The Nightingale Curriculum
The curriculum at Nightingale has been designed to give children not only the academic skills that they will need to succeed, but also to provide rich opportunities for personal growth and exploration of the world around them. Utilising the beautiful learning spaces in our state-of-the-art building, we are able totake children on an inspirational learning journey.
First Steps in Learning – Early Years at Nightingale (Nursery and Reception)
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) at Nightingale offers a warm and welcoming environment led by experienced staff who quickly get to know the children in their care and make them feel at home right from the first day. Outdoor play areas include water play (we have a stream running through the playground!), a sandpit and a race track. Most children love role play and dressing up and we have a stage and a playhouse to facilitate this. Messy and creative play is on offer every day. Children are also inspired to develop their imagination through art and crafts. Inside, the bright classrooms welcome the youngest children and include areas where they can play and learn together or relax with a quieter activity.
The curriculum in EYFS covers themes such as ‘Under the Sea’ and ‘Amazing Me’. Wherever possible, learning is based on stories and books and we share them with children throughout the day. Children begin to learn to read and write in small groups through the Read Write Inc. programme. Mathematics Mastery also begins in the Reception year with children given access to tactile resources as they begin to learn numbers and how to count effectively. Our skilled teachers make learning really fun and respond to the needs and interests of the children as they move through the topics. Children are also encouraged to be respectful and kind to their classmates and through this a sense of belonging is developed.
By the end of the Reception year, Nightingale children are confident communicators and independent learners. They have mastered the vital skills of taking turns, sharing and listening to others. They are ready for the move to Year One.
At Nightingale, the staff have developed a unique approach to the curriculum which is deeply rooted in local history and the communities of modern Hackney. Children are treated as individuals and supported to achieve their full potential. Spacious classrooms sit alongside specialist teaching spaces including a drama studio, art room, outdoor science lab, cookery classroom, roof-top garden, library, sports pitch and climbing wall. Children experience early the advantages of learning in specialist spaces and our teachers are able to plan exciting experiences to capture their natural enthusiasm and curiosity.
The Nightingale reading curriculum follows a clearly defined pathway from the earliest letter recognition to the keen and competent readers that leave us in year 6. The extensive library of books is constantly developed, following the children’s interests and responding to current themes and favourite authors. Reading is taught every day, for every child. In Key Stage 1 we follow the highly effective Read Write Inc. phonics programme. In Key Stage 2 we use Hackney’s Destination Reader programme to introduce children to a wide range of authors, whilst ensuring that they develop the skills of effective readers. Children who may struggle to read are identified early and support is put in place for their needs. This ensures that all children quickly gain confidence and learn the joy of reading.
The curriculum for literacy at Nightingale uses beautiful children’s literature to inspire and enthuse our pupils. At every stage of their journey as authors, children are encouraged to play with new vocabulary and to edit their work themselves and with the support of their teacher. Children regularly publish work on their ‘Proud Writers’ display boards in their classrooms. Using our school newsletter and website, children also have the opportunity to gain a wider audience which gives purpose to their writing.
The Nightingale approach to the teaching of Mathematics uses practical, hands-on teaching to build children’s confidence through the Mathematics Mastery programme. It is our firm belief that all children can become successful mathematicians when given the appropriate learning opportunities. Objects, pictures, numbers and symbols enable pupils to represent ideas and make connections in different ways. Nightingale pupils learn to ask questions and use problem-solving skills both as individuals and with their classmates. By the end of year 6, Nightingale children are equipped as mathematicians who will transition to the secondary curriculum with ease.
We believe that a study of history and geography are crucial to children’s understanding of their place in the world. From the achievements of the earliest civilizations to the impact of our modern lifestyle on the environment, children learn to be curious about the world around them and to both ask and answer questions. In London we are lucky to have access to some of the world’s greatest museums and galleries and we use them regularly to support learning.
Creativity is at the heart of all we do at Nightingale School and nowhere is this more evident than in our curriculum for the arts. Running alongside our history and geography lessons, children rehearse and perform whole class musicals every year on the themes that they are studying. In this way, drama and music are built into our curriculum in a very meaningful way. In our art room children learn to express themselves and their emotions creatively whilst developing the practical skills they need to make their ideas come to life.
Beginning in Year 1, all children at Nightingale learn Spanish. The teaching of languages focuses on building confidence through fun speaking and listening activities. Songs and rhymes reinforce new vocabulary and opportunities for children to use their new language skills in ‘real-life’ situations are used whenever possible. Links are made to the cultures of the many Spanish-speaking countries throughout the world, for example through cooking activities in the food room that allow children to try different foods.
Children have many opportunities to be active at Nightingale and make participation in sports a habit that they will carry with them for life. The design of our play areas promotes physical activity. A running track is integrated into the Key Stage One playground and our multi-use games area is used extensively at playtimes, during PE lessons and for clubs after school.
Nightingale’s bespoke PE curriculum focuses first on the development of key skills such as core strength and ball control before moving to coaching for specific sports which include basketball, netball, tennis, football and gymnastics. All PE lessons from Nursery onwards are taught by professional coaches. Children undertake a term of swimming lessons in years 3,4 and 5, ensuring that they are competent swimmers. Our on-site roped climbing wall gives the children the opportunity to participate in this adventurous sport and develop courage, persistence and strength. Sports coaches organise games in every play area at lunchtime giving children an additional sporting option in their free time.
Clubs and Enrichment
Nightingale children are given the opportunity to try new experiences and to develop their talents through our programme of clubs and enrichment that take place every day after school. Our diverse programme of activities responds to children’s interests and includes sports coaching for school teams, dance classes and drama groups. Clubs include digital animation, art, cookery and debating.
At Nightingale everyone can learn to play an instrument during whole class tuition, in small groups or as individuals. Our tutors ensure that all children learn that through hard work, persistence and practice they can develop their musical skills. We also understand that children are inspired by professional musicians. We take every opportunity to introduce them to high quality live music whether through assembly performances or visits to the many arts venues on our doorstep in London.
Technology and the Classroom
Technology has the power to transform learning and at Nightingale we have state-of-the-art facilities for teaching computing. This includes a fully resourced ICT suite with Chromebooks and iPads for every child and a green-screen wall in our drama studio that enables children to produce their own computer animated videos. Pupils are taught coding and how to use a range of software and interactive media to present their work. They are also taught how to access web-based sources, identifying those that are valid and appropriate for their age. In KS2 all children regularly use Google Classroom to collaborate and submit their homework.
In the Early Years, children have little interaction with hand-held devices and screens as we believe the foundation to all use of technology is effective communication face-to-face. For the older children we aim to teach a balanced approach, utilising devices and programmes where they add value to their learning. We also teach them how to communicate effectively and stay safe when using the internet. Through this, we develop effective digital citizens who have laid the foundation for their future interactions online.
The beautiful building at Nightingale is designed with inclusion in mind. This allows us to personalise learning to the needs of each child. Every area of the building is wheelchair accessible, including the rooftop play spaces which can be accessed via the lift. We have a team of dedicated support staff, led by our highly trained and experienced SENCO. Social integration is also at the heart of our approach to inclusion and we ensure that every child has friends and feels a strong sense of belonging.