The Cobham Free School junior department (Reception to Year 6) opened in September 2012 following a successful bid in wave 2 of the government's free school programme. Opening in a small Gospel Hall, with just three infant classes, it has now grown to capacity, with full cohorts up to Year 6. The school moved to the Old Police Station site on Portsmouth Road, Cobham in November 2013; the building was re-designed and refurbished to provide excellent educational facilities.
The department is led by Mrs Rolfe, Head of Junior who is supported by two Deputies, Mrs Newman (Pastoral/SEND) and Mrs Grenander (Academic). The staff teaching team are experienced and highly qualified practitioners and pupils from Reception upwards have specialist lessons in Music, French and PE.
The school has already had significant success in national assessments, including achieving 100% in the Year 1 phonics check in 2015 and 2016, and obtaining above the national averages in the Early Years Profile and Key Stage 1 SATS. In June 2016 the Year 6 pupils undertook the School's first Key Stage 2 exams, scoring well above the national average for progress in Reading and Mathematics, placing CFS in the top 10% of schools in the UK for progress in these subjects.
The junior department has proved very popular with parents and is oversubscribed for every year group. In May 2014 it was rated Good in its first Ofsted inspection and we were delighted with the very positive report from the inspectors.
Message from Mrs Rolfe - Head of Junior
It is a privilege to work with such a dynamic and enthusiastic team of teachers, support staff and children in my role leading the Early Years, Key Stage 1 and 2 phases of the school. No two days are ever the same, with pupils enjoying the wide range of rich opportunities and experiences on offer.
I am looking forward to watching our pupils progress and flourish as they move through the school. We are already seeing the impact of our approach on the excellent results we are achieving across the phases and in the outstanding behaviour of our pupils. The children arrive at school each day happy, positive, and eager to start their lessons - we are delighted to be inspiring such a love of learning.
Junior Department Organisation
Age 4+ Reception: Early Years Foundation Stage (Lower School)
Age 5+ Year 1: Key Stage 1 (Lower School)
Age 6+ Year 2: Key Stage 1 (Lower School)
Age 7+ Year 3 : Key Stage 2 (Upper School)
Age 8+ Year 4: Key Stage 2 (Upper School)
Age 9+ Year 5: Key Stage 2 (Upper School)
Age 10+ Year 6: Key Stage 2 (Upper School)
Junior Department Day
The formal school day runs from 8.40am to 3.30 pm in the Lower School (Reception, Year 1 and Year 2) and from 8.40am to 3.45pm in Key Stage 2 (Years 3-6). The school doors open at 8.30am for those not attending Earlybirds and children make their way to their classrooms having been greeted at the door by a senior member of staff. Pupils shake hands with their teacher at the end of the school day, before being released to parents.
All pupils receive specialist tuition in a full range of sports (including Swimming from Year 1 upwards), Music and French.
We have a designated PE coordinator on the junior staff and a team of trained sports specialists for the delivery of lessons and fixtures against other schools. We also engage the services of Chelsea FC Foundation coaches for timetabled curriculum lessons during the day and after school clubs. These specialists provide a varied programme of different sports, including invasion football, rugby, hockey, netball, athletics, gymnastics and cricket.
Swimming lessons are held at Reeds School's indoor pool and led by specialist instructors. We hope to take part in galas in the future.
The junior department has its own specialist Music teacher who delivers curriculum lessons across the year groups, organises concerts and runs ensembles and choirs. We also have high quality professionals from The Yehudi Menuhin School providing group violin and cello tuition as an integral part of our specially designed Music programme. Singing is an important part of school life and all pupils take part in weekly 'Big Sing' sessions which are led by a trained vocal coach, providing the opportunity for part singing in a range of genres. We have a full team of peripatetic Music teachers offering private tuition in a wide range of instruments.
All pupils throughout the junior school learn French taught by a specialist native speaker. Pupils have regular opportunities to practise their language skills, with onsite workshops and residential trips to France taking place during the school year.
Lower School (Reception, Years 1 and 2)
We recognise the importance of the infant years as a time for acquiring fundamental skills in Numeracy and Literacy, whilst at the same time offering plenty of scope for developing a child’s powers of self-expression and creativity. Mrs Hall is the Phase Leader for the Lower School and works with her colleagues to ensure that pupils receive a high quality experience in these first important years of formal education at CFS.
Numeracy and Literacy are taught using a range of strategies to achieve the most effective outcomes. Different approaches include regular peer mentoring and partner-working, as well as teacher-guided instruction and individual exercises.
Literacy in Lower School is taught using the highly effective phonics-based Read, Write, Inc. scheme. Pupils are placed in ability groups for these lessons, which are fun, 'quick-paced' and designed to keep the pupils fully engaged.
The Lower School pupils use the CFS Maths curriculum which has been designed to meet the needs of the new National Curriculum and is based on Hamilton Trust plans.
Reception - areas of learning in the Early Years
The Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum for Reception pupils focuses on the seven areas of learning outlined below. All areas of learning and development are important and interconnected. They are divided into three Prime Areas:
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
- Communication and Language
- Physical Development
These areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive.
The children are also supported in four Specific Areas through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied:
- Understanding the world
- Expressive arts and design
Within the areas, there are seventeen early learning goals which together form the EYFS profile. At the end of the year pupils are assessed in all seventeen areas with a judgement made about whether their skills are ‘emerging’, as ‘expected’ or ‘exceeding’ outcomes.
Key Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2)
In Years 1 and 2 we adopt a broad and balanced curriculum covering Key Stage 1 material, but we also work well beyond the boundaries of The National Curriculum wherever possible and appropriate. Pupils are well prepared for national tests and undertake the phonics screening check in Year 1 and Key Stage 1 SATS in Year 2. While there is a strong focus on Numeracy and Literacy, pupils are also taught a wide range of subjects, including Science, Humanities (as part of a topic), Art, French, Music, RE and PE. The curriculum is enriched with outings, workshops and cross-curricular opportunities.
Upper School (Years 3 to 6)
In Upper School pupils have a subject-based approach in line with the National Curriculum. As in Key Stage 1, it is hoped that knowledge extends beyond the boundaries of the current guidelines wherever possible and include opportunities for development of individual interests. In addition to the subjects specified in the National Curriculum pupils have French lessons twice a week.
Pupils in Years 3 and 4 are taught English, Mathematics, Science, History, Geography, Art and Religious Studies by their class teachers and receive specialist teaching in French, Music, PE & Games. Thus, there is be a greater focus on the skills, knowledge and understanding required in each subject discipline. However, despite this subject-based structure teachers draw strands of learning together and make connections between the different subjects, adopting a cross-curricular approach when appropriate.
Literacy is taught using a range of methods and there is a strong focus on extended writing. Big Write sessions, dedicated writing days and participation in short story competitions help to promote creativity and improve technical understanding. A love of reading is encouraged through Book Week, cross-curricular activities (such as a Roald Dahl inspired concert), library time and regular and varied opportunities to read within the class.
Upper School pupils have a specially designed Maths programme which includes preparation for national SATS assessments in Year 6. Pupils are stretched and challenged to go beyond the expectations of the National Curriculum and high achievers may be taught alongside children in older year groups.
Although not a faith school, Cobham Free School considers Religious Education very important. Pupils learn about different world faiths as part of the curriculum. Their studies are given context through visits to religious buildings, special themed lunches, assemblies and celebrations which reflect cultural festivals.
We welcome pupils from families of all backgrounds and beliefs, religious or secular, to join our school; cultural diversity serves to enhance and enrich our community.
At Cobham Free School we feel that developing a love of reading at an early age is key to future academic success. The type of activity within reading sessions may vary and include shared experiences with small groups or the whole class, as well as opportunities for individuals to be heard by the class teacher.
Parents are encouraged to continue to share reading experiences with their children in the home. Children identified as having particular challenges are given extra help and support during the reading periods.
Teachers across the school use both summative and formative assessment techniques (see All-Through Model Assessment for further details).
Examples of summative forms of assessment in the junior department
- Reception - pupils have baseline assessments on entry to Cobham Free School. Their progress is charted through evaluation of their experiences in the Foundation Stage six areas of learning. Pupil’s progress is recorded in a ‘learning journey’ document to be passed to Key Stage 1 teachers at the end of the year.
- Key Stage 1 and 2 - regular informal assessments across subject areas is made at the end of each 6 week period, with more formal school examinations at the end of the school year in Years 3 to 6.
- Year 1 pupils take the phonics screening test.
- In Years 2 and 6 pupils sit external SATS papers in Numeracy and Literacy to measure academic performance of the school as a whole at Key Stages 1 and 2. Science is also assessed by the teacher.