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Children’s first experience of school should be special; in The Orchard we create a caring, stimulating and friendly environment where children feel safe and secure to play, learn, explore and discover the world around them.
We support children in small classes to achieve their potential in all aspects of Orchard life and to become confident and independent learners. The Orchard Pre-prep welcomes boys and girls from nursery to Year 2; by the end of their final year with us, our children are fully prepared for the excitement and challenges of moving on to prep school.
Children learn best through hands-on investigating, exploring and play. In Nursery and Reception, we use topic ‘thinking tubs’ where the children are included in the planning of activities, sharing what they know and what they would like to learn about. Staff then plan exciting, structured activities based on their ideas and interests within the termly theme. Pupils are encouraged to ‘manage their own risks’, to learn about boundaries, but also how important it is to push these.
Play is essential in the learning process and boys and girls in The Orchard regularly take their learning outside into the school grounds, a rich environment where exploring, investigating and problem solving are all part of playtime. Activities include story-making, art, den building, orienteering, maths investigations; whatever the weather, whatever the game, there are opportunities for learning.
A strong sense of family is key throughout The Orchard and we strive to make our pupils feel part of the greater school community. We actively create opportunities for our children to make friends and play with the girls in the Prep school, encouraging the ‘big sister’ role in our older pupils. Family style lunches, where older children help the younger ones, both at table and at break times, helps foster responsibility, for the self but importantly, for each other.
Our pupils come to know the staff in the Prep school early on, with specialist lessons in French, ICT, Music, Gym and P.E. In addition, The Orchard attends a weekly whole school celebration assembly and maintaining that sense of family, the Senior Leadership Team give regular assemblies to The Orchard.
Nursery & Reception
The Early Years Foundation stage (EYFS) covers the areas of learning for children from nursery through to the end of reception. There are seven interconnected areas of learning and development within the EYFS, three prime and four specific.
The three Prime Areas which are fundamental to a child’s development are Communication and Language, Physical Development and Personal, Social and Emotional Development. The four Specific Areas which include essential skills and knowledge are Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design.
In the Orchard, the curriculum is designed to encompass all of these areas of learning through a range of indoor and outdoor activities, a balance of adult and child-led activities, hands-on investigating, exploring and play.
Our dedicated and experienced staff create a secure, stimulating and happy environment for children to take their first steps into school life.
In nursery and reception we use topic thinking tubs where the children are included in the planning of activities, sharing what they know and what they would like to learn about. Staff then plan exciting, structured activities based on their ideas and interests within the termly theme.
Our day in the EYFS is structured but also flexible. Free-flow between our reception and nursery classes provides our children with the opportunities to access a wide variety of activities; encouraging interaction, investigation, independence and child-led learning. It also provides staff in the foundation stage the opportunities to support and extend children in their learning, development and their individual needs.
Children in nursery have a daily maths and phonics time with their teacher. This extends and develops when they move into reception class with phonics and maths becoming key lessons, a central focus of the school day. Children in reception also read on a daily basis with their class teacher, starting with picture books and progressing to books with words. With our small classes, children are supported, challenged and nurtured to be confident individuals who believe in their own abilities.
Our learning is “free range” in the sense that it puts the children’s own interests at the heart of our lessons. At the outset of a termly topic all of the children in reception and nursery are involved in the planning process, suggesting avenues of investigation and learning through collaborative mind-mapping and sharing of knowledge.
Outdoor learning in our beautiful surroundings is an integral part of our curriculum in the Orchard and very much part of our ethos. We are incredibly lucky to be based in 30 acres of glorious Dorset countryside. Our grounds provide a fabulous classroom and children are able to engage in learning which is real and hands on. In the Orchard, children are not confined by four walls but have daily access to an abundance of learning opportunities and experiences outside, whatever the weather.
Children need space to move, explore and discover as movement prompts the development of the brain and body. Giving our children the freedom to move is a key focus of learning in the Orchard and why our outdoors has such a significant place within the school day. Our children are provided with daily opportunities to access activities that focus on the key movement senses, tactile, proprioception and vestibular to support their learning and overall development.
Children in Reception and Nursery have a weekly Out and About session with the reception class teacher; a planned activity to further develop and extend children’s knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the world we live in.
Years 1 & 2
Each day in Years 1 and 2 is a new adventure, packed with hands-on activities through which our learners engage in reading, writing, maths and much more.
Our small classes have privileged access to exciting learning spaces both indoors and out. Our learning often extends beyond our main classroom into our common room area for collaborative work, our design studio and science space for creative and investigative activities, and of course, into our glorious grounds. Year 1 and 2 can often be seen chalking letters, words or maths sums on the outdoor patio, or out amongst the trees discovering the delights of nature, exploring the science of seeds and plants, and the changes each season brings.
The pupils in Years one and two have the great benefit of joining specialist teaching staff in the main school to deepen their knowledge and skills in music, ICT, French, games and gymnastics, whilst giving them a flavour of prep-school life. These skills are reinforced in class each day as we learn through movement and song, access apps and games on the iPads, and practise our French speaking and listening. You will likely spot our gymnastic skills on display at playtime in one of our fantastic play spaces.
Expectations in Years one and two are high across all subjects, and all pupils are encouraged meet or exceed national curriculum standards.
It is expected that all children engage in reading activities daily in a range of ways- independently, with staff, with peers, and at home. Reading is not confined to simply completing the books from our reading scheme but includes daily phonics teaching, word games, access to digital apps and resources, along with frequent opportunities to freely explore a wide range of texts from our reading corner and Orchard library.
Each term, our children engage creatively with a variety of texts – stories, poems, information, instructions, adverts and letters. The children become confident with the features and style of each through exploration and adaptation of carefully-selected texts, which seek to capture and ignite their vivid imagination. Across the year, we apply our writing skills to create a range of items – from books and posters, to songs, plays and television adverts.
Mathematical skills are encouraged through songs, rhymes, games and activities. It is important that our young mathematicians gain a rich and secure understanding of number through real and hands-on experiences. As the children grow and progress, their knowledge is applied in solving written problems using all four operations (x ÷ + -), and in choosing efficient methods to solve mathematical challenges. Weekly mental tests ensure that our learners develop a secure understanding in all areas, including number, counting, problem-solving, shape, time, money, measures and multiplication. The children are encouraged from the very start of Year 1 to develop their times tables knowledge in order to win awards and prizes.
Preparing for Year 3