In Years 7 and 8, the curriculum builds on the foundations laid in the core subjects already studied, but also adds new subjects to stimulate and extend pupils' thinking. Great emphasis is placed on developing independence and also on study skills, such as the ability to research an answer and present findings through a talk, blog, project or report. Differentiation is enhanced by mobile technology in the classroom, which maximises pupil engagement and helps to nurture the enjoyment of learning in these formative years.
The subjects studied are English, Mathematics, Science (Biology, Chemistry and Physics), Modern Foreign Languages (French, German and Spanish), Latin, Geography, History, Religious Studies, Art, Design Technology, Drama, Music, Thinking Skills and PSHE (Personal Social and Health Education).
In Year 7, all pupils experience French, German, Spanish and Latin on a language carousel in the first term and a half, after which they select two languages to study at least to the end of Year 9.
All pupils take part in PE and swimming, and have three games sessions per week. In addition, everyone has the opportunity to sail.
Prep or Homework
Whether day or boarding, all junior pupils do supervised prep (or homework) at school. When the academic day is over, they can wind down with a huge variety of activities and clubs, before going home or back to the House in the evenings to relax and re-charge.
On joining the School, pupils are placed in forms according to their performance in the entrance examinations and a reference from their previous school. The forms are 7G, which is the accelerated Scholars' Form, and 7W, 7B and 7K, which are parallel forms. Subjects are taught in form groups for the majority of lessons, although pupils are placed into sets for Mathematics from the start.
Tutors are focused on helping pupils make the most of their education. Every child will meet with his or her tutor formally at least once week, but as the tutors for Year 7 and 8 are attached to the Junior Houses, they are able to provide guidance and support on an informal basis in between these meetings. Tutors will set goals, highlight achievements and, where necessary, ensure additional help or resources are provided. Through baseline testing, targets are set against quantifiable national data, giving each pupil the opportunity to fulfil his or her academic potential.
On joining the School in Year 7, each pupil is assessed using the MidYIS test. This is designed to measure, as far as possible, ability and aptitude for learning, rather than achievement. The test comprises four sections (Vocabulary, Maths, Non-verbal and Skills) and the results can be used to identify pupils' strengths and weaknesses, inform teaching and learning, and to identify gifted pupils and those with special educational needs.
This information is used to help set pupils a Challenge Grade or personal goal in each subject. Throughout the year, pupil performance in each subject is then tracked using attainment grades compared to the Challenge Grade. This provides a performance indicator ie Gold (exceeds expectation), Green (on target), Amber (some concerns) and Red (specific concerns), shown in interim and end-of-term reports.
This careful monitoring of academic progress and early intervention to resolve any difficulties ensures that each and every pupil achieves his or her personal best.
The Learning Support Department offers individually tailored specialist teaching in one-to-one lessons for pupils with dyslexia or similar learning difficulties. This might cover study skills, revision techniques and improving literacy. If specific problems are identified during the MidYIS testing, additional support can be provided through the Learning Support department at no additional charge.
If a child simply needs extra support with prep, Supported Prep Sessions are staffed by the Learning Support Department.
Co-curricular Activities and Enrichment
Great importance is placed on balancing academic work with interests and achievements outside the classroom and every pupil in the Lower School is encouraged to become fully involved in School life, to challenge themselves and to try something new.
Music, art, design and drama form an important part of the core curriculum and through three games sessions per week and class-based PE lessons, children gain confidence, build physical fitness and benefit from healthy competition. All Year 7 pupils complete a week-long sailing course in their first term with the option to gain RYA qualifications.
In addition, all junior pupils are encouraged to take part in the co-curricular opportunities after school. As well as music lessons and working toward drama qualifications, there is a wide range of organised activities and societies each day between 5 and 6pm.