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At Earl Sterndale School, our small, dedicated staff team has created a unique, purposeful curriculum which is ideally suited to its special situation. Our rural location makes it ideal for outdoor learning and we take advantage of everything the spectacular local environment has to offer. We have a clearly planned, progressive curriculum, which ensures all pupils receive the learning experiences they deserve and which are personalised and appropriate to their age, ability and specific needs.


Based on the guidance in the National Curriculum, our curriculum is tailored to meet the needs of each class and of each child in those classes. We only have two classes – the Infant class contains children from Reception and Years 1 and 2. The Junior class contains children from Years 3, 4, 5 and 6. Naturally this can result in a huge range of abilities in each class.


All learning experiences are tailored to equitably match all our children’s particular needs. We have high proportion of SEND children and our aim is to ensure they are effectively supported by providing teacher or TA support and by ensuring the lessons and learning experiences are appropriate to their needs. Interventions are prepared after careful analysis of need and are planned into lessons. We also plan to ensure that more-able children are properly supported too with challenging work, extensions, projects and personalised learning opportunities. Children who are disadvantaged or vulnerable are often able to access funding which will help to provide support or resources.

We have found that we do not necessarily have neat ‘groups’ of children to provide for (e.g. girls / boys, PP / non-PP etc). Such are the low numbers in each year group, we are able to prepare individual plans for each child, especially if there is a particular need.


Our planning aims to ensure learning is effectively sequenced. Lessons are designed to ensure each pupil’s learning builds on what went before. This gives all pupils the opportunity to reinforce previous knowledge, practise learned skills and concepts and deepen understanding as well as learning new skills and gaining knowledge and conceptual understanding.


As well as regular formal assessments at the important milestones, we carry out informal assessments regularly which are intended to ensure the children have made the most of their learning opportunities. These may be short tests at the end of a History topic or an on-going, summative assessment of their progress through PE. Assessment informs our teaching and enables us to adjust our planning and provision to quickly and effectively address any areas for development. We aim to ensure assessment is purposeful, reliable and informative yet not onerous or over-powering for the pupils or staff.


Our staff team is very small with only 4 teachers, 3 of whom are part-time. Teachers are expected to take responsibility for the subjects they teach and effectively have ownership of their planning, resourcing, delivery, assessment and professional development. There are regular opportunities for review and we can adjust and amend our approach quickly and effectively. In terms of planning and curriculum design, we are agile and have great capacity to change for the better. The head teacher is responsible for an effective monitoring cycle and draws on a lot of outside agencies for support and affirmation – this could include inviting Governors in to watch lessons, developing shared monitoring and moderating programmes with other schools, using the LA advisers to QA planning and delivery and developing a rigorous internal monitoring regime which enables all staff to share ideas, concerns and plans. The Governors take a very active role in teaching and learning and regular visits are timetabled. Regular monitoring agenda items at Full Governor meetings ensure staff are accountable through reporting and review.

Barriers to learning

Being a small, rural school, we are conscious that having a small staff team means we have limited opportunities for shared planning, curriculum development and monitoring. We work hard to ensure that we do not work in isolation and take advantage of any opportunities to work with other schools and outside agencies. We also work hard to ensure our pupils benefit from the amenities and facilities afforded to pupils in larger settlements. Our supportive parents, dedicated Governors, enthusiastic pupils and skilled staff make sure these barriers are not preventative, rather they are opportunities for radical, ‘outside-of-the-box’ thinking.


Our curriculum ensures that pupils are properly prepared for the next key stage of their learning. We timetable taster days for new starters in Reception and staff liaise closely with new parents. The move from Reception to Y1 is carefully managed and teachers and TAs provide support and guidance for this important move. When children move from Y2 to Y3 (Infants to Juniors) they have the chance to spend time in the Junior classroom and ‘practise’ some of the types of lessons they can expect. The transition from Y6 to secondary is also carefully managed. We have a range of 5 or 6 potential secondary schools so we work hard to maintain positive relationships with all of them and make sure the pupils access whatever transition opportunities they provide. We also work in school to help prepare the Y6 children for the move to ‘big school’.

National Curriculum

From Sept 2014, we have adopted the new National Curriculum into our planning and delivery.

At Earl Sterndale School we provide a curriculum that is broad, inclusive and comprehensive. We ensure that learning experiences for our children are challenging yet accessible, interesting and effective and are pitched to suit every child’s age and ability. Above all we aim for a school in which children feel relaxed, happy, comfortable and safe.

We plan, prepare for, deliver, assess and amend learning experiences for our children in 13 areas: Maths; English; Design and Technology; Art and Design; Religious Education; History; Geography; Information and Computer Technology; Personal, Social and Health Education; Science; Music; Physical Education and Modern Foreign Languages. These are often taught as discrete subjects in their own right, though in many circumstances there will naturally be dovetailing e.g. English and History – writing a report about how the Tudors prepared food will include elements of historical knowledge and understanding as well as using literacy skills to produce a piece of written work.

Our teaching priority is to focus on English skills and Maths skills as they provide the building blocks for learning across the rest of the curriculum. We also acknowledge that it is essential to learn how to apply these skills.

Planning across the school and across the subjects is carefully done to ensure the curriculum is fully covered with little or no repetition. We monitor teaching and learning rigorously to ensure they are properly resourced and prepared, age-appropriate, challenging and effective.

We provide a wide and interesting range of learning experiences:-

  • We use our stunning local environment to its best effect.

  • Lots of outdoor learning.

  • Active teaching which addresses the needs of all learners.

  • Active learning where every child participates positively in their own education.

  • Children regularly taking control of their own learning.

  • Children setting their own targets and being aware of how to improve.

  • Encouraging children to be creative, logical, analytical, thoughtful, considerate, independent, collegiate, literate and numerate.

  • After school clubs have included sports, arts and crafts, foreign languages and cookery.

With only two classes we take every opportunity to work as a whole school. We have regular theme days, even theme weeks allowing the children to work in mixed-age, mixed-ability classes. Children are encouraged to work in groups, in pairs and individually. We welcome a range of experts into school; PE and sports coaches, musicians, overseas guests and dance teachers as well as students on work placements or teaching practice and multi-faith, multi-cultural visitors.

We are a very inclusive school and our excellent Special Educational Needs and Disability provision was commented on in our May 2015 Ofsted inspection.

We have shown consistently high levels of attainment at the end of each Key Stage. Low numbers prevent us from publishing exact results and while attainment may appear to be low at times, we always show high levels of progress through the school.

End of Key Stage Test (SATs) Results

The following table shows our End of Key Stage results for Key Stage 2 for the year 2023 alongside results nationally. The table shows data for children who reached the expected standard:

















Reading, Writing and Maths combined



Often, due to the small numbers in each cohort we are unable to publish our test results from Key Stage 2. Guidance restricts us from publishing data if a year group contains fewer than six children.

Curriculum Letters to Parents