Category Archives: Lower School Curriculum

Modern Foreign Languages

From Class 1 onwards, children learn a wide range of French and German vocabulary and short phrases through songs, verses, poems, recitation, games and cultural activities. In these earlier years, the emphasis is on listening and speaking:  the children internalise the new sounds of a language and are more able to pronounce them accurately whilst their innate language instinct is still more present. The written language is introduced towards the end of Class 3 or beginning of Class 4 where pupils also begin to gain an understanding of the grammar, spelling, phonics and structure of the language. In the older classes, there are occasionally opportunities for individual exchanges and pupils from overseas Steiner schools sometimes visit us.

Humanities

A rich immersion in the humanities begins in Class 1, as each day children listen with rapt attention as the teacher tells a fairy tale or nature story. Progressing through the classes, the children absorb the legends of saints, multicultural folklore, Native American tales, Norse mythology and sagas; stories of Ancient India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece; the History of Western civilization from Rome through the Middle Ages, the rise of Islam, the Age of Exploration, the Renaissance and Reformation, the French Revolution, Industrial Revolution, The Cold War up till the present day. In the early years, by “living into” these cultures through legends and literature, children gain flexibility and an appreciation for the diversity of mankind.

The study of geography as a separate subject begins in Class 4 and starts with a study of the immediate environment, broadening out in the following years to regional, national and global studies.

  • Class 4 – The study of the geography and history of the local area. Focusing on the unique geography of the Fens, myths and legends of the country, their formation, traditional way of life, their drainage and cultivation. Visits to local Fenlands.  The Local History and Geography of Cambridge. Visit to the city of Cambridge and the Colleges. The Strawberry Fair in Cambridge was one of the largest Medieval Fairs in the world. Study the unique culture and landscape of the chalk belt. Visit Chalk pits. Practical map making activities of the local environment. The main purpose is to link human activity to the natural environment.
  • Class 5 – Geography of the British Isles. Again the emphasis is on connecting the physical geography with human activity for example, mining developed in mountainous and coastal regions where rocks were exposed and minerals closer to the surface, large towns often developed by estuaries that were ideal ports etc. The variations in topography, climate and agriculture are explored.  History: The culture and religion of early civilisations of India, Persia, Babylonia and Egypt, moving on to classical ancient Greek history. A focus is on what influences of these societies can still be seen today? For example the cultivation of particular crops, the etymology of words, philosophical and political ideas, mathematics, art and architecture. The birth of democracy in Athens will be a particular focus.  A study of the ancient literature of those peoples: The Mahabharata, the Ramayana, Gilgamesh, Myths of Isis and Osiris. The Iliad and the Odyssey.
  • Class 6 – European physical and human geography. Each child completes an extended project on a European country of their choice and gives a presentation. Contrasting environments will be studied for example the Alps and Holland to see what impact this has on the culture and economy of a people. History: Roman from Kingdom to Republic to Empire. Roman Law that forms the basis of many countries legal systems. Practical projects based on Roman engineering, for example, making brick arches. Roman Britain; field trip to Roman site, the rise of Christianity, Saxon and Danish invasions of Britain, Alfred the Great,  William the Conqueror. The Rise of Islam: the life of Muhammad, Islamic contributions to art, mathematics and philosophy. Visit the local Mosque.
  • Class 7 – World geography, including a focus on one continent and looking at the cultural, material and economic conditions of specific societies. Study of World wind and current patterns and its influence on the Age of Exploration. History: the Middle Ages and the transition from feudalism to the Renaissance and biographies of key figures such as Leonardo Di Vinci. The Age of Discovery with the great voyages of the 15th to the 17th centuries. A history of the Slave Trade and its abolition, biographies such as Equiano (a freed slave) and William Wilberforce. The Reformation brought about by the Hegemony and corruption of the Catholic Church the life of Martin Luther.
  • Class 8 – World Geography, including meteorology; history – western culture from the 17th Century to the present, examining in particular revolutionary periods, including the English Reformation and Civil War and the revolutions in America, France and Russia, Napoleon and the Napoleonic Wars. Biographies of inventors, industrialists and social reformers for example; James Watt, Kier Hardy, James Cadbury, Emeline Pankhurst and Emily Hobhouse. The British Empire: Imperialism and Colonialism. The World Wars and the Holocaust. The founding of the United Nations. The Cold War. The Digital age.