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The Upper School covers pupils from Forms Three to Six. The children are grouped into Les Aigles Impériaux (Form Three), Les Aigles Couronnés (Form Four), Les Aigles Royaux (Form Four) and Les Élans and Les Rennes (parallel mixed Forms Five and Six groups).
In these classes, the holistic Montessori ethos is still the central guide. Autonomous research work is encouraged and supported by numerous trips and visits off-site. However, as the children move into studying more abstract concepts, the need for Montessori equipment becomes less pronounced and a shift takes place towards a more traditional timetable with weekly spelling, times tables and verbal/non-verbal reasoning.
In the Upper School, all children receive specialist French, music, science and games teaching and spend a mid-morning break in nearby Grimaldi Park. Building on the solid foundations developed in the Lower School, we work on extending our children’s natural and growing curiosity. We challenge each individual appropriately, so that they are stretched and motivated to achieve their full potential. Our curriculum is broad and engaging.
As Les Aigles Impériaux begins the transition to Upper School, the children begin to think more in the abstract. Our teacher in Les Aigles Impériaux is Miss Kiernan, supported by Miss Hanks (Montessori Teacher). Our teacher in Les Aigles Couronnés is Miss Blackburn and Les Aigles Royaux is taught by Miss Kennedy. Both Form Four classes are supported by Teaching Assistant Miss Rock. All Form Three and Four classes are also supported by Upper School teacher Mr Day.
Our English programme is rich and varied – broken down into writing grammar in a variety of genres, reading and public speaking. Maths builds on the children’s understanding of the four operations, working on all strands and solving multi-step problems. Our enquiry-based learning approach means that the children enjoy a broad range of topics and projects. Our ‘Ancient Greek Day’ is always well-received and a great way to enrich learning, as is our practical ‘Taste my World’ unit.
Exciting learning opportunities take place both within and outside the classrooms and we try to integrate learning opportunities wherever possible. Developing a curious mind, encouraging the students to be forward-thinking and confident learners are at the core of our classrooms. As responsibility increases in Upper School, we ensure that this remains manageable and does not overwhelm our students. When children leave Les Aigles they have the confidence to extend and enrich their learning further in the senior part of our school, Les Élans and Les Rennes.
These are the classes in which children build and consolidate their knowledge, gradually preparing them for the transition to Senior School. Our Head of Group in Les Élans is Miss Falloon, while in Les Rennes, it is Miss Fieldsend, supported by Upper School teacher Mr Day.
The curriculum develops the children’s interests way beyond the National Curriculum and is intrinsically linked to their out-of-school visits. Projects – such as creating a school newspaper through workshops at The Guardian’s offices in nearby King’s Cross – extend their language and writing abilities, while their Maths skills are nurtured through specialist sessions.
There is an increasing emphasis in Les Élans and Les Rennes on taking responsibility and leading through example. All children spend time as a House Captain and they help the youngest children in the school once a week as ‘Reading Buddies’. They also have the opportunity to be elected to the School Council by their class peers. In Les Élans and Les Rennes, assessments in spelling, multiplication tables and verbal reasoning take place every Friday morning. Children are expected to remain abreast of current affairs, and present weekly news items to their classmates, as well as completing weekly homework tasks.
We are lucky enough in London to live in a superbly rich cultural city, and under normal circumstances, we take full advantage of this at The Gower School.
In the Upper School, each class makes at least two visits per term to museums, historical sites and places of interest. Each of these visits is tied into project work and provides our children with invaluable experiences and a new ‘out of classroom’ perspective. Recent visits have included the National Gallery, Science Museum, Natural History Museum, Canal Museum and the V&A. The children attend London Symphony Orchestra concerts at the Barbican at least twice a year and the programme is linked to their school-based music lessons.