Core Subjects

Phonics and Reading

At Orchard Vale, we want every child to love reading. We aim to provide a wide range of books to appeal to all types of reader.

Phonics is taught through the Floppy’s Phonics programmes, especially in the early years and backed up with principles and ideas from Letters and Sounds where appropriate.

Children learn to read through banded reading books from a wide range of schemes to ensure breadth at every level. We use home school link books to encourage a dialogue between home and school about reading.

We have a wonderfully stocked library where children are able to explore their preferences and borrow from a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books.

In classes, there are dedicated reading areas where children can relax with a book and many teachers like to share stories with children when there are opportunities.

Our teaching of reading comes mainly through guided reading, which happens in class in carefully organised groups. With the teacher or another adult, children are taught how to decode a word, read with expression and talk about books and stories to develop their comprehension. 

Throughout the school the teaching of language and literacy skills is given a high status. It is through the medium of language that much of the children's work takes place. 

We provide children with a broad range of opportunities to read, write, speak and listen. At all times we endeavour to make language lessons enjoyable, meaningful and relevant.

Speaking and listening, paired talk, group debate and questioning are an important part of the work we undertake with pupils, to encourage and support them to be articulate and confident participants in learning.
We teach much of our literacy using strategies of shared, guided reading and writing from the National Literacy Strategy. We place a great emphasis on reading and children are encouraged to develop reading in groups, as a class and as an individual. We also welcome your support and involvement in your child’s teaching.
Each class has a well-stocked book corner with books selected to appeal to and challenge all children. We also have a reference area where children can research individual projects and where we promote Library Skills.
We encourage paired reading across the classes – so the older pupils can work with the younger pupils to enjoy and share reading activities.
The love of reading and the delight at sharing books is actively promoted through our annual book fair and whole school events.
The children are encouraged to use the local library service and we run a very popular Puffin Book Club. This encourages children to choose their own books to read at home for pleasure and it also provides extra, free books for school.
The new School Library was built during the Summer of 2004 and opened by author Nick Arnold (author of 'Horrible Science'). The Library has been named "The Book Barn, and is open for loans on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays (3:15-3:30pm) – both children and parents are welcome to visit. Children may borrow 1 book at a time for a week, in the first instance, although longer loan periods can then be made available.


Maths is a core subject in the National Curriculum. It abounds our everyday life and before a child reaches school there will have been plenty of opportunities for you as parents to encourage mathematical thinking.

At Orchard Vale you will find a good balance between whole class work, group teaching and individual practice.

For all pupils the learning of mathematics can be enjoyable and at times an exciting experience. Pupils of all ages are encouraged to be actively involved in mathematics. We encourage experimentation with practical equipment and materials; doing and talking always comes before recording. Increased enjoyment of mathematics comes from active participation.

We use the new National Curriculum objectives for teaching as a basis for all areas we cover in Maths lessons. Using the Rising Star scheme we ensure that our children’s learning is well structured as they progress through the school.

Our teachers use an agreed school calculation policy helping to eliminating any confusion over different teaching methods that can be confusing for the child. We also know that many parents and carers often wish to support the learning of their child at home and are worried that they are using more complicated calculations compared to the method taught at school.
A typical 45 to 60 minute lesson in Year 1 – Year 6 will be structured like this:
  • Oral work and mental calculation (about 5 to 10 minutes). This will involve whole class work to rehearse, sharpen and develop mental and oral skills.
  • The main teaching activity (about 30 to 40 minutes). This will include both teaching input and pupil activities and a balance between whole class, grouped, paired and individual work.
  • A plenary (about 10 to 15 minutes). This will involve work with the whole class to sort out misconceptions, identify progress, to summarise key facts and ideas and what to remember, to make links to other work and to discuss next steps.

In the Foundation stage the class will be organized to promote social skills and the development of mathematical language and understanding.


Science is a core subject in the National Curriculum. Science at Orchard Vale is an exciting subject where children’s curiosity is exploited around phenomena and events about the world around them. Through Science, pupils understand how major scientific ideas contribute to technological change – impacting on industry, business and medicine and improving the quality of life.

Practical investigation has a central place in Science teaching. Through first hand experience the children apply their knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas.

We aim to offer all children a wide range of learning experiences, which stimulate curiosity, foster co-operation with others and give opportunities to develop scientific skills.

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