At Aysgarth, we believe that one of our strengths is the acknowledgement that the pupils in our care all have their own unique set of gifts and talents. We believe that a classroom built around trust and encouragement, with positive relationships between staff and pupil is foremost in allowing our pupils to thrive and reach their full potential.
We have a long and successful tradition in providing high quality education based on a strong set of values that are actively promoted. Our curriculum is one means by which we support our pupils in developing their own understanding of our values in order to grow into adults able to lead fulfilling and positive lives.
In teaching our curriculum we aim to
- Allow each individual child to flourish and reach their potential
- Develop confidence, allowing each child to be an effective communicator
- Maintain a child’s natural inquisitiveness and desire to learn through the delivery of engaging lessons
- Provide opportunities for children to develop their thinking skills
- Provide a broad and balanced education
- Provide appropriate teaching provision for each child dependent on their abilities, which includes the use of streaming and setting in the Prep School.
- Develop an appreciation in the children of their responsibilities to themselves and others in our own and wider community, and the tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs
- Promote the importance of democracy and the rule of law, alongside that of individual liberty.
- Ensure that all children are comfortable in the understanding and use of ICT and their online safety.
The academic subjects taught are: English, maths, science, French, Latin, history and geography. In preparation for the 13+ examination, the syllabus for each subject is written by the Head of Department, in consultation with other teachers within the department, and based upon the ISEB Common Entrance syllabus.
Other subjects taught, though not examined at 13+, are religious education and wellbeing, music, art, craft & design technology, information and communication technology, physical education, drama and PSHCE. All departments include subject specialists.
The English Department aims to encourage creativity, a love of reading, an appreciation of literature and high levels of technical accuracy and self-expression.
In the Junior School, boys follow the department’s own syllabus which, whilst mirroring the National Curriculum and Literacy Strategy, also provides the flexibility necessary to both reinforce basic skills and stretch the most able. In Forms 2 and 3, the syllabus moves beyond the National Curriculum in terms of the demands it makes of pupils and the range of literature it promotes; pupils at this stage begin their preparations for their senior school pre-tests and entrance tests.
By the time our boys begin preparing for Common Entrance in earnest in Form 4, they have gained experience of reading and writing about literature. In addition, they have learned and practised the technical skills necessary for the clear and articulate expression of their opinions and ideas.
An enthusiastic and motivated English staff provide a wide variety of opportunities for Aysgarth boys, such as
- an annual Book Week – a themed celebration of all things literary
- internal poetry reading competitions
- author talks and workshops
- theatre trips
- junior and senior plays
- debating workshops
- scholarship classes for boys preparing for academic scholarships
Boys are provided with regular opportunities to read every day. For most, this involves between 30 and 60 minutes in the library and 20 minutes in bed before lights out.
The English Department’s staff work closely with the Skills Development Department both to identify and then support those pupils who need additional help in whatever form it may be.
At Aysgarth, we aim to help each boy work confidently with numbers. Mathematics contributes to the school curriculum by developing pupils’ abilities to calculate; think logically; solve problems independently and to handle data. Moreover, it teaches skills and techniques fundamental to future employment and everyday living. We aim to excite and stimulate our brighter boys whilst supporting those who find mathematics more challenging.
We combine traditional mathematics teaching with the new ideas adapted from the National Numeracy Framework. The core topics covered are numeracy, algebra, geometry and handling and interpreting data.
The aims of the Mathematics Department:
- To provide a relevant, challenging and enjoyable curriculum for all pupils.
- To make full use of the National Numeracy Strategy, Common Entrance syllabus and other mathematical literature to provide a complete and varied mathematical education.
- To promote mathematics as an essential element of communication, which allows pupils to describe, illustrate, interpret, predict and explain.
- To create an awareness of the relationships in mathematics; that mathematics is not an arbitrary collection of disconnected items.
- To show pupils the fascination of mathematics and promote ways of doing mathematics which harness their imagination, initiative and flexibility of mind.
In essence, we hope to promote a love of mathematics which will see the boys in good stead for their future life.
The Science department at Aysgarth is built upon the natural curiosity found in all children. It aims to nurture this and develop minds that question and seek to understand and marvel at the wonders of the world and indeed the universe. We have two dedicated science laboratories which allow us to investigate and be creative. Why just teach facts to a child when these can be absorbed through the processes of research, collaboration and experimentation?
Initially, much of our energy involves the development of creative thinking in the boys, asking questions and then finding ways of answering them. In the final three years, we focus on the Common Entrance syllabus, teaching biology, chemistry and physics. These three sciences are taught to the boys by a single specialist teacher allowing us to ensure that links are made seamlessly across the curriculum. Again, practical investigation and experimentation are used wherever possible to discover or reinforce learning.
On leaving Aysgarth, boys continue to perform exceptionally well in their science and many continue to study the sciences at A level. We hope and believe our desire to foster enthusiasm and curiosity at a young age, in part, explains this.
Why study a foreign language?
French is the modern foreign language studied at Aysgarth. With approximately 100 million native speakers and 300 million speakers of French as their second language, the significance of French as a world language is considerable:
- French is spoken in 55 countries and is the only language other than English to be spoken on five continents, making it truly global.
- Its influence on English over the years has been great; studying French involves many words that learners already recognise but it also enriches their knowledge of English grammar and vocabulary.
- Whether learners choose to study French for cultural reasons (France has the world’s largest number of Nobel Prize winners for literature), for travel (more tourists visit France than any other country in the world) or for a future career (French is the official language of the United Nations and the International Red Cross, and is widely used in the diplomatic world), the wealth of opportunities on offer is virtually unrivalled.
- The French economy is one of the strongest in the world and France is, increasingly, a leader in technological innovation.
In addition to French, pupils in forms 2-5 have the opportunity to learn Latin ab initio up to Common Entrance and Scholarship level. For pupils learning Latin in their formative years, the benefits are extensive:
- As the root of many European languages, Latin makes it easier for pupils to acquire a second, third or even fourth language. Pupils are encouraged to map languages onto a family tree and identify the influence of Latin.
- Latin is an excellent way of supporting children’s literacy and can enrich their learning across the curriculum. It is more than a language and offers something to everyone; it draws on history, geography, drama, art and many other disciplines.
- An understanding of Latin grammar and syntax helps develop higher-order thinking skills, such as analysis, critical thinking and problem-solving.
- In reading the classical works of Virgil, Ovid and Cicero, pupils learn to break through language barriers and understand the human condition. Latin therefore helps to create curious, intellectually-driven individuals with an appreciation of a culture that greatly shaped our own.
In teaching foreign languages, based on our whole school curriculum aims, we specifically aim to:
- Provide an enjoyable and stimulating learning environment where our pupils can develop the skills which will enable them to understand written and spoken French and use the language effectively for practical communication
- Foster interest in France and Francophone countries and encourage positive attitudes towards the use of the French language and towards speakers of French.
The main aims of teaching Latin at Aysgarth are to promote a love of language and discover the achievements of ancient civilisations. Within this framework, the Classics department also strives to:
· Enable pupils to develop a strong understanding of the essentials of the Latin language.
· Aid pupils’ understanding of linguistics in order to facilitate acquisition of a second, third or fourth language.
· Create and maintain a safe and stimulating classroom environment in which pupils are encouraged to participate actively in the learning.
· Promote literacy to the highest standards by building on reading comprehension skills and improving pupils’ writing ability.
· Develop higher-order thinking skills through the medium of grammar, such as problem-solving, critical thinking and decoding.
· Prepare pupils for studying Latin, Classical Civilisation and/or Ancient History at their senior schools.
We strive to equip pupils between the ages of 4 to 13-years-old with a foreign languages curriculum that supports these aims and provides a basis for continuing study of the language at senior school by:
· providing pupils with opportunities to take part in a broad range of creative and imaginative linguistic activities
· encouraging independent learning, including the use of dictionaries, glossaries and ICT, and
· providing opportunities to work with authentic language materials;
From an academic perspective, this is informed, although not exclusively, by a strong understanding of the requirements of the Scholarship and Common Entrance requirements of the leading independent senior schools in the country. To this end, our curriculum has been carefully developed to ensure it fully meets the requirements of the 2014 National Curriculum for languages at key stage 2 and the revised 2017 ISEB Common Entrance and Academic Scholarship French and Latin syllabi.
History is a fantastic subject to study and we aim at Aysgarth to enthuse and inspire the pupils to really enjoy and learn from this important subject. We are of course driven by the Common Entrance Board but this is based around the Key Stages of the National Curriculum. In the first and second years we follow the National Curriculum, Key Stage 2 closely but then we start the C.E. syllabus in the Third Form and we follow a chronological order of events from 1066 through to 1900.
We aim to nurture a natural curiosity which all children have and feed their thirst for more and show an enthusiasm for the people or events they have studied and develop an appreciation of their difficulties and characteristics.
We provide a variety of teaching and learning methods that allow pupils of all abilities to engage with the subject and to make good progress, providing them with the skills to reach their full potential.
The skills of writing discursive and analytical essays are a crucial part in the study of History, particularly at GCSE and A level. Equally important is the ability of pupils to comprehend, analyse and judge historical sources. The Common Entrance History examination has been reformed to encourage candidates’ development in these key areas. As a school we prepare our boys to meet these requirements so that whichever school they move on to they are well equipped to study at the next level.
Whether investigating flooding in Bangladesh, earthquakes in Italy, conservation in the Yorkshire Dales or industry in South Wales, no other subject provides such varied coverage of the wider world as Geography. In simple terms, it is a study of people and places; helping us learn about other cultures and environments, showing us how the physical landscape has developed and advising us on how we should interact with the environment. It also plays a vital role within the curriculum in helping pupils understand their role within the wider world and in time become responsible ‘global citizens’. The world around us is constantly changing – the study of Geography helps them to appreciate and explain these changes.
With the Yorkshire Dales on our doorstep, Aysgarth is in an enviable position from which we can easily access the great outdoors and learn about the physical landscape first hand and we aim to make the most of this resource at every opportunity. We are also blessed with extensive grounds that provide an excellent resource for study and lend themselves perfectly for OS mapwork, microclimate investigations and environmental impacts to name but a few.
In the lower end of the School, Geography comprises an element of the chosen study topic for that term. From Form 2, Geography is taught as a separate subject; the boys firstly investigate the fundamentals of the subject, before studying one human and one physical unit. In Form 3, we start the Common Entrance syllabus ready for the exams at the end of Form 5. Part of the assessment includes writing a 1000 word fieldwork assignment and for the past few years, this has been based on a field trip to the River Swale, where we have investigated a river meander.
Aims of the Aysgarth Geography Department:
- To instil in the pupils a knowledge of the physical world around them and human interaction with it.
- To encourage them to be inquisitive and open-minded about these interactions.
- To give the children the skills required to understand them.
- To encourage an enjoyment of the subject from which a real interest and concern will develop.
- To equip the boys with the necessary knowledge, skills and understanding to cope confidently with whichever examination they are aiming for at the end of their Aysgarth career.
Whatever pupils go on to do in the future, a wide knowledge and understanding IT skills will be essential both in their education and in later life.
Pupils begin to learn the basics in the Pre-Prep and develop their skills further throughout the Prep School. There many areas that are touched on: word processing, databases, spreadsheets, desk top publishing, representation of data (graphs etc), internet use, on-line communications, multimedia presentations, text to voice, touch typing, digital imagery, graphic design, web design, programming and logic.
Aysgarth has a wired and wireless computer network. Each classroom has wired network access and the school has a wireless network, which covers most of the school site. Each member of staff has a laptop, to be used as a teaching aid; all classrooms have an interactive whiteboard, or projector, and audio visual facilities linked to the school network. There are two computer rooms in the school (one in the Prep School and one in the Pre-Prep).
We have 3 class sets of chromebooks for use across all the age groups and the fourth and fifth form boys have their own chromebooks. All boys have controlled access to the internet and have their own private school email account. As well as lesson time, the boys are able to use the computer room during free time, evenings and at weekends.
Aysgarth now combines Religious Studies and PSHE to enrich understanding of both areas. Examining what Religion has to say when looking at PSHE issues often helps. The Parable of the Good Samaritan is a great starting point for looking at discrimination, multi-culturalism and how we treat each other. Equally, one can’t fully understand Martin Luther King’s efforts for equality, without understanding why he believed he was doing 'God’s work'. The Syllabus is based on the Common Entrance RS syllabus with PSHE elements intertwined.
Aysgarth pupils no longer sit for Common Entrance in Religious Studies, but are internally examined. This has allowed for greater depth in discussion and a better grasp of issues as well as the opportunity to apply Christian values and teaching in our every day lives. Boys still complete RS projects in form 5 which are sent off to their Public Schools. During their time at Aysgarth, boys will have built up a good knowledge of key Biblical narratives and important issues. They will also have developed the ability to empathise and consider other view points, while learning to express their opinions through balanced arguments.
Aysgarth Pre-Prep and Prep School welcomes pupils with a wide range of abilities and learning needs. We recognise that these needs can be completely independent of intelligence and therefore support for learning permeates through all lessons. Aysgarth staff work together, alongside parents, to find and build on the strengths of each individual child and to help them to realise their full potential in a caring, secure and stimulating environment, which is both secure and stimulating.
Recognising and celebrating every pupil as an individual is important and we are committed to the early identification, assessment and a graduated approach of provision for those who may need extra support. This may take place through individual lessons, in a small group or ‘in-class’; it may be continuous extra support throughout their time at school, or some short-term extra help to overcome a particular problem or difficult time in their lives.
Nationally, one in five children will experience some degree of learning difficulty during their years at school. At Aysgarth, we are all committed to making sure we identify any specific needs and empowering the pupil to be the best they can.
The curriculum followed is traditional and encompasses the requirements of the National Curriculum.
The teaching of reading builds on the synthetic phonics programme followed in Early Years. Our aim is for them to read confidently with understanding and enjoyment. Through group activities and a variety of experiences the children are encouraged to develop a love of reading. Children take books home to read with their parents, including books from the school library.
Children are helped to become independent writers as early as possible. They are encouraged to develop a rich and varied vocabulary and to write in an imaginative and creative manner. Shared and independent classroom activities introduce them to sentence structure and comprehension. Great emphasis is placed on the correct use of grammar.
Children are taught how to form letters correctly in the initial stages of their education. This makes the process of learning to write quickly and neatly much easier, and ensures that the transition from cursive writing to joined up is achieved successfully, as and when each child is ready.
Our aim is to develop the children's spelling by investigating spelling patterns and rules. Spelling is a continuous focus supported through all curriculum subjects.
Listening and speaking
The children are taught to use the spoken word effectively and confidently, so that they can express themselves clearly in a range of situations for a variety of purposes. They develop their ability to listen by being introduced from an early age to stories, plays, poetry, drama sessions and class discussions.
Mathematics is a practical subject where the children are given the opportunity to learn through kinesthetic activities. The mathematical concepts are systematically introduced and reinforced using the concrete, pictorial to abstract approach. There is an emphasis on the four rules of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, which form the basis of all mathematical processes.
The main areas covered in science are life and living processes, materials, physical processes, and experimental and investigative science. These are the main requirements of the National Curriculum and are delivered through appropriate topic work. Tasks are linked to physical experiments and tests, enabling the children to experience first hand the results. They are encouraged to use the scientific skills of prediction, investigation, observation and evaluation.
The children are also taught technology, history, geography, music, religious education, art and craft and ICT.
In Years 1, 2 and 3 French is also included in the curriculum, with a strong verbal bias focusing on pronunciation and basic vocabulary.
Children are taught music by the Head of Music. There are opportunities for the children to display their dramatic and musical achievements during the school year. There is an annual Nativity Play held in the School Performing Arts Hall and a concert at the end of the Spring term.
Throughout the year children are taught ball skills, including football, hockey, pop-lacrosse and cricket. In addition, children have the opportunity to experience athletics, dance and gymnastics with full use of the school sports hall and apparatus. All the children have weekly swimming lessons in the indoor heated swimming pool.
Children use computers and i-Pads in connection with their studies, particularly for information retrieval and word processing. We have a variety of software that the children thoroughly enjoy.
Children learn best through their own practical and first hand experiences. The natural environment surrounding Aysgarth School provides a wealth of opportunity to expand children’s learning through multi sensory exploration, experimentation and supervised safe play.
Children are in the care of a Forest School Leader and are encouraged to explore all aspects of nature through supervised activities. Examples of activities: Den construction, building camp fires, collecting and sorting and bug hunts. The children are encouraged to develop a sense of cooperation, communication and leadership.
The children’s health and safety are of paramount importance throughout the sessions.
There are visits to places of local interest. Recent outings included trips to the Souter Lighthouse, Tropical World,The James Cook museum, Bolton Castle and the Hawes Countryside Museum.
We also invite people of interest into school, such as Zoolab and West End theatre group.
Before any trip parents are sent information and consent forms are requested. Individual packed lunches are provided by the School.
Every day in Early Years is an adventure and a time of discovery. We pride ourselves in providing a caring and effective environment for children to begin their social journey, building positive relationships with both children and their families. The children are at the heart of everything we do and as a result, take their first steps in their education through an exciting and diverse range of experiences.
The Nursery and Reception classes have adjacent classrooms and share a safe, enclosed garden which can be accessed all year round from both rooms. Our Nursery provides a smooth, happy transition from home to school life. We welcome children from the term of their third birthday and suggest a minimum of three morning sessions initially. All staff are qualified and experienced in the care of young children, and we work within a ratio of 1:8. We aim to develop a productive home/school relationship and value a close partnership with parents.
Nursery and Reception classes work very closely together so the move to the Reception class is happy and straightforward. Reception takes children through the academic year in which they have their fifth birthday, and they attend full time.
The children develop their skills and relationships through a very broad and balanced curriculum. This is taught in ways that build on a child’s natural curiosity and personal interests. A creative and exciting learning journey ensures that every child has the opportunity to shine. We follow The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) which covers the period of learning for children in Nursery and Reception. By the end of the Reception year, the children will reach their Early Learning Goals milestones, with many children exceeding them. We believe that children learn best when they are secure and happy in their learning environment. With so many activities, no one day is the same. Learning through play is the basis of our teaching, with a focus on social, physical and communication skills.The children learn by playing and exploring, being active, and through creative and critical thinking which takes place both indoors and outside.The children are given daily opportunities to develop their skills and investigate through co-constructed play situations alongside their more formal teaching, which includes phonics for reading and writing, and daily number activities.
The curriculum incorporates the seven key areas of learning:
- Personal, social and emotional development
- Communication and language
- Understanding of the world
- Physical development
- Expressive arts and design
Most importantly, we focus on the three prime areas initially, which allows the children to begin their social journey, forming positive relationships with their teachers (key workers) and peers. These are: Communication and language, Physical development and Personal, social and emotional development. These prime areas are those most essential for your child's healthy development and future learning. As children grow, the prime areas will help them to develop skills in four specific areas. These are: Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the world and Expressive arts and design.
At Aysgarth we believe that outdoor learning is a unique opportunity to take learning and experiences beyond the classroom. During Forest School sessions, children have the freedom to explore parts of the School’s extensive grounds, as well as mastering new skills through a variety of activities.These experiences enable the children the time and space to develop skills, interests and the importance of cooperation, communication and respect for one another and for the environment.
The ethos of Forest Schools is to allow children the time and space to develop skills, interest and understanding through a range of activities which provide practical, hands-on experiences in a natural environment.
It's an approach that takes a long term sustained approach to outdoor learning. Forest schools seek to encourage, motivate, engage and inspire children through positive outdoor experiences.
Three games sessions are built into our weekly timetable incorporating swimming, ball skills and gymnastics all taught by specialist teachers. There are also, music, French and timetabled ICT lessons for Reception pupils.
The Early Years Curriculum is further enhanced for Reception by visiting places of interest within the local community and having regular visitors into school to support the curriculum.