The Lower School comprises Reception and Years 1 and 2
Head of Lower School: Ms Rachael Vaughan
Early Years Foundation Stage Coordinator: Mrs Rachael Ball
The girls in Reception begin during the year in which they will be 5. The class is formed of girls whose names have been drawn in the ballot and siblings of girls already in the school. The girls are taught by an experienced Reception teacher and one full time and one part time Teaching Assistant. In Reception, the girls follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum where every girl’s individual needs are closely monitored and catered for.
The emphasis, in the first term especially, is on settling the girls into school which for many is a much bigger environment than their nurseries have provided. A staggered start at the beginning of the year helps to enable a smooth beginning and parents are kept closely informed of everything as we understand that this can be a challenging time for parents.
The girls, when they begin, have experienced different levels of input and learning which is absolutely what we would expect. However, we do ask that the girls can use a knife and fork and are able to dress and undress themselves.
The atmosphere in Reception is unique with its blend of purposeful play and small group, teacher led activities. It is not a formal environment so if you are looking for desks in rows then this is not for you!
All the girls do extremely well and are more than ready for Year 1 by the end of their time in Reception.
Years 1 and 2 (Key Stage 1)
Throughout Years 1 and 2, girls continue with the same class friends that they made in Reception, building each year upon the firm foundations of the years before. Dynamic teachers deliver exciting, well-planned and differentiated lessons using the latest technology and providing the girls with a happy and relaxed, yet challenging, environment in which to work, play and learn. Classrooms are light, bright, and full of appropriate up- to-date resources and books. Each room has easy access to the garden and playground.
We know how important it is to build confidence at this stage of children's learning and so we give them all plenty of opportunities to succeed and flourish in the classroom, building on their skills, knowledge and understanding as well as introducing new challenges as they become independent learners. The girls continue to have specialist teachers for the Arts, PE as well as French and Spanish in the appropriately equipped room and their class teachers and assistants teach and take care of them for the rest of the time.
Middle School (Lower Key Stage 2)
The Middle School comprises Years 3 and 4
Head of Middle School: Mrs Nieves Garcia
In the September of Year 3, after the 7+ Assessment which will have taken place the previous January, we welcome approximately forty new girls to Bute House. The new girls join our existing pupils and are then divided into three equally sized mixed-ability classes. We go to great lengths to ensure that this transition is smooth and we recognise the importance of sensitive care for all the girls at this time. The girls will have already enjoyed meeting each other at our "Welcome to Bute House" workshop day and at the New Girls' Tea, and in many cases have started to build friendships through holiday play dates.
Years 3 and 4
In Years 3 and 4, pupils are taught using a wide variety of styles and learning technology. Lessons are well planned, structured and differentiated to ensure that the needs of every child are met. The girls will have their own Form Teacher for most of their lessons, with specialist teachers for the Arts, PE, French and Spanish. Girls may also choose to have instrumental lessons in Year 3 and we offer tuition for a very wide variety of instruments. There are clubs on offer after school and these also take place on Wednesday afternoons for the last hour of the normal school day. In Year 4, Science is taught by a specialist Science teacher and takes place in the Science laboratory.
Upper School (Upper Key Stage 2)
The Upper School comprises Years 5 and 6
Head of Upper School: Miss Catherine Smith
Years 5 and 6
The girls are moved into new classes in both these year groups. The classes continue to be mixed ability with work closely differentiated. They are now taught by specialists for all subjects.
During the Spring term of Year 5, the girls begin to experience more formal assessments for Year 6. There is a Parents’ Evening in every term of Year 5 in order that parents are kept fully informed of progress.
In Year 6, the focus in the Autumn term is on preparation for the 11+ examinations which take place in January. The Year 6 team is hugely experienced and are wonderful at preparing the girls for the forthcoming examinations, as well as keeping them calm. All parents meet with the Head during the Autumn term of Year 6 to discuss future schools and a tutor system offers additional support to the girls at that stage.
Once the examinations are over, the girls continue to enjoy a very full curriculum; the final two terms of Year 6 are very important academically as secondary schools expect the girls to have continued to develop beyond the level they reached in their entrance examinations. The girls also enjoy lots of fun days out and other activities so that by the end of the year, the 11+ examinations are a distant memory!
Throughout Years 5 and 6, the girls are given opportunities to take on more responsibility such as being on the School Council and prepare themselves in every way for the next step in their education.
The staff work hard to ensure that the happy, supportive and caring atmosphere which is central to the ethos of the school continues despite external pressures.