“The children seem remarkably patient and tolerant of one another. There is a very strong sense that the care of the children is anchored by affection and good sense.”
The Good Schools Guide 2018/19
The overriding aim of the teaching, pastoral care and curriculum in the Junior House is to inspire a sense of the joys of learning and what it is to be in a community of learners, where each pupil’s gifts are unfolded and shared.
The formal Junior House curriculum at St. Anthony’s places a strong emphasis on the acquisition of basic skills and the development of a solid foundation for the learning that the boys will be undertaking from Year 4 onwards. We want the boys to transition to the Senior House secure in their ability to face the challenges ahead, socially at ease, full of curiosity and intellectually flexible. We believe that a structured approach, leading to confidence in reading, writing and numeracy is the key to success. Accordingly, the emphasis from the Reception year through to Year 3 is on Literacy and Numeracy, with an enriched curriculum being provided through Scientific learning, the Humanities, Arts, and the teaching of Languages.
Our Reception boys follow the EYFS curriculum, which provides a helpful, coherent overarching structure; it is complemented by our extra specialist provision. We believe this combination serves to embed the basic skills and knowledge needed: we want, even at an early stage, to stretch the boys, develop their horizons and respond to their infectious and exciting curiosity about the world and people around them.
The boys join us having come from a wide range of settings. Our primary focus in the first term is on settling them into school life. The children are encouraged to explore the world around them within carefully chosen topics, as well as to develop their ability to express themselves clearly. In this way, the inner confidence needed to apply themselves to effective learning is laid. We teach reading and writing through synthetic phonics, in a way that is tailored to the needs of the boys in the class. In Mathematics, a structured programme which develops an awareness of pattern, initially within numbers up to ten, leads effectively to the more structured curriculum, which is introduced from Year 1.
Throughout the Junior House, we aim to foster the joy of reading. The early focus is on the consolidation and development of the boys’ phonic knowledge, providing the boys with the tools to become confident readers and writers, with a growing focus on grammar, well punctuated sentences and the use of increasingly descriptive language. The development of these skills allows for more effective cross-curricular creativity. In our early meetings with parents, we share the formal technics used so that they too can work with us and the children to foster the fun of reading at school and at home.
In Mathematics, through the use of concrete materials and a variety of methods, the boys develop a solid grasp of the concept of number. There is a strong focus on developing the boys’ recall of number bonds and, as their understanding of addition, subtraction and number patterns grow, the focus is on the development of effective methods for performing mental calculations. We aim for the boys to leave the Junior House with a firm understanding of the basic skills of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division and their application to everyday life so that they are then able to take on board the more abstract concepts that they are introduced to further up the school. We also foster a relishing of the challenge of Mathematics, so the pupils enjoy a tricky and teasing Mathematical problem rather than fear it.
Science has a key role within the timetable from Year 1: the boys are encouraged to develop their scientific questioning skills. As well as broadening their general knowledge, pupils are taught how to predict, carry out investigations, make detailed observations, record their methods and evaluate their results. These skills are built on as they move through the Junior House.
Languages Music, Drama and Art are also embedded very strongly within the curriculum. Pupils are taught French, by a specialist from Reception and Mandarin from Year 1 too. Music and Art play an important role in their school week and all pupils have the opportunity to perform in concerts, shows and assemblies throughout the year. We are proud of this tradition and the depth of musical literacy and choral skills which are evoked in the pupils. They are very much encouraged to take up an instrument or singing lessons. We have an outstanding group of visiting music teachers in addition to our own excellent music teachers. The Junior House Music Concerts provide wonderful opportunities for boys to perform at the earliest opportunity.
Pupils are also introduced to Computing and Coding at appropriate stages, fostering the digital literacy which will increasingly be needed in the new era they and we face.
Junior House pupils also take part in carefully structured Physical Education and Games lessons provided by our specialist PE teachers.
A stimulating range of Hobbies and After School Clubs is also available.
Further details of the Curricular and Co-Curricular Provision are found in the relevant sections of the website; do explore them and see in more detail how we foster our children’s love of learning and the their shared fun of learning with their peers, such that they develop respect for their own talent, and the talents and personalities or those who share their unique learning journey in the years which follow.