The Perse School

Pelican Curriculum

A rich and stimulating programme


We cover all subjects in the National Curriculum: literacy; maths; science; history; physical education; religious education; personal, social and health education; IT; and art and design technology. Yet we are also exempt from the learning and development requirements of the EYFS – this means we are not restricted by the National Curriculum and can adapt our education to meet our pupils’ needs. As a result, children enjoy myriad opportunities to extend their knowledge and understanding.

Our teaching follows a carefully planned scheme of work which builds on the learning of the previous year, with work appropriately differentiated to meet each child’s individual needs through support and challenge. The children undertake investigations and experiments with great enthusiasm, and begin to understand concepts of a ‘fair test’ and the importance of recording results accurately to reach conclusions.

Learning through cross-curricular topics enables knowledge to be set in contexts that are relevant and of great interest to the children. Topics often change according to the interests of the particular children in a year group. For example, in Reception, the topic on dinosaurs is very popular. Children solve problems, learn to read and write, begin to have an understanding of chronology, carry out mathematical operations, and develop their understanding of the world – all the while immersed in the study of dinosaurs. The topic culminates in a class assembly, giving the children the opportunity to share their learning with the rest of the School and their parents, in addition to creating a dinosaur museum to which the whole school is invited. They love participating in a range of dinosaur-related activities, all led and organised by the children themselves.

First-hand learning experiences enrich the curriculum further. The children go on a range of educational visits both within Cambridge (including to the Fitzwilliam Museum and a range of Cambridge University colleges) and further afield (such as to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, Stibbington and Stansted Mountfitchet Castle) and also enjoy having a number of visitors to school.

The children benefit from specialist games and music lessons.

Curriculum Weeks

We regularly hold a ‘Curriculum Week’ – a chance for pupils and their parents to focus on a key aspect of study, such as maths, science or literacy.

External visitors call in to enhance pupils’ learning: in Maths Week, visitors from Cambridge University spent the day giving the children practical and written challenges to solve, and Year 6 pupils from the Prep also visited to share their knowledge and help. This exciting week featured daily maths challenges that were revisited by the children throughout the day. During the week parents were invited to a maths curriculum evening, where they learnt how we teach their children maths, and took part in a range of activities that Pelican children complete during their maths lessons.

Literacy Week meanwhile was launched with a colourful celebration of the weird and wonderful characters of Roald Dahl on ‘Dahlicious Dress Up Day’. The School – full of Willy Wonkas, BFGs and Matilda Wormwoods – was led by the terrifying Miss Trunchbull from Matilda (aka Mrs Waddington, the Head).  During the week, pupils from Years 1 and 2 explored poetry and penned poems for the Young Writers’ Out Of This World poetry competition. To round off the celebration, the whole school enjoyed a cloud-gazing session to stimulate creativity before a West End in Schools performance of Space Jump. Parents attended an Early Years Reading Evening explaining how, where and when we teach reading, helping them understand our approach and support it at home. The evening was followed by a week-long book fair for parents and children to refresh their collections, organised with help from the Association of Pelican Parents.

During Science Week visitors from NAPP Pharmaceuticals, the Babraham Institute and the Perse Upper brought science to life. Children experimented with microscopes, extracted DNA from an onion and made (and then ate) their own ice cream. They explored the concepts of centrifugal force, inertia, gravity, air, gases, liquids and solids and learnt about investigations and testing. Years 1 and 2 enjoyed visits to the Upper’s Technology Department to make and launch rockets and to conduct experiments in the laboratory. At the Science Curriculum Evening for parents, teachers explained our approach, answered questions and gave parents the chance to experience some of the experiments that children undertake during the year.


Ongoing assessment is an everyday part of life at the Pelican. It begins with teacher observation, which leads gradually to more formal, standardised tests that are sensitively carried out. Year 1 complete weekly spelling tests and maths quizzes, and in science we assess the children at the end of each topic. Results are discussed regularly to ensure we put appropriate strategies in place to provide support or extension, meeting every child’s needs. There are termly parents’ evenings with class teachers to discuss ongoing progress and a full written report at one point during the year.

If a child is identified as having a particular special need we liaise with the parents to ensure the child is supported appropriately. With our low pupil to teacher ratios we are able to provide individual support when required within the context of the classroom.

If, in addition, the child is found to need further help from outside agencies then our Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator meets with parents to discuss the best way forward for their child.

No child is left without the care that they require.


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