The Learning Journey of Pre-Prep (Years 1-2)

At Wellington College International Hangzhou, Pre-Prep begins at Key Stage One (Years 1 and 2). The transition from Early Years to Key Stage One sees the style of learning develop to more formal lessons where they follow the English National Curriculum as a basis for the core subjects, and the International Primary Curriculum for cross-curricular topic work.

All children are taught for the majority of the day by a classroom teacher who, as well as teaching many of the principal subjects, will provide excellent pastoral care for which all Wellington schools are justifiably renowned. Specialist teachers lead Mandarin, Music and Swimming lessons across the Pre-Prep. From Year 1 onwards they also have PE and ICT specialist teachers.

In this article, Ms. Fryer, Year 1 homeroom teacher, together with Ms. Gallacher, Year 2 homeroom teacher, will give a brief overview of the learning journey in Pre-Prep.

Year 1 – Transitioning from EYFS to the English National Curriculum and IPC

Moving from school to school or through year groups has become a normal part of children’s lives. These transitions are milestone events and can have a positive or negative effect on a child’s development. These can be exciting times and great opportunities for each child. It can also be a time of concern for children when there are new environments, teachers and procedures to which they must adapt. Transition is a continuing process rather than a one-off event that must be completed. The support each child needs will change before, during and after the initial transition time. These needs should be continually assessed and catered to as to ensure the most positive outcome for each child’s development. We have found this to be most effective when children, teachers and parents work together.

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to five years old. It focuses on the interests of the child and expands on what they already know, can do and understand. In Year 1, we build on this knowledge and continue to nurture children’s natural desire for learning. To encourage a smooth transition in Year 1, we also provide a warm and inviting learning environment to ensure children have consistency, feel safe and are excited to learn. The transition to Year 2 is equally important and teachers work closely together within their key stage, and beyond, to ensure this is a smooth process.

The main difference between Nursery and Year 1 is the curriculum. Year 1 follows the English National Curriculum. This curriculum sets out the programmes of study and attainment targets for all subjects and each key stage. It is structured to make sure teaching and learning are balanced and consistent. It defines the subjects taught, the knowledge, skills and understanding required in each subject, the level of ability pupils are expected to achieve in each subject and the way that pupil´s progress is assessed and reported.

In Year 1, the children will further expand their knowledge of phonics and develop their reading skills. They will learn through topics and stories which make lessons relevant to everyday situations and exciting to explore. They will learn to spell, write sentences and develop their handwriting skills.

In addition, the children will be introduced to many new concepts in Maths using practical activities to support their understanding and encourage enjoyment of the subject. This will include counting with objects and working in groups to explore shapes and patterns. They will learn to use a 100 square to help with their addition and subtraction. Number bonds, double and halves, and counting forwards and backwards in twos, fives, and tens will also be introduced.

We also incorporate the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) which covers Science, History and Geography. At Wellington, we are very lucky to have Specialist teachers for Mandarin, IT, PE, Art, Music and Drama.

About Ms. Fryer

Ms. Fryer has enjoyed reading and writing since early childhood; she was the child who would come home with ten books from the library, then read them all in a few days! Her interest in education is rooted as far back as high school when she enjoyed tutoring younger pupils in reading and writing.

Ms. Fryer’s career began with a College qualification in Childcare and Education where she realised her passion for working with children. Ms. Fryer has many years of experience working with children and young people in educational and residential settings. Wanting to explore working with different age ranges and socio-economic backgrounds, Ms. Fryer studied further and gained her Honours Degree in Social Work from De Montfort University. She worked as a Social Worker where she continually saw a pattern of behaviour in young people who were failing in education. She wanted to help change that pattern for the better, which was when she decided to complete her PGCE in Primary Education to support and guide children in their crucial early primary years.

Ms. Fryer feels extremely lucky to have such a meaningful and purposeful career at Wellington College International Hangzhou, working with pupils who inspire her every day. Ms. Fryer is from the UK and has now taught abroad for five years with her husband and two children. She continues to experience the joy of teaching and learning, and feels it is a fantastic way to push language barriers and connect people from all over the world.

Year 2 – Enquiry-based Learning

The Pre-Prep curriculum is rigorous and challenging, having been designed to meet the needs of each individual by giving a breadth of educational experience and academic depth. Taking into consideration our international context and the needs of our pupils, our curriculum is carefully adapted and linked with international themes and learning from the International Primary Curriculum. We firmly believe that by interlinking these rich curricula, our children will be inspired and motivated to achieve their full potential.

Our aim in Pre-Prep is to provide each child with an individualised, diverse range of learning opportunities which will allow them to thrive and grow. To ensure all children at Wellington College International Hangzhou make progress throughout Pre-Prep, we have carefully developed a unique, stimulating and engaging environment. Lessons include active learning using enquiry-based approaches. Our children are encouraged to become independent learners, make decisions, develop thinking skills, collaborate, be inclusive and develop a positive sense of self.

The transition from Year 1 to Year 2 can be a difficult time for both pupils and parents. At Wellington College International Hangzhou, however, we work hard across Key Stage 1 to ensure all children feel confident and comfortable through the use of transition days, meeting the teacher, and becoming more familiar with their new classroom environments.

English in Year 2

Throughout Pre-Prep, one main focus is to develop the reading level of each child, specifically their reading fluency and comprehension. In Year 2, we build on the progress achieved in Year 1, continuing the use of the phonics program ‘Read Write Inc.’ This program assists in teaching pupils to read accurately and fluently with a good understanding of what they are reading. Equally important is children’s progress in and development of writing.

Maths in Year 2

In Year 2, our children have the opportunity to use mathematics to solve a problem. We build on the foundations developed in Year 1, and from there we further develop their understanding of how they learn. We do this by encouraging children to explain their ideas using the CPA approach (concrete, pictorial and abstract):

  • Concrete – Using physical objects to explore
  • Pictorial – Using pictorial representations to solve maths problems
  • Abstract – Using only numerical representations and calculations.

We also focus on ensuring our children’s confidence when using rapid recall, counting in twos, threes, fives, and tens, as well as mental arithmetic.

Specialist Subjects

The children benefit from having specialist teachers for subjects such as music, art, drama, physical education and ICT. These highly trained professionals are an asset to our school providing high-quality, engaging lessons.

About Ms. Gallacher

Ms. Gallacher has worked as a primary school teacher for seven years in and around Nottingham City after completing a four year BA (hons) at Nottingham Trent University. Throughout her teaching career, Ms. Gallacher feels fortunate to have worked in a range of different settings with a diverse membership of both staff and pupils. These valuable experiences have helped Megan develop her appreciation for the positive impact cultural differences can have in an educational setting.

As a Primary Maths Specialist, Ms. Gallacher has helped research, develop and implement programs from early years across the primary ages and to encourage and develop an enthusiasm for mathematics. It has been very rewarding for Ms. Gallacher to see children grow more and more confident as they begin to reason and explain their thinking, make mathematical connections and improve their mathematical fluency.

Along with Maths, Ms. Gallacher’s passions are geography, environmental learning and sustainability. She is a level 3 Forest School Practitioner and loves to develop engaging and high-quality curricula to foster curiosity and fascination about the world and those who live in it. She strongly believes that the outdoor environment can help children develop a healthy range of emotions through hands-on learning experiences and build a resilience that will enable continued and creative engagement with their peers both in and outside of school.

From a very early age, Ms. Gallacher has always taken part in competitive sports, playing netball through her secondary school and hockey in university. In her spare time, she is an avid road cyclist and trail runner. She firmly believes that by taking part in regular sporting and other extracurricular activities, she has become a more well-rounded individual, able to use her mistakes as a learning tool to progress. By giving children the opportunities to take risks in their learning and everyday life and providing them with the tools and support to use these experiences, these opportunities will help them to become better individuals who are confident, emotionally independent and most importantly, team players.