- Religious and Cultural Studies
- Latin and Classical Civilisation
- Design and Technology
- Information Technology and Computing
- Physical Education
- Forest School and Outdoor Curriculum
- Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education
There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favourite book. – Marcel Proust
Marcel Proust’s passion for reading is something we robustly encourage in the pupils at Conifers. The fundamental element of our literacy programme is the quest to ensure our children enjoy their reading – from David Walliams to William Shakespeare. The focus is on creating readers who are not just confident but who actively want to read more.
Within the senior school, the children select their reading material from our extensive library. Junior school pupils use the Read Write Ink programme to instil the vocabulary and fluency required to confidently select and read appropriate, challenging and interesting books.
The English department builds this passion for reading by inspiring and motivating within the classroom. Comprehension tasks are taken from modern, popular books as well as historical passages and poems. Discussion and use of books the pupils are reading help make the understanding of grammar and punctuation accessible and enjoyable to all. A focus on key skills and creativity is prevalent throughout the school: this helps the individual find his or her literary self and display it in a conventional form. These extensive reading and writing experiences directly impact upon the quality of work produced for county- and country-wide competitions in poetry and creative writing. The thrill the children derive from seeing their work published is a pleasure to see.
The modernisation of literacy is evident in the array of unconventional projects the pupils work on. Whether it’s creating podcasts or visiting the Harry Potter Studios to scriptwriting or contributing to Pupil Post, a weekly pupil-run newspaper, the children at Conifers are preparing themselves for the modern, literate world.
Our ongoing challenge in the digital age is to ensure our pupils develop and maintain a deep-rooted passion for reading and writing. Here at Conifers, we aim to ensure every child has specific, individual targets and support to achieve and surpass their potential.
At Conifers, we apply a student-led approach to education in which our children are encouraged to explore mathematics through a variety of media. Wherever possible, we try to make learning a hands-on process.
ICT is used to create a more engaging learning experience, and it provides our children with instant feedback on their progress. For example, we use the “My maths” learning portal for pupil homework and the “hit the button” mathematics game to support the revision and testing of times tables.
To start our children on their learning journey, we use the write-in “Understanding Maths” series to allow them to focus more on the mathematics. Once the mathematical principles are secure, we then use the “Maths on Target” textbook series to extend our students’ learning.
We also provide weekly mathematics extension sessions to stimulate and stretch the learning of our gifted and talented students.
We all know a child that has “investigated” a toy to the point of destruction…
“How hard can it be bashed?” Are these our future test engineers?
“How can I rearrange it?” Our future architects?
“What will happen if I put it in water?” The chemists of tomorrow?
Scientific enquiry is taught throughout Conifers, from the Early Years, where it is embedded in the Early Years Curriculum and Forest School, in Key Stage 1, where it is incorporated in topic work, in Key Stage 2 where the children have separately timetabled sessions in the lab, often with a cross-curricular bias and Key Stage 3 where the sciences are taught in preparation for Common Entrance at 13+.
The basis of all science is discovering and investigating. Pupils are encouraged to design their own experiments, to enquire and to test, to log results and data and to decide for themselves if this data was useful, reliable or could be improved.
Science lessons are pupil-led practical sessions that will often start with a question. So a typical flow might be:
- “Does the distance a car travels depend on the force you apply?“
- How will we test this?
- What data can we collect and how will we record it?
- Was this what we were expecting?
- Could we improve our investigation?
Science at Conifers – Investigate, discover and enjoy!
In the Early Years and Key Stage 1, history is included in each cross-curricular theme, for example, in such topics as “Toys” and “The seaside”. Towards the end of Key Stage 1, the children start to work their way chronologically through the different eras, starting with the stone age and culminating – at the end of Key Stage 2 – with the twentieth century. In Key Stage 3 children revisit history from 1066 to modern day, selecting areas of interest to research in depth. Pupils are also taught to use source material to construct essays at a higher level.
A wide range of activities is incorporated into the teaching of this subject, and the children’s learning is extended through hands-on workshops at places such as the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum, Butser Ancient Farm and Haslemere Educational Museum.
Geography at Conifers is taught within topic work in the Early Years and Key Stage 1. In Key Stage 2, geography is taught as a separate subject – although often linked to history and science – and is used as a facilitator for improving literacy and numeracy. In Key Stage 3, pupils prepare fully for Common Entrance by undertaking fieldwork and investigating case studies linked to the main themes of the course.
The children enjoy field trips and learn to use skills, such as map-reading, to learn about all aspects of this marvellous subject. They are encouraged to understand communities beyond their local environs and to consider the challenges that people in other countries may face: from lack of water to difficult work conditions.
The pupils work on topics within the five main areas of Geography:
- The environment
- Economic activities
- Weather and climate
Geography is a fascinating subject with many facets that the children can relate to. We encourage them to make connections with current affairs, which, in turn, enables the children to engage with the world beyond Midhurst.
Religious and Cultural Studies
Religious Education (RE) is an important part of the curriculum at Conifers and is taught on a weekly basis. In addition to Christianity, the children are taught about Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism. Children develop a knowledge and understanding of beliefs, values, traditions, festivals and practices for each religion. This knowledge is enhanced with visits to local places of worship, for example, the local church and Buddhist Monastery, as well as through stories, assemblies and projects.
Children learn what it is like to be a believer of a religion practised in the world today. They learn to show respect and to appreciate and have an open mind about other religions. The subject contributes to the children’s spiritual development. They form their own personal beliefs and learn to appreciate the beliefs of others. The children are encouraged to try and find answers to such fundamental questions as ‘Why do innocent people suffer?’ and ‘What is right and what is wrong?’. RE at Conifers is not just about imparting knowledge but about making sense of human relationships and preparing pupils for living in a diverse society.
French at Conifers is taught by a native French specialist, meaning all children, from as young as four years old, experience the language with an authentic accent and intonation. Getting used to hearing a French person speak enables the children to develop a good ear as linguists.
The curriculum includes the opportunity to study the French culture, as well as the language, and some year groups are able to go to France on a daytrip.
Lessons are taught using the four skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening. Grammar and language structure are gradually introduced, thus preparing the children for further education. The subject is taught through songs, flashcards, stories, role-plays and interactive games – and by participating in a themed “French day”.
The children get involved in learning French songs at Christmas and Easter and gain in confidence by performing these at concerts in front of parents and friends.
At Conifers, all children are given many opportunities to become confident and competent in learning another language and enjoy the opportunity to speak and learn French.
The curriculum aims to make learning Mandarin accessible and fun for young children. It employs the use of pinyin, a system of writing Mandarin phonetically using English letters. Children who are familiar with phonics will find pinyin a great tool for accessing new vocabulary and phrases.
The books that the children use are part of a range published by Dragons in Europe called Primary School Chinese. These books focus on presenting useful language that will enable the children to say simple phrases from the word go.
Chinese characters are taught slowly alongside the spoken language. Children start by learning high-frequency and simpler characters, and are gradually introduced to more challenging Chinese characters over time.
The Primary School Chinese range of books is fully supported online with interactive learning games and activities. We encourage the students to spend time on the Kung Fu Kingdom e-learning website which will help them consolidate their knowledge at home, and bring a fun element to their Chinese learning.
Latin and Classical Civilisation
Classical Civilisation is the introduction to Latin and represents the non-linguistic aspect of the curriculum. It includes learning about the domestic life of Romans, including rituals and entertainment. It also looks at myths and legends, such as Jason and the Golden Fleece, The Trojan War and Theseus and the Minotaur, to name just a few favourites.
The curriculum also extends to Latin, where the language of this ancient community is studied and linked to our modern language.
Classics forms part of the suite of subjects studied for Common Entrance at 13+.
Art at Conifers is alive and thriving. Children receive specialist art teaching from Form I exploring a variety of different media such as clay, paint, textiles, printmaking, collage and 3D work.
From early on, the children are encouraged to develop ideas within a topic framework thus creating numerous pieces from an initial starting point. This investigative approach extends their skills and techniques allowing them to understand and see how ideas progress and unfold, often leading into unknown and previously unexplored territories.
The work of artists both long established and contemporary, play a major role both as historical and inspirational reference material for work produced.
We regularly submit work for exhibition and competitions, take an active part in producing sets and costumes for our school productions, and organise visits to exhibitions.
All children's artistic expression is valued and recognised at Conifers.
We are very proud to have built a reputation of excellence in music making. Most importantly, we strive to nurture young talent, encourage every child to explore the world of music and introduce them to as many new musical experiences as possible. The aim of the music department is to open children’s eyes and ears to a diverse musical programme that will be the foundation for a lifelong love of music.
All pupils from Nursery through to Form VI have classroom music lessons taught by a specialist teacher and are introduced to a wide variety of music. Creativity, teamwork, confidence, problem-solving and self-motivation are all skills that we aim to promote by approaching the subject through a range of perspectives in class (including listening, appraising, performing and composing). The emphasis is on enjoyment and appreciation while covering a wide variety of topics. These include the basics of musical notation, singing, composition, improvisation and performing, as well as studying some western music history, world music and contemporary music.
We have dedicated peripatetic teachers who offer individual lessons for singing, orchestral instruments, guitar and drum kit. The children are prepared for ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) examinations, which are taken termly.
Conifers presently has five choirs – Chamber Choir, Boys’ Choir, Senior Choir, Junior Choir and School Choir – and every child is encouraged to sing in at least one of them. For instrumentalists, there is a school orchestra, a jazz band and a beginners’ ensemble. Forms I and II are all members of “The Bouncing Beats Band” percussion group. Pupils who are working towards ABRSM exams are encouraged to join our music theory club.
Performance opportunities occur throughout the year. There are regular recitals as well as opportunities to perform in morning assembly. The Music department works closely with the Drama department, with all children taking part in musical productions during their time at the school.
Talented musicians are encouraged and have opportunities to perform on a wider stage, including in the annual Chichester Music Festival. Pupils leaving Conifers have been awarded music scholarships to several schools, including Christ’s Hospital, Farlington, Heathfield and The Royal School.
Design and Technology
Design and Technology is taught to all pupils at Conifers, first within the topic work of Early Years pupils and then as an independent subject from Form I to the top of the school. The emphasis is on children investigating and evaluating current products, designing solutions to problems and using practical skills to design and make projects linked to a particular theme.
The curriculum covers safety, food technology, woodwork, electronics and textiles. Within these areas, the children will learn to sew, dye fabrics, cook food and make toys using electrical circuits and resistant materials.
Children are given a design brief at the beginning of a topic and encouraged to work through the process of exploring existing products, how they are made and what they are used for. Following this investigation and research, the children have the opportunity to experiment with their own ideas, working with a variety of materials that they may or may not have used before. They design their product and create it, completing the project with an evaluation: what worked well, what could be improved and how it compares with the other products in their initial research.
Information Technology and Computing
We live in an era where electronic devices are a part of everyday life. It is with this in mind that pupils are taught the skills needed to use such devices safely and appropriately.
Children have the opportunity to learn coding and stop animation as well as becoming proficient in data logging, word processing and in the use of spreadsheets and databases. Our senior pupils are issued with a tablet to use when directed in lessons and for homework.
Physical Education is an essential part of life at Conifers. We have a “Sport for all” policy in which every child has the opportunity to play in competitive matches against other schools, as well as take part in every club and extracurricular activity, irrespective of their ability.
We have an outstanding department that offers a wide variety of sports following the curriculum and beyond. All our pupils are taught by experienced specialist teachers, starting with up to twice weekly sessions for our Toddler Class in the Early Years department (depending on the days attended) increasing to five timetabled hours per week for our senior pupils. Children can add many additional hours through our activities programme (including martial arts, fencing, tag rugby, netball and football). It is not unusual for children to be taking part in more than eight hours of sport a week.
We have regular sporting fixtures against other local schools and enjoy a high degree of success. We host annual festivals in rugby, football, athletics and netball and have teams which take part in both cross-country meets and swimming galas.
We enjoy a partnership with the Midhurst Rother College, that allows us regular use of an AstroTurf playing field, a sports hall and several hard courts. This partnership also adds breadth to our fixture cards with many additional festivals and competitions.
Physical Education lessons focus on building individual skill levels as well as teaching to lead and be led and to work together as a team; all positive qualities that will help inspire every pupil for their future development.
Forest School and Outdoor Curriculum
Forest School is an inspirational initiative that offers all children regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment.
Forest School is based on the principles of having high adult/child ratios and regular visits to the outdoor area with professional Forest School practitioners, who will plan activities based on the observed needs and interests of the children.
- The group visits the same outdoor site on a regular basis except in extreme conditions.
- Games are played, and small achievable tasks are set, such as collecting natural materials and building shelters from sticks. Children will also learn about fire, cooking on a fire and whittling various objects.
- The children learn basic woodland skills and simple tool use as a method to boost their self-confidence, raise their self-esteem and improve fine and gross motor skills.
- The children use natural materials and through this develop practical and intellectual, social and emotional skills.
All children participate in Forest School at Conifers, from the Toddlers through to the Form VI.
Some of the activities are child-led and some are guided by the practitioners to allow for a focus on safety and further learning.