Our broad and creative curriculum is planned around specific learning objectives for every subject area within each year group and, in many cases, taught by subject specialists. The subjects taught in the Junior School are:
Modern Foreign Languages ( For 2015-16 this will include Japanese, Russian, Italian, Gujarati, Spanish, German and French)
Humanities (includes History, Geography and Religious Education)
Information Technology and Computing
Sport and Exercise, including swimming and team games
Personal, Social and Health Education
We promote high levels of achievement and effort as children acquire the academic skills they need. However, we push the boundaries beyond a mere acquisition of knowledge: we want children to develop the confidence to investigate and enquire, to solve problems and to take responsibility for their own learning. We aim to enrich their learning experiences, broadening their social horizons and their cultural interests.
So that parents know what the children are learning, there are curriculum information evenings at the start of the academic year and termly ‘curriculum overviews’ are made available.
We see homework as an important aspect of children’s learning and development. We aim to give children opportunities to work and think independently of the teacher. This may be to extend the skills and knowledge they have gained during a previous lesson or to investigate something in preparation for a future lesson. Homework helps parents have direct knowledge of and input into their child’s learning. However, we do not seek to overburden children with homework at the expense of quality family time.
Teachers use a variety of methods to assess children’s progress. A primary assessment tool is, of course, the regular, everyday marking of work and giving of feedback which indicates how well children have understood the learning objective that was specified during the lesson, providing them with guidance about what has been done well and how things could be improved. Alongside this informal assessment, the children will undertake some formal assessments during the year. We aim to balance the need to obtain formal data to assess the effectiveness of children’s learning alongside our reluctance to interrupt the flow of teaching and learning with too many formal tests.
The well-being of our pupils is of primary importance to us and lies at the heart of all we do. The way we organise our pastoral care ensures that teachers get to know pupils and pupils get to know teachers and each other. All Junior School children belong to a class; their sense of belonging is fostered by daily contact with a trusted teacher who will help the children in his or her care as they grow in understanding of themselves, each other and the world. All children belong to one of four Houses and our house system provides an additional pastoral layer to the school. We want our pupils to be tolerant of each other, respectful of adults, but above all, safe and secure.
SHARING ACADEMIC PROGRESS
It is essential that parents are provided with objective, constructive and regular feedback on the academic progress of their children. Therefore, we provide parent teacher consultation evenings twice a year and full academic reports and assessment grades in attainment and effort at the end of each term Teachers are available outside these times to discuss any issue parents may have. We see children, teachers and parents co-existing in a virtuous triangle, whereby each side is fully involved with, and supportive of, the others.
ENRICHMENT AND LEARNING SUPPORT
In consultation with parents, we seek to identify the particular learning needs of every child. For most children, this will not require additional support beyond that offered in the classroom and our programme of co-curricular activities, but there will be some who, from time to time, require additional stimulus or support.
Our enrichment programme exists to stretch those who are working at the top end of the ability range. We use differentiated activities, review curricula and deploy teaching and support staff, to ensure that within lessons the most able are supported and challenged. In addition, there are extension workshops for gifted mathematicians in Years 4 and 5 in partnership with a local primary school. We offer writing workshops to children with particular aptitude in literacy in partnership with other leading London day schools. For pupils with an existing educational special need or a child who, however temporarily, requires additional learning support, we provide individual specialist support, both within the classroom and without.
THE CULTURAL LIFE OF THE SCHOOL
Drama and Music thrive at Highgate Junior School. Many children take individual instrumental lessons. In addition to these, there is a school orchestra, and numerous ensembles. There are boys and girls choirs as well as a Chapel Choir, which sings with Senior School pupils. Informal Concerts for pupils who play instruments are held each term (mostly by class), and formal concerts take place termly. In Year 3, all children learn a stringed instrument as part of the Junior Strings Project. Drama is taught as a separate subject throughout the school, and there are termly drama productions within and across year groups. An active Drama Club encourages children with a particular talent for Drama to take their interest further.
We want our children to become independent learners with a love of reading, and our Library – situated at the heart of the school – plays a significant role in nurturing these qualities. Authors who have visited Highgate Junior School in recent years have included David Baddiel, Cressida Cowell, Anne Fine, Michael Rosen, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Liz Pichon, Marcus Sedgwick and Karen McCombie.