Our curriculum starts by ensuring our pupils have established solid foundations for learning in order for them to fully access and benefit from the many opportunities with which they are presented during their time at school. Great emphasis is put on the teaching of the basic skills in English, Mathematics and Science in the early years, to ensure that these vital building blocks are put in place. Our staff here in the Junior School, share a belief that learning should be exciting and challenging. They take into account the many different ways in which children learn within all areas of the curriculum.
We work hard to plan and teach using a range of different methods, resources and approaches that will enable every child, whatever their ability, to make accelerated progress. At the same time we aim to develop our pupils’ independence, equipping them with the skills necessary to make choices for themselves and the confidence to back their own judgement, without fear of getting things wrong.
We feel our curriculum is rich and varied, offering our pupils many different experiences. We believe that every child has their own particular set of gifts and talents and the broader our curriculum, the more opportunities every child will have to explore them.
We are aware that some children will require extra support in English and Mathematics if they are to develop into confident and independent learners. Our Learning Support programme is a recognised strength within the Junior School and clear individual educational programmes (IEP’s) are in place for any child that needs support. This is delivered through one-to-one sessions, small group work and in general classroom support. Equally we recognise those children who have a particular strength in one or more aspects of the curriculum and individual learning programmes are also established for them to ensure that they are effectively challenged and their potential is maximised.
In the Junior School we have introduced a thorough and rigorous system for assessing and monitoring children’s progress in the core subjects, from the time they start in Kindergarten to Junior 6 and beyond. This enables us to track the progress of every child in the school to ensure that we are meeting their targets and achieving the accelerated levels of progress we expect of them.
From a very early age we want our pupils to develop a love of books, of stories of all kinds and indeed of the written word in its many forms, and we hope in turn that this will encourage them to become capable, enthusiastic readers and writers themselves.
In the Early Years Foundation Stage Literacy is introduced in a fun and practical way. Through careful observation and only when a child is considered ready, does a more formal approach to English teaching take place.
As the children move into Year 1 and on into Year 2, they begin to follow a more structured and rigorous approach to the teaching of reading so that children are equipped with a solid phonetic understanding, and have learned the common/key words they need to help them to develop into fluent and confident readers. We make sure they have plenty of opportunities to practise their reading and we encourage parents to support this at home. We also put a great deal of emphasis on encouraging our pupils to talk about the books they read and comment thoughtfully on them. In this way we are developing a real understanding and comprehension of the texts in each child.
We try to promote a wide range of story genres and a variety of text types through the books our teachers share with the children in lessons and assemblies, through close links with the College library and by encouraging our pupils to share books with one another. Each year we also invite authors to talk to the children which helps to capture their interest and fuel their desire to read and to write, more successfully.
We want our children to become confident writers who can turn their hand to a range of different text and writing styles. We work hard to develop the skills of handwriting, spelling, grammar and punctuation but at the same time we look to fuel the children’s imagination and creativity, encouraging them to write for a range of purposes and audiences. Drama is used extensively, both in the classroom and as an activity in its own right, to develop these ideas for writing, to explore aspects of their reading and to develop the children’s capacity for self- expression.
A very thorough programme is put in place to meet the needs of those pupils that take longer to master the basics of reading and writing, involving one-to-one sessions and small group work supported and coordinated by our Learning Support staff.
For our more able pupils we liaise with Senior School staff to develop special programmes and challenges for them and have set up extra teaching sessions for our most gifted writers.
From the time children start with us in the Kindergarten they are encouraged to develop basic numeracy skills through a range of games, songs, rhymes and play. They learn that all aspects of mathematics can be fun and from this they gain a confidence with numbers, shape, space and measures. This helps them to build that solid foundation of knowledge and understanding they need as they progress through the school.
We want all our pupils to develop into flexible and independent learners and this is as true in Mathematics as in any other subject. We believe that the most able mathematicians are those that can recognise different ways of tackling problems and are equipped with the skills and understanding to be able to make their own choices.
By making children aware of different methods, rather than focusing on a singular approach, we believe that our pupils become more adept at using and applying their knowledge and understanding of mathematical concepts, which then helps them to tackle a wide range of problems and investigations with real confidence. It also recognises that different children learn in different ways and what is a good way for one is not always true for another.
Confidence with numbers and the ability to make independent decisions often comes from being able to work quickly and efficiently with numbers in your head, and so we put a great deal of emphasis on developing mental Mathematics skills in all our pupils from a very early age.
As with all subjects, clear structured support is given to those who struggle with aspects of their Mathematics work as part of our learning support programme, and, at the same time we also strive to challenge our more gifted mathematicians through clearly differentiated programmes of work developed through liaison with staff in the Senior School.
Here in the Junior School we recognise Science as a core subject and a fundamental and vital part of every child’s learning. From the time any child starts with us, we look to promote a real sense of fascination with the world around them, and a desire to ask ‘why’ and ‘how’.
As well as imparting knowledge and understanding of different aspects of Science, we look to encourage pupils to discover things for themselves, to investigate through a range of first hand experiences and to question what they see.
As they go through the Junior School we then try to challenge them further to prove their theories and ideas, and even begin to devise simple fair tests and investigations for themselves.
We strongly believe that many areas of the curriculum, including History, Geography and Religious Education, are best taught through exciting and challenging activities as part of ongoing class or school topics.
By using the richness and variety of resources that are available in the local surroundings, and the opportunities there are for a range of educational visits or visitors, we bring many of these topics to life for our pupils. In this way we try to give them some real first hand experiences of how different people live and have lived in the past, how their natural environment has changed and is changing still, and to appreciate man’s effect on the world and how it has impacted on our lives today.
As part of this ‘hands on’ approach we are currently running a teaching programme in association with Forest Schools to develop our children’s understanding and appreciation of many environmental issues.
We also have a long term working relationship with the RHS education staff at Rosemoor Gardens in Torrington, and all our pupils visit their Education Centre every term as part of an ongoing natural science and environmental studies programme.
The College, as a whole, is always looking to see how advancements in ICT can be best used to enrich our pupils’ learning experiences. Interactive whiteboards are now in all classes and are readily used by staff and pupils alike to support learning and provide information quickly and effortlessly.
Our pupils are also encouraged to use laptops as web browsers when researching information and opportunity is given to the junior children each week to use the College’s ICT suite and to be taught by the specialist IT staff.
This is certainly something of which the Junior School has been a part and has greatly benefitted from. Through liaison with the College’s art department we are now offering our pupils a very rich and varied art curriculum delivered by both our own staff and specialist teachers within the art department itself. Our pupils are certainly enjoying the opportunities to work with a much greater range of mediums and materials, developing valuable skills as well as expressing their individual creativity.
As well as using drama as an effective teaching tool in many subject areas, the Junior School has always recognised it as a valuable subject in its own right, showcasing the talents of certain children but also encouraging all children to explore different ways of expressing themselves, considering a range of social issues and developing their confidence to perform in front of others.
A drama club is run each week by a specialist teacher as part of our activities programme and at the end of the school year all the junior children in the school perform in a production to their parents, which let’s just say, is rather more than your average school play!
In addition to this, some of our more gifted thespians are given the opportunity to attend a specialist drama teaching programme in association with LAMDA.
Music is central to the life and experience offered to all pupils at Shebbear College. Each day pupils will be found involved in music making, from singing to instrumental playing.
As an academic subject it is taught to all classes by qualified specialist music teachers. Each year group receives a weekly 65 minute lesson. Pupils have access to the Music Department facilities, which includes a Keyboard Room, Mac Suite of 20 Computers, and a classroom containing a variety of percussion instruments. By following a practical, hands on approach, pupils’ knowledge and appreciation of music is developed through the study of a wide variety of genres. Read more.
Modern Foreign Languages
In the Junior School we are very aware that we now live in an increasingly global world and it has never been more important to be equipped with the skills necessary to maximise the opportunities that this offers. All pupils in Key Stage 2 are timetabled for French lessons each week and we are currently working alongside members of our MFL department to extend opportunities for Junior School pupils to learn Spanish as well as French in the coming year.
Physical Education and Games
Great emphasis is placed in the Junior School on the role and value of sports and physical activity in contributing to our pupils overall development, health and well-being.
As well as promoting healthy lifestyles we believe that sport can contribute to pupils’ confidence, pride in themselves and in strengthening togetherness and teamwork.
For many of their PE and Games lessons, as well as some of our extra-curricular sports activities, our pupils are taught by members of the Senior School PE staff. This means that as well as benefitting from their expertise, the children also have the opportunity to use the sports equipment and facilities that are available to our Senior School pupils. This includes the All Weather pitches, the tennis courts and the Sports Hall. Through our Games and PE curriculum we coach the children in tennis, unihoc, athletics and basketball. Every child in Years 2 – 6 also has the opportunity to attend a series of swimming lessons as part of our PE curriculum.
Moral and Spiritual Well-being
Shebbear College is a Methodist School and the academic year reflects the Christian traditions of our country.
Christianity is studied as the core religion as befitting a church school where there is a real sense of community with a warm and friendly atmosphere. Our pupils discover, study and research the other world religions and are taught to respect the cultures and beliefs of others.
In the Junior School we meet together for a daily assembly which is lead by the Head of the Junior School or a member of the Junior School staff. Visitors are invited in to take assemblies – these may be members of the Senior School staff or Governors, local clergy or representatives from charities we support. Our College Chaplain also visits regularly to take assemblies and to speak with the children.
At Shebbear College we help our pupils to understand their responsibility to a wider community through established links such as World Aims in Methodist Schools and Fairtrade, taking part in national events such as Children in Need, Comic Relief and Macmillan Coffee Mornings, and raising money for Christian Aid, Cancer Charities and the Alzheimer’s Society as well as local charities. In addition we are delighted to hear from our colleagues in the Senior School with their news regarding their links in Uganda.
The Learning Support department within the Junior School offers support for all of the Junior School children. This support is given in a variety of ways depending upon the individual’s needs; pupils may receive one to one or group support within the classroom, sometimes they can be withdrawn in small groups and others have individual lessons. Support is also available for those pupils who just need a little help from time to time.
The children thoroughly enjoy our sessions and are always keen to come. We aim to make their learning fun and the children have weekly targets set with them so that they know exactly what they are aiming to achieve. We also have Individual Education Plans for all of the Junior School pupils who receive Learning Support lessons. These are devised with the children and they are reviewed every half term.
In order to vary the childrens’ learning and improve their confidence, we also use a variety of computer programs which include Wordshark and Numbershark. For those who need it, we also have specific reading and maths programs. Toe by Toe and The Power of Two both offer a highly structured and multi-sensory approach to learning; one which allows regular celebration of the childrens’ achievements.
Shebbear College is an independent UK school, a co-educational day and boarding school for boys and girls aged 3 to 18, located in rural North Devon.