The Promotion of the Child as an Individual
A strong theme of the Montessori Method is that a child should be encouraged to develop according to his or her individual aptitudes and interests. Although, study in a broad sense is by no means neglected, a child’s talents are allowed to flourish only if they are recognised by carers and given the freedom to explore.
Teachers maintain discipline whilst remaining careful that a child is not stifled in his natural desire to explore and experiment. The school extends these Montessori principles in its treatment of older children, whilst maintaining focus on formal academic study.
Residential visits are included in the School curriculum as part of the personal and social development of pupils. It is during such visits that pupils become more acutely aware of their environment and their social responsibilities.
The School Day
The school opens to receive students at 8am, with registration at 8:40am. The day is composed of eight lessons, each of 40 minutes’ duration. ‘Double lessons’ are allocated to core subjects, and to other when appropriate and where the timetable permits. Balanced and nutritious, hot food is served for lunch, and a snack is prepared for both morning and afternoon break-time.
The academic day ends at 3:40pm, although the school will accommodate children until 5:30pm.
After-school clubs are recreational, offering a varied range of activities to groups of up to a dozen children. These will often exploit the individual talents of staff members, such as skill with the guitar or the use of video equipment to record a ‘video diary’. Weekly Tae Kwon-Do sessions extend the school day to 7pm for those children who wish to participate. The School also participates successfully in many regional sports tournaments.
Access to computers is available before and after school with technical assistance available for all students. The entire school is networked with computers in almost all teaching rooms and offices. This network is connected by broadband to the Internet. The school can offer advice and technical help with regard to managing a computer and Internet connection safely at home. When helpful, we invite groups of parents to a presentation on the benefits to a child of a computer in the home, with sound advice regarding measures to ensure the child’s complete safety when using the Internet.
Children aged 7, 11 and 14 (Key Stages 1, 2 and 3 respectively) take National Curriculum tests, also known as SATs - (Standard Assessment Tests). Taken at schools across England and Wales, the tests aim to measure children’s level of attainment in the core subjects. The 7 year-olds are tested in English and Mathematics, while the 11 and 14-year-olds are tested in English, Mathematics and Science.
The application of the Montessori approach encourages an attitude of exploration that engenders learning as a natural process. This allows a child’s unique, natural pace of progress to be accommodated and it is not unusual to find that this pace is much greater than that attempted by orthodox teaching methods. At this junior level, the progress of the children can be such that they are entered for the national Key Stage Two tests a year early, in Year 5, having previously secured results well above the national average at infant level. In turn, this enables the Middle School children to take the key stage three tests a year early, in Year 8. The great advantage of this academic strategy is that it permits students to take three years over their GCSE courses, from Years 9 to Years 11, or to make an early start at A Level subjects.
Preparation for GCSE
The varied learning experiences offered by the Grammar School form a strong foundation upon which to base formal GCSE study.
Children will often be familiar with material contained in a subject syllabus, allowing a subject teacher the opportunity to reinforce and extend these ideas as a class is prepared for examinations. This can result in a more thorough delivery of material at this important stage in a student’s education.
The orthodox age at which a child begins GCSE study is 14 years. However, The Leicester Montessori School is happy for a student to begin these studies as soon as they are ready to do so. Recently, for example, we have had students achieve ‘A*’ in GCSE Mathematics by the age of ten, and Grade ‘A’ in A Level Mathematics at the age of just twelve.