Structure of the School
We are a thriving independent prep school in Hertfordshire and everyone involved holds a stake in the success of the community. It is important that parents feel that they are involved with their child's learning journey. Therefore, our staff are always willing to meet with you to discuss anything that you may feel important.
This enables us to build up a working relationship with you and also gives the children security knowing that both the school and home are working for the same goals and moving in the right direction. This is unique to our school and an important part of school life.
A Good Start Never Stops
Pre School Foundation Stage: 3 & 4 Years of Age
The Pre School is divided into two classes.
Nursery: children start in the term they turn three
Kindergarten: children start in September after they are three.
In the Pre School we provide a safe, caring, happy and stimulating environment for the children, so that each child is nurtured and supported to reach their potential. Each class has a teacher and an assistant.
The pupils benefit from the vibrant atmosphere that inevitably means they all enjoy school, happily satisfying a most important ingredient of the school’s philosophy so that the children gain pleasure from their achievements and also gain in self-confidence.
Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Curriculum
The children’s learning is built around EYFS. Children learn through a balance of adult led activities and carefully structured play which covers all seven areas of learning.
Communication and Language
We help the children develop an awareness of the world around them, to promote feelings of their own identity and place in the world. They explore new concepts and learn about themselves and relationships with others.
The Pre School promotes the acquisition of spoken language and communication skills; the children are encouraged to speak out with confidence and to express their own ideas and stories. They are also encouraged to listen when others are speaking.
We provide the children with the means of reasoning and problem solving through a wide variety of appropriate play and experiences. The children have many opportunities to develop their gross and fine motor skills to enable them to confidently carry out a range of activities.
The children usually join the school during the term in which they turn three.
In the Nursery (three year olds) we ask that children attend for a minimum of five sessions which can be five mornings or two and a half days.
The Kindergarten children (rising four year olds) attend for a minimum of seven sessions. However, in each class up to ten sessions (five full days) are made available to you if you require more than the minimum. You are invited to increase sessions every half term and by the end of the Kindergarten most children attend full time, or very nearly full time, in preparation for moving up to Infant 1 (Reception Class).
The Extended Day
Wrap around care is available for Pre School children which includes Breakfast Club and After School Care. Breakfast Club takes place from 7.30am-8.30am, breakfast is served between 7.30am and 8.15am. Our After School Care runs from 3.15pm-6.00pm, with tea being provided at 4.30pm. We provide lots of fun activities and also a quiet area for reading and watching the television after a busy day at school.
Being part of a larger family school, the children benefit from mixing with the older children and the care and attention given to them. They also benefit from many of the facilities available, such as the main hall and stage, sports field, swimming pool and the woods.
The Pre School take an active part in whole school assemblies following the school’s theme of the term and appearing on stage at least twice a year.
The morning session finishes after lunch. This is a great time for socialisation and learning to eat together. The kitchen provides a varied and healthy menu from which the children can choose.
The experiences and opportunities a child has in the first years of their lives lay the firm foundations for a lifetime of learning.
Foundation Stage Into Key Stage 1: 5 to 7 Years of Age
The Infant Department is split into three classes
- Infant 1 (Reception)
- Infant 2 (Yr1)
- Infant 3 ( Yr2)
The Infant Department is where the sound academic foundations are built; it is an important time where interest and eagerness in everything new is high. The children learn how to learn and begin to develop their own strategies and approaches. These important characteristics are taken on into the Juniors
The foundations of their education are built during these important years. Our core curriculum in English and Maths utilises the National Curriculum framework and we build on this to provide the tailored learning experiences that extend and support the children’s development.
In English, we place great emphasis on reading; the children are heard regularly by an adult and we ask you to hear them daily at home. Each child is an individual and they learn to read in many different ways. We base the teaching of reading on a Phonic Scheme, which is very successful, but other methods are used according to individual needs. Good reading and comprehension are an important gateway to all areas of the curriculum. In addition the children learn to write, forming letters with a cursive script which links to spelling and writing speed which has an impact on creative and free writing.
In Mathematics, the building blocks of applying numbers, quantity and sequence, handling data, shape, space and measure are laid down and built on steadily through the Infants. These foundations are essential in understanding more complex concepts and the ability to problem solve that the children will meet as they move through the school. We carefully combine individual and group work, practical tasks and investigations to ensure that every child is able to achieve the learning objectives.
Specialists teach Music and Science to the children and there is a full range of curriculum areas covered through a themed approach to History, Geography, PSHE and ICT. Physical Education continues through the Infants with greater emphasis placed on the development of team games in Infant 3.
We cater for individual needs, the children being taught as a class, in a group or sometimes individually.
All the children are given the experience of performing on stage regularly and they take an integral part in all school events as well as performing in their own Christmas Play. Each class also performs a class assembly twice yearly in front of the whole school and their parents.
The Journey Continues
Key Stage 2: 7 to 11 years
The Juniors are split into four year groups
- Junior 1 (Yr3)
- Junior 2 (Yr4)
- Junior 3 (Yr5)
- Junior 4 (Yr6)
In the Juniors the learning and experiences of the preceding years are more firmly embedded and extended; children grow socially and emotionally and finally flourish as they reach the top of the school. They are better able to understand their learning preferences, understand other people and their role within the school. They develop tolerance and understanding of other people and a greater sense of who they are as young people and a strong self-esteem.
Every class has a form teacher who is the focus of the academic and pastoral care for each child.
There is also a second teacher affiliated to Junior 4. This gives us the opportunity to stream the class according to ability so that we can focus on specific academic needs. There are three Learning Support Assistants who help with individualised learning programmes under the supervision of the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator.
In the mornings the focus is on Maths and English and in the afternoons the children have lessons in Science, ICT, Design Technology, Geography, History, Games, PE, Music, French, Art, PHSE and Citizenship. The curriculum is broad and varied. On a Wednesday afternoon from 3.10pm the children take part in a choice of planned activities - physical, musical and artistic linked to their curriculum on a six week rotation including Forest Schools, Lacrosse, Photography, Design Technology and Computing. The Junior 4 children take part in a Social Responsibility and Self Awareness Week after they have sat their entrance exams. This gives the children the chance to learn new skills and find new activities they can achieve in.
Junior 4 is the culmination of the children’s learning journey here at St Joseph’s In The Park proving that a “good start never stops.” Through a creative, innovative curriculum that teaches social responsibility, each child is offered the opportunity to achieve their full potential and approach secondary school as a confident and independent learner.
The first term in Junior 4 is spent preparing for, and fine tuning the skills the children require to be successful in Independent School Entrance and Scholarship Examinations. Children are able to attend additional classes that both support and challenge them.
As lead learners, Junior 4 children assume a post of responsibility from Head Girl and Boy, Choir Leaders, Sports and House Captains and Prefect. These positions support their peers, complement their skills and develop a deeper sense of self and an awareness of the wider school and local community.
The Head Boy and Head Girl represent the student body both in school and in the community. They conduct tours for prospective children and parents – giving a unique child centred perspective of the school. They are ably supported by the Deputy Head Girl and Boy.
Each role of responsibility impacts positively on the entire student body and faculty ensuring their voice plays a prominent role within St Joseph’s In The Park.
Junior Four undertake residential science field trips bringing habitats and geological topics to life. In the Spring and Summer terms day trips and the week long residential trip to France help develop independence, maturity and a sense of the wider world.
In fact one of the trips is planned by the children themselves; from travel arrangements, timings through to cost and refreshments.
Technology allows the children to truly explore the sense of independent learning. A range of devices are used with classroom settings to inspire and realise the sense of wonderment in their learning.
Junior 4 is an exciting, focused year for the children. They are able to reminisce and celebrate their many successes and feel confident that they have the skillset in which to flourish in all spheres of their secondary education, able to surmount any obstacle they may encounter – academic or social whilst retaining the core values that mark them out as a St Joseph’s In The Park pupil.
Support For All
Key Stage 2: 7 to 11 year olds
The Woodlands Department is a Centre of Excellence in Learning Support for children who have some difficulty with English or Maths because of either a general need for support or a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia or dyscalculia.
Woodlands is staffed by specialist and experienced staff and the children are taught in a favourable ratio of adults to children. There are also two qualified and experienced Learning Support Assistants.
Children join Woodlands from Junior 1 onwards and have all their English and Mathematics lessons within their well resourced classroom. For all other subjects they are fully integrated in with their peer group in the main school.
We are able to offer up to 4 Woodland places in each Junior class.
The children who attend Woodlands are taught in a variety of ways to make learning more accessible for them. Far more attention is placed upon broader experiences and tailoring the curriculum to the individual's need.
With the favourable ratio of staff to children they can work at their own pace, develop in confidence and achieve academically.