The Preparatory School comprises the Early Years Foundation Stage (pupils aged 3 to 5), Key Stage 1 (pupils aged 5 to 7) and Key Stage 2 (pupils aged 7 to 11).
EYFS and Key Stage 1 (Formerly known as Little St Helen's)
EYFS and KS1 consist of Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 2.
In Nursery and Reception, we aim to develop key learning skills through the three Prime Areas – Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Communication and Language and four Specific Areas – Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding of the World and Expressive Arts and Design. Much of the curriculum is based around topics such as 'Myself', 'Nursery Rhymes' and 'Pets'.
The emphasis is on learning through play, enabling pupils to develop high levels of literacy, numeracy and creativity so that they are well prepared for more structured activities in Years 1 and 2.
Girls are taught English where they become competent in reading, writing, speaking and listening. We use a multi-sensory approach for the teaching of reading which includes a lively, structured programme of phonics.
In Maths we use our own bespoke curriculum which is designed to address the individual needs of the girls. The girls are encouraged to learn through practical tasks, enquiry, exploration and discussion. The Science curriculum is engaging and fun. The girls are encouraged to investigate, question, interpret and draw conclusions. Geography, History and Art are taught in a cross-curricular way.
Information and Communication Technology is embedded in all the pupils’ learning and we have an excellent range of appropriate hardware and software. Interactive whiteboards are used in all our classrooms.
Specialist teaching is introduced from a child’s earliest days: Drama, Music, Ballet and PE are introduced in the Nursery year.
In Nursery and Reception, personal, social, health, citizenship and emotional issues are explored along with different cultures and religions.
In Years 1 and 2, girls are taught within the framework of the National Curriculum and enjoy the opportunity to go beyond it. A high profile is given to the study of Literacy, Mathematics and Science whilst Design & Technology, Art, Geography and History are usually topic-based. Topics include 'Fairy Tales' in Year 1 and 'The Victorians' in Year 2.
The girls learn about different cultures and religions in Religious Education lessons in Key Stage 1 as well as personal, social, health, citizenship and emotional issues in PSHCE lessons. These are often focused around Circle Times.
French is introduced at Key Stage 1.
Each class has a Teacher and is supported by a Teaching Assistant. Girls are encouraged to be independent and to work as individuals, as well as collaboratively as part of a group.
Key Stage 2 (Formerly known as the Junior School)
Key Stage 2 in the Preparatory School is made up of Years 3 to 6 (pupils aged 7-11) and is housed in our new state of the art building. As well as classrooms (3 per year group), it has a number of specialist rooms to enhance the learning in all subjects. There is a music room with break out areas, a Discovery Centre consisting of a library section and computer section, science laboratory, art room, design and technology room, drama room and break out areas outside the classrooms. The classrooms on the lower floor open out onto the extensive playground.
Each year group comprises three parallel classes with approximately 22 girls in each class. In Years 3 and 4, each class has a teacher and a teaching assistant whilst, in Years 5 and 6, as the girls continue to develop their independent learning skills, there is a teaching assistant for each year group. As the girls move into Years 5 and 6 they experience a wider variety of teachers which prepares them well for Senior School.
This is a vibrant community in which pupils are inspired and challenged in order that they develop a sense of inquiry and a love of learning that will stay with them throughout their school careers and beyond. The girls are encouraged to develop their individual talents both inside and outside the classroom, ensuring a broad balanced learning experience for all and enabling pupils to take responsibility for their own academic development. They can become members of the School Council or Eco Council. The girls can play in the orchestra or jazz band and there is the opportunity to trial for the swim squad or competitive sports squads.
We encourage the girls to become independent learners who are able to discuss new ideas, think critically and creatively, and take risks with their learning. Above all, learning is fun, fostering a true sense of curiosity and excitement in the classroom.
By the time the girls reach the end of Year 6, they have developed a set of skills and an outlook on learning that enables them to move forward successfully to the next stage of their education in Senior School.
The Wider Curriculum
The wider curriculum plays a key role within the Prep School. Educational visits are an integral part of the teaching programme and children are regularly taken on visits to galleries and museums to enhance their learning experience. Outside visitors lead workshops at school for year groups or the whole school as appropriate. The co-curricular programme is wide-ranging and constantly evolving. After School Hobbies and optional Carousel music lessons, through which girls have the opportunity to study cello, violin and keyboard in small groups, are available for older pupils.
Throughout the week we have a variety of Assemblies. These include Assemblies given by the Head, class teachers, and Birthday, Commendation and Celebration Assemblies. Assemblies have a half-termly theme: for example, friendships, families or celebrations. At each Assembly a hymn is sung and a prayer is said in a time of reflection and quiet. In addition, Assemblies are held for special events and celebrations such as Harvest Festival, Easter and Founder’s Day.
The Preparatory School has separate playgrounds for the EYFS and Key Stage 1, which are well-equipped with a variety of resources including swings, slides and climbing frames. The girls can also enjoy the playhouse and shop, and equipment designed to encourage development such as stilts, beanbags and skipping ropes. There is also a designated play area for Key Stage 2 years, which includes a Trim Trail. Girls are encouraged to play together and take turns. There are also benches for quieter moments and shady areas for when the weather is hot. All playtimes are supervised by staff and there are always first aiders on duty.
Lunch - EYFS and Key Stage 1
All girls have a hot lunch provided by the Gables kitchen and the cost of lunch is included in school fees. Lunches are healthy and popular, and our menus offer a wide variety of choice including a vegetarian option. We cater for all allergies. Good table manners are encouraged and staff join the girls for lunch each day.
Lunch - Key Stage 2
School lunches are optional for girls in Key Stage 2, with a wide-ranging menu available every day offering soup, the choice of a hot meat or vegetarian meal in addition to the salad bar, baked potatoes, pastas and a choice of desserts and fresh fruit. In the Summer Term we also offer a choice of baguettes, sandwiches and salad boxes so that girls (in Year 6 and above) can picnic outside. Key Stage 2 and Senior School parents may opt for school lunches on a termly basis and the menus are posted on the school website so that parents can see the choice each day.