To be happy, curious and successful members of our local and global communities, we know that the children of John Donne will need to not only achieve highly in reading, writing and mathematics, but also need to thrive in creativity, the arts, their passions and beyond. Our children need to see themselves as expert learners (e.g. as mathematicians, scientists, historians etc) and to understand how they learn best.
Our curriculum approach enables children to become leaders of their own learning, active in their communities, and values educating the whole child, so they can live well in order to learn well.
Our curriculum is:
- Strengthening - our focus on personal and social skills and celebrating individuality builds every child's self-belief and confidence.
- Skills-focused - it gives our children skills for jobs of the future including initiative, resilience, collaboration, creativity, problem solving and independence.
- Adaptive and responsive - to the interests and passions of the children, and to issues affecting our children's lives.
- Aspirational and inspirational - it inspires curiosity, challenges them, and shows our children the range of opportunities available to them in their future lives.
- Community building - it builds a sense of the class and school community, forming strong relationships so that we can achieve and have fun together. It also values building links with our wider community.
- Empowering - it gives our children leadership opportunities and a sense of assertiveness that they can change the world around them for the better.
- Reflective - it gives our children chances to learn by making mistakes and taking risks, and teaches them the value of reflecting on the progress they have made.
Music has always been highly valued throughout John Donne Primary School. Each class receives music lessons from our music specialist, Miss Trotman. Lessons include opportunities for children to perform, compose and improvise. Time is also dedicated to listening and responding to music from a broad range of styles and time periods as well as peer performances. Every child will explore and gain a positive understanding of the elements of music, pitch, pulse, rhythm, tempo and dynamics, using them to improvise, compose and perform their own musical pieces.
In Early Years, the music curriculum is predominantly accessed through the children singing, dancing and listening to musical stories as they progress into Key Stage 1, children will begin to learn about the history of particular styles of music and are introduced to music notation. Children will also begin to use tuned and un-tuned percussion to improvise, perform and compose pieces in small groups or as a whole class along with learning more complex songs.
As children reach Key Stage 2, they will continue to build and develop the skills they learnt in Key Stage 1 through the introduction of whole class ukulele lessons and music technology software.
Weekly singing assemblies mean that children across the school (Year 1-Year 6) are exposed to music from various time periods, cultures and genres and get to enjoy singing alongside their peers within their Key Stage. There are various opportunities throughout the year for children to perform to one another and collaboratively.
John Donne also offers weekly piano, violin and singing lessons that are delivered by Ms Hollweg (our peripatetic music teacher) and Miss Trotman. We also have a school choir, JD singers, who perform to the school, out in the local community and at mass-choir events such as Young Voices at the O2!
For adults that are interested in being part of a choir, John Donne will be re-launching the Community Choir in the New Year, which runs from 3.30pm to 4.30 on a Monday afternoon. If you are interested in being part of our community choir, please speak to the office for more information.
At John Donne, we recognise the importance of our outside space in improving our physical and mental health and the contribution it can make to enhancing the children’s learning experience. Beyond the immediate benefits of fresh air and more physical exercise, learning outdoors and partaking in outdoor activities has been shown to improve problem solving and team building skills as well as supporting the development of communication, understanding and empathy between children.
The importance of outdoor play and exploration as a key to successful learning is widely recognised in the Early Years, but we believe that outdoor play should not stop when the children move on from the Foundation Stage.
We have set up dedicated areas for outdoor activities across the playground such as the garden, the Construction Area and the Forest Kitchen to support these learning opportunities. These include growing our own vegetables for the kitchen, den building, team games and cooking on the fire pit or our very own pizza oven. Across all of these activities, children are encouraged to work collaboratively and show resilience when faced with problems they have to solve.
My role as Outside Learning Coordinator is to provide the children with exciting opportunities for learning and to support the staff in developing their own skills in teaching outside the classroom. I have worked alongside class teachers to provide opportunities that support the learning in class. This has included building bridges out of bamboo canes to look at how communities deal with floods, recreating Ancient Egyptian mud bricks, baking bread and “accidentally” setting fire to a street of model Tudor house to explore how the Fire of London spread so quickly and using our pizza oven to explore the best types of materials to insulate.
Outdoor learning also extends beyond the school with children enjoying local walks, trips to museums and galleries across London as well as city farms and nature reserves. Children in year 5 and 6 are also invited to attend week long residential trips to Nethercott Farm in Devon and Bushcraft camping in Oxfordshire. All of these experiences offer the chance for the children to explore and develop themselves in ways that would not be possible in the classroom environment.
“P is for Poetry” works alongside the Literacy curriculum, encouraging all pupils to engage with words and express ideas confidently. I use both classic and contemporary poems from around the world as the framework for my classes, encouraging pupils to speak clearly, convey ideas and develop their vocabulary, while gaining confidence with reading and sharing out loud. The work culminates with an end-of-term poetry assembly, enabling all participants to recite and perform their class poems.
Working together, each class is introduced to a collection of new poems, linked by a theme, style or poet. We explore the ideas and the feelings of each poem, and incorporate all of this into our own expression of its meaning, making this poem our very own. Using gestures and movement, intonation and articulation, each child enjoys this expressive way of engaging with the poems. During our time together I encourage the children to be bold with their choices and believe in their abilities to perform in front of others. This confidence grows in differing ways, from raising a hand in class, through sharing their ideas about a word or an action, to standing in front of others, with no text in front of them, performing an entire poem from memory. The children find that they enjoy the acting and the challenge of remembering the words and actions.
The other wonderful gift of poetry is how it makes us all feel from within. Being able to climb inside the world of a poem enables our children to develop a sense of belonging and self-worth, creating positive experiences that they can reflect on when necessary. They tell me that, “Remembering a poem and the actions that go with it helps me to feel calm,” and, “When I sit on my own and think about my class poem it relaxes me.”
My many years of experience as a theatre-maker also means that I can confidently enter John Donne Primary into the LAMDA programme of examinations. LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art) is one of the UK’s oldest and most respected awarding bodies, and has offered examinations in communication and performance for over 130 years. During the spring term, “P is for Poetry” prepares learners for their Introductory and Speaking Verse exams - an excellent starting point for children who have never taken an exam before and for those who want to progress further with the programme.
Spanish forms part of John Donne Primary School’s commitment to foster the enthusiasm and enjoyment of learning a new language. Children have the opportunity to understand Spanish language and Hispanic culture, as well as to develop an international outlook in a fun and inclusive learning setting.
Spanish is intended as a gateway to cultivate children’s attention to study a foreign language and develop their interest in the culture of other nations.
Spanish is taught by a specialist native teacher, Señorita Moya, and is tailored specifically to the different KS2 groups and intended to fulfil the attainment targets of the National curriculum of MFL. This way, each year group follows differentiated learning outcomes that encourage children’s understanding and knowledge of the Spanish language to deepen and progress over time. Inclusion is a big part of the learning spirit behind the lessons, both introducing the Spanish language and culture to non-Spanish speakers while reinforcing those with a pre-existing knowledge of the language.
Learning objectives comprise the full spectrum of Spanish, with Oracy, Literacy and Intercultural Understanding. This results in a holistic approach to the target language, with distinct emphasis on the Oracy component (i.e. listening, speaking and spoken interaction). Oracy is important for the target audience to serve as an effective introduction to language and culture through listening, speaking and interacting orally to songs and rhymes, to each other and to native speakers, as well as recorded and on-line speech and songs.
The lessons make extensive use of immersion and target language, which encourages a level playing field across the groups and ensures greater effectiveness via participation. The teaching materials are varied, fun, innovative and highly interactive, intended to stir curiosity, creativity and energise the lessons. Positive motivation and reinforcement are core values of the lessons, establishing rapport and maximising participation within the groups. This teaching approach includes a significant use of kinesthetic tools, which are particularly well suited for children within this age range. They comprise elements like gestures to represent key vocabulary words or graphics to denote concepts delivered via songs, games, etc.
Should you want more details on the Spanish teaching, please don't hesitate to contact the school office for further details