AcademicTop tips for Prep School parents for English and maths
In the Prep School we believe in the concept of lifelong learning and the idea that everyone can learn new things every day. We maintain that learning should be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for all and it should be fun. Through our teaching we equip each child with the skills, knowledge and understanding necessary to be able to make informed choices about the important things in their lives. We believe that appropriate teaching and learning experiences help children to lead happy and rewarding lives.
Pupils from Year 3 are usually taught in mixed ability classes of no more than 19, by subject specialists in art, computing, drama, humanities, PE and games, modern foreign languages, music, PSHE and science. The English and maths departments set their pupils into two or sometimes three ability groups. Our small class sizes ensure that each child receives individual attention which supports and stretches each pupil.
We acknowledge that children learn in many different ways and we recognise the need to develop strategies that allow all children to learn in ways that best suit them. Through our teaching we aim to:
- Enable children to become confident, resourceful, enquiring and independent learners;
- Foster children’s self-esteem and help them build positive relationships with other people;
- Develop children’s self-respect and confidence and encourage children to respect the ideas; attitudes, values and feelings of others;
- Help children grow into reliable, independent and positive citizens.
Years 3 to 6 follow the National Curriculum (updated 2014) through the Hamilton Trust. This covers a wide range of topics, which consolidates and extends the children’s knowledge and understanding. Year 6 supplement this work by covering the additional elements of the ISEB syllabus in preparation for Common Entrance examinations. After finishing the Common Entrance examinations, Year 6 also develop financial understanding through guided discussions and activities alongside developing their own “company” as part of the entrepreneur project. The work is differentiated to ensure that support or extension work is available as appropriate. The children are taught in sets rather than as forms, covering work that is appropriate for the set that they are in. The children are formally assessed twice a year alongside continual teacher monitoring to ensure that the children understand the topics and continue to make progress.
Our aim is to nurture a love for reading. Our strong literacy programme focuses on ensuring that our phonics programme provides children with the necessary skills required to decode language, allowing them to build words using the sounds they have learnt. Through small group work, a varied reading scheme and differentiated programmes of learning, each child learns at the pace appropriate to their ability. Although we actively encourage independent learning, our reading scheme continues throughout the whole school, until we are sure that the necessary skills are firmly in place for a child to continue their learning journey successfully.
We also aim to foster a love for writing, whether providing a child with the required skills to free their imagination on paper, describe an idea or explain an opinion. Our rigorous teaching of grammar and punctuation equips each child with the necessary tools required to understand how to write appropriately, for the many varied formats that each child will experience. It is wonderful to observe the enjoyment our children feel when they are obviously delighted by the many wonderful poems, debates, stories, newspapers, play scripts and other pieces of writing they have produced. Support is offered in a variety of ways to ensure that every child is given the necessary teaching programme they require to continue and challenge their learning process.
At Oakwood, success means that a child can speak with confidence in a variety of situations, enjoy reading independently, whilst discovering which genre of novel excites them, and fostering an environment which celebrates the freedom to write independently.
From Year 3, children are taught science by separate specialist teachers in the school's science laboratory. The science team are very enthusiastic about making their subject as practical as possible, engaging our pupils in a variety of ways, both in the classroom and at home. We use a variety of text books, science equipment, the school grounds, DVDs, the internet, LearnPads and each other to find out about the world around us. The curriculum is varied and incorporates all areas of science, biology, chemistry and physics. Throughout their science education, our pupils have the opportunity to work on their own, within groups or pairs and as a whole class. They plan and conduct scientific investigations and carry out a range of practical activities, which will enhance their theoretical knowledge and understanding of science. Every pupil is encouraged to perform to the best of their ability and most importantly enjoy their studies. Pupils in Years 3 and 4 have three 55 minute sessions of science a week and Years 5 and Year 6 have two 55 minute sessions a week. From Year 4 the children have science prep each week, which comprises a variety of activities, both practical and written.
Modern Foreign Languages
At Oakwood, all our pupils from Nursery upwards have the opportunity to learn a modern foreign language (MFL) as part of the school curriculum. Our teaching uses a variety of different materials and media to enable pupils to enjoy expressing their ideas and thoughts in in another language and also to understand and respond to other speakers of that language. We aim to provide the foundation for learning further languages, equipping pupils to study and work in other countries in the future.
In the Prep School pupils from Years 3-6 have 70 minutes of French each week; this is usually split into two 35 minute lessons. We follow a curriculum based on the guidance in the revised Curriculum 2014 Languages Programme of Study, and we have adapted this to the ethos of our school and the abilities of our pupils. We use a variety of techniques to encourage the pupils to play an active part in language learning, placing an increasing amount of emphasis on reading, writing and listening as well as speaking, as the pupils move through the Prep School. From Years 3 to 5, the language studied is French. In Year 6, the pupils also experience taster courses in Spanish and German in the first term, then for the second and third terms they use this extra 35 minute lesson to prepare their French leavers' portfolio and to practise the language input for our Year 6 French trip. This residential visit is made in May each year to a château in Normandy, where they develop their language skills through a French immersion course, and enjoy educational visits to various places of historical, geographical and cultural interest.
97% of pupils obtained their first choice of school and 8 academic scholarships were awarded
Internal academic, art and sport scholarships are awarded annually to pupils in the Prep School.
Bishop Luffa School
Chichester High School
Churcher’s College (1 academic scholarship)
Ditcham Park School
Midhurst Rother College
Oaklands Catholic School
Portsmouth High School for Girls (2 academic scholarships)
Seaford College (1 academic scholarship)
St John’s College (2 academic scholarships)
St Phillip Howard School
The Portsmouth Grammar School (1 academic scholarship)
The Prebendal School
Westbourne House School
(1 academic scholarship was offered to an Oakwood pupil by Lavant House School prior to its closure).
One of the strengths of Oakwood is the Headteacher's personal knowledge of the wide range of senior schools and her ability to guide parents in choosing the most suitable one for their child. Our Year 6 pupils are thoroughly prepared for this exciting step in their educational journey, both academically and emotionally.
"Oakwood pupils are typically bright, confident and lovely young people who make a full contribution to the life of our school. We feel very lucky to have such a strong relationship between our two schools." James Priory, Headmaster, The Portsmouth Grammar School