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Our Curriculum

The curriculum we offer incorporates the National Curriculum. The core subjects of the National Curriculum are English, Science, Mathematics and ICT. The foundation subjects are history, geography, art, technology, music and physical education. In addition to these, religious education and personal, social and health education (PSHE) are also taught.

The curriculum is usually taught using a thematic or topic-based approach. This enables the children to study subjects in context in a structured and cohesive way. There is also discrete subject teaching, where necessary, to cover the requirements of the National Curriculum.

At Westdene, the curriculum is carefully planned and differentiated to ensure that every child can be stretched and supported whatever their ability. We have high expectations and children are encouraged to develop their skills both as independent and collaborative learners.

    Click on the curriculum header below for more information.

  • Art

    As outlined in the National Curriculum, children have opportunities to record their observations from direct experience and to work from memory and imagination. They explore a wide range of tools, techniques and materials. Children will also develop an understanding of the history of art, craft and design and will learn how to relate what they have learnt to their own work. 

  • Computing

    Pupils at Westdene learn about the key aspects of computing (digital literacy, information technology, and computer science) through a variety of topical units that provide them with key skills that will serve them now and in later life. These key skills include password safety, creating digital documents, protecting themselves online, saving and retrieving work, designing and coding programs, problem-solving and digital design.

    The children have access to a broad range of digital devices which are used to support teaching across the curriculum. We have interactive screens in every classroom, two full-class sets of iPads, a computer suite with 32 computers, Chromebooks, data loggers, programmable toys and programmable computers. We also provide opportunities for children to develop their computing skills outside of lessons in computer clubs and projects (including from visiting specialists). Past projects include Hour of Code (which we run yearly), Code Club, and Google Expeditions.

  • Design Technology (DT)

    The Technology National Curriculum is addressed by providing projects, usually connected with other areas of the curriculum, where children can investigate needs, design, plan, construct models and evaluate their work.  Alongside this children are taught technology skills such as using materials and tools which are developed progressively throughout the seven years. Together these elements combine to give children skills in solving problems in a technological environment.

  • Drama

    Drama is appreciated at Westdene as a creative art form, an effective way of developing speaking and listening skills and a valuable learning aid across the curriculum.

    Every child is given the opportunity to make, perform and respond to drama each term.  The range of drama activities provided include role-play, classroom improvisation, exploration of historical facts/artefacts through drama, playscript reading, whole class activities, performances of devised and scripted material as well as opportunities to watch and respond to visiting theatre companies.

    The school has been awarded Artsmark Gold status by the Arts Council in recognition of the opportunities we offer and our commitment to the Arts.

  • Geography

    At Westdene we are aware of the vital significance of geography in our daily lives.  To locate ourselves in our surroundings we spend time drawing and reading maps.  We also investigate our locality in detail to discover the vital interaction between people and their environment. We also explore the wider world with curiosity and enthusiasm.

  • History

    History at Westdene is a vibrant and exciting part of the curriculum. Through both discrete and cross curricular work children are inspired to engage with the past and develop their historical skills.

    In the Foundation Stage children begin to use and understand language associated with the passing of time and learn about events in living memory. As children enter Key Stage 1 they begin to understand the importance of the past by learning about significant individuals and historical events that have contributed to national and international achievements. Children develop their understanding of how we find out about former times and the different ways these are represented. As children progress to Key Stage 2 they build upon this understanding through enquiry based learning. They engage with both primary and secondary sources of evidence and a variety of local enrichment opportunities. This active approach to learning enables children to think critically about fact and opinion, cause and effect and changes over time.  Chronology is an essential element of historical learning at Westdene. Children are encouraged to make connections between the different eras and societies they study and develop a bigger picture of the past.

  • Literacy

    At Westdene School we constantly strive to provide all our children with a varied, rich and stimulating experience of language.  We place great emphasis on listening skills and confident self-expression, both verbally and in their writing.  Our curriculum encompasses both fiction and non-fiction texts, poetry and drama.  The children are taught the vital skills of planning, editing and constructive criticism.  They learn the appropriate writing style for the purpose and can discuss the qualities of different genres.  Grammar, punctuation, spelling and presentation are all taught in a structured and inclusive way.  The curriculum fully supports the development of literacy as outlined in the National Curriculum.

    We aim for all children to become confident, skilled and creative users of language. Our curriculum includes: speaking and listening; reading; writing; spelling and handwriting. Our approach involves the children exploring a variety of text types e.g. stories, information writing and recounts. They do this using a number of strategies, such as playing language games, identifying common features of a text type, role play, and evaluating different examples of a genre.  This enables children to become immersed in the language they need for a particular topic, giving them the confidence to then write their own version. We endeavour to plan cross-curricular Literacy projects – for example, when children are learning about the evacuees in History, they will also be experiencing an evacuee role-play day and also writing a ‘letter home’ as an evacuee.


    Our Writing curriculum is designed to provide a wide coverage of different knowledge and skills alongside different genres, topic links, cultural capital and classic texts. Stimulating and rich texts are carefully chosen to inspire children as writers. We link tasks to topic learning where possible, and find purpose for writing such as real audiences and sharing their writing with their class. We strive to have cross curricular links where possible and love to publish and display examples of children's excellent writing to make them feel like real authors. We aim to foster a love of words through exploring new vocabulary in their reading and to ensure that ‘every word earns its place’ in their writing.


    EYFS develop children's fine motor skills using a variety of activities in preparation for handwriting. From Reception the children learn to form letters correctly through discrete daily teaching and a range of fine and gross motor skills to support this. We encourage fully joined handwriting from Year 2.

    Grammar and Punctuation

    Grammar and punctuation skills are taught during the English lessons and are linked to the writing activities so that the skills can be immediately embedded in a meaningful context.

  • Maths

    Mathematics provides a way of viewing and making sense of the world. It is an interconnected subject and at Westdene we encourage pupils to make rich connections across mathematical ideas to develop their fluency, reasoning and competence in solving increasingly sophisticated problems. Throughout the Early Years pupils explore and develop skills in a stimulating mathematical environment.  Across the whole school pupils are encouraged to become logical and creative thinkers who demonstrate their understanding by using and applying their skills and knowledge in a wide range of problem solving situations. Pupils have opportunities to apply their mathematical skills through our regular opportunities to engage in real life and enterprise activities.

     At Westdene we follow the National Curriculum. We aim to develop positive attitudes and foster a ‘growth mindset’ attitude to the subject so that every child feels that they have the confidence and ability to succeed.  There is a strong focus on mental mathematics which includes times tables knowledge and understanding of the inverse operations. We have a large range of mathematical resources that support children’s conceptual understanding and reasoning. The use of IPads, computers, games and collaboration ensures maths is engaging, enjoyable and supportive whilst offering challenge to all.

  • Modern Foreign Language (French)

    At Westdene, all students learn French from Year 3 in line with the New Primary Curriculum 2014.  French is taught in classes by a specialist teacher for up to 1 hour a week. Westdene is committed to teaching Languages in a creative and academically rigorous way, using a range of resources, materials and media to enhance learning for the pupils. Our Language provision recognises that learning a foreign language not only enhances general communication language skills across the curriculum, but also offers an opening to other cultures and the well established Languages curriculum aims to foster pupils’ curiosity and deepen their understanding of the world, providing a solid foundation for learning further languages in the future. 

  • Music

    At Westdene we are passionate about music education & believe every child should have the opportunity to experience as many different styles & genres of music as possible during their time with us.

    Music is taught by a specialist music teacher in our extremely well-resourced music room. All children from Reception to Year 6 receive a weekly music lesson.  Lessons are very “hands on” & children are completely comfortable handling & playing all our instruments.  Children are encouraged to explore sounds & ways of playing as well as being introduced to formal note reading in Reception, through to learning composition skills using various music apps on our iPads in Years 2-6. 

    As a school we regularly sing together & were proud to be the first school in Brighton & Hove to achieve both Silver and Gold SingUp awards in recognition of our commitment to singing.

    We offer an extensive range of instrumental lessons, choirs & ensembles the children may join from year 2 upwards, providing many performance opportunities.

  • Personal, Social & Health Education (PSHE)

    The process of personal and social development focuses on personal growth.  At Westdene we provide opportunities for children to develop their self-confidence and self-esteem. Our aim is to help young people understand and value themselves as individuals and as responsible and caring members of society.

    Health Education is taught through topics.  Visitors from the wider community like dentists, nurses, nutritionists etc assist us in the delivery of the curriculum.

  • Physical Education (PE) & Sport

    At Westdene, we believe that physical education and school sport, experienced in a safe and supportive environment, is a unique and vital contributor to a pupil’s physical development and well-being. Consequently, PE and school sport are highly valued at Westdene and are at the heart of the school.

    The provision of PE within the school is designed to support, contribute to and complement the aims of the school, by providing equality of access for all students to a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum.  PE at Westdene aims to provide an enjoyable, challenging and physically active programme with opportunities for every student to develop physically, socially, emotionally, morally and cognitively. 

    The importance that Westdene places on PE and school sport is evident in the employment, this year, of a PE specialist teacher who is responsible for the subject’s continued development and improvement.  Two main areas that we have benefitted from already this year are the targeted and bespoke developmental opportunities for staff members to improve their expertise in teaching PE and the extended range of activities, both curricular and extra-curricular, that all pupils can participate in.

    We have a large hall and an additional small hall suitable for physical education. There are two large all weather surfaced playgrounds for outdoor work.  The school also boasts a large field area which all children have access to both during PE and at lunch and break times when appropriate. This wonderful facility is made excellent use of throughout the year and allows us to run a superb competitive sports day on the school grounds. Please see the ‘Sports Gallery’ on the school website for images of this great event.

    Within the curriculum all pupils are offered two PE lessons per week. In the Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1, the primary focus is to develop children’s fundamental movement skills. This is achieved through teaching the different activity areas of multi-skills, games activities, athletic activities, gymnastics and dance. At Key Stage 2, there is still a large focus on the development and refinement of children’s fundamental movement skills, as well as a focus on tactical understanding, the qualities and attributes needed for sports leadership and the benefits of leading a healthy and active lifestyle. This is taught through the following areas: outdoor and adventurous activities, games activities, gymnastics, dance, indoor athletics, athletics and swimming. Within all of these areas competition is encouraged against self and others in a positive and friendly manner.

    At Westdene, our PE curriculum is complemented by an outstanding range of traditional, new and alternative sporting activities before, during and after school. We aim to cater not only for the students interested in playing competitive sport but also for those who wish to participate on a recreational basis. The school offers an extensive range of activities for sport and P.E, please see the Clubs page on our school website for a list of activities going on this term. In addition to these clubs we have a very full intra-school and inter-school competitive sporting calendar and regularly enjoy success in many of the competitions we enter. We also have close links to several local sports clubs, including Brighton Rugby Club, Brighton Baseball Club, Sussex County Cricket Club and Brighton & Hove Albion.

  • Reading

    Reading is the cornerstone to all learning and we work hard to embed a love of reading in our children. Reading skills are introduced in the Early Years using a variety of stimulating texts, including the structured ‘Oxford Reading Tree’ scheme. Graded books are taken home on a regular basis, particularly in KS1, and ‘Bug Club’ has also been introduced from Year One where children have the opportunity to access a wealth of online books on the Womble. Free choice books are also available from KS2 onwards, either from the classroom or from the school library under the guidance of their teacher.  All classes use reading record books to encourage ownership of their reading, to continue a love of reading at home and provide communication on their progress between home and school. Guided reading takes place regularly, enabling the teacher to monitor each child’s progress. Rich texts are chosen and explored as a class to allow for discussions around children's ideas and understanding alongside the development of comprehension, inference and deduction skills. Children who are not reaching their Age Related Expectations are also heard to read individually to continue to develop their decoding skills and understanding of the text. This approach is continued throughout Key Stage 2. Reading is an exciting and fundamental part of our curriculum.  We always aim to integrate reading skills into all subjects and books are read aloud to the class by the teachers daily. We also promote the joy of reading with our annual ‘Book Week’ which includes visiting authors, daily reading challenges, book activities, book swaps, class reading swaps, whole school assemblies and a dressing-up day. Many of the children enjoyed the experience and love the focus on reading. Our ultimate aim is always to encourage independent reading, enjoyment and personal choice.

  • Religious Education (RE)

    Assembly and Collective Worship are normally held every day.  Religious education is given to all pupils in accordance with the Local Authority’s Agreed Syllabus and the National Curriculum.  The syllabus is non-denominational and aims to develop the children’s knowledge and understanding of Christianity in comparison with Judaism, Hinduism and Islam. Children will also have opportunities to study and reflect on secular belief systems, such as Humanism.

    The RE syllabus has been designed to promote the spiritual, moral and intellectual development of pupils and prepare them for opportunities, responsibilities and experiences as active citizens in a multicultural society.

    The aim of the RE syllabus is to:

    • Develop pupils’ knowledge and understanding of the native religions, beliefs and practices.
    • Understand the importance of religious beliefs in the lives of believers.
    • Explore those aspects of human experience, which give rise to spiritual awareness and fundamental issues about beliefs and values.

    Assemblies are non-denominational and, although they are of a broadly Christian nature, due consideration is given to the multi-cultural society in which we live.

    Parents have the right to withdraw their children from religious education and collective worship should they wish.  If parents do not wish their child to be taught the agreed syllabus or take part in short acts of collective worship they should inform the school in writing so that suitable alternative arrangements can be made.



    Science enables the acquisition of skills, concepts and attitudes that allow children the opportunity to make discoveries about the world around them.  This is encouraged through observation, prediction and practical investigations based on first hand experiences. The children will be encouraged to work collaboratively and draw conclusions from their work. The school also makes good use of the school grounds and the environmental area.  The children have the opportunity to gain first hand knowledge of their own environment which includes our landscaped playground, wild area and field.  The school has gained recognition as an Eco-School and has its own Eco-School Council.

  • Sex & Relationship Education (SRE)

    At Westdene Primary School, Sex and Relationship education (SRE) is underpinned by the ethos and values of our school and is considered as an entitlement for all our pupils.  We aim to develop an understanding of the biological, emotional, social, legal and moral aspects of sex and sexuality.  We teach SRE within the wider context of building self-esteem, emotional well-being, relationships and healthy living.

    At Westdene, we recognize the need to work as a whole school community to ensure a shared understanding of SRE that meets the needs of our pupils.  The programme is delivered by the school’s teaching staff and the school nurse as part of the science national curriculum.

  • Spellings & Phonics

    Phonics and spelling are taught discretely, progressively and sequentially to children of all abilities, throughout the school, regularly during the week.  In Nursery, children explore and compare environmental sounds through practical activities.

    In Reception, the children move onto sounding out the alphabetic code and in joining the sounds together to support their reading. They learn their phonics through the Pearson programme Bug Club Phonics. Phonics here, mainly concentrate on reading with some writing. The Bug Club Phonics  programme is continued into year 1, where reading and writing activities are extended. At the end of the academic year, the children all sit the government’s phonic test. These results then feed into the phonics teaching in year 2. The New Curriculum spellings, including high frequency words are heavily focused on during years 1 and 2, with children moving along through the phases. Confident writers will then move on to using our ‘No Nonsense’ spelling resources.

    Pupils in Key Stage 2 revisit phonics where needed and continue to build on the ‘best bet’ strategies for the New Curriculum spellings. Throughout the school, children learn their spellings through lessons in school, through taking them home to learn and in applying them to other parts of the curriculum. At Westdene School, we value the importance of improving spelling and in giving children the confidence to try new vocabulary in their written work.

  • Swimming

    Swimming is taught to children in Years 3-6 throughout the year. Our aim is that no child should leave the school without being able to swim at least 25 metres.  Swimming is taught at Surrenden swimming pool. In addition, the school has its own swimming club at Patcham High School swimming pool which is held weekly for Year 3 - 6 children from improvers through to advanced.

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