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Holgate Primary and Nursery

Holgate Primary and Nursery


At Holgate Primary School, the children enjoy a broad and balanced curriculum and which builds on the knowledge, understanding and skills of all children, whatever their starting points, as they progress through each phase of their journey at our school.

Our curriculum incorporates the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum 2014 and other experiences and opportunities which best meet the learning and developmental needs of the pupils in our school.  The aim of our curriculum is for pupils to have the requisite skills to be successful, independent and motivated learners in readiness for their next stage of education. 

Whilst keeping standards high is extremely important to us, improving test results is not our only priority. We firmly believe there needs to be an emphasis on interpersonal skills, resilience and creativity and our school curriculum needs to include all learning and other experiences that each school plans for its pupils. The National Curriculum only forms one part of the school curriculum. We plan for ALL the outcomes we want our pupils to achieve.

We strive to ensure our curriculum keeps up to date with society's social and educational changes and that it is constantly developing our pupil’s interpersonal and 'soft skills’ that employers will value most in future. We have put these skills at the heart of our curriculum planning.

We achieve this through implementing the school curriculum through planned 'Curriculum Vehicles'. These expose our pupils to enriching experiences that not only immerse them in age appropriate knowledge and skills but also equip them with the personal characteristics required to ensure they achieve success in their futures. This is achieved by centring our teaching and learning around attributes where pupils can relate to themselves, relate to others and manage situations.

A Curriculum Vehicle is the planning framework we use that delivers both our school curriculum aims and the subjects of The National Curriculum. Each vehicle lasts half a term although this can be flexible dependent on need. The vehicle needs to provide opportunities for pupils to learn about managing themselves, relationships and situations.

The difference between Curriculum Vehicles and what we used to call ‘Topics’ is that a Curriculum Vehicle does not use a national curriculum subject as its starting point.
For example, for a 'Vikings' topic previously planned actually spanned the curriculum age band statements for English, History, Design and Technology and Art but this was all mainly driven by one specific subject in The National Curriculum which in this topic was History.
At the outset our Curriculum Vehicles have no National Curriculum relationship at all. A teacher can choose a Curriculum Vehicle such as 'Running a museum', to emphasise teamwork, consumerism, responsibility, income versus expenditure, etc, and it may include having a high profile Vikings exhibit to cover the knowledge content, but this subject content is secondary. The focus is on pupils as learners rather than on what is to be learnt. Our approach is to teach using skills to enthuse and interest the children to make meaningful links between the subjects.  Where possible outside links, educational visits and experiential learning are planned for and take place. 

An effective Curriculum Vehicle

  • Draws on all areas of the school and national curriculum forming a cohesive learning experience merging subject boundaries yet at the same time the distinctiveness of the subject and unique skill-set will be kept sharply focussed
  • Drives learning throughout the term, rather than being a 'bolt-on' at the end of term where work undertaken is simply showcased
  • Is integral to the delivery and success of the topic. Removing the vehicle concept would mean the whole topic would fall apart and instead become a set of unrelated, albeit potentially creative, learning activities. Pupils should be totally engaged with their Curriculum Vehicle and its purpose and they should see it as being the key facet in their learning
  • Is the driver for more intrinsic pupil motivation to develop a natural striving for excellence based on the fact that all learning will contribute to the intended final outcome
  • Centres on interpersonal skills, the development of team based projects and should cause pupils to reflect deeply on their ability to work together, e.g. understanding of roles (leader, facilitator, worker, etc) and playing to these strengths to achieve their goal. Alongside this learning how to resolve conflict, manage disappointment through the growth of resilience and the fine art of negotiation
  • Replicates life in the 'real world' as far as possible. It should draw on processes that adults work with everyday and narrow the gap between the artificial world of the classroom and the reality of learning in the wider world, therefore giving more context to learning
  • Uses an outside client wherever possible, to give the vehicle a purpose so this is based on fulfilling the needs of the client. This allows for negotiate with an outside party who crate the need to constantly re-evaluate the intended ‘product’. For example, an internal newspaper is not as exciting as one that will be made and distributed in the local community
  • Includes milestones along the way to maintain enthusiasm, particularly for younger pupils
  • Draws on expertise from the community, including specialists, outside visitors and out-of-school visits wherever possible and relevant
  • Aligns with the teacher's passions and enthusiasms


  • Maths is taught through structured sessions designed to allow children to make progress at each stage and also to think at a deeper level about each concept of skill. An anchor task at the start of the lesson contextualises the skill and also allows all children an opportunity to think deeply about the skill being taught. This is then followed by a guided practice which is more heavily structured and allows all pupils to see a skill being applied – this is also an opportunity for pupils to work together to practice a skill before moving on to the independent part of the session. This independent part is structured through the Challenge by Choice (chilli challenge) approach and pupils are given opportunities to choose the level appropriate for them and work with adult support if necessary.

    Each class also does a daily 5 in 5 (or 3 in 3 in year 1) fluency task which is designed to support children in building the speed with which they can recall number facts such as number bonds, times tables, multiplying by powers of 10 or finding simple fractions of amounts. Towards the start of the year, these are likely to be based on gaps from the academic year below but will move to be covering more age related gaps as we move through the academic year. They are planned for individual classes based on gaps the teacher has identified through previous sessions or arithmetic practices.

    Times table subject knowledge is also something which features strongly in our teaching of mathematics. We have a three pronged approach to this:

  • Times Table Rockstars – this is an online program which each KS2 pupil has access to and is designed to continue times table practice at home and also develops a passion and excitement around times table learning
  • Times Table Superheroes – these are a series of levelled challenges that pupils work through. They do a paper based, times exercise weekly and move through the superhero named levels once they have completed the previous one. These again increase the emphasis on times tables but also ensure each child within a class is working on a personalised times table target and progress is tracked.
  • Shanghai sessions – Shanghai sessions take place fortnightly in Y1 – Y3 (moving on to weekly in Y4) and are a focused session on a specific times table which all children access.
    They are designed to absorb children in a times table for a lesson and allow for repetition and building up of knowledge through guided sessions and short tasks which in turn lead to increased independence in that particular times table.


  • The teaching of reading throughout school falls primarily into two main areas: word reading and comprehension. Word reading is a key focus particularly in children's early schooling where there are daily phonics sessions as well specific reading sessions. Phonic sessions follow a four-part format allowing children to revisit/review previously learnt sounds/words; teach, where they learn new sounds; practise; which allows children to 'try out' the sound(s) and apply, where children use these newly taught sounds in context.

    Throughout school, comprehension is taught so that children can understand what they have read. We use RIC to support our comprehension teaching (Retrieve, Interpret and Choice) which allows us to focus on author intent as well as inferring and retrieving information. Throughout the lower school, children have a mix of whole class and small group reading. In KS2 reading is taught as a whole class. All children are exposed to a range of authors and text types throughout these sessions. Children have the opportunity to apply their understanding in a wide range of ways including, but not limited to, using text to draw settings/characters, answering questions, matching/sequencing activities and specific vocabulary activities.

    Additional reading enrichment takes place throughout school, with books shared in PSHRE, texts used to drive Vehicle sessions, assemblies and whole-class reads.

    Writing is delivered throughout Curriculum Vehicle sessions to ensure that it is purposeful. Children are given opportunities to write for different purposes and for different audiences. To support their development of writing, children have specific Grammar Skills and Spelling teaching. Grammar is taught using Rainbow Grammar. Rainbow Grammar is a systematic approach to teaching grammar and punctuation created by Jason Wade (a Grammar expert). It separates sentences into eight parts of grammar and assigns each a colour. During their time at Holgate Primary School, children will learn about each colour and how they can be combined to create a rich array of sentence structures.


As much of our PSHRE provision is key to all we provide for our children’s needs, we are commencing the delivery of this within a high quality picture book-centred framework which focusses on dealing with many aspects of social challenges and adverse childhood experiences (ACES). This is divided up into a variety of ‘Talking Points’ each term which culminate in challenge by choice activities where discussion encourages pupils to ‘agree, build or challenge’ social concepts. The framework covers Year 1 through to Year 6 and has a progressive build up to suit the age and needs of our pupils. There are four main strands within this in each Year Group. These are:
1. Understanding me
2. Understanding others
3. Understanding groups
4. Looking after me

There are 18 PSHRE Talking Points a year which all span two week blocks and these cover a wide range of aspects of life e.g. relationships, prejudice, rules, bullying, danger, personal hygiene, etc. These also interweave with mini strands which are visited in different year groups progressively e.g. money

Y1 What should I do with money?
Y2 Where could my money come from?
Y4 What is a debt?
Y5 Who pays tax and what does it do?
Y6 How should I manage my money?

Children from across the school have access to a range of various extra-curricular activities which include sport, music and the creative arts.

Throughout school we go on trips to supplement our taught curriculum. Previous visits have included visits to: the seaside, Brackenhurst, Drayton Manor, Cineworld, National Justice Museum and Eureka! In Year 6, children have the opportunity to attend a residential visit - this academic year they are going to Walesby Outdoor Education. 

Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum

Our Foundation Stage Curriculum builds on what many of our pupils have already learned at home and focuses on the following key areas:

  • Communication and Language
  • Physical Development
  • Personal, Social and Emotional
  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the World
  • Expressive Arts and Design

Within the Foundation Stage, children are encouraged to learn and practice their skills through child-initiated activities with experienced facilitators guiding them to reach their potential. More information on each of these key areas can be found on the F1 - Nursery and the F2 - Reception pages. 

In the Foundation Stage Curriculum, all children have access to Forest Schools. This is an innovative educational approach to outdoor play and learning. It is to encourage and inspire individuals of any age through positive outdoor experiences. 

Challenge by Choice

One of our new initiatives this academic year is ‘Challenge by Choice’. This involves removing caps placed on children’s learning, so as not to restrict their understanding. This approach offers children more ownership over learning as well as giving them the opportunity to learn without limits.

Challenge by Choice offers children four different options to a learning intention, with each option referred to as a ‘chilli’. Each chilli builds on the previous one offering different levels of application. The options (chillis) are:

Tongue Tingler Nose Runner Eye Waterer The Beast
Involves practising the skill with scaffolding. Involves the practising element in a more independent manner. Involves the application of the skill. This is a mastery level activity where children are expected to use and apply deeper thinking.


Our School in our Community

Within our collaboration, we are committed to improve the quality of education we provide to ensure our children achieve their potential and attain high standards.

We actively encourage parents to become involved in their child’s education and are totally committed to the parent school partnership. We know that children learn best when the school works in close partnership with parents and we have a range of ways of ensuring this partnership continuously develops. For example, weekly newsletters ensure parents are kept up to date with all curriculum/extra- curricular activities.

The range of experiences we offer to pupils

In line with our Teaching and Learning Policy, we believe that children should have access to a range of teaching styles - direct whole class teaching, learning groups, group work, paired or individual work and a variety of approaches which allow children to engage with their preferred SMART learning style.

If you would like to find out more about the curriculum we follow at Holgate Primary School, please contact the school office on 0115 963 8649 with your specific enquiry and a member of our teaching staff will provide more details.

Please see the below Curriculum Booklet for all information on our school curriculum.