Beacons of Light (Personal Development)
The St Thomas' Beacons of Light Curriculum
The definition of a beacon is a person or thing that warns, guides or offers support.
A lighthouse is an example of a beacon. The lights of a runway are an example of a beacon for a landing plane. A friend who offers direction and guidance is an example of a beacon for someone in need.
Our Beacons of Light curriculum is designed to offer guidance and direction as our pupils navigate through life, preparing them for all that lies ahead. The curriculum extends beyond the academic, offering valuable learning opportunities and experiences which will provide our pupils with the knowledge, confidence and skills needed to become informed, valuable and confident citizens.
See below to read more about each strand of our Beacons of Light curriculum:
Celebrating achievements is a big part of school life at St Thomas. We believe in nurturing an intrinsic desire to behave and achieve well.
We have a St Thomas STAR award, which is an aspirational award, designed to encourage children to behave well with clear and explicit expectation that can be achieved by all pupils. During the termly STAR award ceremony, we celebrate all that makes our pupils special and unique.
We have a weekly worship that is centered around celebration and achievement! We celebrate and congratulate our pupils on achievements such as demonstrating our school values; excellent learning behaviours; and dedication to home learning. Our pupils are reminded of the importance of celebrating the achievements of others.
Five Be Experiences
Our Five Be experiences are broken down into five strands and make up a big part of our Beacons of Light curriculum. Our Five Be Experiences start at EYFS and are each chosen with a clear rationale in mind.
To find out more about our Five Be experiences, follow this link.
Diversity and Equality
Diversity and equality is at the heart of our whole curriculum. Considering the demographic of our school, we know the importance of opening our pupils’ eyes to the diverse world in which we live, equipping them with a deep routed understanding of the meaning of diversity and equality; what this looks like in our culture and some of the realities of inequality and discrimination in the world today.
Diversity and equality is a core strand within every subject. To read more about how we teach this within every subject, follow this link.
Diversity and equality is also woven throughout of curriculum through theme weeks and days such as our Diversity and Equality awareness week, and focus days such as Inter Faith day where our pupils learned all about Islam.
Our weekly Heartsmart lessons provide plenty of opportunities for our pupils to explore diversity and equality in a safe, child friendly way. Follow this link to find out more about the knowledge our pupils gain in their Heartsmart lessons.
Mental Health and Well being
Mental Health and well-being is a high priority at St Thomas. Through our curriculum, our pupils develop an understanding of the importance of caring for our mental health and strategies for doing so.
Our weekly Heartsmart lessons provide plenty of opportunities for our pupils to explore and understand mental health and consider strategies for keeping our minds healthy. Pupils gain a deep understanding of mental health, from the importance of talking about our emotions with trusted adults; how our words can affect our emotions and others around us; and how too much social media can be bad for us! Follow this link to find out more about the knowledge our pupils gain in their Heartsmart lessons.
We have appointed a Mental Health champion who is currently trialing out new initiatives across school to raise awareness of mental health and offer further opportunities for children to maintain good mental health. These include: daily ‘check ins’ across school and the training up of Mental Health champions who are being provided with strategies they can use to support their peers.
We have recently celebrated Children’s Mental Health week where each day focused on a different strand of mental health, from mindfulness and setting ourselves achievable goals, to wake up and shake up sessions.
Our ‘Lighthouse Room’ is a designated safe space for our pupils to access. Our pastoral lead offers daily, lunchtime drop in sessions, which all pupils can access if they are in need of support; a listening ear or just a quiet space. Some pupils also benefit from weekly counselling sessions and may be accompanied by our school therapy dog, Rosie.
We have ‘Worry Monsters’ around school which can be accessed by all pupils and are checked by our pastoral lead daily. Pupils may then be invited to a drop in session.
At the start of every PSHE lesson, our pupils are reminded of adults they can talk to in school and opportunities for doing so.
Keeping our pupils safe around school and equipping them with the knowledge of how to keep themselves safe is our top priority at St Thomas.
Our safeguarding curriculum is taught through whole school assemblies; PSHE/ RSE lessons; weekly safety reminders and whole school theme days and weeks. Our pupils experience a constant ‘drip feed’ approach to understanding how to stay safe. To find our more about the knowledge our children gain about keeping safe in and outside of school, follow this link to see our safeguarding curriculum.
Internet safety is a key part of our safeguarding curriculum, particularly as many of our pupils have access to devices at home. E-safety is also taught through our computing curriculum and PSHE lessons. Each year we celebrate Safer Internet day and ensure that our pupils gain valuable knowledge needed to keep themselves safe online. Follow this link to see our Internet safety knowledge overview.
Responsibility is one of our Christian Values that is lived out by pupils during their time at St Thomas, and beyond! Pupils develop a deep routed understanding of what responsibility is and looks like in our day to day lives, along with opportunities from EYFS to Year Six to join committees and take on extra responsibilities, including:
Our pupils are given the opportunity to nominate themselves for one of the responsibilities at the start of every year and are either voted for by staff or their peers.
We know the importance and benefits of leading healthy lives at St Thomas and want our pupils to leave St Thomas with a strong understanding of keeping our bodies healthy.
Every day, our classes each run the Daily Mile. Not only does this given all children an opportunity to get in fifteen minutes of valuable exercise, but it also helps our pupils to recharge and refresh ready for rest of the day ahead. All pupils take part in this daily activity and are encouraged to take a brisk walk or run.
We offer all pupils a healthy lunch, prepared fresh on site each day. There are plenty of options for children to choose from, including: two hot meal choices; jacket potatoes; fresh soup; salad bar; sandwiches and fresh fruit. Children are encouraged to try new foods and top up their plates with plenty of fruit and vegetables!
Our weekly Heartsmart and RSE lessons provide plenty of opportunities for our pupils to understand how they can follow a healthy lifestyle. Follow this link to find out more about the knowledge our pupils gain in their Heartsmart and RSE lessons.
Life skills and independence
Through consultation with staff, parents and pupils, we decided that it was important to teach our pupils valuable life skills before they leave us at St Thomas. These life skills are mapped our through our Five Be experiences and opportunities throughout their time at school.
The ‘Be the Best Version of Myself’ strand of our Five Be experiences gives all pupils opportunities to learn valuable life skills from swimming to making a bed! Follow this link to view our Five Be experiences.
In upper key stage two, our pupils are taught the skill of note-taking and are encouraged to use their own personal notebooks in lessons. Our pupils then use these notes to support them in retaining information and completing independent tasks. Our pupils also use these notes when completing their end of unit essay.
To develop independence, we have introduced the Five B’s for all pupils. This is a visual reminder in every classroom to support all children when learning independently: Book, Buddy, Brain, Book, Board. Our pupils understand that these tools can be helpful before they speak to their teacher.
Cultural Capital is the essential knowledge needed to aid the future success of our pupils. We believe that by equipping our children with this knowledge, we are giving them the best start to their education.
Every week, our pupils take part in a ‘Picture News’ lesson. Picture News lessons give children opportunities to learn through news stories that inspire them. Children are exposed to a range of current issues, including: political, religious, cultural, moral, spiritual and social. Our pupils are encouraged and given the confidence to share their views and speak out in an environment rooted in respect and tolerance. Picture News makes British Values relevant and meaningful.
The ‘Be an Advocate’ strand of our Five Be Experiences gives all pupils opportunities to develop a deeper understanding of our local history, geography and heritage. Follow this link to view our Five Be experiences.
Our knowledge rich curriculum offers a wealth of broad knowledge that spans right back in time and across the globe, equipping our pupils with knowledge needed to actively contribute to discussion and make links across a range of contexts.
Worship and spirituality
At St Thomas’ we believe that worship and exploring spirituality can be the key to enabling every child to flourish. Worship contributes to the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of the children. These aspects of development can be found in many of the school curriculum areas and are implicit in the ethos of the school.
We begin every school day with a whole school worship. Worships can be focus on a range of areas – from our core Christian values, to a key Bible story or a more current issue explored in a children friendly way. Worship is an opportunity for every child to take time to reflect and consider Christianity as part of their daily lives.
All of our pupils are given the opportunity to plan and lead class worship in each academic year. Our pupils are allowed to choose their own focus, Bible stories, reading, songs and prayers for their worship.
Every class has a dedicated prayer space which children can access at any time. Prayers spaces are interactive and inviting for all children.
Our Christian values are incorporated into our Five Be experiences, giving our pupils an opportunity to actively demonstrate one of our values, giving a real life context. Follow this link to take a look at our ‘Be a Good Samaritan’ strand of our Five Be experiences.
Behaviour and Values
We believe in setting clear and explicit behaviour expectations and routines, giving our pupils the opportunity to learn how to behave well. Our pupils are intrinsically motivated to behave well and aren’t provided with physical rewards.
Each year, we being with a ‘behaviour bootcamp’ where children are explicitly reminded how to behave around school and are provided with opportunities to practise these behaviours. If necessary, we will complete a behaviour ‘re-boot’ mid-way through the years to ensure all children understand behaviour expectations.
We have a number of behaviour routines around school that are children are very familiar with – for example, SLANTing is used in every classroom to encourage active listening. Children are aware of the routines when entering their classroom after break or lunch: as their teacher stands at the threshold, the children enter and complete a ‘Do Now’ task meaning they very quickly settle down.