Northill C of E VA Lower School provides a broad, balanced and relevant differentiated curriculum to: promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school. We equip the children with an adequate grounding, which prepares them for the responsibilities, opportunities and experiences which they will encounter in their transition through childhood to adulthood. The school caters for children between the ages of 4 and 9; the September following their 9th birthday the children leave to start Middle School.
The classes are currently structured as :
Foundation & Year 1 (Hedgehog Class)
Year 2 (Otter Class)
Year 3 & 4 (Squirrel Class)
Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
The youngest children in the school (aged 4 & 5) follow the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum. Learning takes place both indoors and outdoors with a mixture of teacher- and child-led activities. It is our aim that all children will reach their early learning goals by the end of their foundation year. For more information on the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum please visit the web page
Years 1, 2, 3 & 4
Northill operates within the National Curriculum Framework (see PDF download below to view a parents' guide) laid down by Central Government. The teaching of English and Mathematics is daily, with all children's needs being met through quality first teaching and additional support being provided for those children with additional needs. Science, computing and the foundation subjects are taught through a thematic approach using the 'Inspire Curriculum' which covers all the National Curriculum Programmes of Study through a topic-based curriculum.
The school also uses 'Big Maths' daily to support the maths curriculum and 'Big Writing' takes place weekly to encourage high quality, independent creative writing.
We endeavour to keep parents informed about their child’s education and events at school through termly pupil/parent consultations, sharing afternoons, topic grids and newsletters, which can be e-mailed if requested.
Children are taught to read in various ways through out the school. In Hedgehog Class (Foundation and Year 1) the children are heard read individually and regularly throughout the week, as well as in small groups, (guided reading). As the children move through the school there is less emphasis on individual reading and more of a focus on guided reading – where a small group of children, or the whole class, can explore a text in more detail, exploring the plot, predicting what will happen next and discussing the characters feelings.
At Northill, we do not use one specific reading scheme, but use a mixture of phonic-based books eg. Sounds Write and Dandelion Readers, alongside books that help the children to develop their sight words. We also encourage the children to move away from the scheme books once their reading has become more established, to help develop a more extensive vocabulary. In 2016 we introduced Accelerated Reader to year 2,3 & 4. Accelerated Reader is a powerful tool for monitoring and managing independent reading practice, motivating the children to read for pleasure, the children enjoy quizzing on the books they have read and earning points towards their personal targets.
The phonics programme used in reception and year 1 is 'Sounds Write'. The whole staff have been trained to use this programme to ensure that there is a consistent approach in teaching. Having so many staff trained also allows the children to be divided into small groups to ensure all children are being well supported and are making good progress. In years 2-4 the children use 'No Nonsense Spelling' which is a complete spelling programme designed to meet the needs of the 2014 National Curriculum.
The use of the computer is well applied with increasingly more sophisticated developments. Each classroom has networked computers to integrate their use into most areas of the curriculum. Hedgehog class have five computers, Otter class have eight computers and Squirrel class have 10 computers. Supervised internet access is also available. All classrooms have interactive whiteboards to aid teaching and learning. Software for these products is continuously being evaluated to enhance lessons. Voting pads are also used to enhance pupil participation within lessons.
Religious Education (RE) is the education of children in religion and is not to be confused with moral education. In our particular VA school, this subject plays a vital role. As we are so few in number, we have the advantage of sharing our experiences of learning through whole school daily acts of worship. Daily acts of worship are based on themes by the Diocese of St Albans and the schools monthly value. Our local Priest takes a weekly act of collective worship. The emphasis is on the teaching of the Christian faith – bearing in mind that Christianity retains its central place in education. Children attend a Service in church a minimum of once a term.
The background to other faiths is taught and the experiences of children of other faiths within school are drawn upon. The school follows the syllabus and guidelines as recommended by the Diocese of St. Albans, that is the Bedfordshire RE syllabus.
Parents have the right to withdraw their children from all or part of RE or collective worship.
Dr Neil Hawkes, founder of the International Values Education Trust said “What appears to be missing from many schools and society at large is a shared ethical vocabulary, based on universal positive human values, which can provide a sense of direction and vision about how to nurture a positive sense of self, support the raising of academic standards and foster a stable, moral society. It is for this reason that many schools are adopting a values-based education. Values are what we care about most. They help us to make decisions in all aspects of life. They can be inherited from parents or from society.
At Northill, we highlight a value each month. The chosen value is displayed throughout the school. Children are told what it means and are rewarded with a leaf if they show evidence of regularly demonstrating the current value. They put their leaf on our 'Values Tree' during achievement assemblies.
We hope that having a values-based education will help to give our children the skills they need to make good decisions in all aspects of their lives.
Spiritual , Moral, Social and Cultural Education (SMSC)
At Northill C of E VA Lower School, the children and their learning are at the very heart of every decision made. SMSC is a key part of all we do at Northill and its impact is seen both in and outside of the classroom. We believe strongly in a rounded education for our children, rooted in Christian values, which will equip them for life in an ever-changing society.
We recognise that the personal development of pupils spiritually, morally, socially and culturally, plays a significant part in their ability to learn and achieve and also to relate fully to the world in which we live. We therefore aim to provide an education that provides pupils with opportunities to explore and develop:
- their own values and beliefs whilst respecting the values and beliefs of others
- their own spiritual awareness
- their own high standards of personal behaviour
- a positive, caring attitude towards other people
- an understanding of their social and cultural traditions
- an appreciation of the diversity and richness of other cultures
- the difference between right and wrong and have the skills necessary to make judgments independently and appropriately.
Our ‘Values Book’ is a wonderful celebration of SMSC at Northill C of E VA Lower School and is available to share with parents and carers in every classroom.
Physical and Health Education
Physical Education (PE) has always been a priority for this school. We are very privileged to have a wonderful outside area, which includes a generous school field and also an all-weather tennis court. The children have a minimum of two hours' of PE per week. We also make use of local clubs to support the teaching of cricket and tennis. Throughout the school, KS1 and KS2 children take part in sports festivals and competitions with other local schools, as well as taking part in intra-school competitions.