Class Topics

During the Foundation Stage the curriculum is divided into 7 areas of learning and development. These comprise of 3 Prime Areas – communication and language, physical development and personal, social and emotional development. There are also 4 specific areas through which the prime areas are strengthened and applied – literacy, mathematics, understanding the world and expressive arts & design. We ask parents to help us with our assessments in these areas by making observations on chosen monthly areas – see the notice board in the entrance hall.

From Year 1, as the children become ready, they begin to access the National Curriculum. This was introduced following the Education Reform Act 1988 and is for all children aged between 5 and sixteen in local authority maintained schools in England and Wales. The National Curriculum consists of eleven subjects and RE which all children will study at school.

The core National Curriculum subjects are : Maths, English, Science. The foundation subjects are : Design and Technology, Music, History, Art and Design, Geography, Physical Education, Languages, Computing.

From Year 3 the children will follow the Key Stage 2 National Curriculum. Computing is an integral part of all curriculum areas. We are well resourced in this area with interactive whiteboards in each classroom, an ICT suite with a set of iPads and a class set of learnpads. French is taught in KS2.

You will be sent information at the start of each term that tells you what your child will be learning about. The curriculum is arranged to follow a theme that is carefully chosen to meet the needs of the pupils, to cover the legal requirements of the National Curriculum and to try to inspire and excite the children and to promote independent learning. The themes are planned through six areas:

  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
  • Communication, Language and Literacy
  • Creative Development
  • Physical Development
  • Knowledge and Understanding of the World
  • Mathematical Development

The staff at Branscombe believe that the curriculum should be relevant, fun and exciting for all learners. We know that children learn best when they are actively engaged with activities which are practical and take into account the different ways in which children learn and their individual strengths, talents and ways of thinking.

Great emphasis is placed on the pupils developing basic skills in reading, writing and maths but also on learning those key skills of working with others, problem solving, improving their own performance and communication. We use the language of Growth Mindsets and 7Cs (Confidence, Curiosity, Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, Commitment and Craftsmenship) to develop the children’s learning behaviours.

Continuity and progression is built in to the planning. Differentiated approaches to delivery of the curriculum cater for the varying abilities of children. Teachers use a variety of methods including class lessons, group activities and individual tasks. Whenever possible we try to arrange a visit or visitors to school to help the understanding of the theme and to allow the children to really enjoy learning.
The teaching of reading and phonics

We follow the recommendations of the Letters and Sounds scheme and teach synthetic phonics in daily sessions. The usual structure for these lessons is:
  • review recent learning,
  • new learning
  • practise new learning
  • apply skill in wider context
Children read and spell during the course of each lesson.

A number of appealing resources are used in this process, but our main focus is the 'Letters and Sounds' programme as well as using ‘Phonics Play’. This colourful and stimulating resource takes children from the early stage of learning letter-sound correspondences through to in-depth knowledge of vowel digraphs like /igh/ and /aw/ etc. The programme encourages multi-sensory active learning strategies. Several of our resources make use of ICT and the IWB.

Explaining Letters and Sounds and the teaching of phonics 


Letters and Sounds aims to build children's speaking and listening skills in their own right as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills for children starting in the EYFS, with the aim of them becoming fluent readers by age seven.


What Are Phonics Phases?

Phases are the way the Letters and Sounds Programme is broken down to teach sounds in a certain order.

At the same time whole words that cannot be broken down easily, (we call “tricky words”) are taught to the children.

 Phase One

Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.

Phase Two

(Reception) up to 6 weeks
Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.

Phase Three (Reception) up to 12 weeks
The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the "simple code", i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.

Phase Four

(Reception) 4 to 6 weeks
No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.

Phase Five

(Throughout Year 1)
Now we move on to the "complex code". Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.

Phase Six

(Throughout Year 2 and beyond)
 Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.

What are “Tricky words”?

Tricky words are words that cannot be ‘sounded-out’ but need to be learned by heart. They don’t fit into the usual spelling patterns. In order to read simple sentences, it is necessary for children to know some words that have unusual or untaught spellings. It should be noted that, when teaching these words, it is important to always start with sounds already known in the word, then focus on the 'tricky' part.


What are High Frequency words?

High frequency (common) are words that recur frequently in much of the written material young children read and that they need when they write.


What do the Phonics terms mean?

Phoneme: The smallest unit of sound in a word, e.g. c/a/t,  sh/o/p, t/ea/ch/er.

Grapheme: A letter or group of letter representing one sound, e.g. sh, igh, t.

Clip Phonemes:  when teaching sounds ,always clip them short ‘mmmm’  not ‘muh’

Digraph: Two letters which together make one sound, e.g. sh, ch, ee, ph, oa.

Split digraph: Two letters, which work as a pair, split, to represent one sound, e.g. a-e as in cake, or i-e as in kite.

Trigraph:  three letters which together make one sound but cannot be separated into smaller phonemes, e.g. igh as in light, ear as in heard, tch as in watch.

Segmentation: means hearing the individual phonemes within a word – for instance the word ‘crash’ consists of four phonemes: ‘c – r – a – sh’. In order to spell this word, a child must segment it into its component phonemes and choose a grapheme to represent each phoneme.

Blending: means merging the individual phonemes together to pronounce a word. In order to read an unfamiliar word, a child must recognise (‘sound out’) each grapheme, not each letter (e.g. ‘th-i-n’ not ‘t-h-i-n’), and then mergethe phonemes together to make the word.

Mnemonics: a device for memorising and recalling something, such as a hand action of a drill to remember the phoneme /d/.

Adjacent consonants:  two or three letters with discrete sounds, which are blended together e.g. str, cr, tr, gr. (previously consonant clusters).

Comprehension: understanding of language whether it is spoken or written.

In addition to phonic teaching, we teach whole word recognition of common words, significant names and the phonically irregular ‘tricky words’ identified in the Letters and Sounds programme. We also consolidate children’s phonological skills through word play etc with the aim that they are confident at hearing patterns like alliteration, rhyme and rhythm and are able to identify the number of syllables they hear in words.

Children practise their developing reading skills in a variety of contexts. We share-read large texts, work on guided reading texts in small groups and have individual reading books for home reading daily. The latter are selected with the help of teaching staff from our graded reading scheme each stage of which includes fiction and non-fiction titles from a variety of publishers including Oxford Reading Tree and Bug Club. These books are also available online as e-books for your children to work through and include simple quizzes to support them in developing their skills of comprehension. Younger children also enjoy the opportunity of visiting our library each week and choosing a library book to take home.

For more information relating to the Curriculum please speak to Mrs Katie Gray, Executive Headteacher.