Curriculum Information & Assessment

The curriculum is set out in six areas of learning:

  • Language and Literacy
  • Mathematics and Numeracy
  • The Arts
  • The World Around Us
  • Personal Development and Mutual Understanding
  • Physical Education

Personal Development and Mutual Understanding

The curriculum promotes children’s self-esteem by concentrating on activities and learning experiences which encourage confidence, curiosity and creativity. It encourages children to take an active responsibility for their own learning.

In St Mary’s on the Hill pupils are given opportunities to learn in a variety of ways and in different social groupings. Teachers employ a wide range of teaching methods to ensure the children have the opportunity for interactive, practical activities.

Teachers plan together each week to ensure pupils’ learning intentions are agreed and that work is planned, reviewed and evaluated every six weeks. Teachers include assessment methods for each half termly plan. These assessments provide teachers with information on how the pupil is progressing and also identify areas which may require additional help.

Language and Literacy

Language and Literacy permeate all areas of the curriculum and the development of these skills is essential for life. The study of Literacy develops the pupil’s ability to listen, speak, read and write for a wide range of purposes. We aim to assist our children to achieve their full potential in the three main areas of Literacy - Reading, Writing, Talking and Listening in order that they become confident users of language for life. We aim to provide a supportive, stimulating and secure environment where pupils are encouraged to express themselves and where their contributions are valued.

Foundation and Key Stage 1 pupils are engaged in daily phonics work. We employ the Jolly Phonics programme which is a child-centred, multi-sensory approach making learning fun and helping children develop sound knowledge and understanding.

A breadth of fiction and non-fiction books is used to provide the children with a variety of experiences. We use a variety of texts including Big Cat, Rigby Star and Oxford Reading Tree.

In Key Stage 2 pupils continue their phonological awareness which is linked to the spelling scheme. The pupils are engaged in an extensive range of activities in order to develop their reading, writing and talking and listening skills. A range of class novels, reading and interactive material is used.

All classrooms are equipped with interactive whiteboards and computers linked to the school system. This allows access to CDs, interactive books. Pupils also have the opportunity to visit Glengormley Library.

Mathematics and Numeracy

Throughout the school, we engage the children in a wide range of activities. Pupils may be involved in playing, exploring and investigating, in order to develop mathematical skills. Through daily activities, pupils develop mental maths skills. The teachers encourage the children to use and apply mathematics in practical tasks and real-life problems. To support this development we use the published Mathematical Scheme ‘Heinemann Mathematics’ which provides the principal teaching for Primary 1 to Primary 7. This scheme is enriched by a wide range of other schemes and teacher’s own materials, problem-solving activities and computer Data Handling activities

We aim to give our pupils a variety of learning experiences in Mathematics lessons. These include discussion, Mental Work, Calculator Work, Games & Puzzles, pencil & paper, Using ICT.

The Arts

Through the Arts area of the Northern Ireland curriculum, we provide opportunities for pupils to develop their creativity, allowing them to express their ideas, feelings and interpretations of the world through pictures, sound, drama and dance.

Through art and design, we allow the children to experiment with a range of media, materials, tools and processes such as: drawing, painting, printmaking, malleable materials, textiles and three-dimensional construction.

All pupils are given the opportunity to develop their musical talent and dramatic skills. They are provided with opportunities investigate and experiment with sound and all children have the chance to sing and perform in various contexts and to a variety of audiences. Many key stage 2 pupils join the school choir performing both within the school and venues beyond the school community.

World Around Us

Through this area of the curriculum, pupils have an opportunity to study elements of History, Geography and Science and Technology. Pupils learn through topics/themes and interconnected ideas in order to explore aspects of the environment, living things, the world and how people and places have changed over time. The current themes studied in each year group are detailed below.

P1 Marvellous Me Toys Winter Farm Seaside Seaside
P2 People who help us Food Pets Growing Journeys Journeys
P3 Fairytales Weather House & Homes House & Homes Minibeasts Space
P4 Conflict / Peacemakers Conflict / Peacemakers Sound Celebrations Pirates Pirates
P5 European Explorers Materials Commotion in the Ocean Titanic Ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt
P6 Vikings Vikings Rainforest Rainforest Money Wise Money Wise
P7 Victorians Famine Actions Speak Louder Actions Speak Louder Flight Flight

Personal Development and Mutual Understanding

Personal Development and Mutual Understanding (PD&MU) focuses on encouraging each child to become personally, emotionally and socially effective, to lead healthy, safe and fulfilled lives and to become confident, independent and responsible citizens, making informed and responsible choices and decisions throughout their lives.

Physical Education

Physical education provides the foundation for a healthy lifestyle and promotes self-esteem, good behaviour, co-operation, a sense of fairness and respect for others and enjoyment through participation.

Pupils are allowed time, to develop confidence, both as individuals and members of a group. They are afforded opportunities to listen and respond to guidance from the teachers, and to talk about their experiences in the physical education lesson.

In addition to their two periods of PE per week, the children in years 5, 6 and 7 attend swimming lesson in the Valley Leisure Centre.

Information and Communications Technology

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is a cross curricular theme through which can transform and enrich pupils’ learning experiences. In St Mary’s on the Hill we aim to enhance the pupils’ computer and technological knowledge and skills. All our classrooms are equipped with Interactive Whiteboards and computers linked to the school computer system. All children have access to our computer suite.

All pupils are provided with opportunities to use a variety of technological devices, laptops, computers, interactive whiteboards, cameras and programmable toys. In addition classes communicate with local schools and our European partner schools via email and video conferencing. All pupils in years 4 and 7 complete the CCEA ICT Accreditation Scheme.

Religious Education

Catholic Education is the centre point of the child’s personal and intellectual development.  The Religious Education of the pupils is accomplished in two equally important and complementary ways;

  • Through the total experience in the school

  • Through the religious education programme

The staff are aware of the spiritual needs of the children and of the important part Religious Education plays in a child’s upbringing.  With assistance and encouragement from our school Chaplain Fr Darren Brennan, we ensure that these needs are catered for.

Our Religious Education programme, based on the ‘Grow in Love,’ series, extends beyond the requirements of the core RE syllabus agreed by main churches.  It prepares each child for participation in the liturgy and sacraments of the Catholic Church.  It enables the teachers and the priests to share their faith with the children.  The Religious Education programme includes prayer services, assemblies, class Masses and the annual Parish Prayer Vigil, to all of which the parents are invited.  It reflects the needs and aspirations of the entire community of the Catholic School.


Assessment of children’s work is an integral part of our teaching. The main purposes of assessment are to:

1. Ascertain, through a variety of means, the achievements of each child.

2. Indicate possible ways of further attainment.

3. Assist the teacher in planning the next stage in each child’s learning process. Informal Assessment: To ensure effective teaching and learning, pupils are assessed by the teacher at regular intervals through observations, weekly and end-of-topic assessments and a variety of formal tests.

Pupils are also encouraged to take responsibility for their learning through self-evaluation methods: How did I do? What did I do well? What could I improve? What do I need more support with?

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