Preparing girls in a stimulating and scholarly environment.
Our preschool accepts girls and boys after their third birthday, and children are welcomed into reception in the September following their fourth birthday. Preschool and reception make up our early years’ foundation stage (EYFS)
The pre-prep department comprises preschool and reception (EYFS) together with year 1 and year 2 (key stage 1). Girls join reception from our preschool or join straight into school at this entry point.
Our prep department comprises year 3, year 4, year 5 and year 6 (key stage 2). Girls are prepared for 11+ entrance examinations, including Common Entrance, to a variety of independent senior schools including St Swithun’s.
Throughout the school we maintain small class sizes of approximately 18 pupils.
Preschool and reception
Children in preschool and reception learn through participating in a wide variety of well-planned, stimulating and enjoyable activities. Child-initiated planning enables them to influence topics and allows the teachers to respond to the children’s interests and creativity. Continuous assessment ensures that each individual is supported and extended as appropriate.
The curriculum in the preschool and reception years is based on seven areas of learning:
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
- Communication and Language
- Physical Development
- Understanding the World
- Expressive Arts and Design
OFSTED graded the early years’ foundation stage as ‘outstanding’ and in our last ISI inspection the EYFS was also graded ‘excellent’ and ‘outstanding’.
Year 1 and Year 2
As children progress to year 1 and year 2 their literacy and numeracy skills are consolidated. Their curriculum includes the core curriculum subjects English, mathematics and science as well as art, design and technology, information and communication technology (ICT), religious education, music, drama, personal social and health education, history, geography, physical education and a wide range of creative activities. Spanish is specialist-taught from nursery to year 2.
All pupils have reading books to share at home. Year 1 children take home spelling activities and an interactive maths game, and Year 2 children take home mathematics and literacy activities.
Year 3 to year 6
A structured programme increases the amount of formal work as children move through the preparatory department. The girls develop a desire to learn as well as the beginnings of the means to become independent students. They accept more responsibility for their own learning and begin to manage their time. They are encouraged to read regularly and widely.
Maths can be found in nearly all walks of life and at St Swithun’s a love of maths is something we want to embed in children’s learning right from the beginning. Our maths lessons are brimming with practical work and investigations and we believe that this is vital to make maths relevant and exciting to the children so they are passionate about this subject.
Opportunities for children to discover, discuss and clarify their thinking is paramount to add depth to their understanding. Tricky concepts will be explored fully before we move on, to ensure all children feel at ease with maths and are making excellent progress.
If the children choose, they can take part in our mathematical challenges. These consist of various timed assessments on the four mathematical operations and the children can earn badges for their efforts. If they reach the platinum level than they start competing against each other to be crowned ‘tenacious tiger of the term!’ However, we currently only have three girls in the entire school that have reached this prestigious level.
Giving children something to aspire to is something we firmly believe in. Appropriate challenge must be something that is just within reach and when achieved, something to really be celebrated - and we love to celebrate maths success in our half termly maths celebration assemblies.
At St Swithun’s, the desire to foster a love of English whilst inspiring children as they explore the language is evident in all that we teach. English is at the heart of our academic curriculum and fluency in the English language is an essential foundation for success in all subjects.
From the youngest member of our preschool class to the leavers in Year 6 we encourage our children to express themselves confidently and with flair in all areas of the curriculum; we strive to engender an enthusiasm for both language and literature and have many tools at our disposal. Our small classes also enable us to cater for individual needs, by offering support or by integrating challenge for every pupil we teach.
All children have access to a wide range of early reading materials, contemporary and classic fiction as well as the latest non-fiction materials. We subscribe to First News which offers us both printed and digital access to current affairs topics, presented at an appropriate but often challenging level. In addition we are able to use both Chromebooks and iPads to further enhance learning.
Regular book fairs keep pupils and teachers up to date with the best new children's fiction and there are many opportunities for reading within the week as well as additional events such as the celebration of World Book Day and reading challenges. Our children enjoy nothing more than finding a comfortable corner in our stunning library in the light, airy atrium of the school where they can enjoy reading a good book.
In Years 5 and 6 English is taught by subject specialists. Children are prepared for the 11+ Common Entrance and other senior school entrance examinations through a challenging but thorough curriculum.
In Science at St Swithun’s, our aim is to send our children out into the world with an understanding of and respect for the world around them. The children begin to study Science in Early Years setting, in the form of Understanding the World, a fully practical, hands-on experience involving making observations and testing ideas.
During key-stage one, girls study a broad range of science topics. Throughout this their natural curiosity is further nurtured; ideas are investigated and scientific concepts introduced to support their observations.
Once in key-stage two, girls follow the ISEB Science syllabus, studying the separate subjects of biology, chemistry and physics. Emphasis is placed not only on the supporting scientific concepts but also on the use of scientific enquiry to create questions through independent thinking, then investigating and recording evidence to enable them to provide reliable answers to these questions.
Whilst pen and paper continue to be a staple base method of recording, we also make regular use of a range of technological resources such as data loggers and digital microscopes.
In addition to our substantial school grounds, we also have an established, covered growing area and are proud to hold a Level 2 RHS Gardening for Schools certificate for our achievements. In support of Level 3, the girls plan to design a wildlife-friendly garden to incorporate our resident tortoise and encourage bees and butterflies to visit us. We also have close links with Winchester Science Centre and Testwood Lakes, visiting these for topics such as Space, Forces and Habitats.
We want each of our children to leave St Swithun’s Prep with a love of Science; the knowledge and confidence required to take this subject on to the next level; and, with the potential to become STEM ambassadors of the future.
St Swithun’s aims for quality in every aspect of physical education, sport and physical activity. We are committed to creating meaningful opportunities for our pupils to become dedicated participants and to attain the highest levels of performance to which they aspire.
We recognise the value of sport and physical activity to a pupil’s wellbeing and development, physically, mentally, socially and morally. Pupils are encouraged to strive for high standards of performance, commitment, behaviour, etiquette, sportsmanship and self-discipline.
In addition to curriculum sport and PE lessons, we have a variety of lunchtime and afterschool clubs led by the school staff and outside coaches and we participate in house and inter-school matches to further extend the opportunities for our students.
The school curriculum includes tennis, football, netball, pop lacrosse, cross country, gymnastics, rounders, athletics, cricket and swimming. The younger girls also focus on their locomotive and manipulate skills, decision making and tactical knowledge using simple invasion games.
All PE, games and swimming lessons are taught by specialists:
|Preschool||Every week, each child receives at least three hours of PE, games and swimming, including additional dance and movement programmes.|
|Reception to Year 2||Every week, each child receives at least three hours of PE, games and swimming, including gymnastics and dance.|
|Year 3 to Year 6||Every week, each child receives at least three hours of PE, games and swimming. In addition, they participate in a games afternoon.|
Sports Training Opportunities
All children from year 3 to year 6 have the opportunity to play in inter-house and inter-school matches and events every term. We also provide additional opportunities for accomplished sportswomen to participate in tournaments, athletics competitions and swimming galas. Selection takes place during curriculum lessons and in after-school clubs.
Our music department places creativity and passion at the core of its teaching. Children are given the opportunity to make music in many different ways including composing, listening and performing. They are given an excellent framework of skills from the very beginning that allows each child to develop at their own pace and in their own way. Response to music is a primitive yet individual matter and we celebrate the wide variety of musicianship that abounds at our school.
Instrumental tuition is offered in violin, viola, ‘cello, double bass, harp, flute, clarinet, oboe, saxophone, bassoon, trumpet, french horn, piano, singing, drum kit, orchestral percussion, guitar and electric guitar.
We have many thriving musical ensembles including string orchestra, wind band, rock band, steel band, choir, training choir and our award-winning chamber choir. Instrumentalists are also coached regularly in trios, quartets and small groups.
Drama is a very popular subject at St Swithun’s, where each class receives a specialist drama or performing arts lesson every week. Creativity and performance are at the heart of our drama curriculum, and children benefit from many varied and exciting performing opportunities.
In addition, here is a sample of music and drama activities that our pupils enjoy:
- A music tech class for children interested in exploring computerised music and recording
- Two extra-curricular music theatre workshops (one for younger children and one for older children) which collaborate on a musical production every year. Past performances include Grease, Annie, Oliver, The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins.
- Children are offered the following performing opportunities throughout a school year:
- Participation in local and national music festivals
- Concerts twice a year for the prep department at Christmas and Easter
- A traditional carol service at the Chapel of St Cross featuring all three choirs in the prep department.
- A musical theatre production every year; preschool and reception perform a selection of songs and stories for their parents twice a year. Y1 and Y2 perform an original production at Christmas created by the head of department. Y3 and Y4 work together in the spring term on a Shakespeare musical production, also created by the head of department, and Y5 and Y6 work on a large-scale musical production. Past performances include: Guys and Dolls, 42nd Street, Bugsy Malone and Fiddler on the Roof.
- Y6 undertake a Fame Academy project, writing songs and rehearsing and performing them in bands. They perform to the school competing for votes, and they all record a CD at a local recording studio.
- A two-day music festival, celebrating all things musical! This incorporates a non-competitive section, a singing competition, a “Rock Divas” competition and a competitive instrumental section.
Our art programme forms an integral part of the regular curriculum. Lessons take place in the modern art and design technology room where the children have access to a range of materials and equipment. We strive to create a learning environment which engages, inspires and challenges children of all abilities. In order to achieve this, we feel it is important for the children to have time to experiment with a range of techniques and processes to help them to develop their confidence.
Art projects throughout the school provide the children with opportunities to use a variety of different media and gain experience working in both two and three dimensional form. Alongside this, the children explore the work of artists and craftspeople from the past and present to inform their creative thinking.
It is important to us that the children recognise that their artistic achievements are valued so we ensure that their creations are regularly displayed around the school building to enable them to be celebrated.
Design and technology centres around turning design ideas into actual physical products. Topics in key stage one are aimed at providing the children with opportunities to explore and investigate different techniques and processes to enable them to develop their practical skills. In key stage two, the children are encouraged to apply their skills to more open-ended projects enabling them to work with greater independence on their design ideas.
The design and technology programme covers a broad range of topics and includes food technology, textiles and woodwork. The children gain experience of working with a variety of materials and tools as they progress through the school. In year 5, the children use the facilities in the senior school technology department where they have the opportunity to use a range of equipment to construct moving toys.
We believe it is important to make lessons enjoyable and accessible to children of all abilities. Through exploration and investigation of the design and making processes, we aim to equip the children with the skills to be able to develop their creative ideas into quality products of which they can be proud.