Academic: Overview & Core SubjectsTop 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.
Teaching and learning are the core purposes of what we do at Oakwood. High quality learning outcomes and achievement are what we want for every child in our school. Across our school the expectation is that all pupils are provided with high quality learning experiences that lead to consistently high levels of personal academic achievement. Above all the curriculum at Oakwood is designed to provide access and opportunity for all children who attend the school.
In the Prep School a greater emphasis is placed on core and foundation subjects with pupils usually taught in mixed ability classes of no more than 19, by subject specialists in art, computing, DT, drama, food technology, humanities, PE and games, modern foreign languages, music, PSHE and science. The English and maths departments set their pupils into three ability groups. Our small class sizes ensure that each child receives individual attention which supports and stretches each pupil. Specialist teaching ensures quality learning and a passion for all aspects of the curriculum. Year 3 is a transition year for pupils where they remain for the most part classroom based, receiving specialist teaching for certain aspects of the curriculum.
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:
Help children to achieve their personal best;
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.
We strive to build positive links with the parents of each child by keeping them informed about the way in which the children are being taught and how well each child is progressing. Informal day to day contact is encouraged. Our use of effective assessment provides information to improve teaching and learning and raise pupil outcomes. We give our children regular feedback on their learning so they can understand what they need to do in order to make progress; assessment and tracking underpins our aims of making each pupil a happy, motivated and extended child. We give parents regular feedback on their child's progress so that teachers, children and parents are all working together. Assessment for learning is embedded in everyday practice and is used to inform teaching and learning.
Our children are regularly assessed in both English and maths, providing information about children's progress and the next steps needed to develop their learning. This is formative assessment and teacher led at appropriate levels in class. In addition to this ongoing tracking we use summative assessment to measure progress and attainment. Above all at Oakwood we are committed to understanding each individual's academic profile in full to enable them to achieve their absolute best.
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.
Our pupils are successful in developing their numeracy skills through focused teaching that embeds core skills while challenging and extending pupils' knowledge and understanding. Years 3 to 6 follow the National Curriculum using the comprehensive Hamilton Trust scheme of work, covering a wide range of topics aiming to consolidate and extend the children’s learning. Year 6 supplement this work by covering the additional elements of the ISEB syllabus in preparation for senior school entry.
Teaching and learning is differentiated to ensure that support or extension work is available as appropriate. The children are taught in 3 sets per year group, rather than as forms, covering work that is appropriate for the set that they are in, ensuring a more individualised approach to their learning.
From Year 3, children are taught science by 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. Each pupil has two double lessons of science per week (two 70 minute sessions). 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 3-5 have 70 minutes of French each week, 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 pupils benefit from an additional single languages lesson to facilitate taster courses in Spanish and German the pupils also experience taster courses in Spanish and German in the first term. In the summer term Year 6 enjoy a residential visit to France, staying in a château in Normandy, where they develop their language skills further through a French immersion course as well as enjoying educational visits to various places of historical, geographical and cultural interest.
Leavers & Scholarships
One of the strengths of Oakwood's teaching staff and the Headteacher is their indepth and personal knowledge of the wide range of senior schools available to our families after Year 6 at Oakwood. Our ability to guide parents in choosing the most suitable school for their child ensures a smooth well-prepared transition from prep school to secondary school. Our Year 6 pupils leave us ready for this exciting step in their educational journey, both academically and emotionally.
Oakwood aims to ensure that both parents and pupils are given clear supportive guidance in order to choose their next school, starting in Year 5 with parent transition meetings, senior school exhibitions, comprehensive details of open days and one to one meetings with families to discuss next steps. Alongside thorough academic preparation pupils have an opportunity for individualised interview practice.
Academic Year 2016-17
100% of pupils obtained their first choice of school and 10 scholarships were awarded to pupils recognising the breadth of Oakwood's education, including academic, sport and art. Scholarships were awarded by Seaford College, St John's College, St Swithun's and The Portsmouth Grammar School.
Academic Year 2015-16
97% of pupils obtained their first choice of school and a total of 8 academic scholarships awarded by Churcher's College, Lavant House School, Portsmouth High School for Girls, Seaford College, St John's College and The Portsmouth Grammar School.
Popular Destination Schools
Bishop Luffa School
Chichester Free School
Ditcham Park School
Oaklands Catholic School
Portsmouth High School for Girls
St John’s College
St Phillip Howard School
The Portsmouth Grammar School
"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