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Merley First School


The Curriculum at Merley First School

Growing together to build our future

At Merley First  School we are transforming our curriculum. Leaders are designing the curriculum to develop the academic, physical and emotional well-being of pupils.  The curriculum is planned to be sequential and coherent. It is progressive so it builds on pupils’ previous knowledge and skills. Skills are embedded and therefore can be transferred in a variety of contexts. The curriculum is designed in this way so knowledge is secure in pupils’ long term memory. The curriculum relates to the specific social context of the school and the cultural capital we develop ensures that we will not only inspire but also challenge our pupils in their learning. 

We feel passionately about providing a theme based curriculum where individual subjects are interwoven into our daily learning and where children’s interests can mould and shape the learning experiences we provide.


Behaviour for learning characteristics underpins every aspect of the curriculum. Through consistently high expectations we will give your child the skills to be an outstanding and motivated LEARNER:










We offer a mindfulness approach to learning and this is supported by the ‘Heart smart’ PSHE scheme of work.

Pastoral support is provided through high quality ELSA and Nurture provision. Outdoor adventurers provides additional opportunity to develop socially within the extensive outdoor classroom provision. 


Writing is taught through high quality texts and learning experiences. Discrete grammar and spelling lessons are taught in every class. Pupils apply their learning independently, possibly with an element of choice, for example writing from the perspective of a chosen character. Following both personal and general whole class feedback or discussion pupils are encouraged to edit their writing


Reading in KS2 is taught through  whole class reading lessons teaching specific reading skills; allowing  pupils to access extracts of high quality texts and teaching all pupils to analyse the text in greater depth. 

In KS1 our approach teaches the conceptual understanding needed to become an effective reader:

  • that letters are spellings of sounds: visual language is a representation of spoken language

  • that a spelling can contain one, two, three, or four letters - examples are: s a t, f i sh, n igh t and w eigh t

  • that there is more than one way of spelling most sounds: the sound 'ae', spelt as in 'name', can be represented as in 'table', in 'rain', in 'eight', in 'play', and so on

  • that many spellings can represent more than one sound: can be the sound 'e' in 'head', 'a-e' in 'break', or 'ee' in 'seat'

Within this conceptual framework, we teach the factual knowledge required to become an effective reader and speller: the approximately 176 spellings that represent the 44 or so sounds in English, starting with the most simple one-to-one correspondences.

Reading and spelling also requires expertise in the skills necessary to make use of the alphabet code and pupils need to be able to:

  • segment, or separate sounds in words

  • blend, or push sounds together to form words

  • manipulate sounds: take sounds out and put sounds into words


Merley uses Letters and Sounds as the basis for delivering phonics within KS1. Resources from other schemes such as Phonics Bug Club and Read write Ink are also used to enhance delivery where appropriate. 


We use a mastery approach to teaching mathematics using Maths- No Problem! from Year 1 - Year 4. This approach is based upon the research from Bruner (Concrete, Pictorial, Abstract approach), Vygotsky (rich discussion & peer talk), Piaget (thinking processes rather than outcomes), Dienes (exploration before structure and a variety of methods) and Skemp (making links). Each topic is studied in depth and the teacher does not move to the next stage until all children demonstrate that they have a secure understanding of mathematical concepts.

Pupils are given time to think deeply about the maths and really understand concepts at a relational level rather than as a set of rules or procedures. This inclusive approach, and its emphasis on promoting multiple methods of solving a problem, builds self-confidence and resilience. 

Pupils who grasp concepts quickly are challenged with rich and sophisticated problems within the topic. Those children who are not sufficiently fluent are provided additional support to consolidate their understanding before moving on.


Links are made across the curriculum wherever possible so that pupils are able to relate the different aspects of their learning to each other and apply in different contexts and new situations. Some subjects , such as DT, are delivered in blocks of time in order to provide extended learning; this enables pupils to achieve high quality outcomes.


Annually, the school arranges a significant number of visitors, projects and class trips. This includes a residential trip for Year 4. Enrichment activities are an important aspect of the school’s curriculum provision. This is further enriched by a wide variety of extra-curricular activities before and after school. 


Pupil voice is fundamentally important in all the decisions made regarding the curriculum. The school council, sports leaders and eco team all make decisions regarding the school. Pupils also take part in partnership work with other schools in Wimborne Academy Trust and beyond; this includes WASP sporting events, an annual Maths Day at Allenbourn Middle school and joint events such as supporting Wimborne Food Bank. Whole school questionnaires and subject specific pupil voice also inform decisions regarding the curriculum.


Sports coaches provide support for the physical well-being of the pupils at Merley First School. They are responsible for the planning, delivery and assessment of games at the school. This allows for highly quality coaching with differentiated lessons, particularly supporting the most able. 


In EYFS, while all children should have a programme that involves good amounts of play, child initiation and independence, it is also vital that they have a healthy diet of adult led sessions, guided support and independent opportunities to read, write and solve problems.  Our Reception pupils develop as confident, courageous and capable readers, writers and problem solvers. We are able to provide a strong foundation enabling pupils to thrive as they enter Year 1 and throughout the rest of their lives. Our Early Years is fun, creative, energetic and balanced.  


To evaluate the impact of our provision subject leaders undertake book scrutinies, observe the quality of teaching and learning and undertake pupil voice interviews. As part of all monitoring, whole school areas of strength and areas for development are identified. Whole school action plans are created and implemented as a result, and then the impact of any intervention is evaluated. ACM also undertake regular visits to monitor the effectiveness of school priorities and curriculum areas.