In small classes, we offer exactly the right balance of support, inspiration and challenge.
Our broad and creative curriculum embraces a blended approach where topics and themes are investigated through different subject areas. Core subjects are connected across the curriculum, enabling pupils to gain a broader academic understanding of how, and why, their learning is relevant to them.
Learning is tailored to suit the learning style and needs of girls in a safe and nurturing environment. Pupils are encouraged to explore and expand their thinking - there is no right and wrong, and here every child has a voice.
Our Creative Curriculum merges traditional elements of learning with creativity, challenge, independence and discovery.
A practical and cross-curricular approach integrates different study disciplines – such as Science, Art, Geography, and Music – under one unifying topic, to ensure girls see the relevance of each discipline in context.
For instance, a topic such as The Titanic will lead to reflections on the lives of the individuals at the time (History and English), designing and building boats (Engineering), and investigating floating – and sinking (Science).
This ‘joined up’ approach encourages pupils to become more inquisitive about related areas of investigation as they begin to understand how different parts combine to form a whole. Our pupils develop creative, critical and reflective thinking, and become excited and enthusiastic learners.
Our Creative Curriculum incorporates:
- Essentials for learning and life – literacy and communication, numeracy, Computer Science, learning and thinking skills, and personal, social and emotional skills
- Areas of learning – aspects of historical, geographical, artistic or social investigation, which form the basis for the half term topic
- Religious Education – spiritual , ethical or moral understanding
- Languages – exposure to all aspects of a language including vocabulary and grammatical structures as well as the culture, traditions and history of countries speaking those languages
- Physical Education, Health and Well-being – games which build tactical skill, an understanding of fair play, team work and healthy competition, decision making, rules and the link to healthy life-styles
- Music – aspects of creative music making, theory and composition
Individual learning is nurtured through our structured enrichment programme, which further enables our most able girls to investigate a broader series of challenges – from topics such as active citizenship, rights and responsibilities, community engagement and health and lifestyle.
Our enrichment programme takes place during a 30 minute session once a week. We explore social justice issues, offering pupils the chance to develop critical and philosophical thinking, independent research skills, and a habit of reflection.
Girls develop political, media, environmental and cultural awareness – important attributes on which to build beyond Junior School.
- Pre-prep (Reception, Year 1 and Year 2) pupils are introduced to the values of Mary Ward, our school’s foundress, at a basic level while also encouraging independence and creativity.
- In Year 3 and Year 4 pupils complete a number of challenges relating specifically to Mary Ward values, which are at the core of our school’s ethos.
- In Year 5 and Year 6, pupils use their knowledge and experience to choose their own challenges, from a choice of over 40, to create enrichment portfolios.
Challenges can be approached in various ways; there is a ‘thinking point’, an ‘argument point’, and ‘creative’ or ‘investigative’ tasks. A mentor meets with girls once per term to discuss their progress and future work, guiding their creation of an enrichment portfolio.
Girls complete a number of activities in their own time at school or at home. Each girls builds an enrichment portfolio, creating a record of their development of self-learning skills. This is passed to Senior School as part of the seamless transition from Year 6 to Year 7.
Leap Pathfinders - Year 3 to 6
Through an innovative digital programme, our older girls can choose from a range of challenges to work on at home, which encourage them to further extend their learning.
More about Leap Pathfinders
From Reception to Sixth Form, we encourage girls to explore the relationship between global issues and their own everyday lives.
Development Education begins in Junior School. This moral and social philosophy reflects our values as a Mary Ward School, and in our curriculum, it creates opportunities for girls to learn and, more importantly, engage with the world around them.
Issues such as poverty and hunger, unequal distribution of wealth and opportunity, environmental degradation and diminishing resources are some of the challenges that the girls confront, investigate and ultimately act upon.
Development Education leads to a greater understanding of global inequalities, why they exist, and what can be done to improve (or develop) the situation.
This may aspirational given the young age of our pupils, but we sow seeds of discernment as early as possible, equipping girls with the knowledge and skills to make sound decisions for a just, sustainable world.
Beyond the classroom
Throughout Junior School, we welcome speakers into school to hold a range of workshops – from local illustrators and authors, to representatives from global pharmaceutical companies.
We also like to use our distinctive outdoor areas wherever possible to enrich learning experiences. We are inspired by Cambridge, a city full of learning opportunities and regularly visit local University of Cambridge museums, as well as venturing further afield to enhance various aspects of the curriculum, recognising the invaluable contribution that these experiences make to education.
Early Years (age four to five)
Our Early Years curriculum is tailored to each child to provide an active learning experience. This first stage of schooling lays important foundations for establishing routines that are conducive to learning, while providing opportunities to develop key skills through practice, discussion and reflection. We encourage girls to grow in independence, self-discipline and responsibility in readiness for their future.
Girls are introduced to school routines such as lunch in the dining room, assembly and House meetings from an early age. Through these experiences, we help to develop positive social traits such as sharing and treating others well.
Pre-prep (age five to seven)
Our girls enjoy a varied timetable that helps to develop creativity and independent thinking. A strong emphasis is placed on English and Mathematics, Science and Computer Science balanced with Art, Geography, History, World Religions and Religious Education (RE) and Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE).
Girls in the Pre-prep are actively involved in all aspects of school life, including a Pre-prep performance choir, class assemblies for parents and the rest of the school, House meetings and the School Council.
Prep (age seven to 11)
We work hard to ensure that the transition into Prep is smooth and continues to build upon the valuable skills learnt in Early Years and Pre-prep. English, Mathematics, Science and Computer Science remain the girls’ core subjects, which are carefully linked with other areas of study in order to help the girls begin to develop individual approaches to learning.
The girls’ proactive contribution to the Junior School community continues with increased opportunities for responsibility. Year 6 pupils become House Family Leaders which requires them to: look after younger pupils and encourage their participation in a wide range of House activities; lead assemblies; and come up with events for the inter-house charity fundraising initiative.
Year 6 girls are also given other positions of responsibility in the school including acting as monitors, prefects, reading buddies, Pre-prep helpers and readers in services and concerts.
Whilst we are careful not to create pressure for girls and concern for their parents, assessment of pupil progress is an important method by which to ensure the girls’ understanding is being nurtured and their needs are being met.
Assessment occurs at the end of every topic or half term and takes a variety of forms including informal questioning and discussion, self-evaluation, peer feedback, and teacher review of the girls’ work.
We use Non-Verbal Reasoning (NVR), Verbal Reasoning (VR), Progress in English (long version) and Progress in Maths tests to provide baseline assessment against which to monitor individual pupil progress. The York Reading Test is also used to generate reading ages and comprehension.