National Curriculum

Core Subjects

National Curriculum core subjects are:-

  • English
  • Maths
  • Science
  • Religious Education

Foundation Subjects

National Curriculum Foundation Subjects are:-

  • Art and design
  • Computing
  • Design and technology
  • Geography
  • History
  • Music
  • Physical Education
  • Modern Foreign Language at KS2

Each teacher ensures that the fundamental subjects are taught, at the same time emphasising learning through concrete experiences, so that the pupil’s understand concepts more clearly. The curriculum is so organised to meet the particular needs of the pupils, and to make the learning environment one of stimulation and effectiveness.


We encourage all children to develop the skills of communication both verbal and written. To be able to converse clearly, coherently and confidently with both peers and adults, to achieve an acceptable standard of script and the ability to put ideas into writing, with attention given to spelling and grammar.

We encourage children to read for pleasure, for their own enjoyment and also as a means of gaining information, through the use of dictionaries and reference books.


At St Joseph’s we have adopted a mastery approach for the teaching of mathematics. We believe in promoting sustained and deepened understanding by employing a variety of mastery strategies, with teaching for conceptual understanding at the heart of everything we do. We aim to create independent mathematicians who are well equipped to apply their learning to the wider world.

Teaching for maths mastery allows us to teach the National Curriculum to a high standard. With this, all pupils are encouraged by the belief that by working hard at maths, they can succeed. The National Curriculum for maths is broken down by class teachers into longer blocks of learning which allows full coverage and depth of its content. Each block of learning contains smaller steps which are taught through whole-class interactive teaching, where the focus is on all pupils working together on the same lesson content at the same time. This ensures all can master the curriculum’s content before moving to the next part of the curriculum sequence, allowing no pupil to be left behind.

Religious Education

St Joseph’s is a Voluntary Aided Catholic School and is part of the parish of The Durham Martyrs, St Joseph’s Gilesgate.

It is a place where Christian values and standards are upheld

it is therefore a community not only where faith is taught and learned but where it can be celebrated through well planned liturgies and lived in daily practice“.
Cardinal Basil Hume “The Future for Catholic Schools”

Religious Education cannot be confined to set times in the week.

The school sets out to create an atmosphere in which religion is provided not only as a means of knowing and believing, but also as a matter of living and doing.  The National Religious Education Programme approved by the Bishops of England and Wales ‘Come and See’ is in use throughout the school.

The parish and school offer the opportunity for children to take part in the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion. Parents are expected to join in the preparations and will be invited to join the programme when their child is in Year 4.


From Reception onwards science activities are introduced. Tasks are designed to develop the skills of observing, communicating, recording, classifying, predicting, investigating, estimating and measuring.

Subjects covered in Science include:

  • Experimental and Investigative Science – Planning work, obtaining evidence, considering evidence.
  • Life Processes and Living Things – Animals, humans and plants – similarities and differences – feeding, breathing, movement and behaviour – environmental aspects.
  • Materials and their Properties – Natural and man-made materials – similarities and differences – grouping and classifying – uses – changes which arise from heating, cooling and weathering.
  • Physical Processes – Electricity and magnetism – Forces and Motion – Light and Sound.

The foundation subjects are taught through a variety of topics. Computing skills are taught and opportunities to practice these skills are integrated throughout the curriculum.

St Joseph’s is well equipped for physical education. There are large flat playing fields a large hard surfaced yard and a ‘trim trail’ outdoors, while indoors there is a large hall which is equipped with free standing apparatus.

Physical Education

The children are offered a wide variety of activities as part of their Physical Education including dance, gymnastics and games. All pupils take part in at least two hours of P.E. per week.  In order that the children get the most out of these activities it is essential that they come to school with the necessary equipment.

Parents are asked to equip their children with:-

Shorts, Tee shirts, Track suit or jogging bottoms (for cold weather), Sandshoes (slip on type for infants). It is recommended that all children keep their P. E. kit in a P. E. bag.

School tee shirts in House colours for Key stage 1, navy blue for key stage 2 and blue shorts can be ordered from the office.

All items should be clearly marked with the child’s full name.

Swimming is offered up to level 8 of the LA awards scheme. Children will need a swimming costume, a towel, a swimming cap (for all children) and a waterproof bag for wet equipment.

In addition to regular P. E. lessons children have the opportunities to take part in various other sporting events organised by the Durham City School Sports Partnership.


Art and Music are taught throughout the school in accordance with the National Curriculum. All children have opportunities to make music in school during collective worship, church services and in school plays and concerts. Dance and drama is encouraged in assemblies, school plays and concerts and there are theater visits. There are opportunities for whole class instrumental tuition and small group instrumental tuition.

Further information about our curriculum can be found in our school brochure.

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