At Heathside, we are dedicated to supporting each student to develop into a confident, independent learner and an active, responsible member of the school and wider community. We pride ourselves on setting high academic standards.
We have a proud tradition of tailoring our teaching so that every child gets the best from each lesson. With a high staff-to-student ratio, our focus is on small group work.
Children are taught Maths, English, Sciences, French, Latin, Geography, History, Music, Drama, Art, Sport and Computing, as well as Design & Technology. The core skills of language and literacy, creative thinking and mathematical and scientific understanding are the fundamentals of each child’s journey through Heathside.
We lay strong foundations in numeracy, problem solving, handwriting, spelling, grammar, communication, poetry and creative writing. In Year 3 and above, the curriculum is taught by our subject specialists in order to provide greater educational depth for each of Heathside’s students. Formal learning is supported with project work, field trips and events.
We promote the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of our pupils. Although we are a non-denominational school, we foster respect for different faith traditions and mark major religious festivals.
We are, and are committed to remain, a Preparatory School. We have an excellent track record over the past 25 years of supporting children to gain places to, and scholarships from, many of the most prestigious schools in London and across the United Kingdom.
Heathside’s vision and commitment to our children means the preparation for school entrance exams begins at the start of a child’s education at Heathside. However, we are most definitely not an 11+ ‘hot house’ and our whole-child ethos considers children of all abilities. We focus on developing a love of learning for its own sake.
Years 1 to 4
Throughout the school, we differentiate teaching for children of different abilities. In Maths, children are put into ability groups from Year 3 onwards. In Literacy, higher-ability children are given extension tasks and more challenging weekly spellings and high-level texts are studied.
A balanced amount of homework reinforces learning and instils an independent work ethic in children from a young age. Reading and phonics homework starts in Reception. By Year 1 a topic homework is added, and in Year 2, homework is set in Maths, English and a topic homework.
By the end of Year 4, children are exposed to 11+ type work and testing, but within normal teaching methods.
It is only in Year 5 that teaching becomes more explicitly geared towards 11+. This approach, which we have found effective over many years, enables us to keep children focused on learning for its own sake, and not distracted by the unnecessary anxiety and stress that testing can cause. The first exam preparation classes are held during the Easter holiday of Year 5, followed in the Summer Term by optional preparation classes each morning at 8am before the regular school day begins.
In Year 6, exam preparation is in full swing. Experience has shown us that exam preparation is good for all students, irrespective of whether they will take the 11+, as it gives them an opportunity to dive deeply into core subjects and accelerate writing skills. Children are regularly expected to work independently and quietly in order to replicate test conditions.
The build up to school entrance exams can be a stressful and worrying time, and we try our hardest to shield children from that pressure. We make preparation a positive learning experience, and ensure that children of all abilities make the most of this opportunity, encouraging them to enjoy learning regardless of outcome. We strongly urge parents to keep expectations for their child realistic, and safeguard children from the relentless pressure that can occur in this very competitive environment.
As not every child will be sitting 11+ exams, we ensure that each child is encouraged to learn to the best of their ability, finding subjects and interests they can pursue with passion. Our strongly academic curriculum is balanced with art, music, drama and sport so Heathside children, wherever they go to pursue their secondary education, are confident, well rounded individuals able to thrive in a variety of establishments.
It is normal practice that parents choose between the 11+ or 13+ route to a particular secondary school. Some children opt to stay on at Heathside to 13 in order to take the entrance exams to top schools including Westminster, UCS, City of London Boys, Eton, Rugby, Marlborough, Stowe, Brighton College and others.
Many top schools use 13+ pretests in Year 6 to help manage eventual 13+ entry at Year 9. Where this is the case, most of these schools use the ISEB’s computer-based 13+ Pretest and a four-part exam.
The ISEB 13+ Pretest is usually taken by pupils in two sittings during the last week of November. These exams are undertaken at Heathside and can only be taken once. Multiple senior schools can then access the results for any individual pupil.
We closely follow the academic and development progress of all our pupils, and we offer plenty of opportunities for teachers to provide feedback to parents.
The parents of Early Years children (Reception and below) receive a written report every academic year. Key Stage 1 pupils (Years 1 & 2) receive a written report twice a year. All older children (Key Stage 2 and above) receive a written report every term. Reports cover all subjects a child is learning and are completed by their class and subject teachers.
In addition, we hold regular Parents’ Evenings. These provide an opportunity for parents to meet with class and subject teachers. If any issues arise that require more in-depth discussion, further meetings can be booked with the class teacher or the respective Deputy Head throughout the year.