Adventures in learning
We believe that children's imaginations are unbounded, their potential unlimited and that life is an adventure just waiting to unfold. At Peaslake Free School we are strong advocates of exploring the love of learning. Both in the classroom and beyond into our wonderful countryside. Our varied and wide-ranging curriculum makes the most of our idyllic woodland setting and its surrounding countryside that combines classroom learning and outdoor activities to help children get the most from their time with us.
So what is our mission at Peaslake Free School? The key to Peaslake Free School's success lies in its historical links with the surrounding area.
Peaslake Free School is a lovely village school, rooted in its community and its idyllic safe surroundings. Because of this, the pupils at the school are able to nurture a strong sense of self. From the moment they arrive, they learn how to interact positively both in lessons and whilst chatting around a campfire. They learn the meaning of respect and value and they are able to encourage each other through each of the challenges they face, feeling safe to learn and explore.
LEARNING AND EXPLORING
As a community Peaslake School strongly believe in encouraging young minds to foster resilience. We believe that through a positive mindset our pupils can learn to make “marvelous mistakes” from their failed attempts and view each effort as a pathway to success. We encourage them to master the skill of learning to give them a strong platform for growth.
WARM AND WELCOMING
Our community is warm and welcoming. We extend our friendship to all the families who chose to send their children to us. Our privileged size enables us to form positive and supportive relationships. Parents and carers can feel secure in the knowledge that we really know their children. We take safeguarding at the school seriously and we aim to provide a safe, secure, and valued experience for all.
Read more about our unique school community here.
Our community here in Peaslake is full of interesting people undertaking adventures and our ambition is to inspire our children to do the same as this one example from our quintessential village school illustrates. We do so while covering the core National Curriculum and carefully monitoring each child, but our small class sizes and brilliant teachers allow us to plan for spontaneity and respond to our students’ interests. How many other schools can genuinely claim to do that?
When we learnt that a young, local couple were cycling from Peaslake to Japan, we thought that sounded like just the sort of adventure our children would want to know about. We invited them in to talk to us – complete with their fully laden bicycles.
The children got to carefully consider everything they’d need for the trip - camping gear, waterproofs, toolkits, cooking utensils, not to mention a very comfy saddle.
We'd been learning about the invention of Dunlop tyres, so children were curious about the tyres that would be used on the trip. Some pupils were inspired to draw maps tracking the intrepid duo from Peaslake across Europe and beyond to accompany the couple on their journey.
We are following their progress on instagram, learning about different cultures, the people they are meeting, and all the lovely food they’ll be eating along the way. At home time one of our children was heard to boldly declare "When I grow up I'm going to cycle round the world!"
"When I grow up I'm going to cycle round the world!"
Our creative curriculum has been designed to suit the organisation of the school and to maximise the potential of our small, mixed year group classes.
We have two classes, one made up of Reception and Year 1 children, and the other Year 2. The younger children look to the older ones as role models, and learn to ask questions and be curious. It builds their social confidence and inspires them to progress.
The older children share their knowledge and demonstrate their skills, embedding their learning further as they vocalise what they are doing and why. Most importantly, our small classes allow us to look at each child as an individual, tailoring the learning to their unique needs and specific stage of development.
RIGOROUS PLANNING WITH
When it comes to choosing topics and mapping progress, we use Cornerstones Curriculum, a scheme which allows us to combine rigorous planning with spontaneous enrichment. We can therefore start out from a clearly structured and differentiated half-termly project covering a wide range of foundation subjects, but we can build in literacy workshops run with other schools; music festivals; science and sports activities, and local historical commemorations, to build a comprehensive picture of the children's learning.
Children don’t learn in straight lines, or even in one way: they need to loop back, make links and forge connections, and Cornerstones provides our framework for this. Furthermore, Cornerstones has an analysis facility that flags up any potential gaps in our provision or in a child’s learning: it’s a safety net for all that we do.
STRONG FOUNDATIONS FOR
HEALTH AND WELLBEING
The unique location of the School, surrounded by the Hurtwood woods, fields and farmland, means that we are able to make the most of our environment to enrich children’s learning experiences. Forest School plays an important part in our curriculum and underpins every aspect of our curriculum intent. It epitomises our bottom up, rather than top down, approach to child development, building strong foundations for mental and physical health and well-being.
Learning outdoors frees children up to learn without the constraints of classroom walls; it helps them build personal and social skills as they collaborate together and become problem solvers and critical thinkers. It connects children to the local environment where they learn scientifically about habitats and ecosystems and how to look after and respect the natural world.
Daily sessions follow the Letters and Sounds scheme. We teach in small ability groups so children learn at a pace that is comfortable for them. Phonics is taught using a variety of methods including IT, board games, spelling games and dictation.
Guided Reading is an important part of our curriculum and we are currently using the Rigby Star scheme. Children work in focused groups to develop their reading and comprehension skills. Children take their reading books home at the end of each day to share with their parents and we have volunteers who give up their time on a weekly basis to come and listen to the children read in school.
Children are encouraged to write for different purposes and contexts such as lists and invitations in the role play corners, retelling familiar stories or using school trips and grounds as a stimulus for developing ideas. We equip children to make up their own compositions for different audiences.
Our aim is to equip children with the skills they need to be able to solve mathematical problems confidently and independently. Children develop their understanding of place value and are taught mental strategies for solving problems involving addition and subtraction, mathematical reasoning and the concepts of multiplication, division and geometry.
What effect do our learning activities have on our children?
We are proud of the fact that our children leave the school with a good foundation of knowledge across all subjects on which to build - they are curious about the world around them and eager to learn more. Our children are confident and well prepared for the next transition in their lives. They leave with many happy memories of their time at Peaslake school, we know this because they often return to tell us, with friendships that last for many years no matter what schools they go on to.
During their time at Peaslake School teachers track the children’s progress in a number of ways, our small class sizes allow teachers to get to know the children really well. Termly pupil progress meetings are held and each child’s progress and their next steps for learning are discussed. We use the Cornerstones Assessment system so that we can monitor the children’s age related expectations and track their progression in their skills across the curriculum.
To ensure that we know the work of our pupils is of a good standard we moderate the core subjects with other local schools and share ideas and good practice. The Early Years track the children’s progress from their individual starting points to achieving the Early Learn Goals (ELGs) at the end of Reception.
Year 1 children take part in the Phonics Screening check so we can ensure they have a good grasp of phonics for reading and the year 2 children take part in the SATs tests, which teachers use as part of the evidence for the end of Key Stage 1 Assessment.