Senior School Curriculum
The English Department at Knightsbridge School operates a flexible curriculum that balances linguistic and literary work according to the children’s ability. The National Literacy Strategy shapes the work of the Nursery and Reception year groups, although it is not followed slavishly. In the Junior School (J1-J3), the emphasis is naturally upon technical accuracy and the acquisition of basic literacy skills. As children move into the Senior School (S4-S8), the Common Entrance syllabus influences, although again it does not wholly dictate, our teaching. Work is differentiated for children with learning difficulties, and the members of the English department work closely with colleagues in the Additional Educational Needs Department. The English department seeks to develop pupils’ ability to communicate effectively in speech and writing, and to listen with understanding. We also seek to create enthusiastic, responsive and knowledgeable readers. We aim to do this with a healthy balance of digital teaching and learning techniques as well as the more traditional ones, in order to engage the students and best equip them for the modern world. We see English as a subject that is skills based. As English teachers, we are enthusiastic about our subject, but ultimately we see our success in the creation of young people who are able to read and write with meaning, research, explore ideas, and question. With this in mind, the department seeks to expose children to a wide variety of prose, poetry and plays, and give them a chance to engage with both fiction and non-fiction texts. Every child comes to us with talents; we try to develop their creativity, broaden their knowledge and love of literature and help them say what they mean.
At KS, we employ a child-centred approach to teaching Mathematics, as we know the learning requirements for each pupil is different from one pupil to another. We combine the more conventional and traditional teaching methods with the new ideas adapted from the Government's National Strategies. From Reception right through to S8, every effort is made to help the children realise that the subject is a lot of fun where games, projects and practical activities encourage pupils to use imagination and initiative. It is not just about working through exercises in a book. We believe this provides a more stimulating environment and provides the children with a more relevant outlook in their understanding of other curriculum areas and the outside world. Mathletics and MyMaths is used as a valuable tool, both to supplement teaching and as a homework resource. After school clubs and logic tests also help to further the children’s understanding and engagement. We also use fun roadshow investigations and puzzles to develop more creative thinking and problem solving. In S4 the children are taught as a mixed ability class group by a specialist Mathematics teacher and then from S5 the pupils are taught in ability groups. Here the spiral curriculum comes into play again whereby the pupils’ knowledge of the four operations are consolidated and extended. This is exercised both mentally and written as a large emphasis is placed on problem solving, especially using real-life examples. The pupils will show their workings set out in their books as an emphasis is placed upon the forthcoming requirements for tests. Again, mental arithmetic plays a huge part in their learning and a daily recap of a mental exercise alongside a weekly test to develop problem solving. From S6 onward, the curriculum is heavily biased in preparation towards the 11+ and 13+ examinations. Children are introduced to lots of algebra, patterns and sequencing, geometry as well as consolidating and enriching the previous number work and extending the main topic areas. We enter competitions such as the UK Maths Challenge and the Primary Maths Challenge and receive visits from the Happy Puzzle Company, Architectural Workshop and the Quantum Theatre to bring maths to life in real contexts throughout the school.
Science at Knightsbridge School teaches an understanding of natural phenomena, aiming to stimulate a child’s curiosity and fascination in finding out why things happen in the way they do. We teach children methods of enquiry and investigation to stimulate creative thought. Children learn to ask scientific questions and begin to appreciate the way science will affect their future on a personal, national, and global level. Children are taught to utilise their knowledge and skills to interpret information, draw conclusions, apply their findings to new problems and understand the world around them. In the Junior School pupils are encouraged to observe, explore and ask questions. They begin to work together to collect evidence and link it to simple scientific ideas. On joining the Senior School, pupils learn about a wider range of living things, materials and physical phenomena. They carry out more systematic investigations, with access to a fully resourced Science Lab. A strong emphasis is placed on group work, facilitating the development of cooperation and communication skills. In S7 and S8 pupils start to develop their scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding through the specific disciplines of Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Children leave KS equipped with the scientific knowledge required to understand the uses and implications of Science, today and for the future.
From improving literacy skills to developing self-esteem and widening cultural awareness, introducing a language at an early stage has many benefits. All students study French. A second modern foreign language (MFL) is offered to all pupils from S4 to S6. S7 and S8 pupils focus on French and prepare for the Common Entrance Examination which takes place at the end of S8. In the Senior School, pupils start practising all four skills - speaking, listening, reading and writing. Pupils discover and study grammatical concepts, vocabulary and take part in a variety of communicative activities. Our pupils from S4 to S8 have access to Rosetta Stone, an online language learning programme which promotes independent learning. Language educational software and other educational internet sites are also used in class providing links with DigiTech. At Knightsbridge School we value languages and we believe that children should start early and enrich their educational experience. Multilingualism contributes to personal development, divergent thinking, problem solving and enhances performance in literacy and numeracy based subjects. It also promotes cultural awareness, global citizenship and supports communication. Our children are future citizens of the world and languages are necessary tools in our multilingual societies. Pupils become familiar with the cultures of different countries through a multitude of events and activities. Special events such as the European Day of Languages, assemblies, carol singing and trips with cross-curricular links are organised every year. There is an S6 trip to Normandy every year, which combines outdoor, cultural and linguistic activities.
Through the study of the language, mythology and daily life of the ancient Romans, the Latin department introduces children to a culture which played a major role in shaping our modern world. As well as giving access eventually to Roman literature, the study of Latin at any level encourages analytical rigour, and also supports the children’s understanding of Modern Foreign Languages and English. It fosters high-order thinking and useful study skills. Children take their first steps in the language from S5, well-supported by lively, modern course books (such as Minimus and Cambridge Latin Course), and innovative and varied teaching methods, and continue to Common Entrance in S8. The children also have plenty of scope, especially in S5 and S6, for art and drama activities based on the mythology which forms such a rich part of our cultural heritage.
The History department at KS has one, simple aim; to ensure that every child fosters a love for studying the past. In order to achieve this, we focus on making History as exciting, engaging and wondrous as the actual events were themselves. Whether it be a younger child listening to the story of Archimedes and the Golden Crown, or an older child discovering that Stalin airbrushed Trotsky out of photographs, we aim to excite children about the events that make up the past. With this in mind, the History department aims to promote the use of historical sources of all kinds which ‘tell their own stories’. From everyday items such as diaries, photographs, pictures and pots, to castles, museums and cathedrals - we aim to help pupils develop their own enthusiasm for the subject, as well as providing the necessary detail which prepares pupils for the Common Entrance at 13+. The curriculum at KS covers a wide range of historical eras and aims to introduce pupils to significant elements of world history, alongside a firm grounding in the history of Britain. Furthermore, a solid understanding of chronology is promoted at all times and pupils are continually encouraged to reflect on how the events that have shaped the world fit together and sometimes overlap. Again, this supports the higher level History skills required at Common Entrance, where pupils are encouraged to draw parallels with modern life and recognise how society can learn from the mistakes of the past. Naturally, current affairs are an integral element in learning History since so much of today’s vital questions are rooted in the actions of the past.
The sentiment of the quotation above captures the essence of Geography at Knightsbridge School. The curriculum seeks to inspire the children to think beyond themselves and appreciate the world in which they live. It encourages them to recognise how the world has a significant impact on their lives and how their actions can affect the state of our planet as well. As the children progress through the school, the curriculum covers a variety of topics incorporating both physical and human geography. At each level, there are a number of skills, which are woven into the lessons. The children learn how to draw and interpret maps and diagrams; develop their research skills; investigate and analyse current issues in the world; write clear, logical explanations using the correct geographical vocabulary; and present their ideas to an audience. From S4 to S8, the children will investigate a variety of people, places and environments at different scales in the UK and abroad. They find out how people affect the environment and how they are affected by it. They carry out geographical enquiry inside and outside the classroom, and use geographical skills and resources such as maps, atlases, aerial photographs and digital technology. Furthermore, each year the children develop their Ordnance Survey map skills and also their global locational knowledge. This further enhances their knowledge of the world in which they live, and promotes a greater sense of belonging to something bigger than their own worlds.
The music department is extremely active at Knightsbridge School. We are focused on developing musical skills so that pupils become independent learners, working on all areas of music as a subject. This includes listening and appraising skills to identify and analyse the genre, era of music, as well as the instrumentation heard; music literacy to provide the ability to sing, read and write musical language; basic classroom instrument performance to start building compositional skill as an individual and in small groups. The atmosphere is inclusive, with every child being encouraged to participate at his or her own level. In S4, pupils are offered one Music Appreciation session per week as a year group to develop their listening skills. From S5 to S8 for one term each year, pupils will have the opportunity to apply their classroom skills to digital applications during specialist music technology lessons. During these music technology sessions, pupils will create original music files to embed into other multimedia projects produced during DigiTech lessons. We aim to help every pupil to fulfil his or her individual musical potential. Those taking individual instrumental lessons are currently able to perform live within the school through assemblies and afternoon tea concerts. This means that all those learning, from a very early stage, have a chance to display their talent regardless of attainment.
Art at Knightsbridge School is taught by a specialist teacher from J2 to S8. It has its own well-equipped studio right at the top of the school, allowing for a peaceful, light-filled working area. This offers an environment that is both a creative and stimulating place to work. All the children enjoy a double lesson of Art per week. The main objective of the art department is for pupils to develop a love of creating. They learn and enjoy all aspects of the creative process from initial sketches to finished pieces. We aim to provide a safe environment, which encourages the children to express themselves in their own unique way regardless of attainment level. Children are introduced to a diverse range of artists, movements and cultures. They are exposed to a wide variety of materials and processes including drawing, painting, textiles, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking and collage. Each child is therefore given the opportunity to develop their own potential. Projects are structured to allow children of varying abilities to be confident and achieve success. Recent projects have included responses to the work of artists such as Henri Matisse, Frida Kahlo and Pablo Picasso, to movements such as Impressionism and Pop Art and to the art of other cultures such as Aboriginal and African art. Large-scale projects and individual works are displayed proudly around the school and where appropriate entered into competitions and external exhibitions.
Drama is essential to the development of young people, providing rich opportunities for fundamental progression in confidence, communication, creativity and co-operation skills, as well as promoting sensitivity towards the feelings of others. Through Drama, pupils can learn vital life skills about interacting in imaginary circumstances and can exercise their empathetic abilities. The children learn how to use their bodies, voices, objects and space to explore, investigate and perform. The Drama curriculum offers a diverse range of units based on key Drama skills, plays, poems and fiction. The Drama lessons also re-enforces the rest of the school curriculum; pupils have the chance to explore important historical periods and consider important social issues through the medium of Drama. Topics include Greek Mythology, British pantomime, Shakespeare and Elizabethan theatre, mask-skills, and the World Wars and evacuees. Pupils are encouraged to evaluate their own work as well as that of others in every lesson, analysing memorable moments and suggesting areas for improvement. Drama in school plays a vital role in shaping the minds of young people as they make the journey from childhood into adulthood.
Recognising the future digital skill requirements of our pupils has led Knightsbridge School to develop an innovative, diverse and creative Digital Technology curriculum. Emphasis is placed on pupil discovery of transferable skills using a variety of platforms and applications. We strive to produce confident users of digital technology who can problem solve effectively, safely navigate programs and operating systems, and who can intelligently assess the most suitable formats in which to undertake different types of work. Ensuring that forthcoming generations are able to adapt to emerging technologies is always a challenge, so students at KS are given the opportunity to explore a range of hardware devices, platforms and applications to equip them for the future. Our Digital Technology spiral curriculum in the Senior School covers the main areas of computing, digital media, digital music, digital art, design technology and business skills, to deal with the ever-changing nature of the technological 21st Century. All students from J3 to S8 have specialist DigiTech lessons, and EYFS, J1 and J2 promote a skills ladder of in-class engagement with digital technology, utilising programs and applications to support their learning. Digital Technology is extensively used in all other subjects across the Senior School, in order to enhance pupil learning experiences, such as in our specialised S5-S8 music technology programme running concurrently with the traditional music curriculum. The music technology programme enables pupil production of digital audio content, to embed into other alternative subject digital multimedia projects. There are a number of cross-curricular projects that promote the creative use of digital technology in other areas of learning. At KS, we have a dedicated computing suite that can accommodate full classes and gives each child access to an iMac, as well as access to other devices such as Raspberry Pi, BBC Microbit and webcams. The suite can also be booked out for lessons by other class teachers, and touchscreen Chromebooks and iPads are available in classrooms around the school. After school coding clubs are are enthusiastically attended in both the Junior and Senior Schools, and a number of extra-curricular workshops are run throughout the year for both children and parents.
Perspectives helps children to look at the world in wonderment and ask the big questions we have grappled with throughout history: where does right and wrong come from? Does God exist? What makes me, me? Children explore timeless themes in stories from across the world, cultures and religions and think deeply about their own and others' views. In this way the traditional subjects of RE and PSHEE merge with the innovative practices of Philosophy for Children (P4C). It gives children a voice and space to puzzle the 'why's' and 'what ifs' of their experience and develop the critical thinking, collaboration and communication skills that help them to flourish.