The school follows the central elements of the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum and the Independent Curriculum. However, an enormous number of additional opportunities are made available to ensure that all pupils are given the chance to develop their knowledge, skills and attributes. To that end, a significant amount of curriculum time is dedicated to creative, cultural and sporting activities.
The West House curriculum is carefully monitored by a Director of Studies and is constantly evolving to ensure that the school responds to the demands that will be placed on individuals living as successful citizens in the 21st century.
The majority of pupils enter the first year of the Foundation Stage (Pre-School) from within the school’s Early Years classes, where they will have already experienced some aspects of the Foundation Stage curriculum.
In terms of organisation, the school is based around three departments – The Early Years (Nursery – Pre-School), Pre-Prep (Reception – Year 2) and Prep (Years 3 – 6) – each housed in its own spacious building where pupils can grow and develop, confident in the knowledge that a friendly face is never too far away.
West House Early Years welcomes boys and girls from the age of 12 months to 4 years. The excellent facilities of the school enable our youngest children to discover, learn, develop and achieve in a relaxed atmosphere where, above all else, they are happy. Our well-trained and experienced staff maintain a structured environment that fosters the development of each child’s individuality and talents. Staff to pupil ratios are exceptionally high, enabling close contact between small groups of children and their Key Workers. The Early Years Department is open from 7.45am until 6.00pm for 48 weeks of the year, with the more structured daily activities taking place between 9.00am and 3.00pm. Outside term time, Holiday Club – run by West House staff – ensures that children up to the age of 11 years old are busy, safe and happy. The department is built around the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage and allows children the opportunity to work towards achieving the early learning goals in communication and language, physical development, personal, social and emotional development, literacy, mathematics, understanding the world and expressive arts and design at a pace appropriate to each individual. Even the youngest children create and explore through art, singing, role play, stories and music. Children move from the nursery class (12 months to 2 years), through Kindergarten (2 to 3 years), and on to pre-school (3 to 4 years). During the pre-school year children are prepared for entry into Reception and, for boys who are transferring to the Reception classes at West House, close links are established to ensure a smooth transition under the watchful eye of the Head of Pre-Prep and Early Years, Jackie Cockerill. All year groups within West House Early Years become heavily over-subscribed during the academic year. Parents are advised to register at least three months before an intended start date.
The Pre-Prep Department is housed in ‘Woodbourne’, a three storey mid Victorian house. Here, boys from Reception to Year 2 continue their educational voyage, with the emphasis being on fostering a love of learning and developing an enjoyment of all that school life has to offer. Reception marks the second year of the foundation stage and, as such, lies within the sphere of the Early Year Foundation Stage. The majority of boys transfer from the school’s own pre-school group and therefore already feel very much at home in the main school. Reception classes generally number 14 – 16 pupils with the educational focus being on the development of literacy and numeracy skills. However, play is regarded as an important aspect of the learning process and pupils are given plenty of opportunity to develop their social skills, both within and beyond the classroom. Throughout Years 1 and 2 the core subjects – English, maths and science – occupy a significant proportion of curriculum time, with a strong emphasis placed on developing reading skills. Many other areas of the curriculum such as geography, history, art and design technology are drawn together through a rich variety of exciting topics. Each class has its own form teacher with games, dance, drama, French, music and ICT taught by specialists. Regular consultation evenings offer parents the chance to discuss their son’s progress. However, the classrooms are open to parents to visit between 8.30am and 9.00am every Friday morning. Members of the Senior Management Team are also available on that day until 10.00am for informal consultations. The boys enjoy many occasions during the school year when they join younger and older pupils for events such as sports days, a Christmas production and a summer concert. Parental support is actively encouraged and all are welcome to attend the various events.
The Prep Department sees boys move from Year 3 through to Year 6. In Years 3 and 4 pupils continue to be taught by class teachers, with additional input from subject specialists including the Heads of Maths and English. From Year 5 pupils are taught by subject specialists in preparation for their move into secondary education. Throughout Prep, pupils are set for maths and English according to ability. Further differentiation within these groups allows each pupil to work towards challenging yet realistic targets at an appropriate pace. Pupils are assessed on a regular basis with the results used to identify targets for further development. The school places a great emphasis on pastoral care in all departments. Key workers and form tutors are responsible for addressing the day to day needs of children in their care. PSHE topics are led by the Headmaster and this undoubtedly contributes to the school’s fine reputation for having a unique, caring and family orientated atmosphere.