Other highly-trained staff are available to identify and support children who may display specific learning needs. If appropriate, specialist staff such as speech therapists are also available to work with pupils.
We remain focused on giving every pupil the best chance of fulfilling their ability.
At Orchard House School, we want to ensure that every child can learn to fly. Accordingly, we embrace different teaching methods, including Montessori (for younger children), kinaesthetic, oral, tactile, and visual.
The scope to cherry-pick from these various methods, combined with small class sizes, allows us to tailor our teaching approach to each individual child.
Our children benefit from being in an environment where girls and boys learn from each other. After all, life is co-ed.
This dynamic is particularly beneficial when we set children challenging tasks, or encourage them to work (and play) in teams.
Importantly, they are taught mistakes are not failures, but a positive sign they are trying. Their efforts will always be encouraged, regardless of the outcome.
At Orchard House critical thinking and reasoning form an important part of our curriculum. Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally about what to do or what to believe. It includes the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking, something we feel develops our children’s communication skills and confidence. The children have the opportunity to think creatively, expand their vocabulary and express their opinions and thoughts with accuracy and enquiry.
We believe that there are numerous benefits from mastering critical thinking skills, such as better control of the children’s own learning and empathy for other points of view. Critical thinking has been named ‘the art of thinking about thinking’ and is thought to improve each child’s own thinking. At Orchard House, we endeavour to create a learning environment that both supports and also promotes reasoning skills and critical thinking within the classroom and beyond.
“A good education can change anyone. A good teacher can change everything”
The timing and level of every child’s learning development differs hugely. We believe screening children in their primary school years can be inaccurate, hence we have a non-selective point of entry embracing a rich diversity of abilities.
Our teachers are highly adept at varying resources and teaching styles ensuring all children feel included, and make excellent progress in mixed ability groups.
The results speak for themselves with our most able children winning scholarships to the most hotly-contested senior schools, and the less academically-driven securing impressive results.
Helping every child to fly
At Orchard House, we recognise that every child learns differently and some can find parts of learning a challenge for a variety of reasons. Support is given to those children who need extra help.
We work with educational and health-related professionals (eg. speech and language therapists, and occupational therapists) in partnership with the child’s parents, so that we may explore the nature of the challenge and put in place a programme of tailored support, such as one-to-one sessions, extra support in class, and differentiated tasks.
Our goal is always to ensure that every child can make good progress and achieve success. We aim to see the children develop into confident people who understand their areas of difficulty and know how to develop strategies to compensate for and overcome certain weaknesses.
All pupils, regardless of their specific needs, benefit from inclusive, quality teaching which enables them to make the best possible progress and feel that they are a valued member of the school community.
Gifted and Talented
Gifted and Talented
Talent spotting is part of our job. If a child if gifted in a particular discipline, we build a personalised programme providing the challenge of advanced problem-solving techniques, answering open-ended questions, and learning to apply the processes they have been taught in class to unfamiliar contexts.
Children with particular talents in sport, music, and drama are encouraged to nurture their skills through deliberate practice and opportunities to perform, remembering that, from a growth mindset perspective, ‘hard work beats talent when talent does not work hard’ (Tim Notke).
English as an Additional Language
We actively embrace linguistic and cultural diversity with our dedicated EAL programme, created to support children whose first language is not English.
Wherever possible, new children are buddied up with an older child who speaks their native tongue and can help them to integrate and communicate with their classmates. Information on each EAL child is continually monitored to assess their progress.
This is used by the EAL co-ordinator to inform personalised provision, enabling the child to gain greater fluency in English.
We celebrate and share International Day: those who speak the chosen language have the opportunity to stand up in assembly, and be proud representatives of their language and culture.
Much like adults, children need to know how they are doing. At Orchard House, we make it abundantly clear that any child who simply makes an effort is doing well.
We encourage children to self-assess their learning using success criteria, linked to the learning objectives for the lesson. This enables them to take ownership of their learning process and realise their opinion counts. We also encourage them to seek feedback from classmates before the teacher makes their assessment.
Academic tenacity is encouraged and effort is recognised and rewarded then followed up with constructive and specific ‘next steps’ guidance.
Immediate oral feedback is also given wherever possible. We believe there’s nothing like spontaneous encouragement and guidance coming straight from the horse’s mouth!
Monitoring individual progress
We monitor progress using teachers’ assessments combined with assessments which provide standardised scores. This allows us to track the individual progress of every child in relation to age-related expectations.
Assessment is operated unobtrusively to the point that younger children do not even realise they are being assessed. Little do they know their results allow us to fine-tune their personalised learning programme.
Early Years (3 to 5)
Getting off to a great start
The key to successful learning in the early years is to teach children without them realising they are being taught. At Orchard House learning is seamlessly interwoven into the fabric of our pupils’ exciting day-to-day experiences.
To help our staff teach by stealth, we have an endless supply of stimulating learning resources, which are mostly physical or visually engaging at this early stage.
Children learn through discovery, experimentation, communication and structured play. Through continual but unobtrusive observation and assessment, we are in a perfect position to formulate a highly individualised educational plan for each child.
Although developed in the early 20th century, Montessori remains a buzz word in education today.
At Orchard House School, selected aspects of the Montessori philosophy are included in our teaching methods for our younger children, simply because they work extremely well. All the more so when incorporated with the early years foundation stage (EYFS) curriculum.
The Montessori method centres on mental and physical freedom and child-initiated learning.
This encourages pupils to explore concepts and develop skills through their choices and interaction with specially-designed apparatus and materials.
Montessori offers a journey of active personal discovery rather than passive learning and consistently proves to be an invaluable launch to the start of academic life.
At Orchard House, a love of reading is established by using a combination of the most effective reading programmes aimed at teaching phonics in a fun, engaging and child-friendly way.
We use a ‘teach, practise, apply’ lesson approach aimed to cater for all learning styles. We ensure children gain a secure understanding of phonics right from age 3 by reading with each child every day through to the end of year 2 and allowing them to progress at their own pace.
There is a phonics coordinator who oversees the teaching of phonics through the early years and key stage 1.
“Words are the only things that last forever.” (William Hazlitt)