Our Distinctiveness

We will offer a distinctive educational model by combining the following elements:

  • The fundamental principles of the Early Years Foundation Stage are continued up to age 7.
  • An emphasis on developing the skills of parents as carers and educators.
  • Thematic, cross-curricular, project-based learning for at least 50% of learning time for 7 to 11 year olds.


In keeping with our ethos, we will emphasise these distinctive qualities:

  • Experiential, open-ended and enquiry-based learning.
  • Problem solving and critical awareness.
  • Placing skills acquisition at the centre of the learning process.
  • Engaging in significant amounts of learning outdoors and off-site.
  • Teachers, parents and other caring adults will be facilitators of, and collaborators with, children’s learning.
  • The importance and value of self-assessment and peer assessment.
  • The importance, value and benefits of play.
  • The importance of child-centred and project-based learning to ensure children take ownership for their learning and develop their own interests and talents.
  • The importance of the arts to encourage free expression, imagination and creativity.


This distinctive model addresses the needs and aspirations of the local population. We recognise that, to improve educational provision in the area, we must first re-engage with the parents. We will provide a model of education that easily involves the parents and is transferable to the home environment. Despite the best efforts of existing schools, many parents report to us that they feel that they are not welcome in schools.


To counter this, we want to provide a radically different model that will:

  • Make it easy for parents to engage with their children’s education.
  • Develop parental nurturing skills.
  • Put children in charge of their own learning.

Play-based Learning

Children begin school in our Reception class where we follow the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum and the learning is very much child centred and play-based. As children enter Year 1 and Year 2 we continue to follow a thematic, child centred approach that values play. By doing this we are providing opportunities for:

  • Children to learn at the pace that is right for them.
  • Improved social and emotional development.
  • Experiential, play-based learning. 

For children, play can be (and often is) a very serious business.

It needs concentrated attention. It is about children learning through perseverance, concentration and attention to detail – characteristics usually associated with work.


Play is not only crucial to the way children become self-aware and learn the rules of social behaviour; it is also fundamental to intellectual development. The “Foundation Phase for Wales” provides a model, with age appropriate learning goals, that has been extended to cater for children up to age 7. 

Phonics and Reading

Synthetic phonics is taught using Read, Write Inc scheme. It enables children to make measured and rapid progress so that they can use phonics to blend and read fluently. Children follow Read, Write Inc scheme from Reception to Year 2. In Key Stage 2 children access daily; individual reading, group guided reading and small group interventions for reading where needed. Real books and texts linked to the curriculum inspire a love of reading. Those children who continue to need support with Phonics access this.


Real Books

Reading is a strength of our school; quality stories, non- fiction books, magazines and newspapers are used to create a stimulating learning environment throughout school and to develop a love of books. Each class has a dedicated time in the day to be told order to develop a love of books and reading.

We use a range of fiction and non-fiction books linked to our topics to support learning.

Reading Scheme

We have integrated decodable reading books including Read, Write Inc reading scheme into our real books to enable children to read books which match the words and sounds they have learnt through phonics. This enables them to become confident and fluent readers quickly and easily.

When children reach Key Stage 2 they use Accelerated Reader. This is an online programme which levels books from our library. Children complete an assessment which tells them their reading level and they can choose a book that is an appropriate level. After they have read the book they complete a quiz which assesses their understanding of the book.

Key Stage 2 children have time each day for independent reading for pleasure. Accelerated reader allows pupils to choose their own books within a range which is accessible for them.


Guided Reading

Guided reading lessons allow children to build their reading fluency and develop comprehension skills including inferring, predicting, retrieving and sequencing. We use high quality texts that enhance children’s understanding of the world around them and develop their vocabulary.


Across school we use a Mastery approach to teaching maths with many opportunities to learn, reason and apply mathematical knowledge in real life situations. We follow White Rose Maths and use their resources. We have our own calculation policy which shows a progression of skills across school to ensure continuity, progression and assessment. We also ensure there are plenty of opportunities for children to revise their learning to support with fluency and recall.


In Early Years we follow the EYFS Curriculum and assess pupils at the end of it against Development Matters. Our unique environment, high staff ratio and opportunities for two days of Outside Learning each week provides bespoke opportunities for learning across the curriculum. We provide rich, high quality learning experiences through our continuous provision, alongside small group teacher led activities.

KS1 and 2 - The International Primary Curriculum

After EYFS we follow the International Primary Curriculum  to provide our personalised thematic curriculum. Through this there are opportunities to learn in each subject at a variety of levels. We map across to National Curriculum expectations to ensure expected coverage and breadth of experience. We have a progression and knowledge of skills for each subject to ensure there are links and continuity across year groups.

Long Term Curriculum Planning

We follow a two-year cycle with KS1, LKS2 and UKS2 covering the same topics. This means that pupils access a wide range of topics/themes across each two year block.

Outdoor Learning

EYFS have two days a week outdoors and KS1 and Year 3 have one day a week outdoors. Children visit a variety of places in the local area including woodlands, beaches, museums and landmarks. This enables children to gain a wider and rich knowledge of the world around them. The Nature Park allows us to provide a number of forest school experiences that include camp fires, using tools and planting. Outdoor learning is also linked to other areas of the curriculum including both core and foundation subjects.


Community Learning

In Years 4, 5 and 6 the children take part in Community Learning each week rather than Outdoor Learning. They are involved in key themes such as growing, cooking, eating, recycling and rubbish, enterprise and our community. This opportunity allows them to develop skills that are needed in the real world such as team work, problem solving, planning and organisation. The children are able to follow their own ideas and interests whilst making an impact in their school, local or wider community. Community learning is linked to the wider curriculum including both core and foundation subjects.

Assessment and Achievement

Like all schools, we must take part in National Testing in EYFS, Y1 (Phonics) Y2 and Y6. We endeavour to take a common sense approach to these moments in time and maintain our unique curriculum throughout. We do not teach to the tests or narrow the taught curriculum.

Each half term we record our teacher assessments and moderate our judgements with other local schools. There are Pupil Progress Meetings for all staff where best practise is shared and interventions are planned.


Prep is offered for all KS2 pupils from 3.30-4pm each evening so that they can complete homework, have help with reading and practise Times Tables Rock Stars.


If you would like to discuss any aspects of the school curriculum, please contact the School Office on 0191 273 9477 or wna-admin@westnewcastleacademy.org


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