Subjects

Core Subjects

Children are taught in small, parallel classes, with specialist subject teachers from year 3 onwards. Our syllabus is based on the National Curriculum, but having the flexibility of an independent school, it develops far beyond that to encompass the demands of the Essex 11+, local selective schools and Common Entrance examinations. Each year the children achieve places at their school of choice and many are awarded scholarships. This exemplifies the commitment we make to our children as one of the leading Essex schools.

Littlegarth aims to inspire an enthusiastic and positive attitude to school life and a passion for learning. To achieve this aim, we focus on the core subjects from the moment a child enters Littlegarth. Building a high level of competence in reading, writing, speaking, numeracy and science ensures our children will earn their place at the senior school which is right for them and that they will approach all subjects with confidence and skill.

Littlegarth children have been awarded  a significant number of scholarships to independent schools and  have gained a considerable number of places at our local Grammar Schools in recent years. We are proud of the achievements of all our children and we shall endeavour to improve on our provision each year to ensure that each child is given every opportunity to achieve their full potential.

English

The main focus of the English curriculum at Littlegarth is to enable children to enjoy their learning in this subject and to develop their ability to use and understand English fully. A clear understanding of the key skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening is vital for all subjects and each child should  progress through our school with confidence when approaching these important skills. English is taught using a variety of styles and stimulating, purposeful activities in a structured, systematic and progressive way; always looking to meet individual needs, as much as possible, through differentiated work.

All our children develop their own understanding and use of English;  they learn to express themselves creatively and imaginatively as they become enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry and drama, as well as non-fiction and media texts. In the Prep School, specialist staff members  build upon the enthusiasm for the subject generated through the Nursery and the Pre-Prep. Our children thrive on this integrated approach taken across the school, which adds to Littlegarth’s successful reputation in Essex and Suffolk.

Maths

From the moment our children enter Littlegarth, they develop a high level of confidence in the use of numbers. The application of mathematical knowledge is a key life skill and, through progressive and imaginative teaching, Littlegarth children are given every opportunity to achieve the highest standards. We  encourage enquiring minds and a positive attitude  when using and applying mathematics. Our scheme of work ensures  key skills are visited and extended at regular intervals as the children understand and see the connections, relationships and patterns in mathematics through space, shape, measures and number systems. Specialist teaching in the Prep School supports our children as they strive to achieve the highest of standards, enabling them to solve mathematical challenges independently and confidently.

Science

In Science, we provide our children with a stimulating and practical journey of discovery throughout their time at Littlegarth. Our curriculum is based on the QCA Key Stage 1 and 2 work and we place a keen emphasis on personal discovery as our children learn through the application of a wide variety of experiments. This practical approach begins in the Pre-Prep and, in Year 3, the children move into the Science Lab to receive guidance from our science specialist. The subject is presented to the children using a variety of media, which caters for the full range of learning styles. Being in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near Colchester, we have the fortune to be near several Nature Reserves, to which trips are organised in the Pre-Prep and Prep departments. Visiting speakers also help to raise the profile of this subject across the school and enable our children to recognise the important place Science holds in all our lives.

Non-Core Subjects

ICT

Littlegarth children are introduced to Information and Communication Technology from the very start of their school life through different media, including the use of computers and interactive whiteboards, DVD and video footage and the use of flip-cameras and other filming devices. Our children are taught a wide variety of skills through timetabled ICT lessons and the incorporation of ICT skills into our other curriculum subjects. The school has made significant investments in hardware and software in recent years and every classroom has a computer connected to a central server and an interactive whiteboard. Our computer room has 20 workstations and we have now developed an excellent ICT facility to support our Music Department. Regular staff training ensures that all Littlegarth staff members remain confident and well informed regarding advancements in ICT. The School also provides guidance to parents about the safe use of the internet by children at home.

Verbal Reasoning

Problem solving is used in a variety of ways to inspire and challenge children of all ages and a specific test of their reasoning skills is used by many senior schools to determine children’s cognitive ability levels. Consequently, Littlegarth pupils are introduced to Verbal Reasoning skills for one lesson a week from Year 4 and, as they approach the various entrance examinations to senior school, we increase this provision and also offer an optional after school club. The children are taught strategies for approaching a wide range of reasoning challenges and individuals are prepared for entrance exams to selective independent schools and the 11+ entrance exam to our local Grammar Schools.

Languages

Children start learning conversational French with a native French-speaking teacher in Reception and these lessons continue throughout their time at Littlegarth. From Year 3 the number of French lessons increases, allowing the children to develop writing skills to accompany their learning in this subject. In Year 6 we take our leavers on a residential trip to Paris where they are able to display just how confident and competent they have become in the use of this key language.

In Years 5 and 6 the children are introduced to Mandarin. Over the two years the pupils have an introduction, in a structured and fun way, to the most widely spoken language in the world.

They develop an understanding of how a non alphabet Asian language works. Each week they have one lesson to develop listening and speaking skills. They also learn some calligraphy and recognition of Chinese building blocks (radicals) to ‘crack the code’ of more complex characters.

From Year 1, we offer a lunchtime club in the study of Mandarin.

Humanities

In the Nursery and Reception, one of the four key areas of focus is that of ‘Understanding the World’ and this theme continues throughout the child’s time at Littlegarth. In the Pre-Prep years, History and Geography are covered extensively within the Topic lessons while Religious Education is taught weekly by the form teacher. Prep school subject specialists work with the Nursery subject co-ordinators to ensure  there is a continuity of approach across the school.

From Year 3, History and Geography are each allocated two lessons per week and the children are introduced to a wide range of topics which stimulates the imagination and gives each child a better understanding of historic and geographical facts. Various trips are arranged, including visits to a local river, a Saxon village, Colchester Castle and Kentwell Hall. In addition, Littlegarth children are treated to a variety of experiences when the ‘History off the Page’ company bring their various themed days into the school. The children dress in period costumes as they learn about the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, and the Victorian school day always proves to be an exciting challenge for our Year 6 children!

Littlegarth, though Christian in foundation, is non-denominational and welcomes children of all faiths. Our religious education programme reflects this and children enjoy studying comparative religions and learning about the beliefs and cultures of their peers. During their time at Littlegarth, the children will visit local places of worship.

Sport

Sport has a prominent position in the life of the school and we are fortunate to have excellent facilities to allow the children to enjoy a variety of activities. The Sports Hall was completed in 2006 and incorporates badminton, basketball, tennis and netball courts, as well as two lanes of cricket nets. We have rugby, soccer and hockey pitches on our games field; a floodlit all-weather surface allows for multi-sport practices.

All year groups, from Reception to Year 6, are taught by P.E. specialists. Pre-Prep children are taught a variety of games skills, gymnastics and swimming. From Year 3 onwards, team sports become a central focus, with regular fixtures beginning in Year 4. We endeavour to give every child the opportunity to represent the school in a match each term.

Music

At Littlegarth, all children take an active role in a wide range of musical activities throughout the school. There are many weekly music clubs, including choirs, African drumming, orchestra, samba band, wind band, string group and guitar ensemble. All the clubs have opportunities to perform to audiences throughout the year.

Children learn to play the recorder from Year 2, reading music from the stave, and a broad selection of percussion instruments is  used to compose music. The music room is also equipped with keyboards connected to laptops allowing our senior children to develop composition skills using some excellent software packages.

A wide variety of individual instrument lessons are available including piano, violin, cello, flute, clarinet, oboe, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, guitar, drums and voice.

Drama

Littlegarth has a specialist drama teacher for both Speech and Drama. Drama is timetabled across the School and our children participate in  year group plays throughout their time at Littlegarth. Parents are invited to join us for class assemblies when the children pick a theme for the day and lead the school in worship. Every class (including our Upper Nursery class) takes a school assembly each year.

Speech and Drama is available as an extra activity and Littlegarth pupils have represented the school in the annual Colchester and Sudbury Festivals with notable success in poetry and prose reading and solo acting.  Many also take Trinity Guildhall examinations.

Dance

During their time with us, children are given the opportunity to participate in a variety of styles and our specialist dance teachers work with the class teachers to choreograph our various productions. Dance is also offered in our after-school clubs programme.

Ballet is available from Nursery onwards as an extra activity. The children take part in shows and perform in the Royal Academy of Dance examinations.

Art and Design Technology

The wonderful views of the Stour Valley on the Essex/Suffolk border enjoyed by Littlegarth children helps to inspire a love of art. Our children are encouraged to express themselves creatively using a wide variety of media from the earliest years. The school is filled with examples of children’s work and every classroom is adorned with images which show just how creative each child can be.

Design Technology is also timetabled from Year 3 and here the children are able to develop skills of planning, design and construction using a variety of traditional materials.

 

Throughout the different subject areas we have earned our reputation as one of the best independent schools in Essex and Suffolk.