The Learning Environment
Hawkesdown House prides itself on the thoughtful and thorough teaching and care which ensure high academic standards and promotes endeavour, initiative and persistence. There are clear expectations of the children, who are encouraged by positive motivation, recognition and praise for their achievements, efforts and progress.
Our curriculum enables children to become passionate, inspired and independent learners. The foundations are set from Nursery through structured and child-initiated activities and this broad, balanced and stimulating curriculum continues throughout the School. We believe that effective learning occurs when the emphasis is on active involvement, having the opportunity to question, explain and clarify one’s thinking.
The curriculum covers linguistic, mathematical, scientific, social, physical, and creative education. Priority is given to a secure grounding in reading, writing and mathematics, as it is on this foundation that all later education is built. At the same time, a wide range of interests is encouraged as the School finds and fosters talents in each and every child.
There is a high teacher to pupil ratio with Class Teachers and dedicated Teaching Assistants. Staff are trained to identify any particular talents, needs and aptitudes to ensure that every child is fully challenged and supported.
Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
The Early Years Foundation Stage at Hawkesdown House is a happy, nurturing time for all the children. We provide an environment that understands, supports and stimulates curiosity and the desire to learn and explore the world. We understand what a key time this is in a child’s development and how important it is to provide a curriculum that excites a joy of learning.
In child-initiated activity and through play, observations are used to inform planning, ensuring learning is matched to individual needs. Our bright classrooms support all areas of learning and the children are encouraged to engage with resources creatively and to become confident and independent very early on.
The children are very well prepared for their next stage of learning and leave the EYFS with the confidence to voice their own opinions, to be resilient and, most importantly, to enjoy learning.
The Lower and Upper School, Years 1 to 6
Academic excellence, creativity, and opportunity are the driving forces and the pupil voice is championed from the smallest to the oldest child. While the National Curriculum forms the basis for the education, the high expectations, thorough assessments and individual tracking ensure the pace and level are tailored to challenge and support.
Learning both inside and outside the classroom is extended through educational visits and complemented by outside speakers to inspire and ignite passions for learning beyond the curriculum. Our aim is for the children to think deeply, to extend specific skills and talents, and for each to realise their full potential.
Parents may choose to have their sons or daughters prepared for the 7+ or 8+ examinations to London’s leading prep schools or to country boarding schools. We will also be preparing the children for the 11+ examinations.
English lessons are a portal for the children to share their creativity and opinions in a secure and open environment. Children are taught handwriting, spelling, grammar, comprehension and composition in a variety of ways that enables them to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others. The skills of good presentation and neatness are instilled, and children learn to use both observation and imagination.
Reading is a prerequisite for access to the rest of the curriculum and is therefore a key focus. As the children move through the School they are given a wide range of texts, including stories from different genres, poetry and plays and through this, they are taught a variety of reading strategies. The children progress from books designed to help teach reading and extract literal understanding, through to books that encourage skills such as inference, deduction and evaluation. Fostering a love of books which gives pleasure, entertains and informs is very important.
Mathematics provides a foundation for understanding the world, the ability to reason mathematically, an appreciation of the beauty and power of mathematics, and a sense of enjoyment and curiosity about the subject. Number, shape, space and measure, handling data and the practical application of these concepts are developed through problem-solving and open-ended investigations. Mental arithmetic activities ensure challenge, confidence and consolidation.
In Science, children are taught essential aspects of the knowledge, methods, processes and uses of science. Through building up a body of key foundational knowledge and concepts, children are encouraged to recognise the power of rational explanation and develop a sense of excitement and curiosity about natural phenomena. They are encouraged to understand how science can be used to explain what is occurring, predict how things behave, and analyse causes. Each year, the School holds a Science Fair with a focus on STEM subjects.
ICT is constantly evolving and brings countless opportunities for learning, creating and exploring. A broad, play-based experience of computing in the EYFS helps confidence, control and language skills. Every classroom is equipped with an interactive white board. Children from Form 1 have lessons dedicated to learning key computing skills on laptops. Learn Pads are used throughout the School to promote cross-curricular study in all subjects. Children are taught the value of the internet, and within the security of the School’s network, the importance of being as safe on-line as in the real world. Access to the internet is restricted, monitored and protected. E-safety workshops for children and parents happen regularly, though safe practice is ongoing and thorough.
At Hawkesdown House, the Creative Curriculum makes learning motivational and successful for all children. It merges traditional elements of learning with creativity, challenge, independence and discovery. The practical and cross-curricular approach integrates different study disciplines – such as Science, Art, Humanities, and Music – under one unifying topic, to ensure children see the relevance of each discipline in context. This ‘joined up’ approach to teaching and learning encourages the children to become more inquisitive about related areas of investigation. The children develop creative, critical and reflective thinking.
In our teaching of Humanities, we develop children’s interest and curiosity in their surroundings and the wider world and give pupils a sense of responsibility for the world we live in.
History gives an understanding of various elements of British and World history and brings to life the past, its heritage and culture and the concept of time. Children are given opportunities to ask perceptive questions, think critically, weigh evidence, sift arguments, and develop perspective and judgement. Great historic figures are studied, so that children can learn the importance of character.
Children are introduced to the World in Geography with all its variety of physical and human conditions. They learn to explore and appreciate their surroundings and their natural sense of wonder. The curriculum enables pupils to develop greater knowledge about diverse places, people, resources and natural and human environments, together with an understanding of the Earth’s key physical and human processes.
In Religious Education (RE) teaching, we provide knowledge of world religions. We include the study of Christianity as well as an understanding of the other major religions. It is important to understand and respect the beliefs and customs that the children will encounter in life, together with a confidence in their own faiths. Hawkesdown House is a non-denominational school with a Christian ethos. Assemblies nurture the School’s spiritual life.
The joy of creating is central to life and is encouraged from a child’s first day at the School. Art and Design Technology are vital areas of individual self-expression and help develop practical skills. Through this curriculum, children are engaged, inspired and challenged, thus being equipped with the knowledge and skills to experiment, invent and creative their own works of art, craft and design. As children move through the School, they are also given a brief introduction to the work of a selection of great artists, to think more critically and develop a more rigorous understanding of art and design. An annual Art Exhibition takes place in the Summer Term.
An appreciation of Music is nurtured from an early age. Children are encouraged to develop their skills and experiment with sound. From Form 1, pupils are offered the option of individual music tuition. Opportunities are provided throughout the School year to perform at various public events.
Self-confidence, humour, a respect for others and the value of co-operation are enhanced in a creative context through Drama which is embedded in the timetable in addition to specific productions.
From Nursery, the children get an informal, verbal, introduction to French. The emphasis continues to be on oral French in the lower years and moves onto more formal learning and linguistic structure in Year 3 through to Year 6. The children should be able to communicate with confidence
Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHEE) fosters the values and skills that will guide children through the challenges they will face in life. The curriculum incorporates elements of philosophy, self-reflection, charity and healthy living and the ability to empathise with, relate to, and understand others. The importance of initiative, self-reliance, endeavour and respect are taught.
Teamwork, healthy competition and fun are encouraged through Physical Education (PE) lessons. Children have an all-round education in health and fitness and learn specific skills to approach sport confidently. All children are encouraged to be physically active. Children have PE lessons in the School Hall, Holland Park and Kensington Gardens and are coached in football, cricket and tag rugby. From Form 1 through to Form 6, pupils are taught Judo and in Form 3 and beyond, Fencing. The children have plenty of opportunities to represent the School in competitive matches and tournaments. In addition to timetabled sport, children are taken to the park and to dedicated playing areas with a variety of games equipment.