The curriculum is finely balanced to take account of each child’s individual needs as well as the requirements of the 7+ entry tests – and to make learning fun!
Initially, i.e. in Nursery and the beginnings of Kindergarten, the curriculum is entirely play-based and exploratory. By Year 2, the emphasis has shifted to an essentially formal curriculum with structured lessons. In between lies a hugely important transition period during which the children need to acquire the skills of independent learning, including listening to the teacher, absorbing the information taught and applying it without adult support. Our curriculum is designed to develop these skills and to sustain the children’s innate joy of learning.
Of course, such a transition is not an overnight event but a process of adaptation. It starts in Kindergarten, coinciding with our gradual increase of the hours at school, culminates in Reception and is largely complete by the end of Year 1. The challenges this transition presents to the children should not be underestimated, and research has shown that the best adaptation takes place when three conditions are met:
- The environment is as constant as possible, allowing the children to feel safe and secure on familiar premises and surrounded by people they know (both adult staff and their ‘friends’ at school) and who interact with them in fairly predictable patterns based on a consistent school ethos
- The process is actively and individually managed for each child since the speed and nature of their development can vary greatly depending on their age in the class, maturity and ability. Strong communication among staff and with parents are essential in this regard as are proactive transition practices and the use of similar routines across year groups
- The process is allowed to take place gradually over time
In our experience, our high staff to pupil ratio is also essential in achieving the required tailored approach. Moreover, our dedicated teachers and their assistants are critical in implementing our curriculum and in living out the school’s ethos on a daily basis. They do so by interacting with the children in a positive and encouraging manner and by setting high expectations for each child according to their needs and pace of learning, thereby enabling them to achieve their full potential.