Teaching and Learning

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Year 1 and 2

Year 1 and Year 2 constitute Key Stage One of the National Curriculum. Classes are small (usually no more than 18 children) and so all the pupils derive great benefits from the individual attention offered by the class teacher or one of the Teaching Assistants who are employed around the school to assist in various classes and with various activities.

Lessons follow the guidelines of the National Curriculum, with our emphasis being placed greatly on Numeracy and Literacy. Reading is very important to us at OLA: we firmly believe it is fundamental to all aspects of education, and this is our main consideration. Children read either to the class teacher or an assistant on a daily basis and are encouraged to take reading books home to share with parents.

The children are also taught a variety of other subjects such as Science, French, History, Geography and ICT as well as PE, Swimming and RE. We use specialist teachers for Art, French, PE, Music and Swimming.

There is a comprehensive array of clubs on offer to all our children at OLA Junior School and the children in Years 1 and 2 are given the opportunity to participate in some of these: creative play, computer club, lego/construction club are but a few that are on offer. The choice increases as the children move on through the school. Ballet lessons are also a regular event on the timetable and are popular with Years 1 and 2.

Appropriate, age related standardised tests (NFER) are seen as a useful tool for assessment at the end of both Year 1 and Year 2. All the children participate in these tests, but they are also assessed regularly in a variety of other ways, including checks on Reading and Spelling Ages as these become appropriate.

Good communication between school and home is vital and there are two full written reports a year for parents as well as formal and informal opportunities for meetings with the teachers. We are proud of our 'open door' policy which encourages parents to drop in either in the morning when they bring the children to school (from 8:00am) or in the evening when they collect at 3.20 or 4.00pm.

School trips are an important element of the curriculum in Years 1 and 2, with visits to places such as the Cotswold Wildlife Park, The Discovery Centre in Bracknell, the Sutton Courtenay Study Centre and many more.

Physical activity is also essential and throughout Key Stage One the children receive a comprehensive PE curriculum, including swimming sessions in our 25m pool with qualified specialist staff.

Children in Years 1 and 2 are well prepared for the next stage of their educational development – entry into Key Stage Two, when they are often joined by pupils from other local schools.

Years 3 and 4

In Years 3 and 4 we continue to offer a balanced curriculum which respects national guidelines, but with the flexibility of an independent school.

The curriculum is generally based upon the National Curriculum which is further enriched by specialist teaching in Music, PE, Swimming, French, DT and Art. We prioritise the teaching of English and Maths, but Science, History, Geography, French, RE, PSHCE, PE and ICT are also individually timetabled. Since 2010 we have been operating a 'combined' timetable with the Senior School which has allowed for further integration of staff, expertise and resources.

On the creative side, Art, Music and Design Technology all play an important role in the curriculum, with the latter being taught in small groups in our DT room using specialised staff .

Homework is set regularly, incorporating Maths and English, as well as some other subjects as appropriate.

Pupils’ learning is broadened by termly educational visits to museums, historical sites and environmental centres. As well as the academic side of school life, children can look forward to many educational visits to support their learning including visits to places such as Court Hill or Youlbury (Year Three Residential), Sulgrave Manor, The Abingdon Museum and many others.

Additionally once children reach Key Stage 2 they have access to a wide range of extracurricular activities such as African drums, ICT, football and other sports clubs, Drama and much more.

In lower Key Stage 2 the children are involved with the Class Teacher for the majority of lessons, providing a secure and vibrant learning environment. Our aim at the end of Year 4 is for the children to become more independent and to begin to build a platform for further learning and life experiences in Years 5 and 6.

Years 5 and 6

Pupils in Years 5 and 6 enjoy a balanced curriculum of class-based teaching with their Form Teacher combined with the benefits of specialist teaching in PE, Swimming, Art, Music, DT, Science and French, some of which involves the staff and facilities of our Senior School. Since 2010 we have been operating a 'combined' timetable which has allowed for further integration of Junior and Senior School staff, expertise and resources. We currently use the swimming pool, science labs, sports facilities and DT rooms in the Senior School

In the 'upper school' (Years 5 and 6), pupils are actively encouraged to take on more responsibility. This may involve being the recycling monitors, helping the infants with their reading, involvement with school council, or guiding prospective parents around the school, which they love to do. We have a very popular school choir and an enthusiastic school orchestra, where all are welcome. In recent years events have included choir concerts at Blenheim Palace and a joint Senior/Junior choir tour of Paris.

Every other year we put on a major production in which all the pupils in Years 5 and 6 participate; in the last few years these have included Roald Dahl’s ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ and Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet', which took place at The Unicorn Theatre in Abingdon. They are always performed to a high standard and receive rave reviews; not just from proud parents!

Trips are a highlight of Years 5 and 6. We enjoy a weekend in London or Stratford upon Avon every other year to catch a show for all pupils who wish to attend. The Year 6 class always enjoys the residential trip which takes place in the Spring or Summer Term. Visitors to our school are also of great importance and feature highly in our termly events. We have many workshops and demonstrations which make learning more relevant, active and fun. These have included Greek hoplites, Isaac Newton and a rather formidable Victorian schoolteacher as well as Science workshops and visits from the army.

The Year 5 and 6 curriculum is directed towards ensuring that the children achieve the academic standards they need to move on to our Senior School, as well as providing them with the experiences that will prepare them for that move. All the children are assessed regularly as they progress through Years 5 and 6, with two full written reports each year and an evening for parents to come in and see what the children have been up to and discuss progress with the teachers. At the end of both Year 5 and Year 6, the children are assessed using age-appropriate standardized tests (NFER) and the results are passed on to new classes or our Senior School to help future planning.

We very much hope that the children take lots of good memories of their time in the Junior School as they move on up through our Seniors.

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