Lancaster

Subject programmes

Whilst the emphasis in a transdisciplinary programme is upon crossing and interconnecting traditional subject content through the programme of inquiry, each subject area does have its own scope and sequence document that serves as a guide for the subject specific knowledge, skills and concepts that students are expected to acquire. As far as possible this is built into the programme of inquiry but where certain subject content does not naturally lend itself to inclusion within a unit of inquiry then it may be taught independently, outside of the unit, although an inquiry based approach is still used wherever possible.
The school has developed its own scope and sequence documents combining national guidelines and international standards and these exist for all of the following subject areas:
  • Language: a combined programme for English and Spanish incorporating both mother tongue and second language teaching strategies
  • Mathematics: combining national and international criteria structured around the mathematics programme "Investigations in number, data and space"
  • Social Studies: combining national criteria for History, Geography and Civics with international concepts and guidelines
  • Natural Science: again combining national and international science programmes with the specific purpose of developing a scientific approach to investigation and learning
  • Arts: a programme that allows students to explore and develop their creative and expressive potential through drama, dance, music and visual arts
  • Personal, social and physical education: through which students explore their own identity and their relationships with others considering both their emotional and physical development and well being

Language

Language, a fundamental vehicle for communication, forms the basic structure through which we receive the thoughts and ideas of others and express our own. The Lancaster approach seeks to combine native and second language teaching techniques in order to give students the tools they need to develop language fluency both in Spanish and English. Students are guided in the development of reading, writing, listening and speaking skills starting with pre-literacy skills such as awareness of letter sounds and the exploration of new vocabulary. As students progress, they build independence with reading and writing and explore increasingly complex structures. By upper primary, learners are able to use their literacy skills independently as a means to access new learning and as a form of expression, honing their skills by deepening their comprehension strategies, carrying out complex debates and discussions, and reflecting critically on their writing.

Mathematics

Mathematical learning is approached from a conceptual standpoint, prioritising the development of deep understanding over recall and application of standard procedures and formulas. Students are encouraged to think as mathematicians, exploring multiple approaches and strategies for solving real-world problems by developing hypothesis, analysing results, and challenging their assumptions. Students begin developing the concept of number through the exploration of concrete manipulatives and games. They go on to extend and deepen their understanding of number representations, properties and operations as well as exploring geometry, measurement, data handling and early algebra, applied within the context of the unit of inquiry wherever possible.

Social Studies

In the PYP setting, social studies teaching and learning focuses on deepening students’ understanding of our world and our place as humans within it. Students are guided through the inquiry cycle, in which they ask questions, explore and analyse evidence from a variety of sources, draw conclusions, and share what has been learned, all with the purpose of informing and changing every day actions. Students are challenged to explore the relationships between themselves and others, which, in later years, serves to develop international mindedness and, with it, an understanding of what it means to be part of a global community. Social studies concepts and skills, which are incorporated fully into the programme of inquiry, are approached through a transdisciplinary mindset and driven by the central idea of each unit of inquiry. Related content is viewed as a tool in the development of conceptual understanding and is selected to follow national programmes as well as reflect student needs and interests. In order to promote balance, social studies knowledge is divided into five strands: human systems and economic activities, social organization and culture, continuity and change through time, human and natural environments, and resources and the environment.

Natural Science

As is the case for social sciences, teaching and learning in science are incorporated fully into the programme of inquiry and focus on concepts and skills as opposed to subject-specific content. Students are guided through the inquiry cycle, in which they wonder openly about the world around them, drawing inspiration from the physical, chemical and biological phenomena they experience in their daily lives. Guided by the PYP’s transdisciplinary themes and each unit’s central idea and concepts, scientific knowledge serves as a vehicle for extending and deepening students’ scientific thinking. To ensure the exploration of a broad range of scientific areas, the knowledge component falls under four strands: living things, Earth and space, materials and matter, and forces and energy. At all stages, students are given the opportunity to be scientists and to experiment, developing their ability to observe, formulate and test predictions, measure and gather data, analyse results, and draw conclusions.

Arts

The arts are an essential part of a child’s holistic development, linking sensory awareness with emotional and intellectual growth and providing a window through which students understand the world. The arts provide a channel for the development of self-expression, creativity, empathy, and communication beyond the limitations of language. Starting in kindergarten, our students are encouraged to experience the arts, exploring works relevant to their daily lives from every medium including music, visual arts, drama and dance. As they grow older, students extend this process of discovery in specialist classes, identifying and analyzing the most successful elements of great works of art. In turn, students of all ages are provided with the structures and guidance necessary to apply their learning in the creation of their own pieces. The PYP divides arts education in two strands, responding and creating, and encourages the pursuit of the creative process through inquiry teaching and learning techniques.

Personal, social and physical education

A focus on the growth of the whole child as a unique individual is essential to give students the preparation necessary to achieve balance and well-being later in life. In fact, it is in the pursuit of talents and the strengthening of weaknesses across knowledge, concepts, attitudes, and skills that students begin to define what makes them unique. Students are led through constant inquiry into the intricacies of self-awareness and human relationships, both within the context of their units of inquiry and their daily lives. Similarly, they explore the many facets of physical health through the scientific lens as well as through active participation in sports and games. Students analyze the importance of rules and structures, drawing their own conclusions about what actions reflect true sportsmanship. The PYP divides this pursuit of well-being into three strands: identity, active living and interactions.