Taunton School Prep Girl In DT

Learning Support

Taunton School Prep Girls Piggyback
Learning Support

Every opportunity is taken to promote special academic ability and support is provided for those who need it. Our dedicated Educational Progress department has highly qualified specialist teachers, who provide additional one-to-one tuition, in English and Maths, whilst Learning Support Assistants work with our teachers in the classroom.

Educational Progress:

Many children need support at some point in their school career and in the Educational Progress department, we promote confidence and independence in a friendly, nurturing environment. 

 Our dedicated EP department has highly qualified specialist teachers who provide additional one-to-one tuition primarily in English and Maths. EP teachers work in liaison with subject teachers to produce schemes of work which are bespoke and designed to meet individual needs and fill in any gaps in learning on a short or longer term basis. We employ a Speech and Language Therapist who sees individual pupils for direct therapy and offers an initial consult to see whether referral or therapy is appropriate, also giving advice to staff. 

 The Head of EP, Rebecca Seery, is responsible for co-ordinating the learning support across the Prep, Pre-Prep and Nursery. Rebecca assesses pupils, liaises with parents and professionals and gives training and advice to staff, visiting class to ensure that pupils’ needs are being met or looking in to concerns. Pupils are referred to the Educational Progress department either by the Form or Subject teacher or on examination of test data and discussion with key staff. In school we are able to screen for Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Working Memory and Processing Speed weaknesses and for Access Arrangements in exams. If more in depth, specialist assessment and advice is needed, we have a list of Educational Psychologists to consult. 

 In class, we have a dedicated team of Learning Support Assistants who work alongside our teachers and offer excellent support to those who need it. In addition, we have a Reading Success Co-ordinator who supports children in Years 3-6 with phonics and reading on an individual and group basis. 

 EP and SLT lessons are chargeable – please see Fee Schedule

Extension, enrichment and challenge

Taunton School Prep Girl Group Smiling
Extension, enrichment and challenge

Our pupils are performing well above national averages across the curriculum.  For example, the standardised tests which we use in Maths provide us with evidence that our average Year 8 pupil is performing in the top 20% of the national sample.  By placing the pupils in Years 6, 7 and 8 into ability sets for English, Maths, Science and Languages, we are able to tailor our planning so as to really challenge these very able pupils.  Virtually all of the pupils in our top sets for English, for example, are on track to score an 8 or a 9 at GCSE.

In years 3,4 and 5, whilst we set for Maths only, our teachers are skilled and experienced in differentiating their teaching so as to stretch the most able in all of the subjects. Teaching and Learning Assistants are with the classes for all of their core academic subjects, which allows for proper differentiation, support and challenge for pupils of all abilities.  We are wholly committed to ensuring that all pupils, no matter what their ability, reach their academic potential.

Pupils who are scholars in Years 7 and 8 meet once a week with their ‘mentor’. In these sessions pupils have opportunities to share experiences & skills as well as listening to outside speakers, undertaking practical sessions and working on collaborative projects. Some visiting speakers and trips we have undertaken recently include: a talk to the Sports Scholars from Alistair Cook on life as a professional cricketer, a trip to the Tutankhamun museum in London for our academic scholars, a STEM workshop at Exeter University for our budding scientists and engineers, as well as a piano masterclass from ‘Harry the Piano’ to inspire our musicians.

All of our pupils in Year 8 choose to be a leader in one area of school life (e.g. Digital, Sports, Science etc).  The Heads of Department involve these Year 8 leaders in the work of the department and give them opportunities to explore the subject in greater depth.  For example, our Science leaders recently put together a 1100 piece model of the Double Helix of they sometimes help our Science technician at breaktime put together the experiments for classes which are taking place after break.

All pupils in Years 7 and 8 have a weekly Enrichment lesson which aims to enrich and inspire, taking pupils beyond the day to day curriculum that we provide at TPS. The broad focus of the enrichment sessions is to encourage what we term “big picture thinking” amongst our pupils. In addition, the aim is to introduce pupils to new ideas and to foster a desire to be curious learners.  Sessions are sometimes led by a member of staff (from TPS or the senior school) or by a group of pupils themselves.  Last term we had a superb presentation on Tolerance and Inclusivity that was delivered by a group of Year 8 pupils.  Other topics have included: career choices, creating a sustainable future for our food, fun with language, literary fairytales and technological innovation.

A number of departments enter pupils in national academic competitions such as: the Primary Maths Challenge, local and national maths Olympiads, the Minehead literary competition, BBC Short story composition and the Kid’s literature quiz. In addition we run a wide range of internal academic competitions e.g. battleships for books, book bingo, PI day challenges, world poetry day quizzes and writing competitions to name just a few!

Each year group enjoys one curriculum trip per term out of school (or an exciting visitor to school) which enhances the children’s learning.  Our wide range of extra-curricular clubs e.g. STEM, debating, creative maths, maths challenge club and the Carnegie book club allow our academically able students to extend their learning and hone their interest in specific subject areas. For those students in year 7 & 8 who have a particular passion or interest in a certain topic area, we have provided opportunities for them to work alongside senior school pupils in lectures, seminars from visiting speakers as well as more informal meetings with like-minded sixth form students.

The Creative Curriculum, Trips and Events

Taunton School Prep Boy Painting
The Creative Curriculum, Trips and Events

In Years 3,4 and 5 of the Prep School, the Form Tutor for each class is its English teacher, who also teaches the form History, Geography, PRE (Philosophy, Religion and Ethics) and Computing.  In Years 3 and 4, the Form Tutors also teach Maths and Science.  This joined up approach for the teaching of humanities allows us to plan a Creative Curriculum in these year groups whereby the teaching can centre around a topic for the term (e.g. the Poles).  In delivering these topics, high class texts are carefully selected and used across all of the humanities lessons, so that when the pupils are doing English, they are also doing Geography, and when they are doing Geography, they are also doing English.  For every topic (i.e once a term), the year group have either an exciting trip out of school or a special visitor to enhance their learning around the topic.

Form sizes and setting arrangements

Taunton School Prep Girls Reading Play
Form sizes and setting arrangements

We will always do everything we can to avoid having any Forms of over 20 in the Prep School.

Our usual structure is as follows (although there can be slight variations from year to year)

2 Forms in Year 3

2 Forms in Year 4

3 Forms in Year 5

3 Forms in Year 6

4 Forms in Year 7

4 Forms in Year 8

In Years 3,4 and 5, the only subject which is setted is Maths.  The other subjects are taught in our mixed ability Form groups.  Different levels of challenge are given to individual pupils or to groups of pupils in our mixed ability Forms in order to ensure that every child is receiving a level of challenge which is appropriate for him or her.

In Years 6,7 and 8, the pupils are setted for Maths, English, Science and Languages

Our Digital Strategy

Taunton School Prep Boy In Class with IPAD
Our Digital Strategy

From September 2020, in order to retain the gains that we had seen during the Summer term and remote learning, we instigated a Bring Your Own Device (‘BYOD’) in the Prep school, which requires every pupil to have an electronic device for learning in school for their lessons.  These devices are not used at lunchtimes or breaktimes and only under the supervision of teachers during lessons.  Recreation time is still therefore for socialising face to face and pupils do not have phones with them in school until the beginning of Year 9.  Currently, pupils are able to use any device which allows them to access the school wifi and the digital platforms which our teachers are using in their teaching. 

Learning from Lockdown

Learning from Lockdown

Our very comprehensive and successful education and care during lockdown was delivered by using established digital platforms such as Firefly (our Virtual Learning Network), Microsoft TEAMS and  SEESAW.  During the Summer term 2020, we saw some children become even more successful in some aspects of their learning, especially in terms of their independence, creativity, and maturity.  They were also able to present their learning in even more creative ways using multimedia instead of just pen and paper.  As a school, we found new ways of doing things, some of which we have retained into the new academic year with all of our pupils back in school.  We are sure that more and more of our events, even post-COVID, will be live streamed over the Internet, for example, giving parents the opportunity to watch their children even if they are away on business, or if they live abroad, or if they are needed at home for child-care!

The Whole School Pathway

Taunton School Prep Boy Smiling
The Whole School Pathway

We teach pupils aged 0 to 18 on one large site and we choose to divide ourselves into three sections as follows:-

0-7yo                    Pre-Prep and Nursery

7-13yo                  Prep

13-18yo                Senior

Being on one site gives us the best of both worlds.  We can broadly divide our site into three safe individual schools, but we can also give pupils experiences which they would not otherwise get because of the fact that we work together flexibly on one site.  For example, Pre-Prep and Nursery pupils use the 2 swimming pools and the sports fields (including 2 full size astros) on the Prep and Senior site areas, and pupils in Years 7 and 8 (in the top two years of the Prep School) benefit from expert teaching in Spanish, German, French and Latin from A level IB specialist languages teachers (with these lessons being taught in the Senior School language rooms).

Siblings in different sections of our school feel as if they belong to the same school and the fact that the timings of the day etc are the same helps parents hugely with logistics.  It is particularly warming to see boarders in the Senior School visit their younger siblings in the Prep School boarding house, as well as seeing each other in the Dining Hall two or three times per day.

The shape of our school is like an inverted Triangle – our pupils numbers increase as we get older.  There is approximately double the amount of pupils in Year 8 as there are in Year 3.  In Summer 2020, 76 pupils finished Year 8 (Prep School) and 75 of these started Senior School in Year 9 the following September (plus around 20 newcomers to Year 9).  What this means that whenever pupils join us in their journey, the will not lose the friends which they make as they move up the school.  Once pupils join us, they nearly all continue until the end of Year 11 and into Sixth Form.