Prep School Curriculum

At Heathside School Hampstead, we nurture our pupils into confident, independent learners while cultivating their role as an engaged, responsible member of the school and wider community.

Core Curriculum

Children are taught Maths, English, Sciences, French, Latin, Geography, History, Music, Drama, Art, Sport and Computing, as well as Design & Technology. The core skills of language and literacy, creative thinking and mathematical and scientific understanding are the fundamentals of each child’s journey through Heathside.

Foundational Academics

We lay strong foundations in numeracy, problem solving, handwriting, spelling, grammar, communication, poetry and creative writing. In Year 3 and above, the curriculum is taught by our subject specialists in order to provide greater educational depth for each of Heathside’s students. Formal learning is supported with project work, field trips and events.

Well-Rounded Education

We promote the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of our pupils. Although we are a non-denominational school, we foster respect for different faith traditions and mark major religious festivals.

A Journey Through Heathside from Reception to Year 6

Reception (4+)

In Reception, our child-led approach to learning is inspired by Planning in the Moment. Empowering children with extended periods of independent play, we scaffold learning based on their interests. Our dedicated class teacher and teaching assistant guide them through this process.

Reading takes centre stage, with daily one-on-one reading sessions. Phonics is an integral part of each day, introducing three new sounds weekly. Focus weeks allow personalized assessment based on the child’s interests, enriching the entire class.

Swimming lessons, beginning in the Spring term, become a cherished weekly activity for Reception children at Poolside Manor. Forest School, PE, French, Creative Movement, and music continue to inspire their well-rounded development. Engaging in school events, assemblies, concerts, and trips, the Reception children embrace a holistic educational journey.

Years 1 to 4

Throughout the school, we differentiate teaching for children of different abilities. In Maths, children are put into ability groups from Year 3 onwards. In Literacy, higher-ability children are given extension tasks and more challenging weekly spellings and high-level texts are studied.

A balanced amount of homework reinforces learning and instils an independent work ethic in children from a young age. Reading and phonics homework starts in Reception. By Year 1 a topic homework is added, and in Year 2, homework is set in Maths, English and a topic homework.

By the end of Year 4, children are exposed to 11+ type work and testing, but within normal teaching methods.

Year 5

It is only in Year 5 that teaching becomes more explicitly geared towards 11+. This approach, which we have found effective over many years, enables us to keep children focused on learning for its own sake, and not distracted by the unnecessary anxiety and stress that testing can cause. The first exam preparation classes are held during the Easter holiday of Year 5, followed in the Summer Term by optional preparation classes each morning at 8am before the regular school day begins.

Year 6

In Year 6, exam preparation is in full swing. Experience has shown us that exam preparation is good for all students, irrespective of whether they will take the 11+, as it gives them an opportunity to dive deeply into core subjects and accelerate writing skills. Children are regularly expected to work independently and quietly in order to replicate test conditions.

The build up to school entrance exams can be a stressful and worrying time, and we try our hardest to shield children from that pressure. We make preparation a positive learning experience, and ensure that children of all abilities make the most of this opportunity, encouraging them to enjoy learning regardless of outcome. We strongly urge parents to keep expectations for their child realistic, and safeguard children from the relentless pressure that can occur in this very competitive environment.

As not every child will be sitting 11+ exams, we ensure that each child is encouraged to learn to the best of their ability, finding subjects and interests they can pursue with passion. Our strongly academic curriculum is balanced with art, music, drama and sport so Heathside children, wherever they go to pursue their secondary education, are confident, well rounded individuals able to thrive in a variety of establishments.

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Wednesday 12th June 2024

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