Our Curriculum

At Dunalley Primary School our curriculum consists of:  

The Early Years Statutory Framework for Nursery to Reception age children 
Learning and development is divided into seven areas.  

Three Prime areas of learning: Communication and language, Physical development and Personal, Social and Emotional development. 

Four specific areas of learning: Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the world and Expressive arts & design. 

The statutory requirements for the EYFS can be accessed using the link below:

EYFS Statutory Requirements

A helpful parent guide is also available via the link below:

Parent Guide

The National Curriculum core and foundation subjects for Key Stage 1 and 2  
The National Curriculum provides an outline of core knowledge, skills and understanding around which teachers can develop exciting and stimulating units of work and lessons. Our staff have spent considerable time developing their long-term curriculum maps for their year groups to ensure that the full requirements of the National Curriculum are met. These documents outline the content of the curriculum for each year group, across the academic year. They provide insight into what each year group will be teaching. 

We also follow the Gloucestershire agreed syllabus for Religious Education and the Jigsaw scheme of work for PSHE. 

Links to the Curriculum 

National Primary Curriculum in England 
Key Stage 1 and 2 Framework 

Programmes of study by subjects (click on the subject for information): 
Art and Design
Design and Technology
(Key Stage 2 only) 
Physical Education

Our Curriculum 
We balance success in English, mathematics and science within a broad and enriched curriculum that allows our children plenty of opportunities to explore art and design, design and technology, computing, music, history, geography, RE, physical education and French at Key Stage 2. 

Our curriculum is enhanced through a variety of different experiences and opportunities to enable children to further develop their learning and make progress across the curriculum. 

We endeavor to use our school and local environment to provide opportunities to enhance our curriculum such as using our outdoor spaces for science learning, the local park for geography fieldwork, or local venues such as the Holst Museum for history learning as well as taking advantage of Cheltenham’s Literature, Music and Science Festivals. 

We also actively encourage our children to discuss topical news items through ‘Picture News’ - a resource which presents a topical issue to discuss each week both at school and at home. These sessions are also used to highlight and foster British values. 

Our ‘Dunalley University’ programme also encourages children to broaden their learning experiences based on personal choice. Our Year 6 pupils often lead other pupils learning by planning and leading modules, thereby developing their own personal skills and responsibility. 

Our ’50 things to do before you leave Dunalley’ initiative allows children to participate in a range of physical and creative activities and experiences to develop pupils’ well-being as well as experiencing the great outdoors by taking learning outside. 

Developing an appreciation for our environment, and understanding the impact we can have on it, is also an important area of our children’s learning. We aim to develop this through our eco-councillors’ initiatives, using our school garden, encouraging re-using, re-cycling and reducing waste and having the environment as a theme that runs through many of our subject areas, from the literature we read in English, to re-using items to create pieces of art. 

Throughout our year we hold a range of themed weeks or days to support learning such as our Health Week, PSHE weeks and Geography Day as well as national events such as World Book Day and Anti-bullying Week. 

We value the range of extra-curricular opportunities we offer to all pupils as this enables them to pursue and develop their interests beyond the curriculum. Thanks to the staff and external specialists, we are able to offer a diverse range of opportunities including sporting activities, art and craft, computing and music.

Our children’s learning is enhanced through a range of visits and visitors. These provide opportunities for all children to gain experiences to support their learning in class. These vary from history visits to places such as Caerleon to learn about Roman soldiers, to Skillzone to learn how to keep safe in the real and on-line world or visits from authors to inspire reading and writing. 

Our Year 6 children benefit from a week of outdoor and adventurous activities on their residential visit during the Autumn term - a memorable highlight of their time at Dunalley. This allows them to develop, amongst other things, perseverance, resilience and teamwork by undertaking a range of challenging activities such as caving, rock climbing and gorge walking. This experience helps them to prepare for their final year at primary school and the subsequent transition to secondary education.  


Our structured approach to reading is carefully designed to ensure the best results for our children. The teaching of phonics starts as soon as the children enter their Reception year. The scheme of work that we use to teach phonics across EYFS and KS1 is Read Write Inc. Through this structured programme children learn the English alphabetic code: first they learn one way to read the 40+ sounds and blend these sounds into words, then learn to read the same sounds with alternative graphemes. They experience success from the very beginning. Lively phonic books are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and ‘tricky’ words and, as children re-read the stories, their fluency increases. The books provide a thought-provoking introduction and prompts for thinking out loud and discussion. By rereading the texts, the children are enabled to read with a storyteller’s voice. 

Children could not make the progress they do without support from home and we work closely with parents to ensure they understand how to pronounce the phonic sounds correctly and have strategies to develop their child’s reading skills. 

More information to help at home can be found here 

Progression of reading through Key Stage 1 and 2 
As the children move through Key Stage 1, phonics remains a high priority. Once the children have mastered the phonic code thendaily guided reading sessions focus on retrieval and higher order reading skills such as inference and the development of vocabulary using a range of texts – fiction, non-fiction and poetry.  

Children are actively encouraged to read at home. The books that children in Key Stage 1 will initially bring home are all phonetically decodable. Families are encouraged to allow children to read this book 2 to 3 times during the week to ensure fluency and comprehension. The book also contains activities to undertake at home to support reading skills. Once children have mastered the phonic code, they are provided with appropriate colour banded books that they can read with fluency and accuracy to develop reading for meaning.  

As their reading progresses through lower Key Stage 2 and into upper Key Stage 2, we work on developing children’s vocabulary and comprehension skills through structured whole class guided reading sessions. Activities are carefully planned to ensure that reading stamina also develops as children progress through the school. Our class books ensure that all our pupils are exposed to high quality challenging texts. These have been carefully selected to ensure that children experience a range of quality literature. This allows for an immersion in more sophisticated vocabulary and therefore helps them to build their own vocabulary that will be wider, challenging and more specific. 

Our children in Key Stage 2 are also encouraged to read at home and select books from a range of sources. In lower Key Stage 2, the children are guided to books that are colour banded to support their reading fluency and comprehension before being able to select freely from our extensive collections of books in our class and year group libraries. Children who require additional repetition of phonics to consolidate their understanding of the sounds at the start of Key Stage 2, are provided with appropriate targeted support. 

To ensure the best outcome for all our pupils, assessment is used continuously to identify any child who is in danger of falling behind. Targeted interventions are used to help these children ‘catch up’ and their progress is carefully monitored by class teachers and school leaders. 

At Dunalley our writing lessons are based around a rich variety of children’s literature. The books are used as starting points or as models of good writing designed to stimulate and excite our children to be writers. 

Each year group from Reception through to Year 6 uses a range of texts throughout the year. These books – fiction, non-fiction, picture books and poetry are chosen to provide good examples of literature to the children as well as in many cases linking to work in other subject areas. These deliberate book choices cover a range of subjects and genres. 

Our children are taught to write for a range of purposes – such as to entertain, inform, persuade and discuss. Within this, children are taught the requirements for grammar and spelling and their vocabulary is enriched through a targeted approach to word acquisition. 

Across all subjects we develop the subject specific vocabulary needed to communicate and write effectively. 

At Dunalley we place great importance on developing secure and deep understanding, including the use of practical resources and representations to support the teaching and learning of mathematical concepts through a 'mastery' approach. Our children are expected to develop fluency, reasoning and problem solving and planning ensures that all of these elements are planned for. Our medium term plans support teaching by providing a coherent learning journey through the key stages focusing on small steps as key learning points. Teachers use the CanDoMaths scheme to support lesson planning. This allows for teaching and consolidation through the planned units of work to ensure a secure and deep understanding. We place importance on securing understanding of place value, number facts. and written algorithms. In EYFS and key stage 1 we are part of the NCETM mastering number programme. Additional programmes such as TTRockstars and Numbots allow children to practise and consolidate number facts.

Our science curriculum is structured and planned around the National Curriculum requirements using the PLAN resources produced by ASE. It provides the foundations for understanding the world through biology, chemistry and physics. Pupils are taught the essential knowledge, scientific enquiry and vocabulary to develop a sense of excitement and curiosity about the world around them. Science is taught discreetly but teachers make meaningful links with other subjects as appropriate. We use our school environment to enhance our children’s learning where appropriate. We enrich our children’s learning by providing opportunities to work with Cheltenham Science Group in our Dunalley University and provide a science club for our youngest children each year.  

Art and Design 
Our art and design curriculum equips children to learn the knowledge and skills needed to create, invent and experiment to produce their own works of art and craft and design. This includes using great artists and designers as examples. Where appropriate, other subject areas may provide the inspiration for art and design work. You can see some of our fantastic art and design work on display throughout our school. 

Design and technology 
Our design and technology work often makes purposeful links to other subject areas. We use these to provide a context for exploring design and technology. Pupils learn the necessary skills to be able to design, make and evaluate products using a range of materials. We are particularly keen to re-use and recycle materials to make new products as part of developing children’s understanding of environmental issues. 

Children cook a range of foods with a focus on healthy, savoury products and using food grown in the school garden. We actively encourage children to participate in the growing process in our school garden so children begin to understand seasonality and where food comes from. 

Our computing curriculum has been designed to develop pupils’ skills in programming, handling data and presenting content in a wide range of media and multimedia forms. Understanding the suitability, reliability and appropriate use of technology and information underpins the curriculum. Online safety and responsible use of technology is of the utmost importance and as such is addressed every term. The planning and resources for these lessons are provided by National Online Safety and Jigsaw. For our children, being safe online encompasses a wide range of skills including protecting themselves and others from online harms and risks which may jeopardise their personal information, lead to unsafe communications or even effect their mental health and wellbeing.  

Our computing curriculum has been enriched with a significant investment in laptops and iPads. These devices are used across the whole curriculum in order to provide meaningful opportunities for our children to become digitally literate.  

At Dunalley we recognise the importance of geography in developing children’s curiosity and fascination for the world in which they live and the people who live in it. Our geography themes inter-weave developing an understanding of the physical world as well as the humans who live in it and the impact they have. We include within this the skills needed to be a geographer. We are keen to get children out into the local environment to undertake fieldwork from the beginning of their time at Dunalley. We also instill within our children the importance of looking after our planet through our eco-committee and many of our subjects have an environmental theme. 

Our history curriculum aims to instill in children a desire to be curious about the past. We aim to bring our history teaching to life by using visitors and visits to support history learning. Our pupils use their history learning to develop a chronology of the history of the British Isles as well as studying world history through famous people, events and places. Alongside this, they develop the skills needed to be an historian. 

Modern Foreign Languages 
At Dunalley we teach French as our choice of Modern Foreign Language. French is taught using the scheme ‘La Jolie Ronde’ a structured programme that provides opportunities for a positive and enjoyable language learning experience in Key Stage 2. Through an interactive approach children are taught how to communicate through the spoken and written word as well as developing a knowledge and understanding of life in a different country. 

We currently use theCharanga scheme of learning for our music teaching throughout school.  This is a programme of learning that builds pupils knowledge, skills and understanding in music. All children have the opportunity to participate in singing, listening to music from a variety of different times and cultures as well as learning to improvise and develop their own compositions. At Dunalley we also offer a range of additional opportunities for children, all can join our Key Stage 1 and 2 choirs who regularly perform in a variety of events in the local community as well as specialist instrumental tuition from peripatetic teachers. Our accomplished musicians all perform at our annual music celebration and regularly in assemblies. 

Physical Education 
Our planned programme of PE ensures that during their time at Dunalley children experience the full breadth of experiences from gymnastics, dance, games across both key stages and outdoor and adventurous activities and swimming at key stage two. Our children also have opportunities for further physical activity using our ‘daily mile track’. Our children undertake an intensive course of swimming and water safety in Year 4 at the local leisure centreChildren who do not achieve the National Curriculum requirement of proficiently swimming 25 metres as a result of this, are invited to additional lessons arranged by the school.  

A wide variety of before and after school sports are offered by school staff and specialist providers. Our children participate in a wide variety of sports festivals and competitions as part of the Cheltenham and Tewkesbury School Sports Partnership for example cross country, football, rugby, tennis, athletics as well as less traditional activities such as the dance festival, archery and mountain biking. Our athletics team – and in particular, our relay squads - have a reputation for performing exceptionally well in the Cheltenham & District Cotswold Shield Schools Competition. All children across KS1 and 2 have the opportunity each year to participate in a festival or competition with other local schools.  

PSHE – personal, social and health education 
At Dunalley we place great importance on PSHE. Our curriculum is a planned programme of learning that promotes the development of pupils at school and prepares them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.  Pupils acquire the knowledge, understanding and skills they need to manage their lives – now and in the future. We primarily use the ‘Jigsaw’ scheme of work supplemented with resources drawn from the Gloucestershire Healthy Living and Learning Pink Curriculum. As part of our pupils learning, we hold an annual health week where children learn about relationships and sex education as well as drugs education.  
For full details please visit the Jigsaw website. 

Religious Education 
Our RE curriculum follows the Gloucestershire Agreed Syllabus for RE 2017–2022. According to this syllabus, the principal aim of religious education is to explore what people believe and what difference this makes to how they live, so that pupils can gain the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to handle questions raised by religion and belief, reflecting on their own ideas and ways of living. Our RE curriculum helps our children to identify, make sense of and explain religious and non-religious beliefs. They will be able to understand the impact and significance of religious and non-religious beliefs and make connections between beliefs, concepts, practices. 

For full details please read the agreed syllabus RE-Syllabus 2017. 

To obtain additional information on the curriculum we offer please contact us via email to dunalley@dunalley.gloucs.sch.uk