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Curriculum and homework

November 2020 update - delivering teaching and learning remotely - Covid-19

At Portway Primary School, we continue to develop both the content of our curriculum, and its delivery.   In response to the coronavirus pandemic, we have ensured that we use Google Classroom (and related G Suite applications) to deliver learning online to those who are not able to come into school for reasons related to the pandemic.

We have developed a whole school policy which outlines the way in which we have developed this provision, which is available as a document to download on this page.

Our curriculum

Our curriculum consists of a number of exciting learning opportunities and activities which promote our trust motto ‘Learning. Together. For life.’ It is a rich, balanced and relevant programme of knowledge and skills, which fulfils all the requirements of the National Curriculum (which sets out the knowledge and skills to be taught in all state-funded schools in England - and is also available on this page of the Newham website), and which is structured to meet the needs of each and every child. In addition to our classroom-based teaching, our children participate in outdoor learning experiences, which support the development of self-esteem and life skills. 

Curriculum overviews for every year group are provided on on the Our Year Groups page.

The way in which we teach our children can be summarised by the statements below, which set out the principles underpinning the curriculum and reflect our school's commitment to developing all aspects of our pupils' lives:

  • Engage - 'hook' learners with a memorable experience; ask questions to find out pupils' interests and provoke pupils' curiosity;
  • Develop - teach knowledge to provide depth of understanding, demonstrate new skills, and provide creative opportunities alongside the delivery of the core skills of reading, writing and mathematics across the curriculum;
  • Innovate - provoke pupils' creative thinking, encourage enterprise and independent thinking, and prepare children to be good citizens; and
  • Express - provide opportunities for reflection, as well as opportunities for shared evaluation and celebration of success, as well as identify next steps to further develop learning.

Parents are provided with paper copies of the published curriculum maps for each half term, which are also available as documents to review/download on this page. 

The National Curriculum states that all schools must offer a curriculum which is balanced, and which promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and in their wider community; and which prepares pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. 

Our teaching is arranged around discreet subjects, which are linked together through a theme for the term/half term.  Each half-term’s teaching is thus structured using a ‘curriculum map’, the design of which (a) reflects the content of the National Curriculum (see below), and (b) challenges our children in their learning. Our teachers work across year groups, across phases, and with subject leaders to ensure that their teaching covers all aspects of the National Curriculum, and encourages and stretches our children in their learning.  Teachers are supported and provided with both school based and external training in order to continue to develop their skills, on an ongoing basis.  

As outlined in the links provided, all children from Year 1 to Year 6 are taught: English, Maths, Science, ICT, PE, Music, Art & Design, Design and Technology (DT), History and Geography. The Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum (for Nursery and Reception children) has its own curriculum page on the website.

We follow the Newham Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education (RE) and have reflection time every week to develop children's Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship (PSHCE) skills and understanding.  Details of how we teach RE, and the link to the understanding of British values, are provided in a document to download on this page.

All aspects of our curriculum are supported by a programme of educational visits/school trips and extra-curricular events (a mixture of events held at school, in London and across the country).  Parents are advised of the arrangements for these events in advance.  Further details are available in the calendar on the website, which is updated on a termly basis.

An overview of our curriculum

An overview of our curriculum, by year group and by subject, for the academic year, is provided as three documents to download on this page – for the autumn, spring and summer terms.

Additional details re our teaching of English and maths are provided below.  Further information regarding our curriculum and the way in which it is taught is provided in our subject policies, copies of which are available under our Model Publication Scheme.  Please contact the school office for further information.

English curriculum and teaching (including phonics) – summary information

The teaching of the National Curriculum for English at Portway consists of the following:

  • The teaching of phonics and the scheme we use: we use the Read Write Inc scheme developed by Rush Miskin.  Children from Nursery to Year 2 have daily phonics teaching sessions. They are regularly assessed and data is analysed to ensure that effective support is provided to ensure that all children make good progress in their phonetic development. Phonics may be taught where needed to children in Key Stage 2 and a personalised programme will be drawn up.
  • Writing: each week, the children undertake a ‘weekly learning journey’, based around the study of a carefully chosen text.  A large variety of texts are chosen, to ensure that there is something of interest for all children.  Spelling, grammar and punctuation teaching, as well as comprehension, is linked to the text being studied.
  • Reading: Alongside the teaching of phonics, we have reading schema. We use a variety of reading schema such as Oxford Reading Tree and Project X Reading Scheme. Having a range of graded books enables teachers to closely match texts to reading development as well as providing children with a richer diet of reading material. All classes are also stocked with a class library of ‘real books’.  Teachers listen to their children read through daily Whole Class Reading sessions.  During guided reading lessons, teachers are able to provide pupils with a varied selection of texts, including phonically decodable books for each phase, from a range of genres. This enables children, even at an early stage of their phonics learning, to see themselves as successful and confident readers, which in turn builds their confidence and thus enjoyment of reading.  Reading books for all year groups are handed out weekly, so that children can read at home every day.  To further promote reading, we subscribe to Bug Club.  Parents are encouraged to look at the website, and to speak to teachers re any further information they might need.
  • Speaking and listening: Children at Portway have opportunities to carry out speaking and listening activities built into daily class practices and whole school events that run throughout the year, in addition to extra-curricular enrichment activities. These include: drama activities such as hot seating, end of term assemblies and debate mate.
  • Handwriting: We start to teach letter formation in Nursery, with children refining their writing as they progress through key stage 2.  Neatly presented work is a continual focus at school.

Maths curriculum and teaching – summary information

The teaching of National Curriculum maths at Portway is designed to: 

  • develop children’s confidence, understanding and enjoyment through encouraging and supporting a positive attitude to mathematics;
  • develop understanding of and efficient use of mathematics in meaningful contexts and to promote its importance in everyday life;
  • integrate and apply mathematical skills and knowledge within the framework of the wider curriculum where appropriate; and
  • to ensure that every child can develop to their full potential in their knowledge and understanding of maths.

Teaching methods and approaches

Children learn about measures, number and how to apply their numeracy skills. This is in addition to focussed teaching time that is set aside to reinforce the learning of times tables and mental arithmetic. 

In Reception, the aim is to have prepared the children for a daily 45-minute maths lesson by the end of the Autumn term.

In lessons, children engage in:

  • The development of mental strategies
  • Written methods
  • Practical work
  • Investigational work
  • Problem solving
  • Mathematical explanation and reasoning
  • Consolidation of basic skills and routines

Throughout school, we have incorporated the Maths Hubs programme to support and supplement the teaching and learning of mathematics.

Key areas covered by the end of key stage 2

Areas covered in the new primary curriculum (as at September 2014) are:

  • number and place value - reading and writing numbers, counting forwards and backwards from any number, place value and solving number problems.
  • number (addition and subtraction) -  solving problems, number bonds and understanding mental and written methods and understanding the inverse operation.
  • number (multiplication and division) -  recalling multiplication and division facts and solving problems to do with multiplication and division.
  • fractions -  recognising, naming and writing fractions.
  • measurement -  choosing and using appropriate units of measurement, converting between units (e.g. cm and mm), time and money.
  • geometry - properties of shape: identifying and understanding the properties of 2D and 3D shapes.
  • geometry - position and direction: ordering and arranging objects in patterns and sequences. Describing position, direction and movement.
  • statistics -  interpreting and constructing tally charts, bar charts and tables etc. and answering questions on interpreting the data.
  • ratio and proportion (year 6) - solving problems involving relative sizes, calculation of percentages and problems to do with scale.
  • algebra (year 6) - use simple formulae, express missing numbers algebraically and finding solutions to simple equations.


At Portway Primary School, we believe that targeted homework is a useful tool to support and consolidate basic skills in maths and English.

To this end, homework is set each week on a Thursday and consists of tasks set to consolidate learning in class in order to support the development of literacy and maths skills. Homework tasks are differentiated to ensure that all children are given challenges appropriate to their current abilities.

Homework should be completed by the child at home and then handed in the following Tuesday. Parents are asked to supervise homework and guide where necessary, but we do encourage pupils to be as independent as possible as they progress through their primary school. If your child is struggling with his or her homework, please speak to the class teacher: it should not become a battleground at home!

We also ask that parents and carers sign off reading homework in the home/school reading book that is provided.

Working in partnership with parents

At Portway, we believe that children learn best when supported by school and home, working in partnership. We thus encourage the following:

  • Reading aloud to children throughout primary school
  • Listening to children read as often as possible
  • Helping children memorise their times tables (supporting the learning at school)
  • Helping children interact with the world around them, using what they have learned at school (e.g. working out change, reading road signs, following directions on a map etc.)

This page was last reviewed in November 2021.

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