Academically, the school aims to provide the highest quality education in tandem with a happy and supportive school environment so as to enable every child to achieve his or her full potential. The emphasis is on the development of an enquiring mind and the fostering of imagination as well as a thorough grounding in literacy and numeracy.
The syllabus extends well beyond the core subjects of English, Mathematics and Science and includes History, Geography, Art, Design and Technology, ICT, PE, Sport, Music, Dance, Drama, French and PSHE. Teaching resources include interactive Smart Boards, a specialist ICT Suite, science room, art and design facilities and a library equipped with an up to date range of fiction and reference material.
Extension of the curriculum is helped by regular visits, which have recently included the Globe Theatre, the British Museum, the Imperial War Museum, Henley Rowing Museum and a trip to the National Theatre production of War Horse.
Teachers at Herries recognize that children progress at different rates and respond to a variety of teaching methods. The traditional values of teaching are therefore combined with methodology designed to bring out the best in each individual. Parents are welcome to speak with their child’s teacher at any time and the home-school partnership is central to Herries’ philosophy.
Small class sizes (the average is 10) help our pupils to concentrate on their learning and to form close rapport with the teacher. Their progress is closely monitored and reporting is done via Teacher-Parent conferences and also by written reports twice each academic year. A Homework diary enables parents of older pupils to monitor their child’s progress and to make comments on the tasks set.
The PSHE curriculum runs throughout the school and teaches children the importance of such things as healthy eating, personal hygiene and exercise. Each week a different class presents assembly, giving the children a chance to speak and sometimes perform to a wider audience. Good citizenship and concern for others feature prominently in these assemblies and each term we focus on a charity for which Herries pupils raise funds and make contributions in many other ways.
Invited speakers and guests often provide an additional dimension to assembly; Cookham Rotary Club members erected a shelter of the type needed in Haiti and demonstrated other supplies in the emergency boxes which we had collected funds for. Music teachers have given some very entertaining demonstrations on the guitar and drums and we even had a golf lesson from the professional at Winter Hill.
Every Friday, we finish the week’s work with a Golden Time assembly. This reinforces the lessons we have tried to teach the children by recognizing and rewarding their efforts. A real sense of camaraderie is developed as we celebrate everything from academic success to helpfulness, consideration for others and of course, birthdays!
Pupils in Years 3 & 4 visit Flatford Mill in Suffolk each March. Flatford Mill was the home of the artist John Constable and many of his paintings were completed in and around the mill. Perhaps the most famous of these is The Haywain, which features the house lived in by Willy Lott. This house is now the place where our pupils stay during their three day visit. Activities include map-reading, local history, pond-dipping, sketching and environmental science. The visit helps the pupils to relate the work done in class to actual places and events. For example, Year 3 pupils study the Romans as part of their history course and as part of the trip we visit Colchester Castle Museum where there is an excellent interactive display of Roman and Celtic exhibits. The visit also encourages teamwork and helps to develop self-confidence. The centre is run by very welcoming staff who really help our pupils to get the most from their visit. Flatford Mill makes the ideal place for our pupils to experience what for many will be their first time away from home.
In the summer term, Years 5 & 6 have a week-long stay at a Multi-Activity Centre such Osmington Bay in Dorset. Here they take part in activities on land and water ranging from rock climbing to canoeing and abseiling to mountain biking. The PGL centre at Osmington Bay is a small, homely centre in a quiet rural setting with staff who really love working with younger guests.