The children join the Upper School in Year 3. This year is very much a transition year between the different stages; some things remain the same as in Year 2 whilst other things change.
They spend the majority of their day with their Class Teacher for the core and most foundation subjects, whilst enjoying the opportunity to move to specialist rooms to be taught by individual subject teachers for ICT, French, Music and Games. In Year 3, they begin a more formal stage of their learning. They will be encouraged to develop more independent learning skills, with greater expectations for homework. They will study each subject in greater depth and Verbal and Non-Verbal reasoning is introduced into the curriculum. The school day is extended and will end at 4.00pm.
The Year 3 teachers work very closely together to provide an exciting and challenging curriculum. Every opportunity is taken to engage the children in their learning, effort is highly regarded and good progress is celebrated through Merit Slips. They are introduced to the SPS Challenge Award which offers a whole range of activities right across the spectrum of personal development; including a one night residential trip. They continue to appoint class reps for the School Council and take on monitoring tasks to develop their sense of belonging and responsibility.
The children leave Year 3 ready and able to take the challenges offered by a very different approach in Year 4; here the routine involves moving classrooms to be taught by specialist teachers.
As the children progress through the school, a higher level of expectations is added. In Year 4, children continue to develop into confident, self-assured individuals capable of becoming independent enough to move from classroom to classroom to be taught in specialist rooms with individual teachers. They no longer spend most of their day with the same teacher. Instead, they have a Form Teacher who is responsible pastorally for the class. The children rise to the challenge and enjoy the feeling of being more grown-up.
At the end of Year 3 the children move from mixed ability classes to working with children of a similar ability. We have found it to be the most effective way of ensuring that the children of all abilities reach their potential. In the Summer Term of Year 3, the children take assessments in Reasoning, English and Maths. There is then a discussion between the Headmistress, Head of Upper School, SENCo and Year 3 class teachers who take into consideration the results of the tests, along with each child’s day-to-day performance and any specific learning needs, when allocating classes for Year 4.
The curriculum covered is exactly the same for each ability group and is delivered using the most appropriate approach. Homework is increased to one subject each evening and should last approximately 20-30 minutes. This encourages the children to develop more self-motivation and gives them the opportunity to become more responsible for their learning. They continue to develop their personal skills through the SPS Challenge Award and the residential visit is extended to two nights. By the end of Year 4, the children are ready to study subjects to a greater depth and prepare themselves for the secondary school entrance exams.
They leave Year 4 with a thirst for knowledge and the confidence to take on the challenges that lie ahead.
In Year 5, the organisation of the school day remains much the same as during Year 4, with the exception of adding Classical Studies to the curriculum. In preparation for many of the secondary school entrance exams, the children continue to have some Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning lessons. Reasoning assessments are carried out at the end of each year in the Upper School and are given to parents as they help us to give advice about Future Schools.
Every school year is significant but Year 5 is especially important because it is the last full academic year before the children sit their exams for future schools. In the Summer Term before entering Year 5, the Meet the Teachers’ Evening guides parents through some of the practical issues with regard to Future schools. Several schools have moved their assessment days to the first term of Year 6 and many are early in the term following the Christmas Vacation in Year 6, so we are mindful of the need to prepare parents and pupils well in advance of their entrance exams. That said, the curriculum continues to be enhanced by trips and visits and the children are highly motivated and engaged in evaluating their own learning.
The homework increases to two subjects each evening, each subject should take between 20 and 30 minutes. The SPS Challenge Award now includes a two night residential trip to the Isle of Wight and the sail across the Solent, short though it is, has become a highlight of the trip.
Year 6 stands out from other years because the children are experiencing their last year at Staines Prep and the word challenge takes on a whole new meaning as it applies to external exams, Roles of Responsibility, Year 6 end of year performance and Leavers’ Evening, to mention just a few.
Our experienced Year 6 Form Teachers know all about supporting their children through the ups and downs of the secondary school exam preparations. The curriculum will have been covered by the end of Year 5 and revision is planned to continue to inspire and challenge the children’s learning. The pupils are encouraged to take part in the many extra-curricular activities to improve their skills; it also provides an opportunity for them to focus on something exciting and this can lessen stress.
The children are now ready to take on the Roles of Responsibility, Head Boy and Head Girl, House Captains and Prefects. However, there are many more opportunities for our Year 6 pupils. Some volunteer to become Buddies for the younger children, others take on Admin Duties, others help the younger ones at lunch time. Their contributions are vital to the smooth running of the school as well as an ideal opportunity for them to develop their leadership skills. The younger children have role models to respect and to which they can aspire.
With the exams out of the way, our Year 6 pupils can really enjoy their last year at SPS. The residential trip to has long been the highlight of the pupils’ time with us, add to that the themed projects and the Year 6 Production, and it is easy to see why they find the year passes very quickly.
Our pupils are now ready to move on to pastures new. They have the skills, the determination, and the desire to learn more. We are always sad to see them leave but we are very proud to have played a part in their learning and development. They take with them the knowledge that they have made a good contribution to the development of our school and now have the ability to make a difference wherever they may go.