and in which order. These will be used. At the start of each year, the first half term will be a revision of the previous year groups words i.e. in Year 1 (Phase 2, 3 words), Year 2 (Year 1 words), Year 3 (Year 1 and Year 2 words) and Year 5 (Year 3 and Year 4 words)

Spelling will be given a timetabled slot which leads directly on from the phonics teaching i.e. when children get to Phase 6 Letters and Sounds. There will be a group of children who will need to continue to have phonic teaching, as an intervention in the early part of Key Stage 2 but it should be the aim that the majority of children will be taught at age related expectations as soon as possible.



Following the success of phonics teaching, spelling will be taught daily 15 minutes.

Over one week the sessions will incorporate the following teaching approach:

Monday Teach the spelling rule – root word/prefix/suffix, discuss origins

Tuesday Practise reading the words– meanings/definition – write the word and its definition

Wednesday Practise writing – LSCWC, dots and dashes, other practise activities (see spelling activity pack)

Thursday Practise writing – LSCWC, dots and dashes, other practise activities (see spelling activity pack)

Friday Apply Dictation (to be marked - spelling assessment through dictation)



Letterjoin Font is taught from FS2.  Children will have regular handwriting lessons and there are high expectations of the children transferring these skills into other areas of the curriculum.  Presentation in all areas of the curriculum is to be of the highest standard.

We aim for our pupils to develop a neat, legible, speedy handwriting style using continuous cursive letters that leads to producing letters and words automatically in independent writing. By the end of Year 6 pupils will understand the importance of neat presentation and the need for different letterforms (cursive, printed or capital letters) to help communicate meaning



The children have opportunities to work with a Drama specialist over the course of the school year. 



At Birley Spa Primary Academy, we base mathematics on several key principles. These are:

  • A dedicated mathematics lesson every day based on age-related expectations.
  • Direct teaching and interactive questioning with the whole class and/or groups.
  • The use of models and images to provide children with a concrete understanding of the number system. This includes the use of Numicon.
  • Personalised differentiation, with all pupils engaged in mathematics lessons that are related to year group expectations.
  • Developing maths skills across the curriculum, for example creating and interpreting graphs in science, working with temperatures in geography and using number lines in history.

As a school, we are currently taking a ‘mastery approach’ towards mathematics teaching.  Supported by the NCETM – Developing Mastery in Mathematics Document (2014), we ensure that:

  • Teachers reinforce an expectation that all pupils are capable of achieving high standards in mathematics.
  • The large majority of pupils progress through the curriculum content at the same pace. Differentiation is achieved by emphasising deep knowledge and through individual support and intervention.
  • Teaching is underpinned by methodical curriculum design and supported by carefully crafted lessons and resources to foster deep conceptual and procedural knowledge.
  • Practice and consolidation play a central role. Carefully designed variation within this builds fluency and understanding of underlying mathematical concepts in tandem.

Maths lessons can vary according to the needs of each group of children, however many aspects of a maths lesson will be consistent throughout school.  The usual lesson format is: Revisit/Anchor task, Teach, Practise, Apply, Review (Plenary).  We have organised our curriculum so that topics are revisited regularly and pupils who find specific concepts more difficult to grasp will be given extra support during, before and/or after lessons as capacity allows. Those who demonstrate a secure knowledge will be encouraged to “get going” independently at the beginning of the lesson.

We nurture positive attitudes by matching the task to the child. We feel that successful learning enables children to develop confidence to meet the challenge of new work. To ensure a coherent approach to pupils’ learning, account is taken of what each individual already knows. We model ways to apply learning to everyday situations and help children to develop this skill.

Long Term Planning




Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

Year 5

Year 6


The Wider Curriculum

Here at Birley Spa, we provide a creative curriculum based around the Cornerstones Curriculum, a nationally recognised approach for delivering outstanding learning opportunities for children.

The Cornerstones Curriculum is a creative and thematic approach to learning that is mapped to the 2014 Primary National Curriculum to ensure comprehensive coverage of national expectations. Our new curriculum will be delivered through half termly topics which will provide a rich menu of exciting and motivating learning activities that make creative links between all aspects of our children’s learning.

We believe children learn better when they are encouraged to use their imagination and apply their learning to engaging contexts. Our new curriculum will provide lots of learning challenges throughout the academic year that will require children to solve problems, apply themselves creatively and express their knowledge and understanding effectively across the curriculum.

Cornerstones also provide a rigorous essential skills framework that outlines the end of year expectations in all subjects. These essential skills are tied to activities and are age related so that staff can track children’s progress and identify their individual learning needs.

How it Works?

Children will progress through four stages of learning in each topic – Engage, Develop, Innovate and Express. To find out more about these stages please click on the link through to Cornerstones website:



How can I find out more about the curriculum at Birley Spa?

We produce termly leaflets for parents containing details of what the children will be learning in each class. These will be sent home with the children each term and are also available in each school office.