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




At St Denys Primary School we believe that all children have a right to achieve and follow a ‘growth mindset’ approach to learning where anything is possible (see our Learning Powers’ section of the website for more information). We believe that if everyone learns ‘how to learn’ they can achieve more. From Reception onwards children are taught to develop their five ‘Learning Powers’ of respect, resilience, reciprocity, reflection and resourcefulness. They use these learning skills across the curriculum and beyond. To help the children understand these skills we use our five St Denys Learning Power Characters.


Children right across the school work with a Learning Partner which they change regularly and a key part of the St Denys Curriculum is working collaboratively.


We believe that new experiences will extend the children’s previous learning, and these experiences are most effective where practical and first hand.  We provide differentiated structured opportunities within the learning environment that will enable children to:


  • discuss activities
  • make choices and decisions
  • reflect on their learning
  • accept constructive feedback
  • understand what they need to do to improve
  • solve problems
  • investigate
  • work independently and collaboratively
  • evaluate and modify
  • empathise with others


We follow the National Curriculum which dictates the concepts and skills to be taught for the required subjects, and these will be taught using a variety of teaching styles and strategies, which will be appropriate to the age of the children and the subject being taught. Wherever possible we link learning as much as possible and much of our curriculum is taught through a topic approach.


Every child’s progress is tracked and individual next steps in learning are set. We are also obliged by law to assess children during Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 and assess and test Year 6 children and send progress reports to parents annually.




Reading is one of life’s most essential skills. At St Denys Primary School we strive to ensure that all children will develop a love of books, enthusiasm for promoting their reading skills and grow to be confident, competent readers.


How we teach Phonics


The staff plan fun, interactive phonics lessons using the ‘Phonics Bug’ scheme, supported by other resources where appropriate. Assessments are carried out regularly to ensure children are taught the appropriate “phase” according to their learning needs and not just their age. We provide information for parents about the phonics the children are learning and how to support at home.

There are 6 phases within our :

  • Phase 1 starts at pre-school
  • Phases 2 and 3 and 4 are taught in Reception
  • Phases 4 and 5 in Year 1
  • Phase 6 in Year 2.


However we all know that children are all different and some may need additional time and/or extra support to apply their knowledge and secure their learning.


The Teaching of Reading
In Reception and Key Stage 1 classes, reading is taught through daily phonics lessons with fun differentiated activities to cater for all levels of learning. Planned guided reading sessions take place regularly, so children can apply their phonic knowledge and have the opportunity to learn other reading skills. They begin to learn the four different reciprocal reading skills taught across the school using the characters:



Children in Years 3, 4, 5 and 6 have a mixture of planned guided sessions and  whole class reading lessons, at least three times a week with levelled books and independent follow up work, where they can apply their phonic knowledge, and develop their reciprocal reading skills. Additional resources are used to give extra support to pupils when needed. They also have the opportunity to tackle comprehension activities.

In Key Stage 1 and 2 children have a weekly 'We are Readers' session where they are able to enjoy any reading of their choice. There are also regular times throughout the day when children have opportunities to read independently.

In Early Years , Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2, each child is provided with a Home-School Reading Diary to enable teachers to monitor reading at home and to communicate with parents about reading in school.



At St Denys Primary School, our writing curriculum is based on the Essentials Curriculum and the four main purposes of writing: to entertain, to inform, to persuade and to discuss.


Children develop their writing skills in daily English lessons but they also practice these during a variety of activities across many subjects within the curriculum.


As well as the four main purposes, the writing curriculum can be simplified to the following key objectives for all year groups:



  • To write with purpose
  • To use imaginative description
  • To organise writing appropriately
  • To use paragraphs
  • To use sentences appropriately



  • To present neatly
  • To spell correctly
  • To punctuate accurately


Analysis and Presentation:

  • To analyse writing
  • To present writing


These key learning objectives are not focused on one particular year group. They are common for every year group and in that way the children receive lots of repetition of them and each time they are revisited, we are advancing the children understanding a little bit further.

Moving towards a Teaching for Mastery approach in Maths at St Denys Primary School


Our aim is to equip all pupils with the skills and confidence to solve a range of problems through fluency with numbers and mathematical reasoning, exposing learners to a variety of ways of thinking. We strive to inspire enjoyment, confidence and a deeper understanding of the wonders of mathematics and its applications in everyday life and beyond.


Maths mastery is an approach to teaching which aims to improve pupils’ understanding, enjoyment and attainment in mathematics. Teaching for mastery’s principles include high expectations for every child, ‘depth before breadth’, and a focus on problem-solving and conceptual understanding using a concrete, pictorial and abstract approach. Teaching for mastery is believing that every child can be a mathematician.


From September 2017, we have implemented a whole school teaching for mastery curriculum to achieve the core principles of mastery teaching outlined above (you can read more about these core principles from the National Centre for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics (NCETM) here). As a school, we are part of the second cohort of NCETM mastery specialists and will be reaching out to, and training, other schools from spring 2019. We continue to work with the Solent Maths Hub in one of their Teacher Research Groups into the principles and practice of mastery teaching. In the process of implementing a mastery approach, which needs to be embedded over time, CPD, personalised teacher support, and distributed leadership continue to be integral to achieve consistency across the school.



  • To work within the principles of the 2014 curriculum
  • To improve outcomes for all groups in mathematics, particularly in reasoning and problem solving
  • To build on the higher levels of engagement and enthusiasm and developing abilities to reason and explain we have already seen throughout the school as a result of adopting a Teaching for Mastery approach
  • To be forward looking as part of the NCETM Maths Hubs programme.


What will you see in the classrooms?

  • The belief that all pupils can achieve. Maths teaching at St Denys rejects the idea that a proportion of people ‘just can’t do maths’. There is a positive ethos surrounding maths and high expectations of all children.
  • Lesson design identifies the new mathematics that is to be taught, the key points, the difficult points and a carefully sequenced journey through the learning.
  • Keeping the class working together so that all can access and master mathematics (more whole class teaching and exploration). This means teaching smaller steps and working together as a class more – keeping pace together enables all children to make strong progress. Concepts can be explored in more depth giving children the skills to problem solve with deeper conceptual understanding. To outsiders it may appear that the pace of the lesson is slower, but progress and understanding is enhanced.
  • Procedural fluency and conceptual understanding are developed in tandem because each supports the development of the other.
  • It is recognised that practice is a vital part of learning, but the practice used is intelligent practice that both reinforces pupils’ procedural fluency and develops their conceptual understanding.
  • Precise use of mathematical language and a strong emphasis on partner and whole class discussion of strategies and concepts. It is an expectation that children explain their understanding in every lesson (written or verbal). Sentence stems are used to help children to structure their explanations.
  • Use of physical manipulatives and an appropriate variety of representations used throughout the school to consolidate and deepen children’s conceptual understanding.
  • Challenge through reasoning and problem solving, rather than mathematical content taken from the years above. Children will be working on the same concepts - some children will be let loose to explore in greater depth at some points in the lesson, but all will return to the same journey.
  • Targeted intervention through pre-teaching/flexible intervention to focus on the fluency element of the maths to ensure all children can remain on the same learning journey.
  • A strong focus on basic skills to further develop fluency and speed. Key facts such as multiplication tables and addition facts within 10 are learnt to automaticity to avoid cognitive overload in the working memory and enable pupils to focus on new concepts.


Thank you for your interest in Maths at St Denys Primary School. We are proud of the journey we have started whilst also being conscious that it is a continuing journey as we further explore, develop and refine Teaching for Mastery approaches. As we progress through this journey we are mindful of the aims and rationale which prompted us to start it.


Our aim is to equip all pupils with the skills and confidence to solve a range of problems through fluency with numbers and mathematical reasoning, exposing learners to a variety of ways of thinking. We strive to inspire enjoyment, confidence and a deeper understanding of the wonders of mathematics and its applications in everyday life and beyond.