Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural development is the bedrock of the curriculum at Westlands captured in our strapline: Think, Enjoy, Achieve, Marvel. It is often difficult to capture all the amazing experiences and learning opportunities linked to this so we use software called ‘Gridmaker’ which enables us to store all the magic that happens in one central place and of course, our Twitter feed is a constant source of the exciting events and activities that take place.
The well-being and good mental health of all children and staff is at the heart of the school’s ethos. A MAGIC programme (how to be mindful, active, generous, interested and connected) is our whole school approach and every year we return to this with one half term of assemblies devoted to this.
M = Mindful: Children practise meditation and yoga sessions and learn about positive vs negative thoughts.
A = Active: We learn about the importance of being active for good physical and mental health and moderating our screen time. We also discuss the power of nature and enjoyment of the natural world also featured in our curriculum.
G = Generous: We discuss what it means to be generous and how this makes us feel good inside. We regularly raise funds for Jeans for Genes, Children in Need and the Chelmsford Food Bank and for any current crisis such as the Ukrainian refugees and the victims of the Turkish and Syrian earthquakes. There is a whole school Charity Week in the Spring Term where each year group raises funds for their chosen charity linked to their curriculum content.
I = Interested: We recognise that being interested, or constantly learning new skills and knowledge, energises us, excites us, opens new doors and widens our horizons.
C = Connected: We think about the importance of being connected with lots of different people and how talking is good for us. This links with our Voice 21 Oracy programme and our Spread the Happiness initiative that gives children the opportunity to take part in activities designed to improve levels of happiness!
Our curriculum promotes core values: respect, tolerance, equality, inclusivity, kindness and responsibility including for the local and global community summed up in: Be kind. Be safe. Be responsible. We celebrate diversity and the heritage of every individual and ensure that children’s personal, creative, physical and academic development are of equal value. For example, we maintain a link with a school in France to complement sequences of learning in French; Year 4 are given the opportunity to take part in a large scale dramatic production which is then performed at a local theatre and Year 6 visit the V&A museum to explore Islamic art and design.
Our community is diverse with an incredible 23 languages spoken amongst us and is reflected in our curriculum with a focus on how immigration and emigration has shaped our world. For example, Year 4 children learn about the work of Marconi and his impact on the local and global community and members of the Muslim community talk to the children about what their faith means to them. Children in Year 6 study the text ‘Journey to Jo’burg’ exploring themes such as racism and apartheid. Children are encouraged to discuss and debate current affairs such as the purpose of statues in modern Britain. In Year 5, children study the text ‘The Boy at the Back of the Class’ – a story about a Syrian refugee - and the Geography curriculum explores the development of settlement out of the East of London along the Thames estuary into Essex. Children learned about the Windrush generation through a week of assemblies and complementing our curriculum, we considered the experiences of children arriving in England from overseas and the difficulties they might face.
The curriculum provides opportunities for links to the local community such as field trips, litter picking with Love Your Chelmsford and Year 6 meeting elderly residents to hear about life as a young person during World War II. Our Chair of Governors is the local Reverend and she regularly attends our special services and brings Christianity to life with her stories and puppet shows. The school is part of the CTSA (Chelmsford Schools Partnership) and children attend enhancement workshops at the local high schools and various sporting events.
There are a wide range of co-curricular clubs available for children from the free school led clubs featured in our clubs brochure to a variety of lettings including multi-sports, karate and weekend football.
The school is currently working towards achieving the Artsmark quality mark. The curriculum provides opportunities for children to enjoy experiences that broaden their horizons. For example: visiting musicians and dance groups; taking part in the Young Voices concert at the O2; visiting professional artists and poets; going to the West End to see the Lion King. They enjoy cooking and tasting a range of foods from different cultures; visiting places of worship; they visit places of industry such as behind the scenes at Stansted Airport including a talk from police officers and seeing the airport drones in action. Children learn about the best of British people. For example, during Creative Arts Week, an assembly focused on the work of Yinka Shonibare, a British-Nigerian artist whose work explores cultural identity – a great example of positive change whilst continuing to value different cultures.
In the Spring Term, our curriculum centres upon the theme: Rights and Responsibilities. Assemblies in the first half of the Spring Term have weekly themes based on children’s rights including: the right to not be discriminated against and the right to rest, play and take part in cultural and artistic activities. Other assemblies link to the curriculum with weekly themes such as Anti-bullying, Black History month, caring for our planet, children’s rights, classical literature and classical music.
Children learn about how to keep themselves healthy and in the past have worked (via the Pupil Council) with the kitchen staff to improve the range of vegetarian options at lunchtime. The curriculum provides many opportunities to learn about the importance of healthy lifestyles and the school’s Sex and Relationships Education programme further supports this. The school retains the Schools’ Games Award at Gold Level with a recommendation to try to attain the Platinum Level taking part in a wide range of sports competitions including unusual games such as curling and archery.
Children regularly learn about online safety and the importance of mutual respect.’ The Two Johns, former policemen, have given talks about online safety. Children complete detailed surveys on use of internet and internet safety enabling us to address key issues from the results such as the dangers of ‘image sharing’. Year 6 have benefited from workshops around ‘Gangs’ and Crucial Crew workshops. In other year groups, children learn about how to stay safe crossing the road, around water and around dogs as well as Bikeability programmes for the older children.
Pastoral support is strong with two full-time family support workers known as the ‘learning mentors’ and a counsellor who is available to children and families. The school delivers a Level 2 service for vulnerable families or families that are experiencing difficulties and helps with accessing vouchers, hampers and furniture schemes. The school has been successful in achieving the Young Carers Bronze award. We also signpost families to financial support organisations such as Peabody and the National Debt agency and other external organisations to support with other needs and crisis. The school provides a high level of pastoral care for the most disadvantaged children so that they are able to access learning, clubs, music lessons, visits and much more. For example, we have sourced bicycles and supported children in learning how to cycle and each year we run a Challenge Troop programme (linked to the armed forces) engaging pupils in a six week character building course. Other co-curricular experiences and assemblies provide all children with opportunities to build resilience and develop aspirations. For example, this year, children enjoyed workshops from Darren Edwards (a young paraplegic adventurer and athlete).
Children have a strong ‘voice’ in school policy- for example, through the Pupil Council and the ‘Eco School’ project. There are Books and Biscuits sessions and the school is a part of the Chelmsford pupil forum. The ‘learning mentors’ are easily accessible to children first thing in the morning on the gate, and throughout the day including on the playground and they are skilled at gathering children’s views through Voice of the Child work.
Westlands promotes a Growth Mindset with an emphasis from Early Years on being a ‘Have a Go Hedgehog’ and a ‘Don’t Give Up Duck’ through to the end of Key Stage 2 where they are confident learners who enjoy a challenge and are carefully prepared for the transition to secondary school.
The school has its own Breakfast Club and the YMCA provide a Breakfast Club and After School Club on site.
Parents enjoy a range of Parent Workshops and accompany children on school trips. There are SEND coffee mornings and surgeries and the Parent Teacher Association is back up and running with school discos and a Summer Fayre planned.
We are proud of our vibrant school community and warmly welcome you to Westlands.