Our aim is to nurture a love of learning and develop independent learners who can think critically. Teachers use a variety of techniques to engage, motivate and challenge pupils The Academic curriculum at Belmont is broad, balanced and appropriately challenging. Pupils are taught in small classes and make excellent progress.
This year we have introduced a weekly enrichment lesson known at the ‘House Carousel’. In their Houses, children will undertake a four week block of a subject not traditionally taught at school. We have carefully chosen subjects which develop the soft skills pupils require now and in the future, such as teamwork and resilience, which will be developed through Forest Schools. We have also included Mindfulness and Yoga, which will benefit children’s mental well-being and hopefully provide them with strategies to cope with stress. Life skills such as managing a budget, cookery for our younger pupils and developing interview techniques for our older pupils will also be studied. The House Carousel has given us the opportunity to further culturally enrich children’s lives so they appreciate the history of art and music and are exposed to languages they may not know such as Japanese and Welsh. Please see the ‘House Carousel’ document for further details.
“Pupils are extremely well educated and highly successful in their learning across all subjects and activities. The school fulfils its aims to provide excellence in education and to develop pride in achievement.” ISI report March 2012
“Pupils thrive in an atmosphere of hard work, enjoyment and effort. Their attitudes to their work are excellent and they take pride both in their achievements and the successes of others.” ISI report March 2012
The Lower School currently comprises of five classes in Year 3 and four classes in Year 4 and 5. Children are taught in mixed ability classes in all three year groups and are set for English and Maths. For Year 3, this setting comes into effect at half term in the Autumn Term.
Work in Year 3 is directed towards consolidating what a pupil has learned in his/her previous school and ensuring that all children have a sound base from which to progress throughout the school. By the end of the year, a child should have established a sound working pattern and know what is expected of him/her.
Children in Year 4 build on these foundations and academic work is more demanding. They should be aware of the rules and regulations that affect their lives and are expected to show a concern for their surroundings and other people. By the end of the year, pupils are expected to be more responsible and organised. There may be less teaching by their form tutor as specialist teachers teach more subjects.
Year 5 is considered a transition year and children work towards being more independent in order to prepare them for moving into Upper School the following year. The work is generally more demanding with a greater degree of independent learning encouraged.
Each child is expected to be responsible for noting their prep in a Prep Diary, taking home the necessary books and returning the completed work to his/her teacher. Parents can regularly communicate with form tutors through the diary or by e-mail. If a child has been unable to complete the work, a note in the diary is required. Please see the ‘Prep Guide for Parents’ for more details.
In addition to reading at school, children are expected to read regularly at home to themselves as well as aloud to an adult. A guide is provided for parents to help them actively listen and promote good expression and understanding. Children are expected to read each evening. This is to be recorded by the parent/guardian in the prep diary and signed daily. As well as their current reading book, they may choose any interesting reading material from the library; a wide variety is to be encouraged. Weaker readers will progress through a structured reading scheme and they should read aloud every day at home. This scheme book will be in addition to the book chosen from the library or bookshelves. By Year 5, pupils are expected to have established regular reading habits. In addition, children are encouraged to participate in the Belmont Reading Challenge which encourages pupils to read a wide variety of books aimed at their reading level and to write reviews of the books they have read. In Year 3 the Reading Challenge starts after half term in the Autumn Term. Children can work towards badges at different levels which will be awarded in Assembly.
Children who have been previously identified as having a learning difficulty are put on the Learning Support Register immediately and are monitored carefully. If a child appears to be experiencing difficulties, the form tutor will refer the child to the Head of Learning Support who will do an initial assessment with the permission of the parents. If no specific difficulty is identified, the child will continue to be monitored. A child may be offered some extra support or may be referred to an educational psychologist outside school for a comprehensive assessment.
A pupil needing extra support may be withdrawn for supportive lessons in a group or individually. With consultation, we may agree that a pupil should have a course of one to one lessons with a specialist tutor. We also have a speech and language therapist and occupational therapist working at the school. This facility for specialist teaching is not funded by the school and is arranged through the Head of Learning Support. However, much of the support in Lower School takes place in the classroom through classroom assistants or LDD teachers.
The term ‘able’ is applied to those pupils who show particularly strong academic abilities, whether across all subjects or within one or two. The term ‘talented’ is applied to those pupils who are particularly able at sport, art, music or technology. Through our assessments of pupils, we recognise that approximately the top 20% of pupils require appropriate differentiation. In addition to class work being differentiated to meet pupils’ learning needs, we offer Maths enrichment for the most able pupils in Years 3, 4 and 5. In Year 5 an enrichment English group runs in the same way as the Maths enrichment group, and is provided for those who have been identified with a high level of ability in writing.
The Upper School at Belmont comprises Years 6, 7 and 8. During these final three years all subjects are taught by specialist teachers. For further details of what is taught in each subject, please refer to the ‘Upper School Curriculum Handbook’.
Pupils are taught in mixed ability forms. Pupils will be taught in ability sets in Maths, English, French and there will be some grouping by ability in Science. There will also be a weekly extension group for English. Children develop at very different rates, so we regularly review placements and move children if it is in their best educational interest. Parents are encouraged to be in contact with the Form Tutor who has daily pastoral responsibility for the child, and is the first point of contact for any educational or pastoral concerns. Further concerns should be directed to the Head of Year.
In Year 7 pupils begin following the two year Common Entrance syllabus which is accelerated beyond the National Curriculum. They are taught in mixed ability forms for most lessons but in sets for Maths, English and French.
In Year 8 pupils continue the two year Common Entrance syllabus and complete the course with the Common Entrance exams in the Summer Term. This is not an entrance test but is used by Mill Hill School to gauge pupil ability and will determine the sets that pupils are placed in after transfer. Pupils are able to transfer to Mill Hill School provided they continue to make good progress and behave appropriately. If there are any concerns about our pupils we will contact their parents immediately.
Pupils are taught in mixed ability forms for most lessons but in sets for Maths, English and French.
Some pupils will continue to study Latin, while others will take up Classical Studies as an alternative.
Some pupils will be selected to sit the Mill Hill Scholarship Exams in January and all pupils will take their Common Entrance exams in June. This is not an entrance test but is used by Mill Hill School to gauge pupil ability and will determine the sets that pupils are placed in after transfer. Pupils are able to transfer to Mill Hill School provided they continue to make good progress and behave appropriately. If there are any concerns about our pupils we will contact their parents immediately.
Although 90% of our children transfer to Mill Hill, our schemes of work cover the topics set by most good independent senior schools in their entrance exams. Our pupils have had success in gaining places at Merchant Taylors’, St Alban’s Boys, St Alban’s Girls, St Margaret’s, City of London, Highgate, University College School, St. Paul's, Harrow and Eton in recent years.
The amount of homework or ‘prep’ set for children in the Upper School increases gradually and full details of this can be found in our ‘Prep Guide for Parents’.
Tests in English, Maths and Science take place in November for Years 6 and 7, with formal exams in all subjects before half term in May. Year 8 have formal ‘mock’ Common Entrance exams in all subjects in November. Some pupils will sit the Scholarship Examinations to Mill Hill in January and all pupils will take their Common Entrance exams in June.
Pupils who are already receiving support, or who are on the Learning Support Register, will continue to be monitored and supported. Where a teacher has a new concern about a pupil’s progress they will be referred to the Head of Learning Support. Pupils will be supported in a variety of ways: either in class with a classroom assistant or learning support teacher. They may be withdrawn from class in a small group or come out for one to one tuition with a specialist teacher. There is an additional charge for one to one specialist tuition. All Upper School teachers are made aware of any pupil’s difficulties. Strategies are used to differentiate work and support each pupil according to his or her needs.
Each term parents will receive some formal feedback on their child’s progress. This will take the form of either a parents’ evening, a form tutor report with grades or a full subject report. In addition, parents are welcome to discuss progress with the Form Tutor, subject teacher, Head of Upper School or Deputy Head (Academic) by appointment, at any time during the term.
Mrs R. Alford
Deputy Head (Academic)
“The curriculum is broad, balanced and forward thinking, well planned in each subject and tailored to suit the needs of pupils of all ages and abilities.” ISI Report