Curriculum Statement

Merry Hill Curriculum

Our drivers and vision are at the heart of our curriculum. Created in collaboration with all stakeholders, these drive our curriculum and are the essential elements our children need to become successful life-long learners. Our curriculum is knowledge rich and delivered through adaptable child centred topics which provide a meaningful and engaging context for their learning.

At Merry Hill, we have developed a broad curriculum driven by the learning elements our children require to be successful life-long learners.   At the centre of our drivers is ‘skilled communicators’ as we believe communication is the foundation of relationships and essential for learning, play and social interaction.

Intent – what are we trying to achieve with the Merry Hill curriculum?

Healthy Learners – further support our children’s physical and mental health and wellbeing to ensure readiness for learning (how we ensure we are ready to learn)

To develop healthy learners who understand the importance of a healthy body and a healthy mind to ensure they are ready to learn. Throughout their time at Merry Hill, our children develop positive characteristics such as a sense of purpose, contentment, healthy relationships and optimism. We teach tools and strategies which ensure our children are well equipped to deal with external situations in a productive and positive way.

Curious Learners – further develop our children’s learning (what we learn)

To develop inquisitive learners who question, reason and justify. We provide our learners with the appropriate subject-specific knowledge and understanding as set out in the National Curriculum and beyond so that our children reach and exceed their potential. We provide a range of experiences and explicit vocabulary instruction which build up to more complex applications of their learning.

Ambitious Learners – further develop our learning behaviours (how we act when we learn)

To develop effective learners by instilling; growth mindset, risk taking confidence, responsibility and pride. All of these elements drive self-improvement and result in ambitious lifelong learners.

Collaborative Learners – further develop our children as responsible citizens (their place in the world)

To develop learners who have a holistic set of values, understand their place within the world and how they can positively contribute to society. Through the instillation of British values, our children will be responsible citizens who are prepared for life in the diverse modern world and will develop a respect of others through an understanding of our world and the people and cultures within it.


Our curriculum actions are shaped by our drivers to ensure our children have positive mental health, a growth mindset, respect for themselves and others and a drive for betterment. We achieve this by

thinking about how we prepare ourselves to learn, what we learn, how we act when we learn and our place in the world. Our implementation plan ensures our curriculum keeps us focused on these areas.

Our curriculum starts with the National Curriculum, and is designed to broaden outwards to build on our context and incorporate the needs and interests of our children. Our termly topics of Time Travellers, Dig a Little Deeper and Summer Fun are used to build on the children’s interests and provide a context for the children’s learning. We revisit these topics each year to build on the children’s prior learning in a meaningful and familiar context, although the content within these topics is adapted to meet the needs and interests of our children. We use the zones of regulation alongside other strategies to teach our children how to self-regulate, ensuring they are ready to learn. Our lessons include first hand experiences, multiple opportunities for discussion, outdoor learning, enquiry and independence. We draw on our community to enrich these learning experiences through external visits, advice and visitors and parents coming into school.

Driver 1: Healthy Learners – further support our children’s physical and mental health and wellbeing to ensure readiness for learning (how we ensure we are ready to learn)

The team at Merry Hill recognise the importance of mental health and dedicate time to instilling a positive self outlook within our children as well as strategies and tools to help children regulate.  We have adopted the zones of regulation framework to specifically teach our children about emotions and enable the children to regulate their feelings, energy and sensory needs in order to meet the demands of the social situation around them and be successful socially and ready to learn. Each classroom has a designated mindfulness area which the children are taught to use to help them regulate. Reception has a sensory room which is utilised by all children whilst also providing tailored sensory support to meet the individual needs of specific children. We ensure the children understand the importance of keeping physically active and all children across the school take part in weekly mini explorer sessions in our woodland area, outside learning and additional exercise of 10 minutes per day from a bank of activities including the daily mile. We employ play rangers who enhance playtimes, social interaction and physical development through the teaching of specific skills and their delivery of engaging games. These sessions provide a bank of games and upskill both staff and children to ensure long term positive change.

Driver 2: Curious Learners – further develop our children’s learning (what we learn)

Our commitment to the Merry Hill Learner: The National Curriculum is a minimum curriculum entitlement of our children’s learning journey; we offer holistic childhood experiences throughout their journey at Merry Hill. These are promoted through personalised sequenced overviews, trips and visitor workshops, outdoor learning which builds on their knowledge and through bespoke knowledge organisers that start in the Early Years and progress through to Year 2.

Core Subjects

We are ambitious for all pupils and are committed to delivering a broad and balanced curriculum. We ensure that the higher achieving children have learning experiences that meet their needs and are sufficiently challenged whilst scaffolding for those requiring additional support.

We use the HfL (Herts for Learning) Essential Maths material for our daily maths lessons in KS1 and Mastering Number plans for EYFS. The Essential Maths sequences have been designed to allow planned progression to ensure consistency. The inbuilt examples of what children should achieve through destination questions allow teachers to continue assessing and informing the children’s learning against age-related expectations. We are currently undertaking the Mastering Number NCETM  programme across the school which provides additional CPD for our teachers, upskilling them in the delivery of number sense. In KS1 our children do an additional 10 – 15 minute sessions 4x a week which focus on fluency and flexibility with number.

In writing, we use the Talk for Writing to develop learning. The approach ensures a consistent and systematic approach to teaching writing skills across all cohorts. The process uses speaking activities to develop writing skills. Quality writing is created by first expanding and developing children’s oral language skills and then teaching the necessary steps for exceptional sentence and text construction. This routine enables the learners to build up oral competency and a set of story schemas.

We complete regular writing assessments using hot and cold tasks which staff use to inform their planning ensuring pitch and challenge are accurate. In EYFS we use Birth to 5, Development Matters and the Early Years Framework to assess writing and in KS1 the HfL assessment grids are used to track our children’s progress.

We follow the Essential Letters and Sounds phonics programme, supplemented with additional Oxford Owl online reading materials. Our systematic, consistent, and rigorous approach makes all children become readers as quickly as possible. Handwriting is taught through this programme and continued with the Nelson handwriting scheme which ensures a consistent approach across the school.

Reading is at the heart of our curriculum. The children listen to quality texts read aloud to them every day, they engage in shared and guided reading sessions and each classroom has an inviting book corners. Through further text exploration, we focus on the key reading retrieval strategies: decoding, inferring, predicting, summarising, evaluating, making links/connections and questioning, which support comprehension skills. In our EYFS books are carefully chosen and placed in all areas of the classroom so the children are exposed to a range of literature throughout the day; staff model looking into the texts for further inspiration of play.

Learners have regular access to our library, which has a magical mural on the wall to capture the children’s imagination, as an additional resource to enhance the love of reading. Our library is stocked with a variety of diverse texts which helps us to celebrate the different cultures within our school community and beyond. Our children enjoy having the independence to select their shared reading books each week and enjoy sharing the reason they have selected that particular text.  The library provides learners with the space and time to choose books and discover authors, illustrators and texts they might not get a chance to experience outside school.

Foundation Subjects

We are committed to teaching a broad and balanced curriculum that stimulates, motivates, and encourages pupils to become independent and aspirational learners.

The curriculum is effectively sequenced so our learners can acquire knowledge and apply this learnt knowledge within increasingly more complex contexts. It focuses heavily on the ‘what’ – with knowledge being clearly verbalised and subject-specific vocabulary taught and used. Knowledge is cumulative and retrievable through the carefully planned sequence of lessons, both within and across year groups.

Our curriculum is vocabulary focused and aims to equip pupils with the technical language required to talk about their learning precisely across the curriculum. Knowledge organisers are utilised within learning modules to support vocabulary development.

Pupils access mini-quizzes at regular intervals within topics, thus challenging them to recall their learning. Research shows that the ‘Spaced Practice’ and ‘Retrieval Practice’ embedded within the curriculum enhances pupils’ learning.

Our teachers plan a wide variety of offsite educational visits. Visitors are invited into school to enhance cultural capital and broaden subject knowledge. These experiences provide the learners with essential real-life understanding enabling them to become educated citizens.

Our children participate in various after school clubs, which build their knowledge, skills, understanding and personal development.

Driver 3 – Ambitious Learners – further develop our learning behaviours (how we act when we learn)

At Merry Hill, we understand that learning about learning helps us to be better learners!

We promote a whole school ethos of resilience and perseverance through growth mind set; instilling amongst all that learning is a journey and mistakes help us to learn. Children are empowered and ambitious to ‘have a go’ if they don’t know something ‘yet’ and all staff model this language within the school. We use specific praise linked to effort and carry out regular book looks with the children which enables them to reflect upon and talk about their learning and recognise the progress they are making. We also hold a weekly assembly which celebrates the learning and achievements our children have made.

Driver 4 – Collaborative Learners – further develop our children as responsible citizens (their place in the world)

When planning the curriculum, teachers think not just about what learners should learn and how they should learn it, but also how they can understand morality and the wider world. They do this through:

Following the Jigsaw PSHE programme, which explores the values critical to understanding modern Britain and beyond. We learn about Being Me in My World, Celebrating Difference, Dreams and Goals, Healthy Me, Relationships and Changing Me, which helps us understand our place in our world. Jigsaw contributes to British Values in every single lesson, and all lessons contribute to one or more of these values in some way. Through weekly lessons and regular assemblies, our school community models, teaches and promote a range of values that we need to demonstrate to become good citizens of the world. We think carefully about the value, explore it in learning and demonstrate this whenever we can.

Within each classroom children will be putting British values into practice, making them meaningful for our young children. Through class votes our children understand democracy; rule of law is explored through discussion and class rules; individual liberty is explored through understanding our impact on others and protecting our right and other children’s right to be happy and learning at Merry Hill; mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs is reinforced at every opportunity but particularly through texts, PSHE, RE and assemblies.

Asking learners to undertake positions of responsibility around the school, as we believe that children understand values & leadership by seeing them in action in others. Our pupil leadership groups include: School Council; Play Leaders; Eco-Warriors; Digital Leaders and Forces Ambassadors.

Ensuring our half termly learning thinks about how to challenge stereotypes. For example, in EYFS, when we learn about families, our teachers ask learners, ‘Can we have two daddies and two mummies?’ When we learn cooking skills, we think about who prepares the food in our own homes. Our teachers identify positive role models that challenge stereotypes for us to learn about.

Visiting and inviting in different faith groups such as the local synagogue and Church and having faith leaders, children from our school and members of our community tell us about their faith, we learn about the diversity within our community and a deeper understanding and respect for different beliefs and traditions.

We work with local community groups such as visiting the local residential home and working with local charities such as the Watford Peace Centre. We collect and raise money for charities such as the NSPCC and we aim to increase our learner’s engagement with activities that benefit other members of the community and beyond.


What do we hope will be the impact of our curriculum and how do we measure it?

The Merry Hill Curriculum places the learner at the centre of the curriculum and makes teachers think, “What will the experience be for the learner, and how can we ensure the learning will stick?” The drivers produce moral and responsible citizens who are independent, resilient learners equipped with strategies to overcome obstacles to make progress.

Driver 1: Healthy Learners – further support our children’s physical and mental health and wellbeing to ensure readiness for learning (how we ensure we are ready to learn)

The impact will be that our children are able to recognise and name their feelings and employ strategies to regulate their emotions when facing challenges. Our children will have a positive outlook and the mental strength and resiliency to succeed in life whatever their vocation.

Driver 2: Curious Learners – further develop our children’s learning (what we learn)

We strive to ensure that our children’s attainment in core and foundation subjects is in line with or exceeding their potential when considering children’s varied starting points. We measure this carefully using a range of materials but always considering Age Related Expectations. Our intended impact is that children will be academically and physically prepared for life in their next phase of learning, modern Britain and the world.

Driver 3 – Ambitious Learners – further develop our learning behaviours (how we act when we learn)

The impact we intend to achieve by developing this driver is seen by how the children approach daily challenges. This could be through sporting challenges, on the playground, in a game or disagreement, or a complex learning challenge in class. The impact should be that children are resilient, highly motivated to succeed and achieve, and equipped with all the personal skills to do this.

Driver 4 – Collaborative Learners – further develop our children as responsible citizens (their place in the world)

The impact will be that our children have fully rounded characters with a clear understanding of complex values like equity, equality, friendship, trust and many others. By learning what these mean, our children will develop a character that prepares them for living in the community, demonstrating tolerance and equality and building the mental resiliency to overcome challenges. Children’s strong sense of morality will guide them in making decisions for the right reason and for the best interests of their community. We measure this not just by the work our children produce but also in the behaviours we see each day in all learners on the playground, in corridors, and in the many roles we give them. The impact is seen in the daily interactions of all community members, including staff and children.