The family atmosphere of our independent Lower School and our small class sizes mean that we really get to know our girls as unique individuals; what they excel at and if they need extra support.
Learning really is limitless at Queen’s. From Reception, girls’ individual progress is tracked and monitored through a range of different methods and help is given to make sure all girls achieve their full potential - whatever their ability level.
Specific teaching and structured lessons mean that subjects like languages, sciences, music, art and PE do not get squeezed out and valuable cross-curricular topic work is introduced only when it really benefits the girls’ learning.
Individual awareness is the key to success when guiding a pupil through their days at school. We pride ourselves on an informative, frequent and reflective approach to assessment at the Lower School. Understanding how a child learns and exploring areas in need of enhancement and enrichment enable a clear pathway to success for every pupil.
Pupils complete an assessment on entry to the Lower School, after which staff monitor development on a daily basis. National standardised tests through the Rising Stars and Abacus Programmes are conducted every year, alongside national tests such as InCAS, SWST.
Unlike many schools, tests are used in a light way purely to inform a teacher of next steps and targets. Pupils are not taught to the test and priority is placed consistently on offering a rich and varied curriculum with assessment as a performance indicator, running alongside continual teacher assessment and individual awareness for the whole child.
Such is the quality of teaching at the Lower School that all Lower School girls are given automatic entry into the Senior School.
Almost 80% of Year 6 pupils achieved the national 'Exceeding Expectations' level in at least one of their 2016 end of year tests.
Learning Challenge Curriculum
There has been widespread press coverage of the national changes to the Primary Curriculum, with an emphasis on problem-solving to encourage children to think for themselves and develop critical reasoning. The Queen’s Lower School has embraced this wholeheartedly with the launch of our new “Learning Challenge” curriculum. This includes substantial curriculum time dedicated to English and maths, which underpins everything the pupils do, whilst leaving adequate time to explore and inquire, broadening their learning experience. The "Learning Challenge" curriculum enables pupils to acquire historical and geo-graphical knowledge, to learn scientific investigative skills and to experience a range of activities which demonstrate the skills which underpin the areas of Art, Design and Technology. We encourage opportunities to explore, question and reflect and promote life skills like resilience, team work and leadership.
The Learning Challenge Curriculum is a bold new approach which aims to make learning more engaging, with plenty of opportunities for enrichment and independent enquiry. Pupils are involved with the questions which underpin the half term or termly unit of study. This way, greater pupil engagement is ignited from the outset, lighting fires and challenging pupils to ‘go the extra mile’ in terms of their research and genuine interest in a topic.
The Learning Challenge Curriculum approach requires deep thinking and has been described as the curriculum for “intelligent schools”. Our experience has shown us so far that pupils look forward to embracing new and exciting questions each term and continue to set high standards for themselves to be the best they can be. They see learning as exciting and their challenge in finding out more information is providing key tools for learning.
More Able and Talented
A Challenge & Enrichment Programme is available to help stretch and challenge particularly gifted and talented pupils, whilst the curriculum for all pupils is enriched by school trips, visiting speakers and artists, talks by authors and other activities planned throughout the academic year.
‘Quality first’ teaching is every practitioner's priority, with lessons differentiated according to pupil ability and expectation. Extension opportunities are provided daily to challenge and extend all pupils, encouraging them to collaborate, question and problem solve opportunities.
We expect our pupils to read each night and complete regular homework to support in-class learning.
Progress and Setting
Progress - Each child’s academic progress is assessed on a regular basis and reported to parents at Parents’ Evenings (in October/November and February) and in the Autumn Term, Spring Term and End of Year Report. Year 6 pupils are automatically offered places for Year 7. Their performance in internal assessments throughout their time at The Lower School and their performance in the Senior School Entrance Exam in January are considered carefully as part of the transfer process. Almost all pupils transfer to our Senior School. Academic Scholarships for the Senior School are available and are often won by Lower School pupils after excellent performances in examinations. External candidates applying for Year 7 entry must satisfy the requirements of the Senior School Entrance Examination.
Setting - The children are placed in sets for Mathematics from Year 3 onwards to enable each child to be taught at a level appropriate to her ability in this vital area of the curriculum. Other subjects are taught within the mixed-ability classes. Planning for different strengths and abilities lies at the heart of our teaching ethos at the Lower School. Respect and understanding for individual learning styles is key. Staff aim to ignite a love of learning and offer inclusive access to the curriculum for all pupils by knowing individual pupils well. Differentiation, challenge, pace, stretch, support and fun combine to enable lessons that are stimulating and show progress and understanding.
Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage One pupils receive one homework activity each weekend, in addition to the expectation of daily reading. Homework may have a literacy or mathematical focus which builds on prior learning. Alternatively, homework can be set to help prepare for the forthcoming week or particular theme of work. Pupils in Year 1 and Year 2 receive weekly spelling lists to learn.
Year 3 pupils are given homework on three nights each week, Year 4 have four 30-minute pieces of homework per week and Years 5 and 6 have homework each evening (maximum one hour).
We also expect children to read each night with a suitable type of book being selected once the teacher has had a chance to identify the child’s appropriate level. We encourage parents to listen to their child reading as well as taking the opportunity to read out loud to them. The Reading Record forms a crucial part of the Infant and Junior Department Planner and there is an expectation that this is signed each evening.