The Curriculum is excellent
Independent Schools Inspectorate Report
Independent Schools Inspectorate Report 2011:
"The curriculum is excellent, covering all the required areas of learning. It is suitable for pupils of all ages, abilities and needs and supports the school’s aim to encourage creativity, independence of thought and initiative, and to provide pupils with a body of knowledge of lasting value. The breadth of the curriculum enriches pupils’ learning. Specialist language teaching challenges the linguistically able by providing the opportunity to study Spanish and some ancient Greek in addition to French and Latin, which are studied by all. Collective worship has an important place during curriculum time, and the presence of drama, art and music as both curricular and extra-curricular activities underlines the importance given to the creative arts. Information and communication technology (ICT) is embedded throughout the curriculum."
The children follow a broad based and stimulating curriculum that is delivered by specialist teachers who bring their own love of their subject into the classroom. The academic curriculum is based upon the National Curriculum in Year 3-6 and the Common Entrance Curriculum in Years 7-8. Throughout the school pupils are taught by specialist teachers for French, Art, Music, Drama, PE and Games. As pupils move up the school they see an increasing number of subject specialists.
Junior Forms (Years 3 – 5)
All pupils in the Junior Forms study the following subjects: English, Mathematics, Science, French, History, Geography, Religious Studies, Art, Design Technology, ICT, Drama, Music, Physical Education, Games.
There are two classes in each of the Junior Forms year groups. In Year 3, the majority of the academic curriculum is taught by the Form Teacher with a gradual increase in the number of specialist teachers from Year 4. In Years 4 and 5, pupils are taught in their form classes for all subjects except for Mathematics where they are divided into two sets. Largely the same curriculum is followed in both sets however the pace of teaching will vary with faster more challenging work being set for the more able and the necessary support and reinforcement work being offered for pupils who need it. Pupils are set in Maths and Spelling in Years 3-5.
In Year 6 the pupils are divided into three form classes with a top form and two parallels. Pupils are taught in their form classes for all subjects except for Mathematics and sometimes French where they are set across the whole year group. Pupils in Year 6 no longer take the National Curriculum Tests for 11 year olds allowing more able pupils to make a start on the Common Entrance syllabus. Largely the same subjects are taught as in Junior Forms except that Drama may be replaced by Roman Civilisation or an extra lesson of ICT. All pupils take a course in Latin. Pupils in Year 6 also start using the laborotories for Physics, Chemistry and Biology.
Senior Prep (Years 7 – 8)
Pupils in Years 7 and 8 are taught in four form classes and are divided into a top form, two parallels and a lower form. All pupils follow the Common Entrance curriculum for: English, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, French, History, Geography, Religious Studies, Spanish.
Pupils in the top and parallel forms study Latin from Year 7. Pupils in the lower form have an additional lesson of Mathematics, English and French per week instead.
Throughout the year the children are given the chance to take part in many different activities both in and out of school, which are designed to further enhance their educational development. Visits to the theatre, art galleries and museums as well as to places of historical and geographical interest take place for children of all ages each term. Pupils also enjoy regular visits by speakers and performers who bring their enthusiasms, passions, adventures, achievements and experiences into the classroom.
There are also educational competitions held across the curriculum for pupils of all ages, for instance we hold an annual Maths Day, a Poetry Competition, for all pupils in the school, as well as a Latin speaking competition for scholars.
The school day at Dean Close Prep School is busy and full and therefore pupils are not expected to spend hours working after school at home. Prep is set to provide reinforcement or consolidation work for topics covered in lessons. In Year 3 pupils are expected to read their reading book, learn their weekly spellings and Maths tables. Year 4 are expected to do much the same, with a piece of written work on a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. This might be some written Maths or English work taking approximately fifteen minutes. In Year 5 pupils will be set one Maths, English and Science prep taking approximately twenty minutes each. Spelling, reading and the learning of Maths tables will be ongoing.
A prep timetable is issued to pupils from Years 6 - 8 at the start of the term and they are responsible for writing each prep into their prep diary. Years 6 - 8 attend a formal Prep time as part of the school day from 4.45 - 5.15 pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. For Year 6 it is expected that the majority of their written work would be completed during this half hour session.
In addition to the school prep session, pupils in Years 7 and 8 are expected to do approximately half an hour of independent study at home. Taking account of sporting, music and other out of school commitments, pupils will often be given more than one night to complete their prep. The expectation is that preps will be completed on time and to the standard of written work undertaken in class. Prep should not be a burden for either pupils or parents and we aim to ensure there is smooth progression through Senior Prep to Year 9 in terms of expectation. A study/reading time has been planned into the timetable from 12.10 - 12.50 on a Wednesday where pupils work independently but supervised by their Form Tutor.
All pupils are assessed at regular intervals and parents are informed of progress. If any child is not making the necessary academic progress after an initial settling-in period a meeting is organised with parents as soon as possible to work out a route to resolving the situation. This may include the creation of an Individual Educational Plan that sets out specific milestones to be achieved in class.
The aim of the assessment system is to provide interim written feedback to pupils during the year about how they are progressing at school. In Years 5-8 each pupil receives a grade for attainment. These are based upon the pupils' position in a class or set. As well as the attainment grade each pupil is awarded a grade for effort. The Form Tutor talks through the assessment sheet with each pupil individually and discusses a suitable target or targets to achieve over the next half term.
All pupils take tests or exams twice a year - in the Michaelmas and Trinity Terms. This testing helps them to get used to working under exam conditions from an early age. Year 3-5 pupils complete summative tests, in their classrooms on the work covered that term, whilst the Year 6 and 7 pupils take more formal examinations in the School Hall, helping to prepare them for the exam conditions they can expect when they sit Common Entrance in Year 8.