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 click below:
Below is more specific detail, subject by subject.
Reading and writing are central to the school day. The vast majority of our written work links to topic work, teachers creating meaningful reasons, motivations and audiences for writing. Each piece of written work is careful scaffolded through using ‘success criteria’ to guide a child and then marked by highlighting real successes (‘yellow for sunshine’) and an area for improvement (‘green for growth’). Alongside creative writing, children learn, as appropriate, aspects of spelling and grammar.
All children read daily in school from 1.30-2pm. During this time there will be children reading silently, nose in a book; guided reading groups; children reading ebooks on ipads; one to one reading with an adult and related group tasks or it will be 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.
In EYFS and through to Year 1 we use the Letters and Sounds scheme to support a ‘fast and first’ approach to the teaching of phonics. We have a range of ‘learning to read’ books that link books to early letter sounds. As children become more fluent, we use to the PM Benchmark scheme that colour codes levels and thus progression. Before a child progresses up a colour, staff re-assess against the PM Benchmarks running records.
A very important part of Eleanor Palmer is ending each day with a class story, a carefully chosen, often topic related novel read aloud by the classteacher. In our younger classes this may happen 2 or 3 times a day sharing high quality picture books that inspire a love of reading and develop vocabulary.
Our approach is fully described in the policy below.
Mathematics is taught every day too. Children at Eleanor Palmer love maths! We place great emphasis on learning through games, problems and practical tasks coupled with an uncompromising goal of learning and memorising key facts such as times tables as soon as possible and using high quality concrete resources in the early years. Together this approach creates real mathematicians and we have a national reputation for our approach, running courses and welcoming visiting teachers. Our approach is fully described in the policy below.
Maths is a central core aspect of the curriculum. This policy describes our particular approach, for example, how we group children and how we mark work and our emphasis on reasoning, problem solving and developing fluency.
Science may be central to a topic or sit discreetly outside. Children cover a range of early physics (e.g. forces) chemistry (e.g reversible and irreversible change) and biology (e.g. growing plants) topics through practical work, observation and problem solving. We place great emphasis on raising questions, practical work and discussion to develop skills of scientific enquiry.
We want our children to grow up with the skills to use this technology safely and discerningly; to have the life skills that enable them to use it confidently but appropriately. We believe that if we teach our children these skills through a range of relevant, topic based tasks they will become competent and discerning users of IT.
We place emphasis on the teaching of coding (also known as programming) as it is a large part of the computing curriculum. We want even our youngest children to enjoy problem solving; to be confident to have a go, embrace when they have made a mistake and then have a go at correcting it. Using programmes such as Scratch, 2DIY, Flowol and A.L.E.X gives our children the forum to do this.
The Internet is an amazing source of information which enhances learning in many ways. Being ‘e-safe’ means teaching our children what to do when online and faced with strangers asking for details when gaming, if they see inappropriate images or if they experience cyberbullying. We use materials by Kidsmart, Thinkuknow and CBBC Stay Safe to teach our children to be digitally aware.
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 for their topic work – 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 computing is taught in a rich variety of ways!
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 central to the curriculum at Eleanor Palmer as they are the focus of many of our termly topics when children are immersed in each of these subjects and come away with a secure knowledge base.
We want children to know about the history of this country and the wider world and how events have influenced and still influence the world today. Through our topic based approach children learn about continuity, change, cause and consequence in history and apply this learning through posing questions, writing accurate accounts and narratives. Most written work comes from our humanities teaching.
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. We want our children to know key facts about this country and beyond and encourage them to learn the names of oceans, rivers, capital cities etc. Children spend a term each year finding out about a 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 and acquire an understanding of the beliefs, practices and strengths of all faiths, 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 emphasize the aims and values of our school and seek to 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 aptitude.
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.
We use our ring-fenced government sports grant 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 fitness 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 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, who teaches alongside Coach Martin.
Children develop a range of physical skills and learn a range of sports that encourage teamwork and leadership. We encourage and track the aerobic fitness levels of our children through regular activities that promote goal-setting and progress against personal targets. We see the impact of this growth mind-set across their attitude 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.
Within our core principle of inclusivity, Eleanor Palmer children participate in a range of competitive sporting events both within and beyond school. We encourage children to take part in borough-wide events and use our close links with local schools to regularly arrange our own intra-school competitions. Where children show a particular interest or aptitude in a sport, we facilitate links with local clubs to support or develop their talent.
Alongside selective competitions, we arrange inclusive events to ensure all children at Eleanor Palmer have a positive experience of representing their school. These achievements are celebrated in school and children are proud of their contribution. Despite the challenges of Covid, all children took part in our own Cross Country event this year and PE provision has continued through a mixture of live and pre-recorded weekly lessons.
Almost all of our children (and staff!) walk, cycle or scooter to school each day and everyone sees the value of walking as much as possible – for example, we utilise the great resource of Hampstead Heath for class activities and we walk to our swimming lessons each week. All children in Year 1-6 participate in a term of swimming lessons each year – 97% of our current Year 6 (20-21) can swim at least 25 metres.
Our annual Sports Day at Parliament Hill running track is a highlight of the school calendar and children also take part in annual events such as the Camden Swimming Gala, Athletics tournament and Cross Country. We enter a girls and boys team into all KS2 Camden Schools football tournaments and are proud to have won the ‘fair-play’ trophy for the last two years. Although we are a small school, we always finish in the top third of events giving our most athletic children a chance to shine.
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.