Teaching and Learning in the Primary School

Our teaching staff come from a variety of backgrounds and bring many different experiences to the classroom. This brings a diversity and dynamism to our teaching and learning. That our class teachers hold internationally recognised qualifications and training means that they are trained to deliver the curriculum and to teach.

Key Stages

As in the UK, the primary school is divided into key stages: Early Years and Foundation Stage (EYFS), Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. Each key stage has its own Key Stage Manager, who, together with the Principal, form the Senior Management team of the primary school.

Like the preparatory school system of independent schools in the UK, it is the aim of each key stage to ensure that children are ready for the next. EYFS prepares children for Key Stage 1 – the true school years of earlier generations; Key Stage 1 for Key Stage 2; and Key Stage 2 for the secondary school.

Teaching and Learning in the Early Years and Foundation Stage:

The Early Years and Foundation Stage (EYFS) consists of our Pre-Nursery, Nursery and Reception classes. Elsewhere these classes might have KG or FS labels.

Pre-Nursery and Nursery: Freedom of Choice

In our Pre-Nursery and Nursery classes we encourage children to learn through play and to make choices regarding the activities in which they would like to participate. This may sound like every class is a free-for-all of super-excited toddlers dashing from one activity to the next, with little or no attention span or willpower. Nothing could be further from the truth. The classes are calm, organised and focused.

'Learning through play', as opposed to simple 'play', requires a great deal of thought about every child, planning for every task and attention to every minute of activity. It is for these reasons that our Pre-Nursery and Nursery classes have a student to teacher ratio of 5:1. In these classes the class teacher is assisted by four support teachers.

The teacher and the support teachers operate as a team. Each member of the team is critical to the functioning of the classroom because few sessions are class teacher-led in the traditional manner. Our children are active; they are learning all the time. We do not want our early years children sitting quietly at tables completing worksheets for the day. We want them to be stimulated, to be challenged and for it all to take place in a social environment in which children learn and play with others. Children make choices about what they would like to do, where they would like to be and for how long. As they make their choices, the children begin to understand their needs and feelings which they are encouraged to express.

To enhance the 'learning through play' experience Pre-Nursery and Nursery classrooms form, in conjunction with a large outside area, a modern Early Years suite. This allows movement within and between classrooms as well between inside and outside areas. Each classroom is divided into themed areas allowing students to choose areas of interest to them.

To achieve this freedom for children we have our teams of teachers, every one of whom knows the children, their needs, their strengths and their weaknesses. Such familiarity allows our teachers to guide children in their decision-making, to help them to develop their strengths and to support them as they overcome their weaknesses.

As the children move through the Nursery year, we gradually lengthen their day – ultimately by an extra hour. We do this to ensure that our ‘rising fives’ are, in part, ready for the longer day in the Reception class.

Reception: Year of Transition

The Reception class is truly a transitionary class. It marks the end of EYFS and the beginning of Key Stage 1. But the transition is about much more than nomenclature. For the children the transition is real.

The Pre-Nursery and Nursery classes are characterised by 'learning through play'; Reception is much more recognisable as a traditional classroom; the children make the transition from relatively informal to more formal learning.

In Reception the day becomes longer and the curriculum becomes more structured. In comparison to kindergarten, Reception could be dull and boring - it is not.

By the age of five children have better control over their minds and their bodies. Their expression of their needs becomes more controlled, their fine motor skills more finely tuned and their gross motor skills available on command. This is all very exciting for children. Words become phonetically readable, emergent writing moves from sand to paper, counting goes forward and back, paintings become recognisable and identifiable.

The exploration of reading and writing and arithmetic takes place in a stimulating and enjoyable environment in which, once again, the children are supported by class and support teachers in a ratio of 6:1.

Teaching and Learning in Key Stage 1

Years 1 and 2: Pre-Prep School

Key Stage 1 really begins midway through Reception, as lessons become a little more formal, and continues to the end of Year 2.

It is in Key Stage 1 that the foundations of all formal education are truly laid. By now children have made the transition into a more formal classroom environment. They are reading, writing and counting. It is here that children progress to more complex processes, concepts and ideas: spelling, adding and subtracting and time.

By the end of these two years children, for their age, will be reading fluently, writing extended pieces of work, manipulating numbers and conducting science experiments. They will begin to learn cursive handwriting, phonics focuses into accurate spelling, reading proficiency accelerates, counting becomes mental arithmetic and French is added to their range of languages. They will be transformed into young students.

Alongside this transformation our demands on parents begin to change. More tasks will be coming home as we expect parents to be more involved in their child's learning.

In these years lessons become more teacher-led, or rather, teacher-introduced. The classrooms continue to have a team of teachers – class teacher and support teachers. The ratio of children to teachers remains 6:1 to ensure that each child receives attention, encouragement and support.

Key Stage 1 fulfils the role of a traditional pre-prep school in the UK independent sector. Its purpose is to ensure that these young students are ready for Key Stage 2.

Teaching and Learning in Key Stage 2

Year 3, 4 and 5: Prep School

Key Stage 2 marks a fundamental shift from the norm of British government schools. In the UK, and many international schools, children are accustomed to working with a single class teacher in each year of their primary education. At the BOS the system of the single, generalist, class teacher ends in Year 2. Throughout Key Stage 2 students are taught by subject specialists.

Our system of specialist teachers offers numerous advantages to our students. The system ensures that students are taught by teachers always practising in their area of strength; that students have continuity in their subject teachers as they move through the years of Key Stage 2 and, as they grow older, they are working with teachers who have known them for years rather than months.

The system of specialist teachers also aids students’ transition into the secondary school. Its structure mirrors that of the secondary school and so introduces our young students to the ways of the senior school. This transition is further reinforced by another departure from the UK government system: Key Stage 2 ends at Year 5, not Year 6. Further information about Year 6 can be found on the secondary school pages of this site.