The curriculum is designed to offer boys a breadth of experience and prepare them to the highest academic standards through their individual learning plan, ready for their next school.
It is also designed to support the inquisitive learning style of boys. This ensures that every boy develops his thirst for knowledge while he is at Eaton House Belgravia Pre-Prep.
We have a varied and exciting timetable. The list of subjects covered is: composition, comprehension, English, French, grammar, ICT, reading, mathematics, music, non-verbal reasoning, science, spelling, phonics, PHSEE, RS, verbal reasoning. The boys also enjoy drama, games, art, educational trips and much more.
With such a busy and challenging schedule there is never a dull moment at Eaton House Belgravia Pre-Prep. Homework is set daily for all pupils and the form tutors can give advice about how to support each boy in his work. This is because we have an individualised and unique approach to learning. With differentiated work, the boys are all boosted according to their needs. Faster-paced learners can be challenged with a greater workload and those who need help in a topic can be given it when required.
At Eaton House Belgravia the Pre-Prep, reception class is known as Kindergarten (KG). Boys from Kindergarten to Form 3 are taught mainly by their form teacher, with subject specialists to teach PE, ICT, music and French.
The boys follow the early years foundation stage, building on previous learning. Three class teachers and their teaching assistants work with the boys as a whole class, as a group, or individually, with a focus on the acquisition of literacy and numeracy skills. Expressive arts are important and they are explored through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role play, and design and technology.
Within the curriculum there are seven areas of learning: three prime and four specific areas. The prime areas of communication and language, physical development, and personal, social and emotional development cover the knowledge and skills which are the foundations for children's school readiness and future progress.
In communication and language, we work on developing the boys' confidence and skills in self-expression and teaching them how to speak and listen in a range of situations.
Special projects give the boys a chance to develop some ideas about specific subjects and a recent topic was minibeasts. One KG child wrote a very expressive science commentary on a ladybird, complete with a beautiful drawing which appeared in our school magazine, The Column. It read (with, of course, the grammar of a KG): "There are different types of ladybird. A ladybird can lay 1000 eggs. Some ladybirds dots are black some are white spots. They smell with their feet and they smell horrible." This seems like a pretty accurate description!
Speaking of bugs, the youngest children love to play with yellow maths bugs which move about the floor to teach them their pluses and minuses.
The boys participate in at least three sessions of sport each week. These consist of games on the common, PE in the gym, and play in the KG playground.
Even the littlest boys enjoy educational trips. One day last year the KG children had an exciting day out at Brockett’s Farm. They rode on a tractor, fed animals, learned about different kinds of milk and even watched a goat being milked. They met Toffee the guinea pig and Peter the rabbit but the most exciting thing was watching the pig race!
A typical week
Here is an example of a typical week in the KG, written by Miss Tizzie, the early years coordinator, which appeared in our regular newsletter as a KG update:
Our trip to the Chelsea Fire Station is always a favourite for the boys and the fire fighter from the White Watch ensured we had a lot of fun while learning about the dangers of fire and how to keep safe. The boys used the powerful hosepipes, climbed into the fire engine, and tried on all sorts of uniforms and apparatus.
The boys recounted their experience in their English books and produced some enchanting drawings to illustrate their writing.
In mathematics we looked at estimating, its meaning and what makes a good guess. Importantly, we have also consolidated 1/1 accuracy when counting and numbers writing and recognition.
In Year 1, boys begin to take more responsibility for themselves and their work. We aim to increase their self-confidence in all areas and to encourage good working habits and an attitude of perseverance when they find concepts difficult.We continue to encourage the boys to look after their own belongings and to remember their daily routines.
Boys are taught basic punctuation, grammar, composition and comprehension skills. For World Book Day everyone dresses up as a book and the older boys take the time to read with the younger boys.
In mathematics, we take a practical approach: lessons are designed to encourage the application of maths skills to solve real-life problems. We equip the boys with a range of strategies to build up their confidence in maths. There are also special fun things that the boys can do to improve their mathematical knowledge. A big favourite is creating 3D shapes using marshmallows and spaghetti to make impressive structures!
In science, the boys learn to develop their scientific knowledge and skills through topics that include materials, humans and other animals, plants, and seasonal changes. We also introduce the boys to history and geography.
In history, we develop their skills of historical enquiry, together with their powers of comparison, through the study of changes in ways of life, technology, homes and human endeavour from the past to the present.
In geography, we enable boys to observe and discuss their local environment and how it differs from other regions of the world.
Sometimes, the boys focus on specific themes. One recent theme was transport. After visiting the London Transport Museum and seeing the Tube trains and the old Tube posters, the Form 1 boys decided to make their own posters. They chose a station and a landmark nearby: they chose Westminster Tube Station, and showed its proximity to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, and the London Eye.
Art and design technology is taught each week, linked to the topics which the boys are covering in other lessons.
There is 20 minutes' written or learning homework twice a week, together with bi-weekly spelling tests and 10 minutes' reading for each night. Each term, the boys are assessed in English and mathematics.
A typical week
Here is an example of a typical week 1 letter, written by Miss Lottie, the Year 1 coordinator, which appeared in our regular newsletter as a Year 1 update.
English – Consolidating knowledge of full stops and capital letters around the theme of traditional tales.
Mathematics – Working on the vocabulary 'more than, less than and equal to', encouraging the boys to work very dynamically with numbers up to and sometimes beyond 100.
Topic – We learned about the fate of Henry VIII's six wives.
RS – We looked at what the Garden of Eden was and discussed the significance of the Tree of Knowledge.
In Year 2, we build on concepts learned in Year 1 and allow the boys to explore different areas of the curriculum in greater depth, applying their skills to more challenging tasks.
English lessons are based on a range of texts that help the boys understand the many different aspects of writing. We teach comprehension, grammar and drama, and spelling is developed through phonics. One of our Year 2 boys wrote a tremendous story, which appeared in the Eaton House Schools magazine, The Column. This is the beginning of the story:
The Castle in the Sky
Up in the misty grey dull sky, hiding in the cloud was a magical castle with dirty crackled windows and the smell of rotting wood. The castle was guarded by a wizard with a long whiskery face like an old parsnip. One day, a boy called Penet was playing in the park with a bundle of colourful balloons when suddenly the wind blew him into the sky and he hit the castle gate with a heavy thud…
In mathematics, we are committed to ensuring that the boys have a high level of understanding of the key concepts and we use many visual and practical elements to help every type of learner within the classroom setting.
In science lessons, the boys learn about a varied range of topics including materials, animals (including humans), personal health, and helping plants grow well. Topic lessons are divided half-termly between geography and history.
Enriched learning is very important for us. To further explore our plants theme, Year 2 ended the year with a visit to the world-leading botanical gardens, Kew Gardens. They explored plants from 10 different climate zones including cacti, orchids, carnivorous plants and Titan arum, which produces one of the foulest odours in the plant kingdom! The boys also went to The Hive, an enormous multi-sensory experience, and learned all about the extraordinary life of bees.
Our design technology and art lessons may be based on some of these core subjects, deepening the boys' understanding. As well as these core subjects, boys have music, computing, PE and French with subject specialists.
Homework is given twice a week. Boys will also have reading to do and spellings and times tables to learn every night. We recommend that boys spend around 20 minutes on written homework and 10 minutes on reading every night.
All the boys are assessed every term in English and mathematics.
A typical week
Here is an example of a typical week in Year 2 written by Miss Rebecca, the Year 2 coordinator:
In the core lessons this week we've been busy working on the following:
- Maths – setting out calculations (subtraction with borrowing and addition with carrying) and an introduction to vertical multiplication. In our lesson warm-ups, we’ve also touched on division (using our times tables). Boys who are secure on their times tables find it much easier to understand the concept of division!
- English – writing a full adventure story (in timed conditions) with an exciting problem or dilemma. The boys have then been encouraged to make simple additions, revisions and corrections to their completed work.
In Year 3, we concentrate on the revision, consolidation, extension and application of skills taught in Year 2. It is our aim to make the boys' transition to Prep School smooth and confident.
In mathematics, the focus is on reinforcing all the lessons previously learned so that the boys have a clear understanding in all areas. Within our teaching there are open-ended activities that focus upon mathematical processes, providing the children with an opportunity to explore, develop and apply different mathematical skills in everyday situations.
English lessons are predominantly based on a text, which enables a creative approach to meeting the needs of the curriculum. The boys will also experience a range of different types of poetry, as well as non-fiction writing. Boys are given differentiated spelling words to learn by heart and they are tested on a weekly basis. The Year 3 drama production What a Knight! gave some of the boys considerable practice in memorising lines of dialogue and in learning to use language expressively.
In Year 3, boys will develop scientific concepts and carry out investigations, developing a bank of scientific vocabulary and building on prior knowledge to make sensible predictions. This initiates scientific curiosity.
In our topic work we encourage independent and cross-curricular learning. There is a strong focus on environmental issues.
In Year 3, boys are set 30 minutes' homework each night, together with 10 minutes' reading.
The boys are assessed each term in English and mathematics and the results are communicated to parents.
A typical week
Here is an example of a typical week 4 letter, written by Mr James, which appeared in our regular newsletter as a Year 4 update.
It's been another busy week for Year 4, with the boys settling in really well into the demands of the new year.
In mathematics, we've been consolidating our work from last week on addition and subtraction, through using estimation and inverse operations to check our answers. These have been used while working through different word problems, involving whole numbers and decimals.
In English, we've been planning and writing a timed story with the title of Stranded. The boys were encouraged to include as much descriptive language as they could, resulting in some very interesting ideas!
In history, the boys were introduced to the idea of chronology and were able to gain a perspective of just how 'recent' we all were in history, by using a timeline of the last 2,000 years as a reference.
The Learning Enrichment department provides extra support for boys so that they can reach their academic potential.
The members of the department see students on a one-to-one or small group basis to work on specific issues, liaising fully with class teachers to ensure maximum progress. Outside specialists may be called upon to provide a detailed assessment if necessary and these can include speech and language therapists, an occupational therapist, a physiotherapist, an educational psychologist and a mathematics specialist.
School work forms the bulk of the curriculum and it is always differentiated according to ability and need with individual learning plans. However, a number of boys may require some extra one-to-one sessions to support their learning and development. This is often referred to as coaching or tutoring. Handled and conducted in the appropriate manner it can be of great benefit. There is no formal policy on when learning enrichment may be required. However, it is suggested that if the school or parents feel that there is a need for 'something extra' that this is discussed in house first. Ideally, parents will approach the boy's form teacher in the first instance.
Benefits of a flexible approach
The school encourages flexibility and open communication on what any individual pupil's learning enrichment needs may be. As the examinations that the boys sit at 7+ and 8+ require a wide variety of literacy, numeracy and analytical skills, it follows that even a boy who is, for example, gifted at mathematics, might need support in English writing and comprehension. Viewed in this light, learning enrichment is a sensible course of action taken to improve a boy's skill set and nothing for parents to be concerned about. Rather, the extra attention should be embraced. This means acknowledging areas where some improvement might be needed in an honest and constructive way.
The reports provided to parents every two weeks in the run-up to exams indicate the average percentage mark in each subject and help to clarify areas where boys might benefit from extra support. However, other kinds of learning challenges can sometimes be identified earlier in the educational process and Eaton House Belgravia Pre-Prep will always respond positively and proactively if this happens.
Learning enrichment facilities
Learning enrichment takes place in a light and bright room with large windows in the main school, where both teacher and pupil can fully concentrate and commit to solving any problems in a quiet and systematic way. Pupils are able to go at their own pace and receive gentle encouragement in solving specific problems, with teachers trained to handle a range of enrichment issues. Our aim is to make a timetabled visit to the Enrichment department pleasant and productive. Many Eaton House Belgravia Pre-Prep boys have received help in this way and it is an accepted part of school culture.
The Good Schools Guide, 2017, says: "The learning enrichment department is well established and uses imaginative ways to provide extra support, both individually and within class, for those with specific learning differences. This includes physiotherapy for anyone who needs to improve coordination, and occupational therapy, for example, handwriting and touch typing… the communication between home and school is well supported."