Ah, life is full of fun in Years 3 and 4! the children enjoy the best of both worlds in these years: a warm and nurturing environment created by their class teacher who takes them for English, maths and some humanities subjects, but an increasing array of specialist taught subjects whereby the children are moving around the school, managing their time and their belongings as well as growing their independence every day.
Year 3 marks the beginning of Key Stage 2, so a step change from life in the Pre-Prep but one we have helped prepare the children for so they feel confident and ready to start Year 3 with gusto! We welcome a number of new children to Yarrells in Year 3 as they move from local infant schools, looking to consolidate their learning as well as enrich their curriculum experience with the broad and vibrant array of subjects we have on offer.
English and maths feature every day on the timetable, and are taught in small groups with additional teaching assistants so we can make sure everyone’s foundation skills are solid and secure. Humanities and science are rich subjects for our juniors, with Year 3 heading off on their first overnight trip, to a Viking longhouse where they experience an immersive 24 hours, making paint to repair their living accommodation, butter to add to their cooking over the fire, and then sleeping all together in the longhouse as if they were Norsepeople of long ago. There’s minimal sleeping if we’re honest, but it is an absolute highlight of their year and doesn’t just teach them about Viking life. The children learn about themselves, how it feels to stay away from home, how to pack their belongings, remember their toothbrushes and pyjamas, and when they return they are always bursting with excitement about their adventure!
Year 3 enjoy specialist teaching in art, computing, dance, DT, drama, French, music, Spanish and sport, including swimming and tennis each week, and they all perform in two drama productions each year, joining together with Year 4 for the spectacle.
Year 4 engage in all this specialist teaching, too, and science for Year 4 gets truly thrilling as they venture into the labs each week to enjoy specialist science with our head of department. This brings science further to life and gives the children regular opportunities to be real-life scientists at school, experimenting, exploring, investigating and analysing as they go. Active science is our aim, and the children are able to apply their scientific knowledge to everyday life and see how central the subject is to our very survival and future.
Year 4 take a two-night trip away, usually to an outdoor activity centre, so they have the opportunity to bond with their peers, challenge and push themselves out of their comfort zones as well as have great fun camping in tents each night.
We have high expectations of the children at Yarrells, and give them robust support to ‘reach just beyond their grasp’ academically. All lessons are differentiated so that children are working at an appropriate level and pace for their ability; they are all challenged and learning is exciting. The academic staff work extraordinarily hard to inspire curiosity and aspiration in every child through individual engagement, nurture and challenge, inspiring children’s self-belief through genuine care and attention to each individual so that they know they are cared about, believed in and their hard work is noticed.
Homework is set in English and maths for Years 3 and 4, with additional spellings, reading and times tables challenges. Humanities and science homework is set on alternate weeks and usually consist of more extended tasks, two good examples being building a 3D polar scene or researching ‘sound’ in your home and composing a song or poem about your findings. Homework is as differentiated as our lesson content - we are not a ‘one-size fits all’ school and feel deeply that children are individuals who progress at different rates at different times so we must meet their needs.
It is during these junior years that conversations begin regarding life beyond Yarrells. There are plenty of senior school options and the Head spends lots of time in discussion with parents to help guide their decision-making. Our staff in charge of assessment monitor, track and analyse standardised data to help flesh out the academic profile we build of each child, and we have an excellent reputation for all children gaining a place at their senior school of choice through this careful, tailored approach we take to preparing for the next stage of each child’s education.