At Garden House, English is the medium through which almost all learning takes place, both inside and outside the classroom. During English lessons, as well as in many other parts of the curriculum, we lead our pupils to develop confidence in speaking and listening, spelling, grammar, reading and writing.
We teach children in a stimulating environment and our creative lessons provide opportunities for individuals to communicate independent views and opinions, listen and respond imaginatively and express feelings through spoken and written language. This helps develop their confidence to have a voice. The children develop their handwriting, being encouraged to use cursive script during Years 1 and 2 and working towards achieving their pen licences, typically in Years 3 and 4. In Years 4 and 5, the children undertake the English Speaking Board examinations, giving them the opportunity to demonstrate their skills before external examiners.
In lessons, children will be reading, discussing, and producing a wealth of different texts. These include poems, desscriptions and stories.
We nurture a love of reading at Garden House, realising its potential to transport children to different places, whilst positively impacting on their ability to access all other areas of the curriculum.
Particular highlights in the English calendar include Poetry Day and Book Week. These transform the school into a hive of creativity and immerse children into the world of literature.
The ability to communicate ideas and feelings clearly, effectively and with confidence. A love of reading with the ability both to comprehend and to question the text. These are qualities that our English teaching is designed to foster.
We use Mathematics in almost every aspect of our lives. At Garden House our curriculum is aimed at allowing the children to apply mathematical concepts with confidence; not only in their Maths lessons but also across the curriculum and in their daily lives.
Lessons are approached in a variety of ways to ensure the children progress to the best of their ability. All pupils have opportunities to learn in a way which caters for their learning styles using a range of visual, auditory and kinaesthetic resources. In each year group the following strands are taught and reinforced: place value; number (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division); calculating; shape, space & measures; and, data handling.
Problem Solving is at the heart of our teaching and children are encouraged to relate their learning to practical situations, this includes creating magic potions, designing a Theme Park or using their measuring skills to work out the area of the chicken coops found in Roald Dahl’s ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’!
Mental arithmetic is a key skill which is taught from an early age. We encourage this through in a number of ways including Times Tables awards and “Mad Minute”. Every year the most able mathematicians in the school compete in the Maths Olympiad which involves solving challenges and puzzles in house teams across the year groups. This causes much excitement for each pupil in Junior School upwards as they wait in anticipation of who will win the much coveted Olympiad award!
Whilst we try to avoid blowing up the school, we do have a huge amount of fun in Science! Children love learning Science at Garden House School and for many children it ranks amongst their favourite subjects. Our aim is for our children to leave a Science class feeling inspired and to see the world with a renewed sense of wonder and inquiry.
Lessons are approached in a hands on, practical manner. The children are encouraged to relate their scientific discoveries to everyday situations. There are so many adventures for the children such as exploring live habitats, caring for recently hatched chicks, discovering patterns and animal behaviours at London Zoo, handling dinosaur fossils or using their circuit knowledge to create wonderful inventions.
Through Science children learn to think differently, investigate ideas, ask questions and discover answers themselves. They do this by observing, pattern seeking, identifying, classifying, researching and carrying out comparative and fair testing. Most importantly, in Science the children learn that mistakes are not to be feared but instead form a vital part of their learning journey.
Science Day is a particular highlight of the Garden House calendar with teachers and visiting scientists collaborating to bring the magic of Science to life via a wild variety of experiments, demonstrations and workshops.
Geography and History are taught under the umbrella of Humanities here at Garden House, with a topic generally devoted to each subject per half term. Teachers encourage the children to develop a curiosity for the world around them as well as a developed understanding of the past.
History at Garden House is so much more than dates and facts; it is a meaningful exploration through time, encouraging a natural curiosity to question and developing the skills to find answers. We cover a range of topics in keeping with the National Curriculum including British History as well as the wider world.
The children’s learning is further enriched through workshops and trips to bring the past to life. We are extremely lucky as a school to have a number of connections through the community with establishments such as the Royal Hospital. The children gain a valued insight into the past through the visits and talks given to them by the Chelsea Pensioners. Above all, we believe that the ability to formulate enquiry skills and develop the children’s own opinions is paramount to becoming successful historians. It is this sense of wonder and excitement that we harness within the children, equipping them for life.
Geography is taught in a dynamic and engaging way at Garden House with every effort applied to the children asking questions about the world they live in and on which they depend. It is important that the children develop a sense of responsibility for the Earth as well as an awareness of cultural diversity.
Global Location forms an important part of the Geography curriculum; with the children learning about continents, countries, capitals, key rivers and mountain ranges.
Hands-on activities such as map and field work make their learning more tangible allowing the children to develop their confidence to cherish and explore the world around them.
At Garden House, we consider the learning of languages to be a central and critical part of every child’s education. Learning further languages allows children to broaden their horizons, open their minds and, in due course, embrace a greater variety of opportunities. The learning of languages also offers children a new and challenging academic discipline and improves their understanding of their own language.
As Goethe said, “Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.”
All children learn French from the age of 3 when they start in Kindergarten. From a strong oral start, based largely on song and conversation, the children develop their written skills in preparation for Senior Schools. We use a wide variety of resources from Linguascope to Languages-on-Line and follow the Rigolo and Allez schemes. In Year 6, the children go on a week-long trip to northern France which immerses them in French life and culture.
All the children in Year 4 have a ‘taster’ year of Spanish which enables them to appreciate the different language structures and gives them a chance to enjoy savouring the basics of another modern foreign language.
In addition, there are language clubs in the morning and after school, which are tailored to the appropriate levels. The languages offered depend on the demands of each year. French, Spanish and Mandarin are offered every year and others when there is sufficient demand.
The children start learning Latin in Year 3 (boys) and Year 4 (girls). They begin with an introduction to Roman Civilisation and, in particular, to life in England during Roman times. As the children mature, we introduce a more rigorous approach to the study of the language, ensuring the children grasp the mechanics of the grammar thoroughly. We teach them to apply these not only to the study of Latin but to appreciate how they are also relevant to their own and other modern languages. Thus, we aim to promote a passion for the Classics which they will carry with them onto the next stage of their education.
The Computing department at Garden House aims to provide our boys with a number of invaluable transferable skills, which will help them to prosper and work confidently in the increasingly technologically based world of the 21st century.
Alongside providing a firm foundation in the operation of the most widely-used software packages, our objective is to inspire the children to become the forward-thinking programmers, web-designers, games-makers and app-developers of the future. A focus on programming, coding and control technology promotes the importance of approaching tasks in a logical and systematic way. The boys are encouraged to organise their thoughts in a formal, unambiguous and structured manner. Programming at Garden House is not, however, in any way robotic in its output; the coding skills which the children learn allow them to be creative and imaginative in their work, whilst also developing important problem-solving instincts. Ultimately, we aim not just to teach our pupils how to use software and consume information but to give them the tools to become independent enquirers and producers of products and solutions.
To support this, the boys at Garden House are provided with access to a state-of-the-art provision of networked computers, laptops and tablets. Weekly Computing lessons take place in our dedicated computer suite, whilst a wide range of departments use our class sets of laptops and LearnPad tablets to support the delivery of their curricula. In addition, music technology sessions benefit from the use of Apple Mac computers.
Fibre-optic internet is available throughout the school, underpinned by advanced filtering systems. Regular e-safety sessions are delivered in both Computing and Life & Culture lessons, which give our boys and girls the confidence to use technology in a safe, considerate and responsible manner.
As a non-selective School, Garden House is committed to enabling every child to achieve their full potential and our strong and committed Learning Support Department plays an active role in this.
It is staffed by a team of four full-time highly-qualified special needs teachers, augmented by two part-time similarly-qualified teachers. The School is thus able to provide specialist help for a wide range of learning difficulties. In addition, two speech therapists and an occupational therapist visit from local clinics. This enables children’s needs to be met within School and all specialists can keep in close contact with teaching staff and parents.
Support is tailored to a child’s specific requirements, whether it be in the classroom, as part of a small group or one-to-one lessons. Three of our specialist staff are also qualified to conduct thorough assessments to gain greater insights into a child’s strengths and difficulties.
The Department runs a variety of groups ranging from handwriting, spelling, phonics, language skills (including EAL children) as well as After School Clubs including Sensory Circuits and Puzzle Club.
At Garden House School, we believe teaching and learning should be challenging and enjoyable for children of all abilities. We recognise the need to identify our Able Learners as early as possible in their School career and thereafter to make enhanced provision for them.
We use a variety of criteria by which to assess a child as an Able Learner, including analysis of class work, various assessment techniques are utilised as is observation. The School’s Able Learner Register keeps a record of such provision for each relevant child. The provision includes teaching in small groups, extension for the child within class teaching and Challenge Boards. After School invitation-only Clubs exist to further challenge these children.
Scattered throughout the School year are a number of day and residential field trips which enhance understanding of theoretical concepts as well as encouraging our boys to be confident in new environments.
The boys make full use of the outstanding cultural opportunities available around the School. Over the years, they will visit a host of the museums, galleries and sites of historical or cultural interest in and around the Capital. These trips are embedded within the Curriculum and will often involve teaching and lectures from specialists.
From Middle School I the boys make residential trips. They have an adventure training week in Cornwall and an optional ski trip to Switzerland. From Middle School II, the boys go on several residential trips a year; Science and Geography field trips; Survival Skills training; Adventure training and, in Upper School II (10 years old), a French trip.
Trips and excursions past and present include french trip (USII), outward outbound trip (USI) and science field to Juniper Hall (MSII)