The best recommendation a school can have is for a parent, at the beginning of a new term, to say “They couldn’t wait to come back”. This is as true of day pupils as it is of boarders, and at Riddlesworth Hall there is always a buzz to the first day back as we all shake back down into school life. And school life is never boring – or indeed predictable. If it snows we all put our wellies on and get out into the grounds to make snowmen. Staff too. If something is happening in the wider world we will respond to it; if lessons take an interesting direction we will allow them to do so just to see where they may take us.
The more senior pupils are aware that the pace of their learning has begun to pick up but they are not phased by this. Specialist teachers take over from Year 5 onwards, with language, science and music teachers ensuring the best possible grounding from Pre-Reception upwards. We even teach Mandarin from Year 1.
From Year 3 upwards our school day starts at 8.30 and ends at 5pm. For the younger pupils, this means that homework has been done and their school day is really over. We prefer pupils to get home in the evening with nothing more than a reading book in their backpack. Evenings are family times and no-one is allowed to spoil this by fretting about maths. Older pupils will have a second prep as they need to establish a more intense work pattern in preparation for public examinations but even so we insist on a healthy balance between homework and home life.
Our Nursery takes pupils from age two upwards and ‘rising fours’ move up into our Pre-Reception class where they focus on early phonics and on preparing for the change of pace that awaits them in Reception. ‘Pre-R’ is a relatively new venture for us but early indications are that Pre-R children are far more relaxed about the move to ‘real school’ and far better prepared for it since they have already mastered early reading, writing and maths.
Nursery sessions start at 8:15am – 11:45 in the morning and 12:45 – 4:15pm in the afternoon, it is possible to book morning or afternoon sessions but you must book a minimum of three sessions a week. We currently accept Nursery vouchers but this is under review. Pre-Reception sessions should be a minimum of three full days.
Lunch (so important!) and indeed supper is cooked on the premises by one of our two chefs.We aim for healthy eating but acknowledge the need for the occasional sweet treat to sneak in, alongside staples such as fresh fruit and yoghurt. Pupils are offered a vegetarian option and any child who is utterly perplexed by what they have been served will always be offered a third alternative.
In addition to their basic timetable, pupils will spend time each week in our Forest School; they meet twice a week for a whole-school assembly; they play fixtures against other schools from Year 3 and they have a programme of food tech, design technology and art.
Our timetable ensures that we ask more of our pupils academically in the morning, while the afternoons are busy with sport, art, design, cookery and philosophy…
We have one major production each year and all pupils are encouraged to take part but music and drama form the backdrop to many of the things we do.