Whitefield Primary School is located in Liverpool, close to the famous football grounds of Anfield and Goodison Park, in an area which is becoming increasingly diverse. Our area is ranked as an area of high deprivation, in the bottom 1% of the most deprived Wards in the country, and so many of the families in our community struggle to make ends meet at times. Our curriculum must first of all seek to remove the barriers that these circumstances might bring.
In our Early Years this means we focus on making sure our children are confident talkers and on developing the foundations of Early Reading through systematic teaching of phonics and sharing our love of stories and books. We follow the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum. We have built our school environment to best enable the early years children to strengthen their core muscles through physical play. They develop through wonderful, exploratory, sensory experiences in our mud kitchen, giant sandpit and urban forest. The children are supported to learn to work together, manage their feelings and ask questions through skilled adult facilitated play. The children learn nursery rhymes and develop their mathematical thinking through direct teaching and exploration.
In Early Years our environment and all our interactions and routines are intentional, and we are proud to partner as a centre of good practice with Early Excellence.
We believe that our students deserve a curriculum that gives them improved life chances by enabling social equity and mobility. We start with a focus on the foundations of English and Maths throughout school, ensuring children experience a broad rich vocabulary; share wonderful stories and books; and are given opportunities to develop a deep understanding of maths concepts through systematic teaching and practical exploration. We use technology creatively to build fluency through practice, increase engagement, and allow us to look back at previous learning so we can see how it builds over time. Our online learning journals also give our families a window into our learning.
Further up the school we want to build in experiences our children might otherwise not have the chance to experience; trips to the beach, to theatres, forests, farms, and the amazing museums and art galleries of Liverpool. We want them to experience campfires, den building, to find out what it’s like inside the Merseytunnel and to be able to attend matches in the big football grounds they live next to. We access the wonderful parks and natural environment on our doorstep, and partner with the award-winning Chester Zoo education team.
We are proud to be from Liverpool and want to learn about the rich heritage of our city. We learn how it has been part of the history of our country through the war, its influence through creative arts, music, sport and poetry.
We learn where our local history influences the wider world through a focus on those areas in our foundation curriculums. We seek to lift up our children’s eyes to widen out their view of their world. Local authors, poets and sportsmen and women are regular visitors.
We are also proud to share that can speak 27 languages within our school, and so we must teach our children to become respecters of different cultures. They grow to understand what we have in common, to know about different faiths and to be accepting of all our school community. Our MFL curriculum allows us to explore and learn a common language and culture. We access the UNICEF Rights Respecting School Award curriculum and use Philosophy 4 children to explore big questions. We link in with Liverpool’s Young Lord Mayor scheme to develop the children’s understanding of democracy.
Many of our families have not themselves had experiences of higher education. We want our children to be informed to choose what options are open to them and whether this is a route for them. We partner with Into University to give the children a chance to understand what it means to study a subject or a skill you are really interested in, the range of learning available including apprenticeships and university; and to understand that learning is for their whole lives. We aim to build resilient, questioning learners, who are prepared to try things and know it’s ok get them wrong. Our children leave Whitefield having been able to explore different career paths and having learned how to express themselves effectively. We recognise the importance of the children attending school every day and teach this to them and their parents explicitly. Thus our PHSE curriculum underpins all that we do.
The city of Liverpool is synonymous with football, and our children are proud of their sporting heroes. They have high expectations of sport and the opportunities which might come from it. They want our sports curriculum to develop their skills and to give them the chance to compete and connect. We work closely with Liverpool FC Foundation to deliver a breadth of sports opportunities. The Foundation also partner with us to use role models within the club to engage and motivate our children to become voracious readers; to engage in social responsibility; to work for the elderly in our community; and to be peer leaders within school.
Statistics show us that the reality is that children and teenagers in our area are vulnerable to criminal exploitation, gang culture, alcohol and drug abuse. In that context it is crucial that our curriculum teaches children how to stay safe and give them the tools to make choices which change their community. This starts in Early Years with an understanding of private parts and appropriate touch using the NSPCC Pantosaurus material building over time to a sophisticated understanding of the dangers of grooming for our older children.
Our curriculum builds on big ideas and concepts so that children have the knowledge and skills to look wider than their immediate context and make different, aspirational choices
For example, annual visits from the “Gangman” make sure that our Year 6 children understand the implications of knife crime and gangs and our digital leaders discuss the pitfalls and dangers of social media. Local police work with groups of children to look after our community and become trusted adults. Our exploration of carefully chosen texts and themes helps us make connections and ask questions about how things work in our own community.
Underpinning all this all of our staff have had training in Attachment and Trauma Sensitive approaches and use the language of growth mindset and self-regulation to enable our children to access learning effectively.
The impact of all this is that children leave Whitefield having achieved excellent academic standards, but also prepared as fluent, resilient, ambitious, lifelong learners ready to thrive in the next stage of their education.
WHITEFIELD PRIMARY – NOTHING BUT THE BEST