Common Entrance Preparation
At Vita et Pax, with the aim to prepare our pupils for grammar entry exams and, indeed, for secondary education, our curriculum is structured to ensure that by the end of year 4, all pupils are secure and accurate readers, writers and mathematicians. This enables our pupils to access and accept high-end and open challenges in their academic work. We work in collaboration with educators from some of the best grammar and independent schools in the country to form an astute understanding of what is needed to succeed in some of the most academically challenging schools. Our systematic approach to challenge is reflective of this understanding, and it is the reason that our pupils leave our school equipped with the skills, knowledge and understanding to be confident, inquisitive, independent learners.
Watch: One of our Year 6 pupils was set the task of writing an autobiography for an entrance interview. Having dedicated Common Entrance preparation time allowed the student to refine her work and gain entry to her desired school.
From entry to our school and building towards the end of Year 4, we aim to deliver an English curriculum, where pupils acquire a solid foundation in punctuation, grammar and spelling. During those ‘foundation’ years, a basis of creative writing is scaffolded, enabling all pupils to draw upon a range of structured devices in their work. Using a range of specific creative writing techniques and approaches to linguistic device application, drawn from several literacy strategies, such as Alan Peat Sentences or teacher led initiative, our pupils form a bank of techniques that are supported by the non-negotiable accuracy of grammar, punctuation and spelling, which is clearly reflected in their standardised scores which exceed the expectation for their age group.
From the secure foundations acquired by the end of year 4, our English specialist continues to develop creative, independent and open thinkers that are ready to accept the challenges of the future. This affords our Year 5 & 6 English specialist teacher, a two-year time frame to ensure that all pupils are effectively challenged to make extended progress in the English curriculum. Augmented with an astute understanding of pupils’ needs, which is formed from assessment, close communication between teachers/leaders and working with the same class for a two-year period, our Year 5 & 6 English specialist generates lessons that are underpinned by challenge. Consequently, our pupils view reading, writing and, indeed, the world with the skills, knowledge and understanding required to excel in the next chapter of their education.
Throughout their time at Vita et Pax, pupils have the opportunity to enter a variety of writing competitions such as the Mayor of London Writing Award and Author of Tomorrow. As a result of our outstanding specialist teachers, we recently celebrated one of our pupils winning the Mayor of London Writing Award. This encourages a conscientious and ambitious environment within our classrooms.
In Year 5 & 6, high-end challenges that are attainable, yet tantamount to university education challenge, are posed to our outstanding learners. Whether our pupils are asked to explore questions such as ‘Can a utopia exist without a dystopia?’ or given opportunities to independently and exploratively write, harnessing literary concepts acquired during their time at Vita et Pax, our children readily and zestfully accept challenge as normative behaviour. From this provision, our pupils begin secondary school, academically proficient and as composed, mature learners. This is why our children, from SEN to high-ability, flourish in the English Curriculum.
Throughout the school, there is a significant challenge in mathematics. The infants provide the foundation for our pupils by mastering the 4 operations – addition, subtraction, division, multiplication. Our accelerated learning approach ensures that the children are working a year ahead of their age-expectation and are fully prepared for the 11+ exams. This starts from Reception where children begin the challenging Inspire Maths scheme. Within the scheme, children are encouraged to become independent learners with each pupil having their own practice book full of mastery questions. The scheme is differentiated with a challenging practice section at the end of each topic. This forms the basis of our maths curriculum and class teachers complement this with mastery challenges which are cherry-picked from White Rose, Nrich, NCETM and Corbett Maths.
Independent learning is embedded across the mathematics curriculum, with the introduction of challenging study books in Year 5. Pupils are given bespoke study books ranging from Schofield & Sims to develop their mental arithmetic skills to KS3 CGP workbooks. Our conscientious pupils complete these for homework to encourage accelerated progress within the subject.
In addition to this, Year 5 & 6 pupils are annually entered into the Primary and Junior Maths Challenge and frequently progress into subsequent rounds. Likewise, Year 3 & 4 children are entered into the First Maths Challenge every year to expose them to challenging problem-solving. Furthermore, Year 5 & 6 pupils have excelled in the National Young Mathematicians award by solving a series of abstract challenges set by the University of Cambridge and presenting their findings to a panel of external judges.
As a result of the accelerated learning approach, pupils are taught the foundations of Secondary school mathematics in the summer term of Year 6. To ensure a smooth secondary transition, the subject-specialist teachers have visited a plethora of academically prestigious secondary schools such as QE Boys and North London Collegiate. By maintaining a close relationship with these high-achieving schools, the expectations are raised at Vita et Pax to ensure pupils are fully prepared for the secondary transition.
Common Entrance Preparation
To complement the challenge embedded throughout the English and Mathematics curriculum, pupils in the Juniors benefit from having specialist lessons which focus on preparing for the 11+ examinations. During this dedicated time, pupils develop examination technique in the main 11+ subjects — Verbal and Non-verbal reasoning, Mathematics and English. They are also afforded opportunities for practice of interview, presentation and sporting skills.
Atom Learning is an adaptive, online teaching and learning platform that helps children practice questioning for grammar and independent school examinations in Maths, English and Reasoning. Through Atom Learning’s School Platform (Atom Prime), we regularly use adaptive questioning for tests and homework.
Parents are provided regular reports on their child's academic performance as well as updates regarding navigating the secondary entrance process. Teachers work in partnership with parents throughout preparation towards secondary entry.
As a result of this comprehensive preparation, we have a high proportion of our students gaining entry to some of the country’s most academically-challenging schools. Please see the destination data of our Year 6 pupils.