The Junior Department is housed in the schools original building opened in 1905, Watts House, and is central to the school campus. We have four year groups (years 3 to 6) and our teaching programme is based on, but not limited by, the Key Stage Two curriculum. A teaching day from 8.35 am to 4.15 pm gives us plenty of scope for offering so much more.
Whilst many of our pupils in Year 3 transfer from our own Infant department, some choose to join Kingsmead at the start of, or even partway through, the juniors, moving from other schools. We always hold an Induction Day for new junior children, and an introductory meeting for their parents.
English and Mathematics continue to be central to our learning, with Science becoming increasingly important. History, Geography, RE, ICT and Art add to these core subjects and are largely taught by Form Teachers. Weekly French lessons begin in Year 3, taught by a specialist teacher, and continue throughout juniors and into seniors. Specialist teaching is also delivered in Design Technology, Music, PSHE, PE and Games. Towards the end of the junior phase, children are taught by specialists for Art and Science too, using the senior Art Workshop and one of the Science Laboratories.
Children are tested at the end of each year in the optional SAT tests and, in Year 6, in the national Key Stage 2 exams. Our results record reflects excellent value-added progress across all ability levels. As at GCSE, we often find that students achieve well beyond predictions assessed at an earlier age. Yet, we never allow our broad and balanced curriculum to be compromised by the temptation to coach our children to attain the next possible SAT level. We find that an holistic approach to teaching through academic, creative, physical and spiritual opportunities gives children the best possible chance to be happy - and hence thrive.
Meeting Individual Needs
At Kingsmead, we acknowledge and celebrate that every child is very much a unique individual. We strive to find the strengths and gifts of each boy and girl and provide the opportunities for them to shine, be the gifts academic, creative, physical or spiritual.
Small class sizes enable us to know our children very well. Even within a class, though, we work within smaller ability groups, differentiating the work where necessary to suit the needs and abilities of each smaller group of children. Teachers will devote specific times to working more individually with each smaller group. From Year 4, we begin to set groups for Maths and English, with extra teachers providing for even smaller teaching groups. In this way, particularly gifted children can be challenged to achieve beyond the expected range for their age, as well as specific support being given to those who have a particular difficulty with one area of the curriculum.
Additionally, one to one support and teaching can be arranged through the schools Learning Support Department. Parents are always advised well in advance if we feel that a child would benefit in this way, so that we move forward in partnership to assess and support specific needs.
Within our junior timetable, there are many opportunities to develop creative skills. Each week contains a double Art lesson, two Music lessons and a double Design Technology lesson. Much of the French learning too is enhanced through song, dance and drama.
Within our wider curriculum, though, we also offer many other experiences which develop and extend creative skills. We present various musical and drama performances each year for parents and families (including Harvest Festival, Christmas productions, Open Assemblies and musical shows), we have hosted Art Exhibitions of childrens work, the children in Year 3 and Year 5 participate in individual English Speaking Board exams and all the children participate in show and tell presentations in front of the whole department.
In addition, those who are interested in playing an instrument can arrange individual tuition on a weekly basis instruments range from piano to drums and cello to flute, with many more between! We even have a school orchestra, which often includes members from age 6 to age 16. Our Junior Music Club is also a popular after-school event, as are Speech and Drama, Sewing and Card-making groups.
Sport gains increasing importance as children grow into and through the junior years. We put an emphasis on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle as well as skill, competition and fair play.
Within the school timetable, junior children enjoy three double lessons of PE or Games each week, extending to two doubles and a triple by Year 5! Every child, at some point in their junior years, will be given the privilege of playing for a school team. Matches are held almost weekly, in one sport or another, against other independent schools in the northwest. We participate in Soccer, Hockey, Rugby, Netball, Cricket, Rounders, Athletics, Cross-country Running and Golf at a competitive level, sometimes competing at some of the most prestigious venues.
All children compete for their Houses in our annual Sports Day event, which is always a great day out, popularly supported by parents and family members.
During each year, we have visiting coaches who come in to lead training sessions in more unusual sports, from Fencing through to Judo. Junior children have many opportunities to develop their physical skills and enthusiasms even further in the various sports clubs on offer after the school day ends.
We use the Bible as the basis of our spiritual development, and our children are challenged to think with increasing independence over the issues it raises for everyday life. The Junior department meets daily for Morning Prayers, where the teachings of the Bible are explored in a fun and engaging manner, often through games, drama and song, yet maintaining the integrity of the message.
At various points through the year, the children perform in Open Assemblies, when parents and families are invited to join us in worship and thanksgiving. We have visiting speakers on many of these occasions, and children, teachers and parents often learn new angles on familiar messages through such opportunities.
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