Teaching & Learning

Early Years

The Early Years consists of a two year old provision, a Nursery class and two Reception classes. Teaching and learning takes place in and outdoors using a range of whole class, small group and 1:1 activities. The learning environment is set up to provide continuous provision for each area of learning. This encourages children to access resources freely and become independent learners by following their own interests as well as learning about the termly topics that are planned for. We use the ‘focus child’ system to assess the progress of each child, and plan next steps for learning. Parents are involved in the process each term as we ask about opportunities and experiences out of school, invite them in for learning journey sessions and lead parent consultations each term. Nursery and Reception take part in whole school activities such as: subject based topic weeks, CAME and the ‘Letters & Sounds’ phonics programme. The Reception curriculum also includes whole school literacy strategies; Talk for Writing; guided reading and guided writing.

Early Excellence

Duncombe Early Years team are currently using the electronic observation tool ‘Early Excellence’.  The tool enables staff to make observations of all children using iPads and link the child’s involvement to the Characteristics of Effective Learning.  Staff can upload photos, videos  and observations of every child and records are added to  each child’s  Learning Journey every term when they are a ‘focus child’.  Strengths and next steps are then identified and planned for accordingly at the weekly team planning meeting.

Parents  are able to access their child’s Learning Journey via the ‘Early Excellence’ website.  The website is secure and parents need to be emailed an invitation from the class teacher to access their child’s records.  Parents only have access to their own child’s records, although some observations may contain photos with other children from the Early Years. Parents can access the app from both  Android and Apple devices.

Early Excellence is a great assessment tool because it also enables parents to view photos and videos of their child’s experiences outside of school, which s/he can share with peers and staff at school.  Having ‘Parents as Partners’ is vital in assessing each child, therefore staff encourage children and parents to share achievements outside of school.

Current parents can log in to Early Excellence here:

Lower Phase

KS1 includes years 1 and 2. The transition from the Early Years curriculum to Year 1 is a key time in a child’s school career. We begin to prepare the children for the shift to a more structured timetable at the end of their time in Reception. We aim to further ease the transition by building opportunities for learning through exploration and play into the Year 1 timetable, particularly in the Autumn term.

All children in Year 1 and 2 attend a weekly assembly which covers local, global and moral issues. We also have singing assemblies and opportunities to celebrate achievements, in order to develop our sense of community. As the children move through KS1, they are encouraged to become increasingly independent and take more responsibility for their behaviour and learning.

Before moving into KS2, the children take their SATs. We thoroughly prepare the children for these tests during their time in Year 2 and aim to send the children forward feeling confident and ready to take on the challenges of KS2. It is common practice for classes to be slightly adjusted between Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 to allow for a more even spread with regards to different groups of pupils.

Middle Phase

The Middle Phase includes Years 3 and 4. This phase represents a crucial stage in our children’s academic and personal development. The transition from KS1 to KS2 can be challenging so we support pupils by focusing on developing their independent learning skills and fostering a nurturing environment that allows children to learn about themselves and others.

Children attend a weekly phase assembly which covers important issues that are relevant to them locally or globally, as well as moral issues. These assemblies nurture a sense of community and are a time when achievements can be celebrated.

Through years 3 and 4 children are encouraged to take on more responsibility for their behaviour, their learning and being part of the school community. By the end of the Middle Phase, children are fully prepared for the challenges of the upper KS2 curriculum.

Upper Phase

The Upper Phase consists of Years 5 and 6. Children in the Upper Phase begin to assume whole school responsibilities. Many Upper Phase children have the opportunity to become a Bully Buster, a Stair Monitor or a Playground Friend. In the Upper Phase children have the chance to take on responsibilities and are encouraged to take on more nurturing roles throughout the school.

The Upper Phase has weekly assemblies with their phase leader or with visiting speakers. Assemblies cover a range of topics which focus on moral issues or other national and international topical issues. We are also lucky enough to have regular, lively music assemblies!

At the end of the Upper Phase, we are always sad to say goodbye to our pupils but we take comfort in knowing that we ensure that all of our children are prepared for life in their new secondary schools: academically, socially and emotionally. Our children know that they are always a part of the Duncombe family and are welcome to visit us at any time.

Our classes

All our classes and rooms are named after famous people who inspire us at Duncombe.

Nursery: Eric Carle & Julia Donaldson

Reception: Judith Kerr & Tony Ross

Year 1: Ernest Shackleton & Francis Drake

Year 2: Florence Nightigale & Marie Curie

Year 3: Isaac Newton & Michael Faraday

Year 4: Charlotte Bronte & William Shakespeare

Year 5: Emmeline Pankhurst & Martin Luther King

Year 6: Nelson Mandela & Winston Churchill

Additional rooms in the school are also named after inspiring individuals: Alan Turing Database, Grayson Perry Art Studio, Helen Sharman Learning Space & Stephen Hawking classroom.