Ahead of the Game
How can you give your child that all important head start – can your child afford to wait?
Conventionally, primary school children are educated in a fairly restricted environment, which sees them in a dedicated classroom with a single teacher for all subjects.
Children are at their most receptive at this age so new experiences can instil them with academic and social confidence.
Open up this picture and envisage your child being inspired by specialist teachers in some key academic areas to complement outstanding primary specialists. A broad and rich curriculum and children increasingly moving from one classroom to the next interspersed with co-curricular activities to keep them fresh, receptive and open-minded.
Welcome to Stonyhurst St Mary’s Hall.
At Stonyhurst St Mary’s Hall children are given boundless opportunities to discover what they enjoy and where they excel. It may be science or maths – or equally it may be tennis, drama, singing or playing the drums.
Class sizes are small for this primary age group, there is a carefully balanced curriculum that includes core subjects as well as a wide range of others, including two modern languages.
The facilities on the Stonyhurst campus enable children to travel through a seamless education from primary to secondary and on to sixth form.
“The facilities available to pupils at Stonyhurst St Mary’s Hall are something special,” says headmaster Ian Murphy.
“When children come to us from primary school at 11, they can sometimes be behind both academically and socially, as they have not had the same breadth of opportunity in learning – certainly in terms of sport, drama and languages.”
“It is increasingly occurring to parents that children can come here at a tender age. The earlier the better.”
“If children come to us at Key Stage 2 before 11, their minds are like sponges, they can take in such a lot. They don’t get tired of it either – they can be enjoying a tennis lesson at 7am and still be here busy at 5pm or 6pm. It is a long school day so it is also great value.”
Children in this age group are suitably streamed for maths and English while there is specialist teaching in other subjects including art, drama, music and modern languages in addition to the great wealth of sport – there is even an on-site observatory and an astronomy specialist!
The subject specialists also teach older children, so for younger pupils it opens their eyes to different styles of learning at a much earlier age. It extends and stretches them, while access to a state-of-the-art theatre, science labs, extensive sports pitches and world class tennis dome gives them further opportunities.
While Stonyhurst St Mary’s Hall moved away some years ago from SATS for Key Stage 2 pupils, it carries out its own rigorous assessment upon children’s attainment and progress, measuring against the national average.
“SATS restricts the curriculum, it goes against our mission to educate the whole child,” says Head of KS2 Joy Twigg.
For Year 6 Mrs Twigg takes pupils through a Time Tunnel using Stonyhurst’s world renowned collection of historic artefacts: “When children are learning it is important that their minds are focused, particularly on the chronology of history.”
One of the Time Tunnel units focuses on Famous People, giving children the opportunity to visit the museum on the Stonyhurst campus to see Shakespeare’s First Folio published in 1623, a prayer book belonging to Mary Queen of Scots and a hat worn by St Thomas More.
“When they grow up our pupils might not remember a maths lesson but they will remember seeing an Egyptian mummy, a lump of copralite (dinosaur poo!) or a Bronze Age axe from the Stonyhurst collection. It brings history to life and leaves a lasting impression,” explains Mrs Twigg, who adds that items from the collection are also available to other schools to use as a learning resource.
Following such a broad and rich curriculum also encourages children to think ‘outside the box’, be resourceful and have opinions about the world around them. As a result pupils do particularly well in Stonyhurst’s scholarship programme at 11 plus.
The international aspect of the school also gives children an insight into different cultures, forging lifelong friendships with pupils from across the globe including Italy, Spain, Mexico and Hong Kong.
“As a Jesuit school we are part of a global network,” concludes Mr Murphy. “We have extensive opportunities and an education that will stretch and also guide and support in equal measure. Our job is to help each child flourish, to ensure a platform that enables each to discover their true gifts and talents. Our world class facilities and inspirational teaching nurture social and academic confidence – it’s a winning formula!”
Stonyhurst St Mary’s Hall
Clitheroe BB7 9PR