For a full explanation of how we teach, how we ensure progression, how we link subjects and the summary of what children learn each term please see Curriculum section
Reading and writing are central to the school day and our curriculum is designed so that children leave EP fluent, comprehending readers with a love of books, and clear and engaging writers who can communicate their thoughts and feelings.
The vast majority of our written work links to topic work and to texts we have carefully chosen to motivate, inspire and broaden children’s knowledge of literature. Teachers create meaningful reasons for writing, with a clear purpose and audience. Each piece of written work is careful scaffolded in small steps to ensure successful learning, and this is balanced with the children having regular independent writing opportunities to show what they know! The teaching of spelling and grammar, essential tools for writing, is embedded in each writing unit.
All children read daily in school from 1.30-2pm and in Year 1, at the start of each day. During this time there will be children reading silently, nose in a book; guided reading groups facilitated by an adult; children reading ebooks on ipads; one to one reading with an adult; or a teacher-led whole class reading session. We place a great emphasis on high quality literature for children, and staff pride themselves in keeping up with new titles hosting book groups for other schools. We spend hundreds of pounds each year on new titles, have carefully curated book corners in each class and a well-used library.
Listening to, reading and performing poetry is embedded in our curriculum, and ending every single day with story-time to develop a love of reading and a wide vocabulary is a non-negotiable!
In Early Years Foundation Stage and through to Year 1 we use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds scheme to support a rigorous approach to the teaching of phonics. We have group reading books which link to the daily phonics teaching, which are read three times in class for decoding, prosody and comprehension. These are then taken home, along with ‘shared reading books’, selected to add to a rich reading diet, which can be read alongside parents and carers. As children become fluent readers in Year 2, we use to the PM Benchmark scheme that colour codes levels and thus progression.
Our approach is fully described in the policies below.
Children (and teachers) at Eleanor Palmer love maths! We teach through games, problems and practical tasks coupled with an uncompromising goal of learning and memorising key facts such as additive facts and times tables as soon as possible. Our curriculum is designed so that our children leave EP fluent mathematicians, with a confidence in problem solving and reasoning; we show how important this is by basing every Monday’s lesson on a problem or game – Monday Funday!
We are committed to a mastery approach in which small steps for learning are taken together as a class, and to challenging our children through rich problems and challenges such as the First Maths Challenge and the Primary Maths Challenge. Important aspects of each maths lesson are: factual recall and fluency; variation of question design to make children really think; well-chosen models, images and concrete apparatus; and reasoning. Our teachers design lessons that are coherent and in which children listen, talk and have ownership of their learning journey.
Deep thinking about the maths curriculum – and a passion for maths – is in our DNA as a school. Our previous headteacher and one of our current co-headteacher, Natalie, are maths specialists and lead Camden’s maths hub, in which we share best practice and learn from other maths leads across the borough and across London. We also work with the National Centre for Excellence In Mathematics, training other teachers as well as our own. We have published several Think Pieces and books which continue to sell to teachers across the UK!
Maths is a central core aspect of the curriculum. Our Maths Policy describes in more detail our particular approach.
Science, taught in weekly lessons across every year, also forms the centre of one topic, allowing for deeper exploration.
Children cover physics (e.g. forces) chemistry (e.g reversible and irreversible change) and biology (e.g. growing plants) through practical work, observation and problem solving. We place great emphasis on raising questions, practical work and discussion to develop skills of scientific enquiry, all of which can happen in our wonderful Science Lab.
At Eleanor Palmer, children learn to use technology confidently, safely, and with discernment.
Coding (also known as programming) forms a large part of our computing curriculum, right from the early years. This is crucial because it teaches them to be confident, to have a go, and embrace when they have made a mistake … debugging it! We use programmes such as Scratch, 2DIY, Flowol and A.L.E.X gives our children the forum to do this.
The Internet is an amazing resource, which can enhance learning in many ways. We place emphasis on being ‘e-safe’ so our children know, for example, what to do when online and asked for details, if they experience cyberbullying… or even better, how to avoid these situations safely in the first place. We use materials by Kidsmart, Thinkuknow and CBBC Stay Safe to teach our children to be digitally aware, and have regular visitors who speak to children and parents and carers about this aspect of the curriculum.
Our children use multimedia programmes such as Keynote, GarageBand and Popplet to enhance and present their learning across all subjects. These allow our children to produce a variety of outcomes in other subjects – slide shows, 3D art, movies, cartoon strips and paintings. Children are taught how to use these with a clear purpose e.g. to make a talking book of the Little Red Hen in Nursery or an animation of the water cycle in Year 5.
We have a suite of 45 laptops available for the children as well as 30 iPads which ensure equity of opportunity.
We have a long established links with the Camden City Learning Centre. All classes visit two or three times a year to participate in working with new technology, new programmes or with hardware we are unable to offer, for example building and programming smart robots using Lego Mindstorms.
History and geography are crucial to the curriculum at Eleanor Palmer as they are the focus of two of our three termly topics when children are immersed in each of these subjects and make links with key concepts from prior topics.
At Eleanor Palmer, children learn about the history of this country and the wider world, and how events have influenced and still influence the world today. Children learn about continuity, change, cause and consequence in history and apply this learning through posing questions, writing accurate accounts and narratives. Much of our written work comes from our humanities teaching, and links are made in twice-weekly assemblies when we regularly look at current affairs.
We approach history, like all subjects, with a critical mind, encouraging children to contrast and compare different accounts, identifying why there might be different interpretations of events.
When the topic focus is geography, children develop awareness of where they live and how it is similar and different to the world beyond. They learn key facts about this country and beyond, for example, the names of oceans, rivers, and capital cities. Children spend a term each year finding out about one place (London, the Caribbean, the Amazon basin…) – its physical and human geography, culture, traditions and what it’s like to live there. Our many trips and school journeys incorporate geographical skills such as map work, looking at aerial photos and making comparative studies.
Our aim is that all pupils understand the nature of religion, acquire an understanding of the beliefs and practices of all faiths, and make links between them – particularly those represented in our school. Each year the children study one world religion in depth as well as working on aspects of social and moral education, and work around Rights.
We have assemblies every day, sometimes as a whole school, sometimes as a ‘Key Stage’, and once a week as a class. This is a chance to come together as a school community, to learn about different faiths and festivals, to reflect on important ideas or to celebrate achievements. As a school we have a ‘determination’ which, to reflect our multicultural community, means that we are exempt from the national requirement to hold a daily act of Christian Collective Worship. Nonetheless, we cover all major events in the Christian year in our assemblies, as well as key celebrations for other faiths.
We emphasise the aims and values of our school and promote children’s spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.
As part of our wider commitment to the arts we ensure all children at Eleanor Palmer receive an introduction to music and music-making at an age when children accept it openly and without preconception. Our curriculum gives children the confidence to know that they can be part of making and enjoying music. From Nursery, pupils gain a secure grounding in musical technique and in the Juniors gain familiarity with more complex stringed instruments – ukulele, violin and cello – which they can later build on.
Laura McWilliam, our part-time music lead, leads whole school singing and creative music lessons for each class. Music is at the heart of much many school shows and events and Laura composes unique songs to enhance each performance. We also join with other Camden Schools for borough wide music events (such as the bi-annual Royal Albert Hall), sing carols at a local old people’s home and attend music technology at the local City Learning Centre.
In addition to this general musicality, Laura leads on the teaching of strings supported by peripatetic teachers. We are very proud of our special Strings Programme, described by OfSTED as ‘unique and exceptional’. All pupils receive free tuition on violin or cello in Year 3, 4 and 5. In Year 6 parents contribute a small fee for children who opt to continue lessons. These lessons makes it possible for all the children to have access to one to one tuition, regardless of background or starting points.
Two highlights of the Eleanor Palmer year are the Summer Concert and EP’s Got Talent – both whole-school, inclusive celebrations of music where children can build their confidence in performing and sharing across a range of musical instruments, singing styles and genres.
Citizenship and Personal, Social and Health Education
PSHE and Citizenship help to give our children the knowledge, skills and understanding they need to lead confident, healthy, independent lives and to become informed, active and responsible citizens. It covers physical health, emotional health and wellbeing, drug education (including alcohol and tobacco), sex and relationship education (SRE), citizenship, anti-bullying, safety and the environment.
We believe that through participating in PSHE & Citizenship, our children will grow to become adults who make sensible choices when faced with issues that are part of growing up. As a Rights Respecting School our approach gives our children an understanding of children’s rights and responsibilities and provides opportunities to develop life skills in a safe, nurturing environment.
Modern Foreign Languages
All classes from Year 3 upwards learn French. It is taught by the classteacher so that it can be fully integrated into class life, for example, linking to topics or answering the register using new conversation learnt. Staff use a range of resources both from the web and from published schemes.
Eleanor Palmer is proud to be an active school that provides an inclusive P.E. curriculum as well as a range of extra-curricular activities to engage and stretch all children. Children look forward to their P.E. lessons, where challenge, praise and success are key, and P.E. has a high status within our school community.
We offer a wide (and changing) range of sports for the children to participate in, which help children to understand the importance of an active lifestyle and associated health benefits. These sports are planned carefully to build skills progressively across the school – see our Progression Map for more information.
Inclusion is central to our ethos so lessons are carefully planned and delivered to ensure all children participate actively and experience success. We teach a wide range of team sports such as basketball, football, cricket and dodgeball and children compete in numerous borough wide events, with selective teams and inclusive squads to engage children of all levels of confidence. Every year we offer free before and after school sports clubs in football, basketball, athletics, tennis, dodgeball, benchball and gymnastics, all of which were full. These were all targeted towards and well-attended by children who would otherwise not access these opportunities.
Children develop a range of physical skills and learn numerous sports that encourage teamwork and leadership. The ‘3 Lap Challenge’ encourages and tracks the aerobic fitness levels of our children, while also promoting personal goal-setting, growth mind-set and aspiration in sports. We see the impact of this growth mind-set across the children’s attitudes to learning in all subjects. All children are expected to push themselves in PE, and ‘Sports Postcards’ are used to feedback positive praise to grownups when children show particular effort.
We hold a Sports Day at Parliament Hill running track each July and take part in annual events such as the Camden Swimming Gala, Athletics tournament, Cross Country (involving all our Junior children) and other inclusive events organized by the borough. We enter a girls and boys team into both the Year 3/4 and Year 5/6 Camden Schools football tournaments and have won the ‘fair-play’ trophy in 19/20 and 20/21. Although we are a small school, we always finish in the top third of events giving our most able children are given a chance to shine.
Almost all of our children (and staff!) walk, cycle or scooter to school each day and we are committed to walking as much as possible – for example, we utilise the great resource of Hampstead Heath for class activities and every class walks to the swimming pool when taking lessons. Swimming lessons have resumed in Autumn 2021. All children in Years 1-6 will participate in a fortnight of daily intensive swimming lessons. In 2021-22 – 97% of our year 6 pupils could swim at least 25 metres.
We use our ring-fenced government sports grant (£17,800 over 2021-22) to support the delivery and provision of P.E. The grant partially funds the work of our specialist sports coach, Martin Lovejoy, who teaches P.E. to all classes from Nursery to Year 6. Coach Martin also mentors identified individuals and smaller groups of children, involving them in extra wellbeing sessions to build up their confidence and levels of activity. He also ensures we network and exploit opportunities beyond the school, for example, utilising the excellent facilities at the nearby Talacre Sports Centre and by linking with the Camden Sports Coaching NVQ Training Programme. Through this programme, we support the Sporting Futures Apprenticeship scheme and have successfully mentored Coach Kane (now employed in Camden) and Coach Rae who teaches alongside Coach Martin.
Art and DT
Creating, making and designing are an integral part of life at EP! Working from our progression map, class teachers plan art and design activities which link to the over-arching topic. In addition, we are very lucky to have an artist in residence, the wonderful Kally Laurence, who works every Tuesday. As well as taking smaller groups for topic related projects, Kally works with a whole class in the afternoon to teach art skills.
In Design Technology, teachers work from the DT Association plans. We also like to work with expert makers and designers and regularly have visitors such as Automaton Workshop and Darcy Turner, metalworker.
Every Spring term we have two big events to inspire designers and makers. Firstly we enter the Young Engineer Award – and have WON the London area award for 3 year groups! The Spring term ends with the legendary Great Egg Race where all pupils build and race eggmobiles in the hall.