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Our broad and creative curriculum equips our girls with the knowledge, skills and attitudes that will not only help them to progress to senior schools, but will also stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives. Click below to read more.
Literacy is fundamental to all areas of learning as it unlocks access to the wider curriculum. Our English framework promotes the development of critical and creative thinking, as well as competence in listening and talking, reading, writing and the personal, interpersonal and team-working skills, which are so important in life. Early reading skills are taught in a structured way using phonics and graded reading schemes. This is further developed through the use of library books chosen to match the interests and ability of each pupil. Emphasis is placed on reading individually to a teacher, where new vocabulary, plots and characters can be discussed. Pupils are encouraged to practise at home each evening with their parents. World Book Day is celebrated, there are visits to local theatres, and our favourite books are shared in assemblies.
Above all, we believe it is important that all children should enjoy mathematics and study it with intrigue and a sense of achievement and fun. Our staff members are a very experienced team of subject specialist teachers who endeavour to enthuse the girls with a love of the subject and promote confidence in each learner. All girls are challenged to work at the maximum level appropriate for their ability. From Year 4 upwards, girls benefit from being taught in small focus groups. We develop the core skills of numeracy, mental and applied mathematics to stand them in good stead for future studies. We encourage our girls to question, develop investigative thinking and apply their knowledge to real life problems. As increasingly creative and confident learners they are inspired to make rich connections across distinct mathematical domains in order to develop a deep understanding of a range of mathematical ideas. Our pupils are well prepared for the entrance examinations for the local grammar schools and independent schools.
The essence of science at Bowdon Prep School (BPS) is to make seemingly complicated things, simple to understand – and to encourage imagination, questioning and investigation that drives and inspires the pursuit of knowledge. Science stimulates and excites children’s natural curiosity about the world around them. We feel the study of science should provide enjoyment and pleasure in discovery, and give the girls the confidence to approach information critically. We are fortunate to have specialist teachers and excellent facilities. There are two well-equipped science laboratories. Pupils enjoy a double lesson of science teaching each week, with a focus on ‘hands-on’ learning.
Reasoning skills are developed throughout the school. Girls are exposed to a wide range of non-verbal and verbal reasoning materials from an early age. They are taught strategies to tackle tasks and develop their capacity to think logically. The non-verbal curriculum focuses on the ability to identify patterns and sequences, and to understand and analyse visual information. In verbal reasoning, we aim to develop the girls’ capacity to understand and assimilate verbal information, and to think constructively about language (going beyond simple fluency or vocabulary recognition). Practical resources are used alongside more formal materials. Girls are assessed in reasoning (via standardised CEM testing methods) from the end of Year 1 onwards. This, alongside performance in class work, enables us to closely monitor each girl’s progress and to support her appropriately.
At Bowdon Prep School (BPS), we believe that geography is important because it enables children to make sense of the world. We strive to develop a sense of responsibility for the wonderful world the girls are privileged to share. They learn about their immediate environment and place this in context of the wider environment. We help the girls to understand the big issues affecting our lives and our world – issues such as the management of risk, diversity, environmental issues, sustainability, and human rights. Field studies, in the school grounds and the local area, form an integral part of the curriculum in all year groups.
In the teaching of history, we aim to promote an interest and awareness of the past, and to enable girls to appreciate the thoughts, beliefs, motives and actions of people that lived long ago. We concentrate mainly on how Britain has evolved in history – however, other countries and cultures inevitably come into the picture as well. The girls are not just provided with facts and dates, they are taught to investigate, analyse and consider their own findings and those of others, and respond to them. All these skills are needed to be a successful historian. Learning takes place both in and out of the classroom, and we organise many workshops and trips designed to enhance the girls’ studies.
The aim of the religious education (RE) syllabus is to help pupils gain an understanding of the beliefs and traditions of individuals and communities. During RE lessons, children learn about the principal religions represented in Britain today. Basing our studies on Christianity, children are helped to relate Christian beliefs and practices to those of other religions, particularly through the study of appropriate festivals and celebrations. In this way, pupils are encouraged to understand and respect the religious, spiritual and moral values of others, while developing their own. We are very interested in and supportive of other world faiths, and we encourage questions, discussions and shared opinions in an open and honest environment of which we are very proud. We regard our school values and the context in which our pupils learn as vitally important, and in doing so we ensure that religious studies are accessible to all pupils.
We want our girls to become healthy, independent and responsible members of society, and we encourage them to play a positive role in contributing to the life of the school and the wider community. Our personal, social and health education (PSHE) and citizenship curriculum enables the girls to develop key social and emotional skills. It also allows them to experience the process of democracy and the empowerment of the ‘pupil voice’ in school through membership and contribution to the School Council. We encourage girls to take part in a range of practical activities that promote active citizenship. These activities include charity fund-raising, ‘walk to school’ weeks, peer mentoring (friendship buddies), school assemblies and anti-bullying week. We offer children the opportunity to hear visiting speakers. The police, fire service and other officials visit during the school year to meet the children and lead assemblies.
At Bowdon Prep School (BPS) we have a commitment to physical health and fitness for all. In addition to our full-time PE staff, we employ specialist sports coaches who also run some of our extra-curricular clubs. PE and sports are taught throughout the school, and there are opportunities to try a wide variety of activities. We have excellent facilities, including a large sports hall, a sports field, netball and tennis courts, as well as a dance and drama studio. To complement the curriculum, sports clubs are run before school, at lunchtime and after school. All the clubs are non-selective and open to children of all abilities. Our Year 6 sports captains regularly attend and help out with a variety of clubs.
Teams compete in a variety of local leagues and tournaments throughout the year. Girls are selected to represent the school in netball, cross country, lacrosse, rounders and cricket leagues. We have an enviable record of success in matches and tournaments.
Drama and dance are exciting, fun and hugely rewarding. We are fortunate to have a purpose-built dance and drama studio behind our sports hall. Performing in front of an audience is an experience that can really build confidence and prove to be an invaluable life skill as you move through to senior school and beyond. Our girls have the opportunity to get involved in a number of productions held throughout the year. The annual Christmas concerts are wonderful occasions enjoyed by both the young performers and their parents. Plays and musicals are also an important aspect of our school calendar. In addition, there are extra-curricular drama, dance and musical theatre clubs, which take place at lunchtime and after school.
French is introduced in Pre-Prep. The children begin to understand and reproduce vocabulary and expressions in an authentic accent, and have fun in the process. The children become used to the idea of a multicultural and multilingual world through the use of songs, movement, finger rhymes and craft activities. As they progress to the Prep Department, pupils learn to read and write in French, and continue to expand their oral skills. While teachers maintain the fun aspects, girls begin to establish a sound framework of elementary grammar, and practise transferable language learning skills. In Year 6, the girls learn Spanish. This reinforces the importance of the skills they have been practising, while allowing them the opportunity to begin learning another language. Outside of the classroom, there are also special events in each year group to promote enthusiasm for languages and intercultural understanding.
Information and communication technology (ICT) encompasses the handling, storage and communication of information using computers and other technology. Our pupils develop essential life skills in this important curriculum area. ICT is taught as a separate subject and our computer suite is also available for use within specific subject areas. They are encouraged to experiment with text, pictures and patterns, and compose simple musical scores using specialist software. The girls learn how to collect and display data using their own questionnaires and graphs, and enjoy organising information by means of tree diagrams, databases and spreadsheets. We also have programmable floor robots and digital cameras. Internet use is always supervised and girls are made aware of simple safety guidelines.
Art offers an opportunity for personal and creative expression. We aim to develop each pupil’s individual artistic talent, giving girls a wide range of opportunities to work with a variety of materials and media. We have a well-equipped, airy and relaxed art studio, and the girls are taught a broad spectrum of skills and processes which are developed through drawing, painting and modelling. Art is often integrated into other topics, and used in the creation of staging and props for school productions. We also hope to foster an appreciation and awareness of art history and art from other cultures. Above all, we hope that every pupil will develop lifelong skills for self expression through engaging in creative leisure activities. Pupils’ artwork is displayed throughout the school; it is often outstanding, and admired by pupils, staff and visitors.
Design and technology is very much a ‘hands on’ subject. Pupils learn and apply their knowledge and understanding in an exciting and stimulating programme of practical activities. They are encouraged to use written and verbal methods to plan, evaluate and communicate their ideas and designs. Pupils enjoy acquiring and refining the practical skills associated with making – measuring, marking out, cutting and shaping, joining and combining, finishing and resolving. Pupils also apply art skills by investigating texture and colour and recording visual information. Design and technology work is also displayed throughout the school, where it generates a lot of interest.
Music is at the heart of our school. At our last inspection, music teaching was described as exceptional. Music enriches the cultural life of all our pupils, and it plays a central role in preparing them for future life by instilling confidence gained from the many performance opportunities they are given. All girls learn to play at least one musical instrument in their time at Bowdon Prep School (BPS). In addition, a number of peripatetic teachers offer tuition in a range of instruments. Pupils all take part in several performances each year – singing, playing an instrument or, in many cases, both. We also have a number of choirs, as well as an orchestra, string groups, a recorder group, a brass group, ukulele group, percussion group and samba band! There are a number of highly enjoyable concerts for parents each year, and our Chamber Choir is regularly successful in competitions and festivals.