Curriculum Overview

The ability to learn and apply new skills throughout their lives is a fundamental requirement for our children living in an increasingly technology-driven world. At Cranborne First we are seeking to enable successful lifelong learners.

As the world changes, we know there is an ever-growing impact on the relevance of traditional knowledge, subject content and skills taught in school.

Alongside the new National Curriculum, we are continually reviewing, evaluating and updating our teaching pedagogy to take account of research, new initiatives and, most importantly, what the children show and teach us. To respond to their needs, interests and aptitudes is our primary motivator.

Through our curriculum, we aim to extend each child’s understanding of themselves and the world they live in. We aim to provide a broad and balanced education that treats each child as an individual and enables him/her to achieve his/her potential and to develop the skills and qualities needed to be a successful learner too. We pride ourselves on working within an environment that celebrates mistakes, because then you know you are on the edge of some super learning! Our children are supported to understand their next steps in learning, how to improve and to reach their targets. Children regularly assess their own and peer work against success criteria and the supportive atmosphere that prevails promotes a joy and priority on learning.

We actively celebrate, uphold and teach British values through our taught lessons, activities and experiences that we offer the children.  We are constantly reviewing this area of our curriculum to identify opportunities which further promote our traditions, values and outlook at school.

In accordance with Government legislation, children follow the National Curriculum. This comprises of separate programmes for Early Years (ages 4-5) and Key Stages One and Two (ages 5-9, Years 1-4).

Early Years Curriculum: Click here

At a glance Curriculum Overview for Years 1 – 4: Click here

Key Stages One and Two Curriculum: Click here

Through detailed planning we provide a curriculum that offers the means and encouragement for every child to achieve their potential. We expect high standards in both learning and behaviour and we aim to give children the skills, support and encouragement to achieve this.

Curriculum Areas

Health and Well-being

This broad area of children’s education covers development in social, spiritual, moral, cultural, mental, physical and economic matters, and prepares children for the opportunities and responsibilities of life.
The school’s curriculum enables children to develop the knowledge, understanding and skills they need to manage their lives, now and in the future. In addition, we aim to develop the qualities and attributes children need to thrive as individuals, family members and members of society.

The curriculum supports children to make healthy lifestyle choices, by teaching them about the benefits of eating a balanced diet and engaging in regular physical activity. Children are taught about how to prevent the spread of infection/germs, including the importance of good hygiene and cleanliness. They are also equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to make safe and informed decisions/to deal with risk effectively i.e. in areas such as road safety and dealing with peer pressure.


Supporting children to develop positive relationships with their peers is another crucial aspect of the school’s PSHE provision, enabling children to explore themes such as friendship and bullying. In addition, children are supported to recognise their own self-worth and to develop strategies to manage a range of emotions.

We are passionate that the school’s curriculum is underpinned by the teaching of key values and opportunities for the children to develop spiritually. We want them to develop their ability to reflect about their own beliefs and those of others and the experiences life brings them. We promote mutual respect and tolerance for all. We aim to give them experiences that prompt awe and wonder, that trigger questions in their minds about themselves and others, and that cause them to reflect about their place in the world and beyond.

We know that by helping them to build their self-knowledge, self-esteem and self-confidence they are more resilient and better prepared to deal with, and be safeguarded from, any radical views that may be expressed. We actively celebrate, uphold and teach British values of democracy and the rule of law through our taught lessons, activities and experiences that we offer the children. We are constantly reviewing this area of our curriculum to identify opportunities which further promote our traditions, values and outlook at school, and that respond responsibly to our community and country.


A literate classroom will be one full of purposeful interaction between children and adults, where genuine conversations spark ideas and allow learners to work on understanding. At Cranborne First School, teachers and learners alike strive to support each other and to celebrate the power and pleasure of language and literacy. Young learners’ attitudes to reading and writing reflect the values of their class, as will their perceptions of their own literacy; where children believe themselves to be readers and writers, they will read and write.

The New National Curriculum for English

The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping children with a strong command of the spoken and written language, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all children:

  • read easily, fluently and with good understanding;
  • develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information;
  • acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language;
  • appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage;
  • write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences;
  • use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas;
  • are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.

Spoken Language

We believe that successful literacy learning takes place where teachers and learners are engaged in dialogue about what is being learned. We help children to develop their speaking and listening skills so they can express themselves accurately and fluently. At Cranborne First School, children’s voices are valued and genuine conversations about what is being learned are a regular aspect of everyday discourse. These skills are nurtured throughout our learning and an integral part of our ethos.


016 May 2015 - Cranborne First- by Ash MillsEngaging children in the pleasures of reading ensures that learning to read never becomes a chore and that, every day, no matter what age or stage of development children are at, books are shared for sheer enjoyment. At Cranborne First we provide many opportunities for reading, including shared reading in English lessons, focused daily guided reading sessions, daily discrete phonic sessions and opportunities for group reading discussion and paired or individual reading.

The national curriculum programmes of study for reading at key stages 1 and 2 consist of 2 dimensions:

  • Word reading
  • Comprehension (both listening and reading)

It is essential that teaching focuses on developing children’s competence in both dimensions.  We know the ability to read is fundamental to children’s development as independent learners.

Word reading includes the use of phonics to decode and recognise familiar words on sight.

Phonological awareness is the understanding that the streams of sounds that are contained in words can be separated into distinct sounds, and that language contains units of sound that are smaller than the word.

This means to learn to read, a child must learn the relationship between sounds and letters, the connections between the approximately 44 sounds of spoken English (the phonemes), and the 26 letters of the alphabet (the graphemes). Phonics is the system of ‘blending’ sounds together to read, and ‘segmenting’ sounds to spell. They are both complimentary and interlinking skills that are taught together.

Phonics lessons teach these skills discretely and enable the children to apply them in all their other learning. We use a mixture of different resources and teaching styles to engage and motivate the children, including magnetic boards and letters, whiteboards and pens, games, flashcards and lively visual programs on our Interactive whiteboards. We have phonic based guided reading books for teachers to use with groups when teaching reading and there are some phonic based home readers in book boxes. The teaching is progressive and follows the “Letters and Sounds” programme which is divided into phases. The exact phase your child is working at will depend on their age, stage of development and readiness. You are welcome to ask your child’s class teacher about the phase and letter sounds they are covering. It would be wonderful if you also support and practise at home.

In the Foundation stage the children’ phonologic awareness and phonic knowledge is developed through a multi-sensory approach to teaching phonics following the daily ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme. This phonological development is supported through their guided and home reading books.

In Key Stage 1 discrete, daily planned ‘Letters and Sounds’ lessons are taught. At the end of Year 1 children take part in the National Phonics Screening Assessment.

In Key Stage 2 children still requiring support with their phonics will receive interventions, which aim to support individual needs of children.

To learn more about our approach to Reading through Phonics >> Click here

Reading Comprehension

Children have a greater ability to comprehend texts when they are taught to make connections between what they know and what they are reading. At Cranborne First School, we provide opportunities for discussion in a wide variety of genres – not only narrative, but informational, persuasive and poetic. New vocabulary and technical words are discussed to actively involve the children in learning word meanings, which improves children’s comprehension. As they gain confidence in reading they will acquire the skills to make predictions and inferences from their reading. To further promote the active development of speaking and listening skills throughout the curriculum, the children participate in discussions and debates, where they are given the opportunity to explain their understanding.

Home Reading

Parents play an important role in helping their child to read. Home reading should be a pleasure, not a chore; we therefore try to ensure that children are reading books that are not too challenging at home. They will then be able to read more fluently and use expression when reading. Parents are encouraged to ask their child questions about the book. Each child has a home reading diary in which parents are encouraged to write comments to teachers about the reading at home. Children are given the opportunity to change their reading books on a daily basis.

Guided Reading

175 May 2015 - Cranborne First- by Ash MillsAt Cranborne First School, guided reading is taught daily in small ability groups, where groups of children will discuss a wide range of texts including, fiction, non-fiction, play scripts and poetry. Throughout the week, groups of children will work with the teacher and teaching assistant to further develop their decoding and comprehension skills. Independent activities will also be set to able the children to engage in activities such as book talk with a partner, formal reading comprehension tasks, practising new strategies, presenting a poem or play or reading simply for pleasure.


The programmes of study for writing at key stages 1 and 2 are constructed similarly to those for reading:

  • Transcription (spelling and handwriting)
  • Composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing)

Transcription includes Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation and Handwriting.


Spelling is taught through the daily phonics lessons in Reception and Key Stage 1. In Key Stage 2 spelling is taught weekly in the SPAG (Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar lessons).  Weekly spellings are also given as part of Home Learning. They may be linked to topic learning or be specific pattern or spelling rules which the children have been asked to learn.

Grammar and Punctuation skills are taught regularly in English lessons and also discretely in Key Stage 2.

Handwriting skills are taught at Cranborne First using the Cranborne Cursive Script. The letters are taught as single letters at first and gradually become joined up writing. The capital letters do not join lower case letters. This form of cursive writing encourages the children to write fluently and also supports the development of spellings when learning patterns and letter strings.


At Cranborne First we believe in developing children’s knowledge about language and the ability to use and apply this knowledge creatively and effectively. Using ‘Talk for Writing’ activities enables the children to communicate their ideas about their writing. These ideas can then be organised and structured into writing activities:

  • Guided writing – in a small group focus lead by the teacher;
  • Shared writing – where the teacher models a writing genre with the whole class;
  • Paired writing – developing writing ideas with a partner;
  • Independent writing.

These writing skills are embedded through the curriculum at Cranborne First, where the children have the opportunity to practise their skills through their cross curricular learning.

150 May 2015 - Cranborne First- by Ash MillsWe follow the National Curriculum for Maths which aims to ensure that all children have a mathematically rich education and they can use and apply their skills across the curriculum. Understanding mathematical processes, concepts and skills is of great importance as we apply it to almost all aspects of our day to day life. At Cranborne First School, maths is taught on a daily basis across the school and throughout the year children will learn about number, place value, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, measurement, geometry and statistics. There is a strong emphasis on the development of mental arithmetic and activities are carried out throughout the school to bring maths to life and ensure real life skills are put into context. We encourage children’s enjoyment and confidence by engaging them in practical and interesting ways. Class teachers also plan opportunities that allow for the development and application of key mathematical skills in other subjects throughout the year.

The New National Curriculum for Maths

The national curriculum for mathematics aims to ensure that all children:

  • become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics, including through varied and frequent practice with increasingly complex problems over time, so that children develop conceptual understanding and the ability to recall and apply knowledge rapidly and accurately
  • reason mathematically by following a line of enquiry, conjecturing relationships and generalisations, and developing an argument, justification or proof using mathematical language
  • can solve problems by applying their mathematics to a variety of routine and non-routine problems with increasing sophistication, including breaking down problems into a series of simpler steps and persevering in seeking solutions

Years 1 and 2

051 May 2015 - Cranborne First- by Ash MillsThe principal focus of mathematics teaching in key stage 1 is to ensure that children develop confidence and mental fluency with whole numbers, counting and place value. This should involve working with numerals, words and the four operations, including with practical resources [for example, concrete objects and measuring tools].

At this stage, children should develop their ability to recognise, describe, draw, compare and sort different shapes and use the related vocabulary. Teaching should also involve using a range of measures to describe and compare different quantities such as length, mass, capacity/volume, time and money.

By the end of year 2, children should know the number bonds to 20 and be precise in using and understanding place value. An emphasis on practice at this early stage will aid fluency.

Children should read and spell mathematical vocabulary, at a level consistent with their increasing word reading and spelling knowledge at key stage 1.

Years 3 and 4

The principal focus of mathematics teaching in lower key stage 2 is to ensure that children become increasingly fluent with whole numbers and the four operations, including number facts and the concept of place value. This should ensure that children develop efficient written and mental methods and perform calculations accurately with increasingly large whole numbers.

At this stage, children should develop their ability to solve a range of problems, including with simple fractions and decimal place value. Teaching should also ensure that children draw with increasing accuracy and develop mathematical reasoning so they can analyse shapes and their properties, and confidently describe the relationships between them. It should ensure that they can use measuring instruments with accuracy and make connections between measure and number.

By the end of year 4, children should have memorised their multiplication tables up to and including the 12 multiplication table and show precision and fluency in their work.

Children should read and spell mathematical vocabulary correctly and confidently, using their growing word reading knowledge and their knowledge of spelling.



The Science curriculum provides opportunities for children to develop their scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding across a range of themes, including plants, human and animal biology, materials, the seasons, rocks, light, forces and magnets, states of matter, sound and electricity.

A key aspect of the Science curriculum is the development of children’s skills to ‘work scientifically’ – this aspect is embedded across all of the scientific themes that children will explore. Working scientifically concerns the approaches and skills that children require to carry out a scientific enquiry and to answer relevant scientific questions. During their time at Cranborne First, children will develop their skills to observe over time; look for patterns; identify, classify and group; carry out comparative and fair testing (controlled investigations); and research using a variety of sources.


The History curriculum provides opportunities for children to develop their history knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world.

At Cranborne First we aim to inspire children’s curiosity to know more about the past.  Children will be encouraged to ask perceptive questions, think critically, weigh evidence, sift arguments, and develop perspective and judgement.  History helps children to understand the complexity of people’s lives, the process of change, the diversity of societies and relationships between different groups, as well as their own identity and the challenges of their time.


The aim of our Geography curriculum is to inspire in our children a curiosity and fascination about the world and its people. During their time at Cranborne First, children will develop their knowledge about a range of places and people, both from the UK (including their own locality) and other parts of the world. The curriculum will develop children’s knowledge of places and countries, along with their understanding of human and physical geography. They will have opportunities to engage in map work and field work.

Religious Education


RE at Cranborne CE VA First School reflects the distinctive quality of our Church aided status. Our aim is that the children develop their understanding of Christian beliefs and traditions, as well as put them into practice on a daily basis.

We recognise that RE can contribute to a child’s personal development, foster a sense of awe and wonder, provoke challenging questions about God and encourage concern and sensitivity towards others. We also aim to develop respect and understanding towards those from other faiths and cultures.

It is statutory for RE to be taught in schools and reported to parents. However, parents do have the right to withdraw their child from RE teaching and Worship if they are able to provide an alternative that provides the same learning objectives, and this could+ be discussed in detail with the school.

The syllabus has breadth and balance ensuring that Christianity is studied at each key stage and that children have the opportunity to learn about another principle world religion. We also include material from other worldviews as appropriate to the curriculum or context.



The Computing curriculum aims to ensure that children become digitally literate – able to use, and express themselves and develop their ideas through information and communication technology. We want them to operate with a suitable degree of competency for their future workplace but also as active participants in an increasingly digital world. Focused skills sessions enable children to develop their computing skills in line with National Curriculum expectations. As part of the Computing curriculum, children are taught to use technology safely and respectfully. Meaning is given to the enhancement of skills when they are given a context in research, presentations and coding activities.

Art and Design

The Cranborne First curriculum provides a wide range of opportunities for children to develop their art and design skills. The children produce creative work across a range of art and media types, including drawing, painting, printing, modelling and sculpting. We build the children’s confidence to talk about different art forms, and encourage them to evaluate creative works. The curriculum provides opportunities for children to explore the work of the world’s great artists, and to begin to develop a sense of the history of art.



We aim to inspire children to develop a love of music and to develop their talent as musicians. Children are active performers and listeners to a range of musical styles. Vocal work is regular and used in all music activities. Children are taught to use their voices expressively and creatively by singing songs and speaking chants and rhymes. Children explore how music is made by creating, selecting and combining sounds investigating pitch, duration, dynamics, tempo, timbre, texture and structure.

The school’s curriculum also provides opportunities for children to listen with developing concentration and understanding to a range of high quality live and recorded music.

The school works with the Dorset Music Service to provide The Musicianship Programme to all children in Year 4. As part of this programme, the children work with a music teacher from the Dorset Music Service (alongside their class teacher), who leads a sequence of music sessions across a term to develop the children’s musicianship skills. For the school year 2016/2017, children will have the opportunity to learn Samba Drumming.

During the school year, children are provided with opportunities to rehearse and take part in a range of musical performances, including singing assemblies and Christmas performances.

Extra-curricular activities extend children’s musical experiences. Children can learn to play the guitar through tuition provided by the Dorset Music Service. There is also a lunchtime club for children to learn to play the recorder.

Design and Technology

The Design and Technology curriculum gives opportunities for children to design and make products that solve real and relevant problems such that their learning is given a context. Children begin to develop their creative, technical and practical expertise to make these products. They are also supported to evaluate and test their ideas and products.

Modern Foreign Languages – French (KS2 only)

Children begin to learn a Modern Foreign Language (French) when they enter Year 3. These sessions are taught discreetly and develop children’s language skills in line with the expectations as outlined in the National Curriculum.

The French curriculum at Cranborne First provides a balance of spoken and written language in a fun and interactive way, with the aim of laying the early foundations for further study.


Find out how we teach sports at Cranborne First School >> Click here

Learning Themes and the National Curriculum

Overview of Learning Themes 2016/2017

Our Learning Themes are planned to provide an appropriate balance of all National Curriculum subject areas across the academic year. Our Whole School Learning Topics this year will be;

Autumn ‘Close to Home’

Spring ‘The Wider World’

Summer ‘To Infinity and Beyond!’