Aims and Ethos
At Reigate St Mary’s we are a community where:
- We seek to make every child feel valued and safe and provide an environment where they can be recognised for their individual strengths, talents, effort and progress.
- Children will develop emotionally and spiritually. They will be encouraged to develop a strong moral compass where academic excellence is balanced with an understanding of social responsibility and care for one another.
- They will learn to work cooperatively and gain confidence in public speaking and performances.
- Excellence in academic, sporting and artistic achievement are abundant, but where children enjoy coming to school and form happy and strong relationships which will often endure for life.
- Children experience a broad range of extra-curricular opportunities to develop skills and try new and exciting activities which might become leisure activities for life.
Making every child feel valued:
One of the school’s main aims is never to have any invisible children but to celebrate every child’s effort and progress through a broad system of individual and class rewards. Invisible children are those whom we might take for granted; the children who quietly get on with everything doing it all very well, but because they do not stand out as a result of excellence in a given area, nor do they have special needs, they can slip below the radar. Through a continuous review of pupils’ academic, emotional and social progress through Form Focus meetings, and through teachers proactively looking at children’s progress, their strengths and needs, seeking to celebrate successes, looking for ways to allow children to play to these strengths, intervening where necessary, then this goal can be achieved. Opportunities for responsibility and leadership increase through the school, culminating in the Year 6 leadership programme through which every pupil can take on a significant role during their final year. By employing skilled teaching assistants throughout the school, working closely with caring, professional teachers, the level of one-to-one support in lessons will be excellent and will be offered to all academic abilities.
Developing social and emotional skills alongside moral and spiritual values:
The school underpins all that we do with our core values and thinking skills. These are foundational to the way in which we encourage children to learn and they are also foundational to why they learn. Children all need to understand that education is not all about ‘me’, but it is about our life-long interactions with our immediate and wider community. These values and skills include courage, empathy, trust, collaboration, patience and appreciation. It is our belief that good character is even more important than good knowledge or skills, and as many of our pupils will go on to be leaders in business and captains of industry, ethical and socially responsible codes of conduct are at the centre of their education. This is incorporated through Education for Social Responsibility (ESR), a philosophical approach woven into every area of the curriculum. There is also an active focus upon instilling values through values based assemblies, social action as a school community, such as child sponsorship in developing countries, through philosophy for children (P4C) being taught across the age range and through opportunities for pupils to discuss their feelings and emotions through circle times. Spiritual development through a reflective approach in all that we do, and through Christian services and assemblies, as well as time taken through our outdoor learning programme (OLP) to consider the bigger dimensions to life, helping to establish spiritual depth at an early age. Residential trips in Years 4, 5 and 6 further develop personal independence, team working skills and an understanding of personal and environmental well-being.
No bar is set as a level for attainment at Reigate St Mary’s. Instead, every child is supported and encouraged to reach their full potential and challenge is designed into the curriculum for all abilities. As a non-selective school we have a broad range of abilities and final outcomes will vary considerably. What matters is that there is significant progress and value added for all. This means that there is a level of academic attainment and social development for every child which is well above what might have been predicted at their entry point into the school. This is achieved through: excellent staff to pupil ratios; through a focus upon thinking skills and moulding pupils into life-long learners; through individual target setting; through constantly reviewed differentiation appropriate for each cohort of children; through the planning of exciting lessons and through a varied approaches to learning; through the integration of information technology into all areas of learning; through praise, encouragement and satisfying reward systems; through regular formative assessment; through growth mind-sets with metacognition (children learning how to learn) and through teachers’ close relationships with pupils and parents whereby on-going professional dialogue is a regular aspect of the partnership between families and the school.
The academic aim is to maximise all children’s potential. Where attainment is not at a level required for entrance to a given selective school the children are supported in their application to other suitable schools which match their cognitive abilities or personality types. Children are assessed throughout their time at RSM and given a set of assessment tests on entry to the school if they join after Year 1. The purpose of this is to ascertain their ability level and identify suitable senior schools.
A breadth of sporting, musical, artistic and extra-curricular opportunities:
Reigate St Mary’s offers a wide range of sporting, musical, artistic and extra-curricular opportunities for every child. All children will have the opportunity to represent the school in sporting competitions, many of which are of the highest standards. Music at Reigate St Mary’s is very strong with the school’s choristers setting the professional standard and from whom other singing and musical groups take their inspiration. Art and design and technology have been developed with our senior school to afford opportunities and experiences that many prep schools could not replicate. Drama is strongly in evidence with an annual production and lessons included in the curriculum as well as many other performing and public speaking opportunities for all age groups. There are a vast array of extra-curricular clubs and activities to allow children the chance to enjoy new, exciting and challenging activities that they may continue to enjoy for life.
We believe that the educational opportunities at Reigate St Mary’s are excellent, but we continually seek to make the children’s experience even better.
A Changing World
The world is changing very rapidly. For centuries education has been focussed around the communication of knowledge and skills. Today we have information at the click of a button, or even at the sound of our voices, and only a tiny percentage of what can be learned today could ever be imparted by even the most experienced of teachers. So it is not the communication of knowledge that is important in the 21st century, but the soft skills, and metacognitive skills. In a knowledge based economy it might seem strange to suggest that imparting knowledge is less important than in years gone by, but recognising that in developed world economies there is a much greater reliance on intellectual capabilities than on acquired knowledge, schools have to be prepared to move with the times and prepare children for the future, not the past.
A knowledge based economy is focused on the production and management of knowledge, (building on and applying what has gone before rather than just ‘knowing it’), therefore it requires individuals to have adaptive and creative thinking to develop solutions to society’s problems. A knowledge based economy is an open source economy of ideas that invent the future state for a better more sustainable world. We want our children to be prepared to be a part of this. For schools this means we have to focus upon teaching children how to learn for themselves, but also about values, resilience, self-belief, in-depth thinking, teamwork and care for others. Funnily enough this is exactly what top world economists suggest we need to do too.