The quality of educational provision was praised highly in our latest ISI inspection report.
The Montessori curriculum at The Elms is underpinned by the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum 2021. The Montessori materials and method provide a tailored, hands on approach to learning which serves to create a stimulating environment in which to learn and develop.
The Early Years setting has been accredited by the Montessori Schools Association following each of their inspections, from 2010 to 2022, during which the quality of the Montessori approach is rigorously assessed.
The Early Years children join The Elms as part of our school ‘family’. They are enrolled into the School House system upon starting in Nursery and quickly start earning their green cards and forming an allegiance with their team. From their earliest days they make use of the whole school site and facilities: enjoying time immersed in Nature on the Farm and in Forest School; developing confidence on stage in the theatre; taking time to reflect in Chapel; developing their skills in the Swimming Pool and Sports Hall; and enjoying ‘family’ lunches in the Dining room. A favourite part of their day in an extended play time out on the field with pre-Prep and Year 3&4, a making the most of opportunities to play and look up to their older role models.
With the needs of families taken into close consideration, we offer after school clubs and an extended day, with activities provided by the Early Years and Pre-Prep staff. This thread of continuity is an important aspect of our ethos. Bearing in mind that many Early Years children have older siblings already in the pre-Prep and Main School, this wrap around care allows families to tailor their day and coordinate collection times: both helping families and helping to accustom our younger children to the longer Main School day.
By the time the children reach the end of Early Years, they are ready to embrace the new challenges of pre-prep. This transition is done gently and given plenty of time so all the children feel confident and ready for their new setting.
“From an extremely broad range of starting points, children in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) make a high rate of progress.”
The classroom is divided into different areas:
These activities promote independence, co-ordination and fine/gross motor skills. They also develop the child’s concentration and dexterity. The children will be presented with activities that relate to real life experiences such as dressing frames to help them learn how to tie their own shoe laces and pouring exercises to enable them to become independent.
These materials are designed to heighten the child’s awareness of colour, shape, texture and size. They provide the basis to a wide variety of curriculum areas such as geometry, algebra, handwriting, reading, art and music.
Communication is encouraged through daily activities such as conversations with other children, circle time, stories, music and the outdoor classroom. Writing comes before reading and the children use a wide range of equipment to help them develop a neat handwriting style. When a child is ready to start reading they are taught the phonetic sounds and the shapes of letters. The child then progresses to word building and blending (CVC, CCVC/CVCC, and digraphs). Once they are ready to read we use a variety of reading schemes choosing those that work best for each individual child. Challenges is this area are very quickly picked up and extra support is provided where necessary.
The Montessori Maths equipment provides children with concrete forms of mathematical concepts and when the child is ready they move on to more abstract exercises. In the Early Years department, children are introduced to numerals and quantities 1-9 and then they move on to use the decimal system quickly adding four figure numbers by the time they are in Year 1. They will learn to add, subtract, multiply and divide using specially designed apparatus.
The children are encouraged to take an active interest in the world around them. Our projects allow the children to bring in items to share with the rest of the group. They study plant and animal life; they understand how the scientists believe the world was created; they study the religions of the world and the continents on our globe; The Montessori materials teach the children Geography, History, Science, Art and Music.
PSHE and Mindfulness
During PSHE children will learn about how to deal with emotions, friendships, general hygiene and ways in which to stay healthy. Whilst in mindfulness the children learn calming and breathing techniques which help them purposefully pay attention to what is happening around them and within them to help process their feelings and emotions.
Art and Craft Activities:
As well as having an afternoon session once a week devoted to Art, in which we might look in depth at the work of some of the worlds most famous artists, the children are also free to use a wide range of materials from the art trolley in our classroom on a daily basis.
Music and Drama:
The children have a Music and Drama session once a week and also put on several plays and informal concerts throughout the school year (nativity, harvest festival, informal concerts, Mothers’ day concert, summer plays).
There is a smartboard in the classroom for circle time presentations and interactive educational games. The children also use various programmable equipment such as the Beebot, a camera and ipads.
The children use the sports hall for PE and Yoga. We also do daily exercises to help the children inhibit any baby reflexes that might be preventing them from being able to concentrate, focus and balance (www.inpp.org.uk). The children enjoy 60 acres of open space at break times and during Woodland Challenge lessons. Some of these lessons also take place on the farm where they learn to look after the pigs, cows and chickens.
Farm and garden
Weekly slots at the farm and garden might involve weeding, planting, feeding the animals and egg collecting.
Weekly woodland challenge sessions with a qualified forest school leader allows children to develop themselves through healthy engagement with risk, problem-solving and self-discovery, all within a natural environment in a hands-on and thoughtful manner.
Montessori is a method of education that is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play. In Montessori classrooms children make creative choices in their learning, while the classroom and the highly trained teachers offer age-appropriate activities to guide them through their learning. Children work in groups and individually to discover and explore knowledge of the world and to develop their maximum potential. This approach leads to an enormously powerful, confidence-building approach to learning. Here at The Elms, we have staff who are qualified teachers and trained Montessorians.
The benefits of Montessori at The Elms.
· The Montessori approach focuses on the individual child, allowing them to develop at their own pace, following their own interests.
· Small class sizes with a high teacher to pupil ratio.
· An inclusive, community minded environment which all children are encouraged to embrace.
· Tailored teaching and learning to suit differing learning styles and interests.
· A broad curriculum which seeks to appeal to all interests and abilities and is underpinned by the Early Years’ Foundation Stage.
· A system which seeks to achieve high levels of cognitive attainment. This is often higher than the national average, in line with the aims of The Elms School.
· An environment which encourages high levels of positive social and behavioural development in all areas.
· Confident, excited, happy and engaged children who love learning.