As a school we aim to inspire all children to have an interest and confidence in some kind of sport. For this reason we have our own full time Sports Coach who introduces the children to a wide range of sports – anything from tag rugby to ultimate frisbee to orienteering as well as running many sports clubs each week. Also, while we get involved in as many as 40 sports competitions each year, we also run our own inclusive sports competitions in school and our own cooperative sports events.
“I am enjoying sport in school and have gone to basketball, netball and football club this year. I am proud to be picked to represent the school.”
(Year 6 student)
Perhaps because of our spacious grounds and our proximity to the common, opportunities for cycling seem to grow year on year. We have a ‘fleet’ of our own bikes and take children out on the running track as well as the common. We have 3 cycle racks for those who want to cycle to school and, in Year 5, children have the chance to take part in Bikeability Cycling Proficiency sessions.
”I have been learning to ride my bike with Mr Jansen every Friday. I enjoy riding my bike now and gradually I’m becoming more skilled. I plan to go out on the Common in the summer with my dad.’
(Year 3 Student)
For obvious reasons swimming is seen as a critical part of the National Curriculum. At our school children in Years 2 & 3 receive swimming lessons on one afternoon per week. We have a strong track record in the Stroud Schools Swimming Gala: over the past ten years of taking part, Minchinhampton’s swimming team have been overall winners of six galas and have been runners-up three times.
As well as being taught as a subject, there are many opportunities for extra-curricular music. We have a music room which doubles as a stage and many children learn brass, woodwind, strings, guitar, percussion or keyboard instruments with one of our peripatetic teachers. We have a school orchestra and a KS1 choir and a KS2 choir, all of whom perform throughout the year, including at the annual Musical Soiree. The choirs make regular visits within our community, to Cecily Court and Horsfall House. Other regular trips include KS2 choir to ‘Young Voices’ in Birmingham and Rendcomb College where children have enjoyed Orchestra Days, Body Percussion Workshops and English Touring Opera performances.
“Choir is fun because you get to sing lots of different songs and you get to go to Young Voices. We do performances that give us the chance to show what we’re capable of and get to go to care homes sometimes, like at Christmas, which brings joy to other people.”
(Year 6 Choir members)
Drama is an integral part of our curriculum. It is especially useful in English, RE and Topic. Inhabiting a character to make difficult choices in Conscience Alley, freeze framing key moments of a story in RE, giving renditions of Henry V as a full on call to arms and rapping some beautiful poetry are just a few snapshots into how we have embedded drama into our weekly diet. Pupils also have the chance to take part in yearly productions throughout the year:
Nativity – Nursery, Reception, Years 1 & 2
Spring Production – Years 3 & 4
Summer Production – Years 5 & 6
The Library is a bright, comfortable area situated at the heart of our school, designed to encourage and support a passion for reading for pleasure in all our children. We offer a wide range of quality fiction and nonfiction, as well as comics, magazines, newspapers and audio books, so there is truly always something for every child. Children are encouraged to use the Library during class to find books complementing their learning. It is also open to everyone during lunchtime, when children can be found browsing the shelves for their next adventure, and engaging with books in the reading caves. Our Librarian is on hand to help immerse your child in reading, and to ensure they always find the perfect book. Key Stage 2 children have the opportunity to become Pupil Librarians and help out with the daily functions of the Library, and activities promoting reading take place throughout the year.
Every year group goes on day trips out and invites exciting visitors in to bring the curriculum alive. Recent trips have included a visit to London to see Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh Exhibition for and a trip to the Living Rainforest Museum near Newbury.
“At the Cheltenham Literature Festival I liked seeing the author who wrote The Storm Whale. It was good that he showed us how to do the illustrations.”
(Year 3 Student)
We know that often what makes any residential significant for pupils is the personal challenge (and excitement) of being away from home for several days with their friends. We therefore choose residentials whose activities are also inherently personally challenging, as opposed to curriculum based ones. We take the children away in the Autumn Term so that they can benefit for the rest of the year from the boost to their confidence, and stronger bonds with their classmates that this kind of trip inevitably brings them.
”The best moment this year so far has been Viney Hill: there were so many new games I found out about. Also, I have a bit of claustrophobia but I challenged myself and still went caving, then, at the end, I even tried the challenging route. I was most proud of that.”
(Year 6 Student)
Every year our Year 6 and Year 4 pupils go to Viney Hill Outdoor and Adventure centre in the Forest Of Dean for a residential stay. Here Year 6 pupils have the opportunity to go canoeing, rock climbing, caving and biking with trained instructors as well as enjoying a range of other activities including a night walk, obstacle course, orienteering and campfire. Year 4 activities include challenges such as tunneling and climbing, team building activities such as low ropes and crate stack building and creative learning experiences like bushcraft, geo-caching and rocket science.
There is often nothing better for encouraging a love of learning and an appreciation of our world than learning outside. The benefits of exposure to nature are plenty and well documented, including: enhanced personal and social communication skills; increased physical health; enhanced mental and spiritual health; enhanced spiritual, sensory and aesthetic awareness; self-regulation and resilience. We are lucky to have a variety of different outdoor learning areas within the school grounds, including a wildlife area, with its willow walls, benches, tables and fire pit, a gardening area with raised beds and polytunnel and a thriving pond, with its abundance of minibeasts, frogs, newts and, occasionally, ducks. We are also grateful to have use of some private woodland courtesy of one of our generous neighbours for the sole use of our Reception children.
We promote the use of ICT across the curriculum and beyond. The school is equipped with PCs in classrooms and shared areas, tablets, iPads, laptops, visualisers, scanners and digital cameras. These are used by the children in a variety of different lessons and in sessions learning how to create digital content such as code, games, presentations and multimedia.