We have developed an international curriculum which encourages personal growth, discovery and an awareness of the world in which we live. Whilst English is the predominant language in the classroom, Italian plays an important role in our school and our focus is to create confident and expressive communicators in English and Italian.
We see English as a vehicle through which the children learn and we ensure this happens by following a language programme that develops children’s ability to understand and communicate in both spoken and written English. There are three main strands to the English program, all of which are developed and practised across all areas of the primary curriculum. Children experience a variety of activities which are designed to ensure a progression of skills throughout each strand as they move through the primary years.
Speaking and listening
Speaking and listening are at the core of the primary curriculum and children have the opportunity to develop their skills in a range of situations, including daily whole class and small group discussions and drama activities, presenting their work to the rest of the class and preparing for performances. Throughout the primary school children are expected to be able to listen to and follow instructions of increasing complexity. Children learn to speak clearly and consider what they want to say and how to say it.
We use a phonics approach to teach early reading skills, following the UK programmes Letters and Sounds and Jolly Phonics. Through the first two years of the primary school children continue to build upon the phonics knowledge gained in the Early Years with the aim of developing independent, fluent readers by Year 3. They practise using a range of strategies to decode unfamiliar words and consolidate their recognition of common words. Alongside these basic skills they develop a comprehension of a variety of texts and apply decoding skills in order to be able to read to learn. Our aim is to instill a love of reading in all our children and they are encouraged to develop and discuss their reading preferences.
From the earliest stage children are asked to write for a variety of purposes and they learn about the features and styles of a range of texts including stories, poems, biographies, reports, lists, letters, instructions and debates. The writing process usually begins with examining a text, followed by a modelled piece of writing by the teacher before the children have a go themselves. They learn to plan their writing and think about the reader. As their skills progress they are expected to use longer, more complex sentence structure and are introduced to features such as adjectives and connectives.
The aim of our mathematics program is for children to develop an understanding of mathematical language and processes, rather than only focusing on learning a series of facts and equations. Applying mathematical knowledge to real‐life situations is fundamental to our approach. Lessons involve visual, practical and manipulative activities, especially when introducing new concepts, and children experience how we use maths in a range of contexts. There is a strong focus on developing the children’s mental capabilities and we recognise the students’ diverse learning styles. We introduce a range of strategies to help them find the most comfortable approach. Our aim to is to create flexible, confident problem solvers and the children are constantly encouraged to discuss, explain and compare how they found the solution to a problem. The maths program is divided into 5 strands:
- Number ‐ numbers and the number system; calculations involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division; fractions, decimals and percentages
- Geometry ‐ 2D and 3D shapes & their features; geometric reasoning; position & movement; angles; co‐ordinates
- Measure ‐ length; weight; time; capacity; money; area & perimeter; converting units of measure
- Handling data ‐ collecting, organising, categorising & representing data; frequency tables, charts and graphs; probability
- Problem Solving ‐ applying mathematical knowledge & understanding; explaining methods and strategies; solving multi‐step word problems; estimating and approximating; checking answers using inverse operations.
We recognise and celebrate the fact that we are in Italy and strongly believe that Italian should play an important part in our children’s learning experience. Our aim is for all students to gain an understanding and awareness of the Italian language, heritage and culture. From Year 2 the children begin our Italian program with our Italian mother tongue teachers. Italian teachers use a similar approach in the classroom to the English teachers, moving away from traditional methods and using a range of up‐to‐date teaching styles and tools including topic centred learning, project based tasks, workshops, discussion and technology. We offer two programs, L1 for our native speakers and L2 for our international students. Italian for native speakers (L1) follows the Italian state program for language along with Italian literature, history, geography and maths. For students who are learning Italian as an additional language (L2) we have a specially devised program which focuses on developing confidence in communicating in Italian, both spoken and written, whilst also raising the awareness of Italian culture.
Italiano Mother Tongue (L1)
We concentrate on developing the students’ skills, attitudes and abilities according to the objectives outlined in the Italian national curriculum for primary schools (“Indicazioni nazionali per il curriculum della scuola dell’infanzia e del primo ciclo d’istruzione”, 2012). The objectives of the programme are to develop spoken language and literacy skills, as well as enriching vocabulary. In addition, we follow the teaching guidelines from the Accademia della Crusca as set out in the curriculum of 2015. Specifically, the objectives are:
- Participation in discussions with peers and teachers
- Listening and comprehension of spoken language and other media
- Reading and comprehension of a variety of texts using a range of different strategies
- Development of the ability to use and select a range of appropriate study methods; to locate specific information in a text, to summarise a text, to identify and learn the key words related to the information being learnt
- Read texts appropriate to the student’s age range, both out loud and silently
- Write accurately and coherently using correct spelling, ensuring continuity and clarity in writing, drafting and editing students’ work
- Use appropriate and diverse levels of Italian language
- Understand the organisation and structure of a simple sentence using logical syntax relative to the parts of speech and principles of connection
In order to ensure that students master the Italian language in a range of contexts, the curriculum covers all classes up to secondary level (high school) and is divided into the following areas: vocabulary and semantics , phonetics‐phonology, morphology, metrics.
Italiano as an additional language (L2)
The L2 programme is designed for students who are learning Italian for the first time or who have a basic knowledge of the language. The lessons focus on conversational language, listening and comprehension, leading later to reading and writing. In order to become familiar with the language it is essential that the concepts and elements are presented to students in a way that motivates them. Topics are selected to reflect the contexts and the real life experiences of the students.
IPC-INTERNATIONAL PRIMARY CURRICULUM
We use a topic based approach to teaching science, social studies, geography, history, art and international mindedness. The International Primary Curriculum (IPC), a globally recognised curriculum used in more than 1800 schools around the world, is designed to enable children to see the links between various subjects and helps them to relate their learning to their own and others’ points of view in order to develop a global perspective.
Each theme‐based unit lasts between four to seven weeks and is introduced through an Entry Point which aims to capture the children’s interest immediately. The learning process then continues through a Knowledge Harvest to explore what the children’s existing understanding of the topic is and an Explanation of the Theme when they discover what the topic will include. The children are then led through a variety of Research and Recorded Learning Tasks which develop their skills, knowledge and understanding, and each unit concludes with an Exit Point to consolidate their learning. Children’s grasp of the learning outcomes is assessed throughout each unit.
PHYSICAL EDUCATION (PE)
Physical activity and sport are essential to a child’s development and education. In the Primary School the children have two lessons of PE each week with a specialist teacher. The PE curriculum is carefully planned and delivered according to the age and ability of each class, and ensures a progression of skills and difficulty throughout the primary years. Over the course of the programme the children have the opportunity to experience a wide range of sports and physical activities including Dance, Yoga, Pilates, Balance, Athletics, Football, Basketball, Tennis, Volleyball, etc. In the early stages children are introduced to the basic skills and techniques involved in each activity before learning to play ‘mini’ versions of many team sports. Whenever possible links are made to the IPC units that the children are covering in the classrooms.
In the Primary School children have two lessons of Music each week with a specialist music teacher. One lesson focuses on singing, vocal training and performing in an ensemble, in preparation for whole school musical performances during the school year. During the other lesson the children explore music through a range of activities which involve listening and responding, creating and recording and learning about the principle elements of music: pitch, rhythm, tempo and dynamics. Children are introduced to a wide range of musical styles from different periods, cultures and countries to raise their awareness of music as a mode of expressing our feelings, experiences and ideas about the world.
In the primary school all children are required to have their own iPad which they bring to school every day. Using technology in the classroom enriches learning opportunities and teaches skills that are directly transferable to real life situations, both now and in the future. The teaching of technology and its use as a learning tool is an essential element of the entire primary curriculum. Our goals for the 1:1 iPad Programme are to:
- Develop the curriculum by integrating technology to provide rich and meaningful 21st century learning experiences
- Teach, refine and expand technology skills that will allow our students to succeed in future endeavors
- Promote the healthy, safe and ethical use of technology
- Create an environment in which technology is widespread and the use of IT devices routine