Subjects in detail

Making every lesson count

At Orchard House, excellent teaching means lighting a spark. Whether our children are buzzing with the thrill of new-found knowledge or quietly focusing on an absorbing task, we make every lesson count. Via the links below, find out more about how we do this in each of the subjects we offer.

English

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”
Lemony Snicket

English lessons provide a wonderful opportunity for creativity, passion and originality. Children are able to share, discuss and present their work in a number of exciting and innovative ways, such as through dramatic performances, recitals and with the use of ICT. Children are encouraged to share and celebrate their ideas with an audience. A passion for the English language is promoted in all classes. In years 3-6 we set the children by ability and teach them in small groups. Regardless of their ability, pupils feel that their imagination and use of vocabulary are two very powerful tools to enable them to communicate and inspire others.

Our pupils are exposed to a wide variety of stories, genres and authors to help instil a passion and enthusiasm for reading, to enable the children to gain a deeper appreciation of different texts and to translate that into their own writing. We incorporate the latest technology into teaching English, making lessons interactive and enabling pupil collaboration in class.

We enjoy a vast number of exciting events in which English can be brought to life throughout the academic year: our Poetry Recital competition, book week, trips to see plays on the London stage, drama workshops and visits by published authors. Orchard House children leave as confident and articulate communicators, well able to use the written word to persuade, entertain, amuse, educate or enlighten their readers.

Phonics

“A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket.”
Chinese Proverb

At Orchard House School, we instil a love of reading using a combination of approaches which teach reading in a fun, engaging and child-friendly way. We use Ruth Miskin’s ‘Read Write Inc.’ programme to provide a cohesive and creative approach to teaching children to read and write.

We ensure children gain a secure understanding of phonics and reading 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.  Reading remains a vital part of daily life for upper school children who are encouraged to read independently and often and reflect on content in a variety of ways, including via the Accelerated Reader online app.

Mathematics

“Mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.”
Albert Einstein

At Orchard House, we know that confidence in Mathematics stems from a solid foundation of knowledge and understanding of number, pattern, shape and space. In the Den, children are taught using Montessori methods, which enable them to develop independence and confidence as emerging mathematicians. Throughout the school, every child is encouraged to learn and become fluent in using the basic skills and concepts associated with counting, calculation and place value. These are the building blocks of success and enjoyment in mathematics, and pupils are motivated to practise and refine their skills and recall number facts using a range of engaging computer and tablet-based programmes, as well as the more traditional drills.

We take the differing needs of our pupils into account by using a multi-dimensional teaching approach, incorporating visual and concrete maths aids, songs and games to illustrate various concepts and procedures, to ensure that all pupils are able to engage with the curriculum. In years 3-6 we use sets to teach the children in small groups, which helps all the children, regardless of ability, to progress successfully.

Children are encouraged to be problem-solvers and puzzle-breakers; problem-solving is incorporated into learning across all the different mathematical strands. We celebrate mathematics through participation in various in-school and inter-school competitions as well as ‘maths fun days,’ where children enjoy working collaboratively and competitively on puzzles, problems and strategy games.

Science

“The science of today is the technology of tomorrow.”
Edward Teller

At Orchard House, every child is involved from their very first day with us in a quest for knowledge and understanding about the universe. Our hands-on approach to teaching and learning science enables all children to develop confidence in asking questions about the world around them and to be proactive and independent in their quest for answers. Being naturally curious and a love of investigation comes easily to children, and our varied curriculum offers plenty of opportunity for them to roll their sleeves up and get involved in a wide range of investigative activities. Pupils are not only taught to look for methodical ways to work to answer their questions, but to analyse their data and conclusions, always looking for the next ‘what if?’

Upper school pupils participate in an annual interschool science quiz and current affairs and discoveries relating to science and engineering are discussed regularly in classes at all levels.  We hold an annual Curriculum Enrichment Day for each year group, the whole school celebrates British Science Week annually with a wide range of activities and demonstrations and we foster children’s natural curiosity through school trips.  A particular highlight is the form 3 trip to Flatford Mill, where children have the opportunity to develop zoological skills, observing voles, field mice and other creatures in their natural habitat, as well as identifying insects in the water through pond-skimming.

Geography

“Geography is the study of earth as the home of people.”
Yi Ju Tuan

In Geography, we encourage the children to gain knowledge and understanding through enquiry.  We explore a range of case studies from the local area to the countries in the wider world, creating an understanding of human and physical geography. Right from the early years, children are encouraged to participate in fieldwork outside of the classroom, when we might head out with iPads to gain a better understanding of our local environment by photographing different points of interest.

Pupils gain a better understanding of different cultures from around the world with our annual international day in the autumn term, which is a celebration of the food, music, dance and culture of a specific country. Workshops and trips throughout the year support the teaching of a varied and exciting curriculum.

History

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.”
Robert Kennedy

Orchard House children are taught a wide range of historical topics, spanning different periods and places through the use of primary and secondary sources. Our emphasis is on innovative teaching with cross-curricular links to ensure that children not only learn content but also skills, such as historical enquiry and a sense of chronology and curiosity.

For the older children the Tudors come to life when Henry VIII visits in all his pomp and circumstance. A Christmas pudding becomes an innovative way to learn about the British Empire. The younger children use a visit from Florence Nightingale and a trip to Windsor Castle to provide context and empathy.

We teach children to realise that history is all around them, unfolding each day. Through lessons and trips they gain an understanding of people throughout history, the challenges they faced and how they overcame them.

Religious Education

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Socrates

In Religious Education a number of important topics are explored including the world religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Islam, Judaism and Christianity, along with their associated beliefs, practices and customs. A particular emphasis is placed on exploring current affairs and moral dilemmas within the context of each religion. Typical lessons might involve songs, dance, stories, exploring pictures and artefacts and for special occasions such as International Day, enjoying food from different cultures.

Children have the chance to visit places of specific religious significance including a Buddhist temple, a mosque and the local Anglican church, St Michael and All Angels. Within the school, we are fortunate enough to have parents who are willing to share their own experiences of different religious practices with us, to further supplement the children’s learning.

Children who attend Orchard House School come from a number of different backgrounds and we recognise this religious diversity by observing all the major festivals.

PSHCEE

“For children to be able to navigate, participate and stay safe in this world, it is vital that we equip them with the skills to do so.”
Anne Longfield

PSHCEE covers personal, social, health, citizenship and economic aspects of learning. Children learn through role-play and discussions, which allows the children to express their opinions freely and in a variety of ways. It also gives them a broad understanding of religious beliefs and social and cultural differences in the world around them.

The OHS values make up the backbone of the school, teaching the children about life skills such as: honesty, equality, respect and collaboration. The school council gives the children an important role in supporting charities and the community, as well as implementing positive changes around the school. The house system encourages teamwork. At OHS we recognise the importance of children being given a voice to verbalise and express their feelings, as well as being taught a strong sense of right and wrong and fundamental British values, such as upholding the rule of law and showing respect and tolerance for others’ way of life.

Art and Design

“Everything you can imagine is real.”
Pablo Picasso

Orchard House embraces every child’s individual sense of creativity, developing imagination, independence and creativity through art and design.

Lesson topics are themed to incorporate an assortment of media including painting with acrylics, oils and watercolour, sculpting with clay, lino-cut printmaking, batik, mod roc, weaving and papier-mâché. Lessons are often supported by digital technology through the use of photography, smartboards and iPads.

The school community enjoys celebrating our young artists through annual art days, Big Draws and participating in local competitions. We award ‘Artist of the Week’ to one child each week.  Practical specialist artistic clubs are offered after school such as stop-motion animation, pottery, painting and craftwork.

Children begin to delve into art history in Year 1, learning age appropriate and relevant facts about artists and their work. As the children become older, greater emphasis is put on learning about what the world looked like at the time in which the artist was alive, to help create a greater understanding of context and intention. Projects are often influenced by the old masters and current contemporary artists, creating unique compositions inspired by their style. In addition, our Art and Design programme strives to create cross-curricular links with History, Geography, Maths and Science. The children’s learning is further supplemented by visiting London’s wealth of museums and art galleries which inspire our pupils in their own artistic endeavours.

Drama

“All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players”
William Shakespeare

At Orchard House we consider every child to be a performer. We encourage participation in drama to promote teamwork and collaboration, as a means of building confidence, and to cultivate public speaking and performance skills. We aim to recognise each pupil’s strengths and talents and to develop these to their fullest potential.

All our children perform to children and adults alike, from the Den onwards (aged 3), whether in assemblies, Nativity plays, whole-year theatre productions, our Michaelmas and Christmas concerts or in eurhythmics dance movement lessons. We also offer drama and performing arts clubs.

The emphasis is on participation, not perfection. We study drama in the curriculum through movement, dance and improvisation and look to spark an enduring love of drama through exposure to a breadth of genres, experiences and contexts.

Computing

“I think it's fair to say that personal computers have become the most empowering tool we've ever created. They're tools of communication, they're tools of creativity, and they can be shaped by their user.”
Bill Gates

We cover all aspects of computing at Orchard House: digital literacy, computer science and information technology. From the Den upwards, children are encouraged to explore technology, solve problems and think logically. We aim to produce competent, confident and creative users of ICT.

Our children become digitally literate and learn how to use the internet safely, respectfully and responsibly. Most importantly, at Orchard House, computer technology is one of the tools used to deliver the whole curriculum, whether creating a PowerPoint presentation on the life of a Roman slave, delivering a quiz on the human digestive system or racing one another at times tables.

All our classrooms are equipped with iMacs and interactive whiteboards and we have banks of iPads, MacBook Air laptops and Google Chromebooks available for class use.  We run a weekly computing club in the summer term and have recently acquired new computers powered by Raspberry Pis, which are being built by our Key Stage 2 children and members of our Digital Council.

French

“One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.”
Frank Smith

Bonjour! We teach French to help the children not only start communicating in another language, but also to discover an entirely new culture and world, and to become open-minded individuals.  In the upper school the work is both oral and written. The emphasis is on understanding French through immersion (French being spoken by our native French teacher throughout lessons), developing vocabulary through fun games and songs, using French language apps to support learning and gaining confidence in adopting the correct pronunciation.  In lessons, children might be filmed acting out role-plays or reading their own written French stories.

We offer cross-curricular activities with the music department, such as performing French songs at the Christmas concert. French and computing departments work closely to offer collaborative projects using technology. French drama workshops are also offered and immerse the children in French as they bring to life traditional tales performed entirely in French. We also go to see French films at the Ciné Lumière in Kensington. In Year 6, the children spend a week at a French château with language and cultural activities taking place only in French.

Latin

“There's no such thing as dead languages, only dormant minds.”
Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Latin is all around us. Whether we are studying circumference (circum meaning around) or using the synonym cerulean (caeruleus meaning sky blue) Latin has imbued our language with richness and variety. We use the Minimus books to learn more about vocabulary, grammar and classical civilisation, through the lives of a real family that lived in the British fort of Vindolanda on Hadrian’s Wall. Any child who has read Harry Potter will realise the importance of understanding the meaning of “wingardium leviosa” (levo meaning to rise up) when being attacked by trolls!

Music

“There is a magic made by melody.”
Elizabeth Bishop

Every child at Orchard House is a musical child. Participation is at the heart of music in the school; from the Den to form 6, children are involved in singing, moving, listening, performing and composing through class music lessons, Nativity plays, concerts, trips and productions. Children grow in confidence and develop their listening skills, presentation skills and teamwork ability. We aim to foster a lifelong love of music in every child and help each child to grow as a well-rounded individual.

Extra-curricular activities include the school’s five choirs, orchestra, chamber group, flute group, class orchestras, recorder club and advanced music club. Our ensembles perform in school concerts throughout the year, visit residents in a local nursing home and take part in various competitions and festivals, including Music for Youth, the largest youth music festival in the world.

We have ten visiting music teachers who between them teach over one hundred and fifty individual lessons a week. Children are entered for ABRSM examinations and every year several children are put forward for music scholarships for senior schools.

Children also see parents and staff enjoying making music in our parent and staff choir.

PE and Sport

“You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get.”
Michael Phelps

SPORTS DAY VIDEO

At Orchard House, sports and physical education are focused on nurturing a love of sport and physical exertion through positive experiences. Our pupils have the opportunity to try out a variety of sports and activities, delivering these in progressive, differentiated lessons that allow pupils to progress at their own pace. We want children to enjoy teamwork and the buzz of competition and so provide opportunities for all children in years 2-6 to participate in a number of fixtures and tournaments against other schools in a wide range of sports. The sports and activities we offer include netball, hockey, football, rugby, cricket, rounders, tennis, gymnastics, athletics, swimming, cross country, lacrosse, biathlon, triathlon and handball. All of these are taught and coached at excellent and local facilities with close proximity to the school.

We encourage other forms of physical activities through our extensive club programme including providing yoga, ballet and martial arts. We celebrate sporting prowess through a number trips to a range of sports and sporting venues including Lords, Twickenham, Fulham Football Club, The Olympic Park, Queens and Wimbledon. We have a proud history of successful achievement in local, regional and national events in a number of sports. We have a number of children each year who are awarded sports scholarships to high-profile senior schools.