Subject Overview

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Subject Overview

Click on links below to find out more information about our subjects.

English is a core subject and the acquisition of literacy skills is essential to accessing the whole curriculum. There are three main areas within the English Curriculum.


Reading is an important skill for life and we aim to produce children who are confident readers and who enjoy reading. At SJB we aim to achieve this by:

  • having a warm, positive pupil/teacher relationship, encouraging discussion with the teacher/other adults/each other wherever possible
  • experiencing pleasure in handling and looking at books and other printed materials
  • encouraging children to take home books for pleasure and to share this pleasure with their parents
  • promoting the enjoyment of books by teachers reading to the children
  • providing a wide variety of books to choose from – within the class library, the school library, the school bookshop and County Library
  • promoting paired reading with parents at home and within the school to which parents are invited to help as paired readers
  • encouraging and assisting children to express their ideas to share on tape, film and print

At Foundation Stage we will encourage and support children in the development of pre-reading skills as part of the process of becoming fluent readers.

At Key Stage 1 each child will be part of a group of similar ability for reading. Teachers will hear each child read as part of a group in the guided reading session and children will take books home regularly for parents to share and support their reading development.

Stories and poetry are read to children at all stages within the school to stimulate their reading for pleasure. The school has a well stocked library with a wide range of books from which children can regularly choose. The home/school reading books are banded and children are matched to books which are interesting and suitable for their reading ability.

Higher order reading and referencing skills are also taught so that children become independent in their ability to support their topic work.

See the dedicated reading page by clicking here

Speaking and Listening

The development of speaking and listening skills are an important part in developing children’s overall literacy skills. The ability to articulate information, ideas and opinions is an important life skill. In addition, we believe that if you can’t say it you will not be able to write it. Therefore at SJB children are given plenty of opportunities to talk and listen in a number of different contexts including:

  • exploring, developing and explaining ideas
  • planning, predicting and investigating
  • sharing ideas, insights and opinions
  • reading aloud, telling and enacting stories and poems
  • reporting and describing events and observations
  • presenting to audiences, live or on tape


Children are encouraged to see themselves as writers from the moment they enter school in Reception. They are encouraged to communicate through writing in play situations and then, as they become confident and develop their letter/sound association knowledge, to use writing in a more structured way. Opportunities are given for the children to produce writing which has been directed by the teacher as well as independently.

In Key Stage 1, the teaching of spelling and handwriting is combined with phonics (sounds). Knowledge of letter sounds helps children to spell correctly and to tackle unknown words when reading. A specific programme based on ‘Progression in Phonics’ is used.

In Key Stage 1 children are taught correct letter formation and the simple rudiments of grammar, for example, capital letters, full stops, exclamation marks, question marks etc. In Years 1 and 2 children are taught how to develop vocabulary skills in the whole class situation and in small groups. They are also encouraged to write independently to communicate their thoughts in all areas of the curriculum.

Raising standards in writing continues to be a priority for the school. The school uses Ros Wilson’s ‘Big Writing’ strategies to encourage children to enjoy writing and to improve their writing skills especially in their use of grammar and punctuation. The scheme also helps children and teachers to identify individual targets for improvement.

By the time children leave SJB they will have been taught the following:

  • how to develop ideas, opinions and emotions to give greater maturity and wider content to their writing
    awareness of the needs of various audiences
  • variety in writing styles
  • rules of grammar and vocabulary
  • how to revise and redraft independently
  • increased neatness, fluency, speed and accuracy in writing
  • a combination of spelling programmes that build knowledge and awareness of the rules of spelling though a sensory focus


Drama contributes to language and literacy and to the general education of children because:

  • Drama is a form of communication
  • Drama is a means of self-expression
  • Drama helps develop the imagination
  • It helps to promote growth in the ability to use language
  • It helps to develop sensitivity
  • It reinforces concentration and listening skills and allows children to enjoy participating in a group activity
  • Drama is fun to do. It fosters a sense of self-achievement without having to use a pencil and paper.

For all of these reasons we encourage Drama work at SJB.

Our Vision –

  • To ensure that all children become numerate then fully rounded mathematicians.
  • To teach our children the basic skills in order to use basic skills.
  • To enable our pupils to confidently reason about their mathematics.
  • To prepare them for the wide variety of problem-solving opportunities that they will encounter in their lives.
  • To develop a ‘can do’ attitude in our children, especially when problem solving and reasoning.
At SJB we use Big Maths and Little Big Maths to provide a consistent mathematical journey across school from Nursery to Year 6. Big Maths provides a systematic step-by-step approach to the teaching of basic mathematical skills and the areas of Wider Maths (Shape, Amounts, Fractions and Explaining Data). Each area of the Big Maths curriculum has a progress drive behind it which breaks learning down into small manageable steps. Our Maths Overview Plans show where the different steps are taught through the different year groups to meet age-related expectations.
Nursery   Reception   Year 1   Year 2   Year 3   Year 4   Year 5   Year 6
To be confident and successful Mathematicians children need to become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics, reason mathematically and solve mathematical problems. To support this at SJB we follow a Do It, Twist It and Solve It model.

Can you do it?

‘Do It’ focuses on the ‘What it is?’ where children complete standard examples to practice fluency.

Are you secure? Twist It

‘Twist It’ focuses on non-standard examples to challenge procedural fluency. It also focuses on the ‘What it is not?’ where children complete active argument tasks (e.g. True/False, Do you agree?) to focus on misconceptions and mistakes to challenge conceptual understanding.

Can you apply it to deepen your understanding? ‘Solve It’

‘Solve It’ focuses on solving familiar and unfamiliar problems to challenge mathematical thinking.

What is Big Maths Beat That?
Every week the children complete the Big Maths Beat That Challenges. Big Maths Beat That! Challenges consist of the CLIC Challenges, Learn Its Challenges and SAFE Challenges which collectively provide a set of comprehensive questions that assess a child’s ability in primary maths. Big Maths Beat That! has been specifically designed as the assessment element of Big Maths and allows teachers to measure the progress of each child on a weekly basis.

There are three parts to Big Maths Beat That:

  • The CLIC Challenge: Covers all the basic skills that a child needs to be properly numerate.
  • The Learn Its Challenge: Covers all the addition and multiplication facts needed.
  • The SAFE Challenge: Covers the wider maths curriculum.

Science Curriculum Overview

Science Subject Overview

Science Long Term Plan

Our Vision – 

  • Children experiencing practical science sessions throughout their time at SJB.
  • Children leaving SJB as critical thinkers in science.
  • Children have the confidence to find things out through independent learning and investigating.
  • Speaking and listening being used effectively in our science curriculum.
Science within primary education aims to encourage children’s natural curiosity about the world around them. The method of learning encourages children to develop hypotheses and evaluate explanations though experimental evidence and modelling. Science is involved with skill acquisition, enabling children to work like scientists, tackling problems in an ordered and scientific way.
Science work gives children the opportunity to understand how major scientific ideas contribute towards technological changes that effect industry, business and the quality of our lives. The development of scientific skills will assist in forming a sound basis of concepts. These help children to make sense of their own experiences and the world around them.

Computing Curriculum Overview

Computing Subject Overview

Computing Long Term Plan

Our Vision –

  • For children to experience a high-quality taught Computing Curriculum.
  • For children to be digitally literate and responsible citizens.
  • For children to effectively use ICT across the curriculum.
  • For children to develop an enthusiasm for coding ready for the modern world & jobs of the future.

A high-quality computing education equips pupils to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world. Computing has deep links with mathematics, science and design and technology, and provides insights into both natural and artificial systems. Computing is taught as a discrete subject and is incorporated in teaching across the whole of the curriculum.

To deliver and develop this area of learning the school has an efficient, well maintained infrastructure which supports: iPads across school and Chromebooks and laptops. All computers are protected with a comprehensive firewall managed by the Local Authority to protect children when accessing the internet.

PE Curriculum Overview

PE Subject Overview

PE Long Term Plan

Our Vision – 

  • Children leave school competent in a range of PE skills.
  • All children leave SJB having competed for their school.
  • All children are active in 80% of a PE lesson except when questioning and self/peer assessment is going on.
  • Children leave school knowing the benefits of living a healthy and active life.
  • The least active children in school are identified and join sport clubs in school.
  • Gifted and Talented children are identified and coached to compete at county level.

At SJB we promote a love of sport and enjoyment of physical activity. We aim to build both confidence and competency through a progressive curriculum. We make use of a range of equipment and employ sports coaches to support areas of PE. This also includes thorough assessments of each child at the end of each term. Each class follows an approved scheme of work which builds skills over each academic year.

In EYFS & KS1 children are taught the fundamentals of PE which includes a physical, social and cognitive approach to learning. We make use of sports coaches throughout the year and take part in several virtual competitions where children are aiming to beat their own scores.

In KS2 children are taught how to use their skills in a safe and competitive way. An ethos of fair play and sportsmanship is recognised throughout the Key Stage. High expectations of behaviour are expected in PE sessions just like in other areas of the school. These values are also focussed upon when taking part in competitions and festivals where we expect behaviour to be outstanding too. Every child in KS2 is given a chance to take part in competitions with some being chosen regularly for their exceptional contribution to sport.

By having clear values we aim to keep our children safe and aim for them to take an active part school life. By focusing on PE we hope to make children more responsible for their own health in later life.

RE Curriculum Overview 

RE Subject Overview

RE Long Term Plan

To fulfil the aims of the Cumbria RE syllabus and in so doing:

  • Recognise there are questions of life that are difficult to answer
  • Know and understand different beliefs and world views
  • Be willing to ask questions and respect different viewpoints and answers
  • Learn to express their own ideas and beliefs and learn from the beliefs and ideas of others
  • Recognise, value and experience the rich diversity of beliefs and cultures across Britain and the world
  • Respect and value all human life whatever similarities or differences in belief
In RE our pupils learn about principal attributes of world religions and how these may have personal relevance. Teaching and learning at KS1 focuses on Christianity and Judaism. Both of these religions are studied further at KS2; Buddhism and Islam are also introduced at this KS2. At SJB we value the positive contribution that understanding different faiths and beliefs brings to our children’s personal development.

Children are taught to be respectful of different religions. Tolerance is not only a core ‘British Value’, it is also an increasingly important feature of the common humanity we would wish to prevail in the world today.

In accordance with Section 71 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, parents have the right to withdraw their child from lessons in religious education and/or assemblies.

See here for our RE Policy

Geography Curriculum Overview

Geography Subject Overview

Geography Long Term Plan

Our Vision – 

  • To deliver the National Curriculum in the spirit it was written including:
  • Children leaving SJB as outward-looking, global citizens.
  • Use of cross curricular links to embed subject knowledge.
  • Speaking and vocabulary is a key part of the Geography Curriculum.
  • Effective use of technology to inspire and make learning memorable.
Our aim is to make geography both interesting and enjoyable for the children. We intend to help children to see the world through the eyes of a geographer and to foster an appreciation of the beauty of the natural world.
The children are continuously developing a variety of geographical skills through the study of map work, weather reports, newspapers and geographical texts.
Children will be expected to develop map reading and interpretation skills, learn about and gain a wider knowledge of their local area and distant, contrasting localities. Opportunities are provided to obtain an understanding of how landscapes are formed and how human activity alters these.
We also encourage children to develop an insight into and a responsibility towards the environment. As part of the curriculum, children are be given the opportunity to take part in field trips and local visits and, as a part of their programme of learning about contrasting localities, they are given the chance to go on a residential visit during Year 5 and 6.

History Curriculum Overview 

History Subject Overview

History Long Term Plan

Our Vision – 

    • Children leave SJB with a curiosity to know more about the past.
    • Meaningful progression in history throughout the school.
    • Speaking and vocabulary to form a key part of the history curriculum.
    • Develop use of technology to inspire interest and enhance learning.
The teaching of history is supported wherever possible by visits to relevant sites of historic interest. Resources for history include books, artefacts, videos, computer programs, photographs and maps.
At Key Stage 1 the children are able to study the recent past. From historical stories they are encouraged to compare and contrast historical accounts with the way they live now. Emphasis is put on the children’s understanding of the passage of time. At Key Stage 2 the children build on their experiences by studying periods of British and World history.

Art Curriculum Overview

Art Subject Overview

Art Long Term Plan

Our Vision – 

  • To deliver the national curriculum in the spirit it was written, including for all children to:
  • Explore, experience and be inspired by a wide range of artists and artistic platforms on a local, national and global level.
  • Have opportunities to broaden and develop their own creativity and learn crucial skills to build artistic expertise.   
  • Be outward-looking to find inspiration in different creative and cultural ways.
  • Be confident to experiment, evaluate and improve to meet their artistic potential.

The Arts are of vital importance at SJB and we are proud to have been accredited the Arts Mark Award.  The children enjoy a rich range of art experiences including art museum visits and opportunities to see and work with a range of artists in school across the different art forms.

Art display at SJB also plays an important role by providing an inter-active, educational and stimulating environment in our classrooms, corridors, hall and library.

Music Curriculum Overview

Music Subject Overview

Music Long Term Plan

Our Vision – 

  • Perform, listen to, review and evaluate music
  • Be taught to sing, create and compose music
  • Understand and explore how music is created, produced and communicated.
  • To develop a curiosity for the subject.
  • Every child to have access to the opportunity to learn an instrument.
  • The children to have regular access to live music performances.
  • The children to be exposed to different genres of music throughout history.
  • Music to become a part of everyday life in school.

Music is a very important and lively part of SJB life. We aim to make music available and enjoyable to all children regardless of their previous experience or level of expertise.

In class children are invited to participate in:
  • Music making and compositional activities that give a rich variety of musical sounds and help children develop skills and competence in music.
  • Listening and appreciating different types of music, where children are encouraged to recognise the main musical elements of pitch, rhythm, pace, timbre, texture, dynamics and structure.
  • Performing to an audience; this could be a friend, a group or class of children, in an assembly or to parents.
Other opportunities to specialise in a musical instrument include violin, flute and clarinet tuition provided by FMC Juniors and we have a relationship with Ulverston’s training brass band. In the upper juniors the children take part in whole class cornet lessons and then have the opportunity to continue their learning in the training band. 
The school has an active and successful choir and a variety of musical clubs for the children to join. 

DT Curriculum Overview

DT Subject Overview

DT Long Term Plan

Our Vision – 

  • developing design skills and creative techniques to design and build a product fit for a purpose
  • developing children’s confidence, self esteem, sense of curiosity and personal satisfaction through design and make activities
  • ensuring that every child has access to an effective, challenging and progressive design and technology curriculum that is compatible with age and ability
  • encouraging active involvement, interest and enthusiasm for the subject
  • developing appreciation of quality, sense of fine design craft and technological application

Design Technology requires the children to use their knowledge and understanding to design and make products. To achieve this, the children are taught to combine a range of skills distinctive to designing and making, with skills from other subject areas. As the children acquire experience and develop confidence, they will be engaged in activities that become more complex and require greater skills and depth of knowledge for success.

MFL Curriculum Overview

MFL Subject Overview

MFL Long Term Plan

Our Vision – 

  • Our children understand and respect the value of speaking another language
  • They are confident in their use of French
  • They progress to secondary school with a strong foundation and interest in Modern Foreign Languages.
The children are given the opportunity to develop their interest in the culture of other countries including places with particular links to SJB children and staff.   We teach French and hope to foster an excitement and enthusiasm for the language.

PSHE Curriculum Overview

PSHE Subject Overview

PSHE Long Term Plan

PSHE Curriculum Overview –

Our PSHE and SRE policy aims to ensure that children are able to gain knowledge, understanding and skills in order to successfully manage their lives and thrive with confidence as an individual, family members and as members of society.

Through the teaching of 3 core themes: Health and wellbeing, Relationships and Living in the wider world we anticipate that the children will develop  a good  grasp of tolerance, safety, fairness and feelings. Aspects of these themes may link with other curriculum subjects such as science.

Such teaching is modelled and thus reinforced daily at school in line with our school ethos and assemblies as well as through direct teaching. Some lessons are taught by specialists such as our School Nurse for aspects of the SRE curriculum (with parental consent.) and NSPCC staff for personal safety.

Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) and Citizenship provides children with the ‘tools’ to become healthy, independent and responsible members of society. The school actively encourages its pupils to play a positive role in contributing to the life of the school and the wider community. In so doing we aim to help develop their sense of self worth.

We also teach how society is organised and governed thus demonstrating the process of democracy in school through the election and work of a school council. We teach the children about rights and responsibilities and we aim for them to learn to appreciate what it means to be a positive member of a diverse multicultural society.

Click here to view our PSHE Policy.

Sex & Relationships Education (SRE)

During Years 5 and 6 the children are introduced to the subject of Sex Education with specific objectives in mind. These objectives are that the children will:

  • understand the changes that are taking place in their bodies
  • understand how babies are created
Sex Education is introduced primarily by the school nurse. Girls receive an introduction to Sex Education in Year 5 and then in Year 6 the school nurse runs a short course in Sex Education for both boys and girls.
During the preceding years within the school there is no formal Sex Education but staff answer any questions from individual children in a sensitive manner as the need arises. Aspects relating to Sex Education may be taught in a cross-curricular manner and could for example appear as part of science or lessons in personal, social or health education.
Parents have the right to withdraw their children from all or part of the Sex Education offered in school; by contacting the Headteacher.
Spiritual Moral Social and Cultural Ecuation is at the heart of the SJB curriculum.  It is not taught as an independent subject but interwoven through our curriculum and is encompassed within the school ethos and school life. See SMSC policy here for more details about Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Education at Sir John Barrow School.

Subject Leaders

Subject Leader
British Values
Mrs H Pearson
Mrs N Fletcher
Educational Visits
Mrs D Dobson
Miss A Gardiner
Miss A Gardiner
Forest Schools
Mrs R Sainsbury/Mr J Maher
Mrs R Sainsbury
Miss K Davison
Miss A Gardiner
Mr J Maher
Mrs N Fletcher
Mrs R Sainsbury
Miss J Wall
Mr J Maher
Mrs H Pearson
Mrs N Fletcher
Miss A Robinson
Mrs H Pearson
Miss R Sadler
Mrs S Branton