The Reception children follow the nationally established Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum. This curriculum sets out a clearly defined group of seven areas of learning that most children are expected to achieve by the end of their Reception Year. At Reception level, learning provides a balance of focused teaching and carefully guided play activities which encourages children to explore, investigate and consolidate their developing knowledge, skills and attitudes.
The areas of learning can be summarised as follows:
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
- Communication and Language
- Physical Development
- Understanding the World
- Expressive Arts and Design
In addition to specialist teachers provide weekly sessions of:
- A modern language (Spanish/ French or Mandarin) through our Language Discovery Programme
- PE (gymnastics, dance)
The Learning Challenge Curriculum
As an independent school, our curriculum is based on the National Curriculum, but is broader than and goes well beyond statutory requirements. Our pupils are encouraged to take an active part in their lessons, express opinions, ask questions and develop a positive attitude towards learning.
The Learning Challenge Curriculum is a bold new approach which we fully embraced across the whole school from September 2017.
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 new curriculum exemplifies this. It makes 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, challenging pupils to ‘go the extra mile’ in terms of their research and genuine interest in a topic.
In addition to substantial curriculum time dedicated to English and maths, which underpins everything the pupils do, adequate time is allocated to acquire historical and geographical 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 such as resilience, team work and leadership.
This 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.
Assessment and tracking process:
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 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.
Academic results are impressive and last year almost 80% of our Year 6 pupils achieved the national 'Exceeding Expectations' level in at least one of their end of year tests.
More able and Talented pupils
A Challenge and 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.
Daily Routine (Infants)
The pattern of the day for our Infant children is as follows:
|7.45am||Sunrise (Breakfast) Club opens (optional)|
|12.00pm||Lunch, Extra Curricular Activities|
|3.15pm||Period 5 - end of school day for Infants|
|Sunset (After School) Club, Extra-Curricular Activities|
The Sunrise (Breakfast) Club is open at 7.45am until 8.30am and is managed by Mrs Howell. There is a wide selection of food available.
The school day ends at 3.15pm for Infant pupils, however there are many after school options to entice and extend learning, all promoting further opportunities for our pupils. Extra-curricular activities take place as well as the Sunset Club. Sunset Club welcomes all pupils and provides after school care until 6pm. Infant pupils may receive support with homework, read to an adult or access the many colourful activities on offer each night from Gardening to Computing!
Each Reception class has a full-time qualified teacher and a fully-qualified Early Years Teaching Assistant. The children in Reception have a separate outdoor area as well as being able to use the main Infant School playground and fields for their supervised play times. The outdoor areas at Queen's provide bountiful opportunities for girls to run, climb, sing, explore and think. A safe and nurturing atmosphere promoting health, happiness and well being is key. We believe that every child deserves the best possible start in life and we support each individual, enabling them to reach their full potential. We understand that children learn and develop in different ways and at different rates, and use a variety of teaching methods to suit individual learning styles. A positive ethos is always encouraged and we teach all our children to care and respect themselves, each other and the environment in which they live.