The Infant department encompasses Year One and Two classes. There are six classes, three in each year group. Each class generally consists of up to 22 children. There are six form teachers assisted by six classroom assistants in the mornings.
Caring, kind & striving for excellence
Our department places a strong emphasis on caring, kindness and striving for excellence. This permeates through all aspects of school life and is demonstrated in the attitudes of staff towards each individual child and towards each other. This is the environment that the children are encouraged to imitate and the children play an intrinsic part in this respectful, thriving family atmosphere. There is a continual celebration of all aspects of caring, kindness and achievement in the classroom, assemblies, in the playground and in everyday school life.
Our teachers are highly motivated and dedicated towards creating a happy learning environment for every child. We work closely as a team to ensure that each class, across a year group, is provided with an equally high level of consistent educational provision.
A variety of teaching methods are employed in the classroom. Our classes comprise of children with mixed abilities. Having smaller class sizes, enables us to teach the whole class as well as in groups. We have an individualised approach to teaching and every child is set stretching, yet achievable, targets in each lesson. We constantly strive to inspire our pupils and enable them to grow intellectually with activities that challenge and yet promote their enthusiastic response. Lessons are differentiated and extension work is always available to consolidate learning or provide breadth in the children’s understanding of new concepts.
Proven, solid & traditional approaches
Our methods of teaching aim to utilise proven, solid traditional approaches whilst stimulating enthusiasm through a variety of appropriate current materials and resources. Interactive whiteboards are used to engage the children in challenging problem solving and collaborative learning where necessary.
The children experience the full breadth of a wide and varied curriculum. Several subjects are taught by subject specialists including Geography, P.E. and Games, French, ICT and Music. These specialist teachers are dedicated towards inspiring young minds within their particular subject of expertise and they have a clear overview of the learning path for each child as they move up through the school.
Strong emphasis on Mathematics & English
Whilst specialist subject teaching is highly valued, we ultimately aim to foster a secure, consistent learning environment for our pupils. This is enabled through our form teachers who deliver the Mathematics and English lessons as well as many of our other subject areas. There is a strong emphasis on Mathematics and English with over ten weekly lessons of each.
Whilst aiming to nurture a love of Mathematics and English, we believe that it is vital that each child consolidates any new learning through a measured, progressive system of learning. For instance, although all aspects of Mathematics such as ‘shape’, ‘space’ ‘time’, ‘measures’ and ‘data handling’ are experienced and valued, a strong emphasis on the exploration of number patterns, number bonds, place value and tables ensures that the children are equipped with the tools to approach all later numerical work with confidence, solid understanding and enthusiasm.
Specific, individualised, fun
Through the use of continual assessment and evaluation, the children are given specific, individualised learning targets that provide a realistic, motivational focus for their learning. Those children who demonstrate a flair for the subject, are provided with numerous opportunities to extend their learning in a ‘fun’ way e.g. challenge boxes which provide a variety of puzzles and brain teasers.
The teaching of English in the Infant Department delivers the breadth necessary for each child to truly embrace a love of the English language. Through the experience of writing letters, stories, poems, reports and so much more, the children are given meaningful opportunities to develop their writing skills. It is also essential that the children are given a rigorous training in the traditions of English and, each week, the English curriculum also incorporates a ‘grammar’ and ‘comprehension’ focus. These provide, once again, the true foundation for developing excellence later in the children’s academic career. Further reinforcement is provided through weekly ‘spelling’ and ‘handwriting’ work.
To enhance learning we also offer a practical, yet structured, play area where the children can play and learn in a shop environment and experience the complexities of ‘money exchange’ at their own level, from buying items for up to 10p, to buying multiple items and finding the change from £5.00. Problem solving for the ‘more-able’ child is a vital and rewarding feature of this exciting new learning area. Play focuses on English through the provision of a ‘Post Office’. This provides opportunities for children to initiate their own writing including notices, reports, postcards, memos, diaries and letters. We are now at the stage where the children can choose their own mode of writing and either follow a given purpose for their work or create their own audience and purpose. They can fill in application forms, follow instructions or sort their letters into alphabetical order in our “Sorting Office”.
The children are always encouraged to take pride in the presentation and quality of each piece of work. Visitors on our Open Mornings are always amazed by the quality and standard of our displays.
A love of reading
A love of books is an enriching aspect throughout peoples’ lives and we recognise at Lady Barn that it is in the earlier years that a true passion for reading and sharing of books can be fostered. The children have an individual one-to-one reading session with either the form teacher or fully trained classroom assistant for four days a week. On Fridays the children can take home a library book for the weekend. In partnership with our parents, the reading is carefully monitored and alongside a specific reading scheme curriculum, we also strongly encourage the enjoyment of a full variety of fiction and non-fiction books.
Our Infant Library provides us with an age-appropriate and colourful base where children can enjoy choosing and exploring books. The displays are often linked to the children’s favourite books and we try to create an intimate atmosphere by lowering the height of the room through creative design and provide cushions for relaxing on whilst reading. Each week the children have a library lesson but they can change their books whenever they wish over the week. This has become a special area where children love to relax in the calm atmosphere.
Homework is given each night and involves either Mathematics or an English task which should take approximately twenty minutes in Year One and about thirty minutes by the end of Year Two. This, alongside reading and the practising of spellings, provides the child with vital daily reinforcement of the learning in school. Our parents are invited to sign a homework diary each night and are asked to communicate any areas of difficulty or positive information about the child’s performance to the form teacher wherever necessary.
We value our partnership with parents as they play a truly supportive role and provide a vital link in each child’s learning journey. If parents have any further questions or particular anxieties, they are invited to make an appointment through the school office. Any worries or concerns are immediately followed up by the form teacher or Head of Department and parents are reassured, at the first opportunity, of any action that has taken place in response to their concerns.
The Infant Department is situated in the Richard Stone Building. The first floor consists of the three Year Two classes and the ground floor contains the three Year One classes, the After School Care room and the Infant Library/Role Play area. We seek to create a learning environment that artistically celebrates the work of the children, stimulates creative thought and challenges their minds. In each classroom, we display work from across the curriculum.
Learning tools and resources are also displayed where appropriate e.g. large clocks and purses are used each day to add challenges on ‘money’ and ‘time’. We find that the ‘drip feed’ targeting of these areas adds great benefit to the children’s ability to retain and calculate problems quickly. The children are largely based in their classrooms but also enjoy the use of the school’s ICT, Science, French, Music and P.E/Games facilities and rooms.
The opportunity for joining a variety of clubs has grown considerably in the Infants. On a rotational basis, our staff give up their spare time to run the clubs because we all believe that they offer a lovely opportunity for the children to explore areas of interest in a less formal setting and can often aid their social skills in the meeting of ‘kindred spirits’. Art, Climbing, Challenge, Construction, Story, Puzzle, Role Play and Infant Choir provide a wealth of popular club choices for our children.
Trips,visitors, camp experience, plays
There are a variety of trips and visits in Year One and Year Two. From dressing up in ‘role play’ situations at old country manors, visits from actors bringing to life famous people from history, seeing our focus on animal habitats come alive at Chester Zoo to experimenting with ‘forces’ at the Museum of Science and Industry. There are so many opportunities for the children to extend their love of learning.
Year Two Camp is a particular highlight for all of the staff and children. This weekend in the Lake District is the first of many opportunities to experience outdoor pursuits, this is a special, gentle and age-appropriate first experience that is remembered fondly by all.
We are extremely proud of the shared effort that goes into our Infant Christmas play. Year One tend to do a shorter play that is thematically linked to this seasonal period e.g. Santa’s Forgotten Toys, this provides a real opportunity for them to be personally tailored to that year group and the talents within it. The main aim in all our work is that children should have their special moment of performance and applause. This is central to our philosophy that every child should and will have an opportunity to shine.
The Year Two play involves a more challenging script and music. The children and staff are extremely committed to this production, which is ambitious and really stretches the children in acting, singing, dancing and public speaking. Once again, all children get their moment on the stage and the plays are tailored to the children’s strengths. These productions are hugely valued by the parents who are fully supportive and appreciative.
The Infant Department is a happy environment in which to work. The staff are extremely enthusiastic and are keen to take responsibility for extra duties or clubs, when necessary. We mutually share a great sense of pride in the genuine care of each individual child. Whilst always striving towards the highest of standards, we also recognise that the children are all special individuals. As a team, we truly enjoy the daily challenge of bringing out the best in them, celebrating their individuality and sharing a jolly good sense of humour throughout.
Mrs S Gibbons / Mr M Turner coordinating until July 2017 – Head of Infants