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Whole school topics: 'Move it, move it' and 'What's out there?'

As evidenced by the huge range of pupils’ displayed work, Giggleswick Primary School provides a balanced and broadly-based curriculum, which promotes  fundamental British values and the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of our pupils, preparing them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. Our pupils’ learning environment is stimulating, well-resourced and designed to provide equal access and opportunities for all pupils, regardless of gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, or disability.  We recognise the differing present and prospective needs of all pupils and provide a range of teaching and learning styles to help meet these needs, so our curriculum can be accessed by all pupils.

Some of our cross-curricular work

One of the ways in which we excite and enthuse pupils about the curriculum at our school is by linking aspects of their learning through whole-school termly topics. Devised many years ago, this approach has been reviewed and developed by staff and pupils over the years, to reflect the many educational and curricular changes and developments. Within this approach, we can also deliver the different requirements for our Reception pupils, as well as those for pupils in Y1 – Y6. Pupils regularly confirm their preferences for this varied and stimulating approach to learning, as they are able to develop their language and mathematical skills through purposeful, cross-curricular experiences. These shared, whole-school learning opportunities further secure our ‘family ethos’, where younger pupils can be supported by older pupils and older pupils can also develop their responsibilities and leadership skills, especially through the launch of the new topic on the first day of each term.


We welcome involvement and support from parents/carers in their child’s learning and provide information about how to support or get involved via: newsletters, text messages, home-school booklets, noticeboard in the main entrance foyer, the school’s website, classroom noticeboards, pupils’ displayed work, workshops and information evenings, regular parents’ meetings, pupils’ assemblies, whole school presentations and school staff are always available to discuss any aspects of the curriculum with individual parents, as well. 


For pupils in Reception (aged 4-5 years, the second year of Early Years Foundation Stage), the curriculum includes seven areas of learning and development. The prime areas are: communication and language; physical development and personal, social and emotional development and the specific areas are: literacy; mathematics; understanding the world and expressive arts and design. Pupils are encouraged to learn through play and through their interactions with adults and other pupils within a purposeful, stimulating and structured environment. In addition, in our school Reception pupils are included within all whole-school activities and events, where appropriate.


A large part of our school’s curriculum for pupils in Y1 – Y6 includes the national curriculum, as outlined on the DfE website:


For KS1 pupils (Y1 & Y2: aged 5 - 7 years), this comprises the core subjects of English, Mathematics, Science and the foundation subjects of: Computing, History, Geography, Music, Art and design, Design and technology, Physical Education (PE) and Religious Education (RE). KS2 pupils: Y3 – Y6, aged 7 – 11 years) are taught the above, as well as Languages. In our school, ‘Languages’ is mainly French, which is also taught to KS1 pupils. In addition, all pupils are taught Personal, Social, Health, Citizenship and Economic Education (PSHCEe) and attend daily assemblies which include collective worship. Parents or carers can exercise their right to withdraw pupils from collective worship and Religious Education, if they so wish. 


At Giggleswick Primary School, many aspects of the English, Mathematics and Science programmes of study are developed through the term's topic, providing meaningful contexts and purposeful opportunities for reading, writing, recording, measuring and the application of a range of other skills.



In our school, English is taught through daily timetabled lessons and skills’ development and practice sessions, e.g. reading activities, or ‘fix it’ time, as well as across many other subject areas. Pupils are taught to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others. They are also taught to listen and read fluently so that others can communicate with them.


Spoken language is encouraged and developed across the whole curriculum, as well as during daily English lessons. Pupils are provided with a range of learning experiences to develop their confidence and competence in spoken language and listening skills, for example, they verbalise their thinking, explain and discuss ideas and processes, and clarify their understanding, often through the use of ‘talk partners’. Role-play and drama activities further develop their spoken language, including regular opportunities to present their work to other pupils, the whole school and wider audiences e.g. termly pupils’ assemblies, annual whole-school harvest festival, Christmas presentation and Summer production.


Through reading, pupils are taught word reading and comprehension, in order to acquire knowledge and build on what they already know and develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. To support their reading development, our pupils have access to a wide range of resources, including: a well-stocked school library and weekly book-borrowing system, classroom-based reading libraries, good access to the internet via desktop computers and netbooks, a weekly children’s newspaper, colour-coded reading books and reading schemes (R & KS1), ZPD-graded books and Accelerated Reader (KS2). To further motivate and excite pupils, the school is a member of the Scholastic Book Club, which provides regular opportunities for parents/carers and pupils to order books. We also invite authors and storytellers into school, award certificates for reading effort and progress in KS2 and take part in national and international events which promote reading e.g. World Book Day, National Poetry Day.


In writing, pupils are taught transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing). They have daily activities, which involve aspects of phonics, spelling, vocabulary, grammar and punctuation; they are taught in a systematic and structured way, often in ‘guided writing’ sessions. As writers, pupils are encouraged to draft and re-draft their written work in exercise books or using word processors. They are taught letter formation, learning both printed lower-case letters (a b c ...) and upper-case letters (A B C...) and in Y2, as they become more competent, they are taught to use a cursive style of 'flowing' (or joined) writing, in order to write legibly and at speed.


More details about the English programmes of study can be found on the DfE website:

Some KS1 Maths investigations


In our school, mathematics is taught through daily timetabled lessons and skills’ development and practice sessions, e.g. maths activities, or ‘fix it’ time, as well as across many other subject areas. Pupils are taught to become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics through varied and frequent practice, so that they develop conceptual understanding and the ability to recall and apply knowledge rapidly and accurately. They are also taught to reason mathematically using mathematical language and solve problems by applying their skills to a variety of routine and non-routine problems, including breaking down problems into a series of simpler steps and persevering in seeking solutions.


In KS1, pupils develop confidence and mental fluency with whole numbers, counting and place value, which involves working with numerals, words and the four operations, including with practical resources. They also develop their ability to recognise, describe, draw, compare and sort different shapes and use the related vocabulary; and use a range of measures to describe and compare different quantities such as length, mass, capacity/volume, time and money.


In lower KS2 (Y3 & Y4), pupils are taught to become increasingly fluent with whole numbers and the four operations, including number facts and the concept of place value. They are taught to use efficient written and mental methods and perform calculations accurately with increasingly large whole numbers. They are taught to develop their ability to solve a range of problems, including with simple fractions and decimal place value. Pupils are taught to draw with increasing accuracy and develop mathematical reasoning so they can analyse shapes and their properties, and confidently describe the relationships between them. They use measuring instruments and learn to make connections between measure and number.


In upper KS2 (Y5 & Y6), pupils develop their fluency in written methods for all four operations and extend their understanding of the number system and place value to include larger integers and make connections between multiplication, division and fractions, decimals, percentages and ratio. They are taught to solve a wider range of problems, including increasingly complex properties of numbers and arithmetic, and problems demanding efficient written and mental methods of calculation. Pupils are introduced to algebra, and their work in geometry and measures consolidates and extends their knowledge developed in number. They are taught to classify shapes with increasingly complex geometric properties and they learn the vocabulary they need to describe them.


At all stages of their mathematical development, pupils are encouraged to use practical apparatus and resources to aid their understanding and relate their experiences to real-life situations, such as shopping, weighing ingredients, measuring wood, filling containers, looking for patterns and shapes. These are practical ways in which parents/carers can become involved in their child’s mathematical development.


In addition, all pupils are expected to ‘learn by heart’ their Key Instant Recall Facts (KIRFs) and are assessed regularly on their progress with these. This is another way in which parents/carers can support their child’s mathematical development and further information is provided in pupils’ home-school booklets.


More details about the mathematics programmes of study can be found on the DfE website:


KS2 science lessons - investigating heart rate; using forcemeters; investigating pulleys.


At our school, science is taught through weekly timetabled lessons, as well as across some other subject areas. Pupils are taught to develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding, and develop understanding of the nature, processes and methods of science through different types of science enquiries that help them to answer scientific questions about the world around them. They are also taught the scientific knowledge required to understand the uses and implications of science, today and for the future.


In KS1 (Y1 & Y2), pupils experience and observe phenomena, looking more closely at the natural and humanly-constructed world around them. They are encouraged to be curious and ask questions about what they notice, developing their understanding of scientific ideas by using different types of scientific enquiry to answer their own questions, including observing changes over a period of time, noticing patterns, grouping and classifying things, carrying out simple comparative tests, and finding things out using secondary sources of information. They learn how to use simple scientific language to talk about what they have found out and communicate their ideas to a range of audiences in a variety of ways.


In lower KS2 (Y3 & Y4), pupils broaden their scientific view of the world around them through exploring, talking about, testing and developing ideas about everyday phenomena and the relationships between living things and familiar environments, and by beginning to develop their ideas about functions, relationships and interactions. They learn to ask questions about what they observe and make some decisions about which types of scientific enquiry are likely to be the best ways of answering them, including observing changes over time, noticing patterns, grouping and classifying things, carrying out simple comparative and fair tests and finding things out using secondary sources of information. They are taught to draw simple conclusions and use some scientific language, to talk and write about what they have found out.


In upper KS2 (Y5 & Y6), pupils develop a deeper understanding of a wide range of scientific ideas, through exploring and talking about their ideas; asking their own questions about scientific phenomena; and analysing functions, relationships and interactions more systematically. They encounter more abstract ideas and begin to recognise how these ideas help them to understand and predict how the world operates. They learn how to select the most appropriate ways to answer science questions using different types of scientific enquiry, including observing changes over different periods of time, noticing patterns, grouping and classifying things, carrying out comparative and fair tests and finding things out using a wide range of secondary sources of information. They also learn how to draw conclusions based on their data and observations, use evidence to justify their ideas, and use their scientific knowledge and understanding to explain their findings.


More details about the science programmes of study can be found on the DfE website:



At Giggleswick Primary School, many of the foundation subjects are linked to the term’s theme. The skills and content of individual subjects are taught, then developed in meaningful and purposeful ways through the whole-school termly topics.



KS2 pupils using Ordnance Survey maps during a geography lesson.


Within this subject, pupils develop their knowledge of the location of globally significant places and their physical and human characteristics. They are taught about the processes that cause the physical and human geographical features of the world, how these are interdependent and how they change over time. Their skills are developed through collecting, analysing and communicating data, often through fieldwork within the locality and through interpreting maps, diagrams, globes and aerial photographs. Pupils are provided with regular opportunities to find out about other countries, through our links with schools in Malawi, France and Spain, as well as from visitors to the school, such as a teacher from Sri Lanka.

Pupils participating in a Victorian toy workshop


Attending our school, situated within an ancient Viking settlement and surrounded by historic buildings (including our main school – dated 1815), develops the pupils’ curiosity about the past. With references to the timelines displayed within the classrooms, pupils are taught about the history of Britain, from the earliest times to the present day: how people’s lives have shaped this nation and how Britain has influenced and been influenced by the wider world. They are taught about significant aspects of the history of the wider world: the nature of ancient civilisations; the expansion and dissolution of empires; characteristic features of past non-European societies; achievements and follies of mankind. They learn to make connections between local, regional, national and international history; between cultural, economic, military, political, religious and social history; and between short- and long-term timescales. Where possible, visitors and historical experts are invited into school (such as our recent cyberdig achaeologists) and study visits are also organised to provide pupils with first-hand experiences, such as the visit to Ribblehead. Rôle-play is used to develop pupils’ historical imagination and ‘living history’ experiences involving pupils dressing in ‘period’ costume’ also support their understanding of history, such as the Victorian school day and toys workshops. 


Through this subject, pupils are equipped to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world. Pupils are taught the principles of information and computation, how digital systems work, and how to put this knowledge to use through programming. Pupils are taught to use information technology to create programs, systems and a range of content, using IT to express themselves and develop their ideas, as active participants in a digital world. Our school is well-equipped with easily-accessible resources to teach this subject, including: interactive whitebaords, desktop computers, netbooks, tablets, digital microscopes and dataloggers, as well as programmable items. Pupils can therefore make regular use of information technolgy across all areas of the curriculum.


Within this subject, pupils are taught the knowledge and skills to experiment, invent and create their own works of art, craft and design. They are challenged, inspired and encouraged to produce creative work, exploring their ideas and recording their experiences through drawing, painting, sculpture and other art, craft and design techniques. They are taught to evaluate and analyse creative works using the language of art, craft and design and they learn about great artists, craft makers and designers, in order to understand the historical and cultural development of their art forms. Their work is often displayed around school, sometimes outside (e.g. the large murals on the fence in the side yard) and pupils also have the opportunity to showcase their work to a wider audience through various community competitions within the locality.


Within this subject, pupils develop the creative, technical and practical expertise needed to perform everyday tasks confidently and to participate successfully in an increasingly technological world. They build and apply their knowledge, understanding and skills in order to design and make prototypes and products for a wide range of users, learning to evaluate and test their ideas and products and the work of others. They are also taught the principles of nutrition and learn how to cook; this work is often linked to the harvesting of our school-grown vegetables, or to school community celebrations, for which pupils proudly design and make the food items.

Some KS2 pupils with their pneumatic toys.


At our school, music is used to engage and inspire pupils creatively, developing their self-confidence and sense of achievement, as they participate and perform. Opportunities are provided for all pupils to take part in musical workshops and concerts led by visiting musicians, recently including Local Authority peripatetic staff; Thom Hardaker - a world-renowned accordion player; Giggleswick & Settle Brass Band; young musicians provided through the youth music development charity - NYMAZ.


Pupils also participate in community-based events involving music. During the past few years, this has involved: carol singing in Settle Market Place for the ‘switch on’ of the Christmas lights, performing at the Parish Council’s over-sixties’ tea party, singing to staff and residents at Anley Hall Nursing Home and country dancing at St. Alkelda’s church Garden Party. All pupils take part in performances in St. Alkelda’s church at Harvest and at Christmas and also perform their Summer production in the Richard Whiteley Theatre at Giggleswick School.


In addition, all pupils have weekly timetabled music lessons and a weekly whole-school singing session, as well as regular hymn-singing in assemblies. Within their lessons, pupils are encouraged to create and perform music to the best of their abilities, by singing and by playing a variety of tuned and untuned percussion instruments. They perform, listen to, review and evaluate music across a range of historical periods, genres, styles and traditions, including the works of the great composers and musicians. They create and compose music on their own and with others and are taught about the inter-related dimensions of music: pitch, duration, dynamics, tempo, timbre, texture, structure and appropriate musical notations.


Pupils have an opportunity to learn to play the following instruments: percussion, fife, flute, clarinet, violin, guitar, cello, cornet, trumpet, horn, keyboard, or piano, if they are keen to do so.  Lessons are provided through the Local Authority by peripatetic instrumental teachers who visit the school each week.  The cost of tuition is £67.50 per term and there are various payment options, including remissions for those parents on low incomes. The school is also involved with the Craven School of Music, which provides accordion tuition for pupils. For part of the year, KS2 pupils play together in orchestra sessions. 

Pupils enjoying a jazz workshop given by visiting NYMAZ musicians.


Although small, this school provides a huge range of year-round sporting opportunities for all pupils, either on site or within easy walking distance. Our school is able to offer to pupils opportunities to: develop competence to excel in a broad range of physical activities; ensure they are physically active for sustained periods of time;  engage in competitive sports and activities  and encourage them to lead healthy, active lives. In addition to daily activities such as ‘Wake & Shake’ and KS2 pre-lunch skipping, all pupils have at least twice-weekly P.E. lessons, which (depending on their programmes of study) involve: fitness, games, athletics, outdoor and adventurous activities(OAA), gymnastics, dance and swimming.


We have a well-equipped hall with appropriate apparatus for gymnastics and an excellent sound system for dance activities. All pupils access the village playing field, as well as the hard-surfaced playgrounds on site and during the winter months, we hire the Sports Hall at Giggleswick School. Good use is made of Settle Swimming Pool, where we employ qualified swimming teachers every swimming session, in addition to our staff, so all pupils can enjoy one term of simming lessons.


Currently, all pupils in KS2 have the opportunity to participate in outdoor and adventurous activities (OAA), which involve collaborative cluster schools’ residential visits for pupils in Y3 – Y5 and an OAA day for Y6. For pupils in Y3 and Y4, we alternate bookings at Malham Youth Hostel, Nell Bank near Ilkley and Buckden House near Grassington. Y5 pupils from the cluster schools book the Humphrey Head Centre, near Grange-over-Sands in Cumbria. In addition, good use is made of orienteering courses at Gisburn Forest.


Our school also provides opportunities for dance/drama activities, in which pupils are encouraged to be expressive and creative. Three times a year, their drama skills are extended in ways that include performance and presentations to parents/carers.


In developing our pupils’ physical confidence, health and fitness, we provide many opportunities for them to compete in sport and other activities which build character and help to embed values such as fairness and respect. We make full use of the extensive and varied cluster schools’ programme of sports, which includes events for: cross country, football, cricket, tag rugby, orienteering, golf, badminton, basketball and athletics. In addition, pupils have benefited from rugby coaching, through North Ribblesdale Rugby Club and cricket coaching through Settle Cricket Club.  Pupils have opportunities to participate in range of extra-curricular sports clubs.


Religious education, like many subject areas within this school, shares common ground with other elements in contributing to the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of the children. Lessons are taught in accordance with the North Yorkshire Agreed Syllabus of Religious Education, which includes the teaching of Christianity and other major faiths and sometimes involves visits to places of worship, or learning from visitors to school.


Although non-statutory, our school teaches PSHCEe to all pupils in KS1 and KS2, in order to equip them with a sound understanding of risk and with the knowledge and skills necessary to make safe and informed decisions. Links are made with the National Curriculum and guidance on: drug education, financial education, sex and relationship education (SRE) and the importance of physical activity and diet for a healthy lifestyle, as well as fundamental British Values. All pupils follow the same topics at appropriate levels (Becoming an active citizen, Keeping myself safe, Me & my relationships, My healthy lifestyle, Me & my future, Moving on) and these are continually revisited during their time at our school. The school uses an informal circle-time approach to lessons, key rules and expectations are explained and now embedded with the children. 

KS2 pupils participating in PSHCEe lessons.


In our school, all pupils from Y1 – Y6 (and occasionally in Reception) are taught French and as we warmly welcome visitors to the school, sometimes they have opportunities to learn about other cultures first-hand, as well as speak a few words in other languages, such as Spanish. Through such experiences, pupils deepen their understanding of the world and begin to see links between languages. They are taught to: understand and respond to spoken and written language; speak with increasing confidence and fluency - communicating what they want to say through asking questions and role-play and write, using their developing grammatical awareness. 

Class 3 pupils enjoying a French breakfast!