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Curriculum Overview


Children in the Nursery and Reception classes jointly form the Foundation Unit and together work through the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum.

Teacher assessments are made regularly in order to create each child’s Learning Profile; this becomes part of their school record.

Curriculum at Holdbrook

We follow the National Curriculum at Holdbrook Primary School and ensure that we provide a broad, balanced and creative curriculum which allows all our learners to develop and reach their goals.

Our vision is ‘critical thinking for lifelong learners’ and we aim to give pupils the skills to master all concepts whilst leading their own learning.

More information on our creative curriculum as well as English and Mathematics can be found under the Curriculum Information tab relating to each Year Group .


Literacy and Language is an energetic English programme for years 2 to 6 fully matched to the National Curriculum in England.

At it’s core it uses a variety of creative activities to embed key literacy skills, including comprehension, writing, grammar, punctuation and spoken language. Through drama and whole class discussions, children acquire a wide vocabulary and have opportunities to articulate clearly and elaborate their understanding of ideas. It stimulates and challenges children’s thinking to create enthusiastic, lifelong readers and writers.  The structure of the program exposes children at Holdbrook to a range of stories and genres to capture their imaginations.

Teaching Sequence –

Talk and Making Connections

At the start of every unit the talk and making connections activity helps children link texts to their own experience. The main story, poem or playscript in each unit is introduced through a short discussion about other texts with similar themes.


At the heart of Literacy and Language is the engagement with a variety of texts from leading children’s authors and illustrators. The aim of this is to generate the desire for reading for pleasure.

Comprehension is built through a unique three layer approach-Read a story 1, 2 and 3.

Read a Story 1gives the bare bones of the story-characters, setting and plot.

Ready a Story 2gives more information and shows children how language can be used to change or develop readers’ understanding of the text.

It is only at Read a Story 3that the full story is revealed in the Anthology. The children are now able to focus all their attention on the subtleties, nuances and their own interpretations of the text.

Vocabulary Development

Before the children read the text, they are taught the meaning of more challenging words and phrases-both in the context of the story and in real life situations. They explore and discuss these words and phrases in the Word Power activities. They learn how to use the words in their own writing to capture the reader’s interest and imagination. The children also try to use these words in other curriculum areas throughout the week. Children collect their favourite words and the teacher displays the most useful words on the class working wall.


While reading the core fiction or non fiction text the children meet examples of grammar points. The teacher explains the grammar points in the context on the text. The children will complete a follow up activity which is in the context of the core text.


Children build lots of ideas for writing through the comprehension activities. Every day, they record what they have read or talked about, note down exciting new words and make story maps. Teachers also set  up working walls displaying ambitious vocabulary, grammar concepts, mind maps and other related images, which the children can refer to when they are writing.

The children are then shown how to turn all these ideas into an extended piece of writing using a unique three-layer approach- Write a story 1, 2 and 3. The teacher models how to orally rehearse, plan, draft and revise texts, a process mirrored by the children. This de-mystifies the writing process for children and helps them to build confidence.

For further information about the English Curriculum, please visit the national curriculum website below.


What is Phonics?

Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. Children are taught how to recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes; identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make – such as ‘sh’ or ‘oo’ and blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word. Children can then use this knowledge to decode words.

At Holdbrook the children are taught phonics using Letters and Sounds.

Phonics is taught from the Nursery where children are taughtPhase 1. During Phase 1, the children will learn to discriminate sound including environmental and instrumental sounds, alliteration and general voice sounds. This platform prepares the children for the other phases. Phase 1 is continued through to reception if needed.

Phase 2-6 is taught from Reception through to Year 2.  This continues to Years 3, 4 and 5  for children needing extra support.

Sequence of teaching a phonics session

  • Introduction
  • Objectives and criteria for success
  • Revisit and review
  • Teach
  • Practise
  • Apply
  • Assess learning against criteria

Phonics Screening Check

Year 1 children will take part in a Phonics Screening Check in June. The check is designed to confirm whether children have learnt phonic decoding to an appropriate standard. It will identify those children who need extra help to improve their decoding skills. The check consists of 20 real words and 20 pseudo-words that a pupil reads aloud to the teacher. Results will be reported to parents.

Useful website – lots of useful advice on how you can help your child with phonics.


Reading At Holdbrook

At Holdbrook we encourage the children to read for pleasure. The use of high quality books during guided reading sessions, story time and in English  lessons help to engage and support children to become motivated and independent readers.

Individual Reading

We use The Herts for Learning book banded system to track children’s reading. The book band starts at Pink and progresses all the way through to Lime. Our expectation is that the children are secure readers when they have completed the Lime book band.

In order to achieve this, the children are heard read regularly. For children who are struggling, they are heard at least 3 times a week.

Guided Reading

Guided Reading is taught in both whole class sessions and small group sessions. Teachers focus on the individual reading skills for their particular year group as per the National Curriculum. We also  use the Herts for Learning,  guided reading objectives to further ensure the children are developing all the skills they need to become fluent, efficient and analytical  readers.

Read Comprehension

Once the children have become fluent and efficient readers the focus is on their ability to summarise, analyse, ask critical questions and clarify and critique text. This is achieved through in depth discussions as a whole class or in small groups.

As part of this development of the children’s comprehension skills, we use the Reading Explorers texts for Years 2- 6. It’s a skilled based approach, which promotes specific reading and study skills. The pupils are aware of the specific skills they are hoping to achieve and are actively involved in developing these skills. They are also taught how to analyse the question being asked before they attempt to look for an answer. With this approach, teachers can support the children as they become independent learners and thinkers.

The five thinking and reasoning skills contained in the Reading Explorer texts are:

  • Literal thinking
  • Deductive reasoning
  • Inferential skills
  • Evaluative assessment of texts
  • Study skills which promote wider independent study

The structure of the lessons –

Warm up questions

The questions are usually literal, their purpose being to orientate the children with the text provided.

Essential Vocabulary

These questions or activities support the Main Questions section. They increase children’s knowledge and understanding of words and help to promote an understanding of why certain words were chosen by the author.

Main questions

This is the main body to the lesson ant the types of questions posed here relate directly to the skill being practised.

Evaluative questions

This section does more than simply help the teacher to round off the lesson. It allows the children to speculate on the tone and the purpose of the text, as well as consider the text’s audience.

MATHS (Maths No Problem)

At Holdbrook we have introduced a new maths scheme – Maths No Problem. This scheme is based on the highly effective, research based Singapore method of teaching mathematics.

Lessons and activities are taught using a problem-solving approach to encourage the development of higher-level thinking. Ample time is spent on topics in order to deepen understanding and master concepts. New concepts are initially learned using concrete examples before moving on to pictorial representations and finally abstract symbols. The focus of the series is on teaching to mastery. National Curriculum POS link


The National Curriculum requires children at KS1 & KS2 to study science. Starting in the school year 2017 – 2018, children throughout Holdbrook are following an exciting new science scheme called ‘Engaging Science’. This scheme covers all aspects of the National Curriculum and is supplemented by additional exploration in relevant Cornerstones topics. The life and work of famous scientists are linked to relevant units of work throughout both Key Stages.

The national curriculum for science aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding through the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics.
  • develop understanding of the nature, processes and methods of science through different types of science enquiries that help them to answer scientific questions about the world around them.
  • are equipped with the scientific knowledge required to understand the uses and implications of science, today and for the future.

Further detail about the National Curriculum requirements for science at Key Stages 1 & 2 can be found by following this link:

National Curriculum Science

TOPIC (Cornerstones)

We follow the Cornerstones Interactive Learning Projects scheme of work in order to build a group of well-rounded individuals who love to learn in innovative and dynamic ways. This new scheme has allowed us to create links between pupils’ learning, the classroom environment, the outdoor space as well as consolidate learning through trips and visitors.

Each half-term we engage our children with a new topic, develop their ideas and understanding, allow them to innovate with their new skills and express their ideas using all of their creativity.

Below is a summary of what each year group will be learning about during each half-term. You will find information about their topic, the books they will be reading, the phenomena they will be investigating – as well as information about what they will be studying in each of the foundation subjects during that time.

Ensuring children are exposed to high-quality literature is key to improving vocabulary and writing as well as developing a love for reading that will stay with children for life. We have invested in classic literature which supplements and adds to the curriculum themes. Our English curriculum has also been developed in line with the Cornerstones’ scheme of work so that children’s understanding and application of skills can be developed throughout the school day.

Homework ties in with the curriculum in school- the details for this can be found in our revised Homework Policy.


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At Holdbrook, we are continuing to subscribe to the Cornerstones curriculum which provides a broad spectrum of creating and engaging learning opportunities across History and Geography. Each half term, a new topic is introduced that links with our English topics to ensure high quality writing and comprehension is consistent across all subject areas.

In History the children will be delving into periods of our known history to ages such as the Egyptians and Romans as well as learning more about the local history of Waltham Cross. We will investigate how the decisions and events of the past have shaped today’s world and debate the reasoning for that to develop our curiosity and empathetic skills.

In Geography, we shall be using field studies to tell us about our local area and the effects human impact has on the environment and local wild life which will also include development of the vital skills of map reading and compass directions. The children will compare contrasting locations and countries from around the world such as Mexico to enhance our knowledge of global geographic effects and their impacts on the communities and cultures that live there.


The National Curriculum requires children at KS2 to learn a language. At Holdbrook, we have decided that children will learn Latin. Although this is a ‘dead’ language, it forms the basis of many modern European languages (including English) and will therefore support learning of these languages when children move on to secondary school.

National Curriculum: “If an ancient language is chosen, the focus will be to provide a linguistic foundation for reading comprehension and an appreciation of classical civilisation. Pupils studying ancient languages may take part in simple oral exchanges, while discussion of what they read will be conducted in English. A linguistic foundation in ancient languages may support the study of modern languages at key stage 3.”

Further information about the National Curriculum requirements for languages at Key Stage 2 can be found by following this link:

National Curriculum Languages

For the year 2017 – 2018, all KS2 classes are following the Y3 plan for Latin, as it is new to everybody. In subsequent years, children will move on to the Y4, Y5 and Y6 plans. By the year 2020 – 2021, our ‘Minimus’ Latin programme will be fully rolled out.


At Holdbrook we use Purple Mash for the basis of most of our computing lessons. All pupils have their own unique username and password to access the Purple Mash portal and the use of the 2Simple software so they can use the software at home as well as in school.

What is Purple Mash?

Purple Mash is an award-winning website for primary school children. It is a creative space where children can apply and enhance their knowledge through:

  • Writing in a wide range of formats.
  • Designing and making 3D models.
  • Programming instructions and algorithms.
  • Compiling and interrogating databases.
  • Exploring shape, colour and texture with themed painting.
  • Designing, playing and sharing their own digital games.
  • Engaging with role play through meaningful stimuli.
  • Developing maths skills with games and role play.
  • Creating animations and much more.

The software is full of open-ended tools allow children’s creativity to flourish. Children can create expressive multi-media stories, role play as an astronaut, paint a picture, or compose a multi-instrumental song. The only limit is their imagination!

Purple Mash is a safe environment that does not require any downloading or allow interaction with people online and children cannot make any financial transactions. We will be encouraging the children to continue their learning at home and Purple Mash is a great resource for this. Each year group has it’s own selection of topics, many of which link with the topics that the children are doing in other subjects like History, Geography, Maths and English.

Your child will be taught how to use Purple Mash in school and will be able to use it without supervision, but you may want to take a few minutes to explore it yourself so that you can help them with their work.

Mini Mash – Mini Mash is the area of Purple Mash specifically designed for children in the ‘Early Years’. Inside, you’ll find a virtual classroom packed full of activities for children aged 5 and under.

Creative Tools – There are 20+ open-ended tools inside Purple Mash. They range in complexity from simple painting programs to sophisticated coding tools.

Topics – Purple Mash has over 1,500 ready-to-use writing and painting projects. They cover everything from aliens to the Victorians. You can use the ‘Topics’ tab to browse by subject or, alternatively, use the search bar at the top right of the screen to look for something specific.

Games – There are a variety of games that are really fun to play but also help children practise their maths & English skills. They are a great way to re-enforce learning outside of school hours.

Serial Mash – Serial Mash is all about getting children to read for pleasure. New books are released over the course of a half-term in the form of a weekly serial. The chapters come with a range of fun and educational activities. Serial Mash is great for solo or guided reading and can be read on tablets.

Saving and Sharing Work – Purple Mash lets your child save their work online. It’s very easy, just look out for the floppy disk icon on the toolbar and follow the simple instructions. To access saved files, go to the ‘Online Work’ tab. Once saved you can also ‘share’ work. Just look out for the globe icon on the toolbar.

Logging in – Your child should have come home with their username and password either on a letter or stuck in to their reading or homework log.  Please ask the class teacher if you can’t find it and we’ll re-issue it.

PSHE (Jigsaw)

The Department for Education, as part of the new Primary National Curriculum (2014), stated that Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education would remain non-statutory. It did, however, guide that ‘All schools should make provision for PSHE education, drawing on good practice.’

At Holdbrook Primary School, we teach Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education through the comprehensive scheme of learning called ‘Jigsaw’. During the year, all classes from Nursery through to Year 6 benefit from a weekly, engaging PSHE lesson.

The ‘Jigsaw’ approach has children at its heart and helps them to understand and value who they are and how they contribute to the world. Celebration Certificates are awarded in a weekly assembly, to pupils in each year group, to recognise their contribution to a particular aspect of each theme.



All children have regular PE lessons both with their class teachers and specialist sports teachers. These include indoor gym and outdoor games lessons which focus on particular games or skills.  Children in Key Stage 2 swim once a week for half of the year. A voluntary contribution is requested to cover the cost of swimming.  The children’s achievements in PE are celebrated in a whole school Sports Day at the end of the summer term.



At Holdbrook, we are now following the ‘Music Express’ program for teaching Music. We have decided to change to Music Express as we feel that this will provide the children with the best opportunities to develop their music skills throughout their primary school years.

Every week the children enjoy a music themed assembly where they are taught a range of songs appropriate to the time of year and these are sung during other assemblies. When opportunities present themselves, classes enjoy supporting events in the local community. Year 6 went to The Friary to sing to a Dementia support group who meet there and again for their annual Christmas visit to see the residents. This year Vibrant Partnerships invited the children in year 5 and 6 to sing at a corporate open day at the White Water Center. Singing and music are incorporated into end of term performances to which the parents and carers are invited.


At Holdbrook Primary School, R.E. plays a vital role in promoting pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural understanding (SMSC) and the British Values of democracy; the rule of law; individual liberty; mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith.

We use a programme of study called ‘Discovery RE’.  Christianity is taught in every year group, with Christmas and Easter given new treatment each year, developing the learning in a progressive way. Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism are also covered across the year groups with each year group studying Christianity and one other religion during the year so that religions are covered in depth.

We use an enquiry-based approach that develops knowledge, critical thinking and personal reflection.  Children follow a four step process to examine a key question about each religion:

Engagement– children’s own experiences are discussed.

Investigation– children are guided through an enquiry about an aspect of the religion being studied.

Evaluation– the children’s learning and their conclusions about the key question of the enquiry are drawn together.

Expression– children are taken back to their own experience and reflect on how this enquiry might have influenced their own starting points and beliefs.