Our independence allows us to be imaginative in what the pupils learn, and also in how and where they learn it.
It is a primary aim of Hunter Hall School to instil in our pupils fundamental values that will provide a strong foundation for the rest of their lives. These include developing respect for others, the ability to make good choices, willingness to listen and an appreciation that all have a contribution to make. Inclusiveness and cultural sensitivity underpin classroom activity and we encourage children to have a sense of social justice and fair play.
The curriculum at Hunter Hall School is tailored to the needs of the pupils and their future aspirations. While the National Curriculum is a useful starting point, teachers adapt and enhance their programmes of study to ensure that every pupil is motivated, inspired and challenged. In addition to the core subjects of English, Mathematics and Science, the syllabus includes French, History, Geography, Music, Religious Studies, Art, Drama, Games, P.E. and Outdoor Education.
English is a dynamic and lively subject at Hunter Hall. Taught exclusively by a subject specialist from year 3 and upwards, children enjoy learning in a variety of styles. Drama, multi-media, children’s fiction and interactive tasks provide hooks for written work, which is carefully crafted by pupils to improve their control of the written word.
Spelling is taught through a protected lesson each week, where pupils are tested at the level (not the age) that each individual is working at. Keen that grammar is seen as fun and relevant, the subject specialist often teaches key grammatical concepts through novel approaches, using everything from pop music to kung fu moves!
Reading is taught primarily in small ability groups, with a maximum of six pupils. Texts are chosen to suit the needs and interests of each group. Reading Culture is buzzing at Hunter Hall, supported by a library packed with lots of the latest children’s fiction titles. Every Autumn, ‘Book Week’ is a week dedicated to the fun of reading, with workshops, visiting authors, cross-school activities, dress-up days and competitions to remind everyone how great books can be.
Maths is very much alive at Hunter Hall. It is taught by a subject specialist from Year 3 onwards. The department ethos is to challenge pupils to further their understanding, whilst at the same time supporting those pupils who require additional help. Whenever possible we like to get outside the classroom to make maths relevant in the real world.
Success in national maths competitions is celebrated at Hunter Hall. All pupils in Year 5 and 6 take part in the Primary Maths Challenge in November. The best mathematicians take part in the UKMT Junior Maths Challenge (intended for Year 8 pupils) in April. Each year, Hunter Hall hosts a Y6 Team Mathematics Challenge where seven schools spend an exhilarating afternoon partaking in friendly competition.
Upper school science lessons are taught in our wonderful new science centre, which benefits from lab-style work benches and dedicated resources. Children are also equipped with lab-coats in lessons to fully engage them in their scientific study, which is taught through a balance of theoretical and practical work. Every year we celebrate science with a themed week, which includes trips to museums, visiting scientists and a whole host of exciting hands-on activities. Children are also encouraged to broaden their own understanding and interest in science through home research and entering competitions, such as ‘Farmvention’ and the Bank of England’s ‘Which scientist should appear on the new £50 note?’ competition.
Whilst we do not believe in “hot-housing” pupils, they are prepared very thoroughly for entrance examinations to secondary schools. The education that takes place on a daily basis fulfils much of this objective, but Exam Prep is an extra lesson that takes place after school each week. It is primarily there to help children with entrance exams into senior schools. Practice papers are taken and verbal and non-verbal reasoning, as well as mathematics, are part of the syllabus.
We recognise that taking risks, in a considered manner, is important in modern life, and the children are urged simply to “have a go”, and to be untroubled and innovative in their responses both in the “formal” classroom, as well as in art, drama and games. Whilst we promote spontaneity, reflection and review are also encouraged. The children are taught to use a range of skills and techniques in order to support and develop their thinking.
Teachers, too, are imaginative in their methods and overall approach to the learning process, using a wide variety of tools and methods, capitalising upon the unique features of the school’s location and natural environment.
The atmosphere that we attempt to generate is that of high challenge and low stress. We ensure that the children learn and develop in a safe and stimulating environment, working towards targets that will extend them in all areas and stretch their minds and expectations. Pupils have many opportunities for friendly competition. Ultimately we want the children to see education as their own responsibility – and as a lifelong adventure, on which they are taking their first steps.
Small class sizes allow for individualised learning and as each child develops they are encouraged to work to their own pace allowing for all levels and abilities to strive and learn. Above all, children are happy, engaged and always wanting to learn more.
Recent results have shown how the children at the end of the foundation stage curriculum are well ahead of the national averages in core subjects, due to continued outstanding teaching; for example at the end of reception 2016 100% of children achieved a good level of development and exceeded in some areas in comparison to only 66% nationally.
We call the final four years at Hunter Hall School (ages 7 to 11) Upper School. In these years (Year 3 to Year 6), teaching is largely from specialist teachers (entirely in the final two years), and the pupils are extremely well prepared for the next stage of their education.
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