Subjects in detail

Making every lesson count

At Bassett House, excellent teaching means lighting a spark. Whether our children are buzzing with the thrill of newfound knowledge or quietly focusing on an absorbing task, we make every lesson count. Via the links below, find out more about how we do this in each of the subjects we offer.

English

“I’ll call for pen and ink and write my mind.”
William Shakespeare

Creativity and inspiration lie at the heart of our English lessons. Children are encouraged to share their ideas and celebrate them in front of an audience. A love for the English language is promoted in all classes. Pupils, regardless of their ability, feel that their imagination and use of vocabulary are two very powerful tools that enable them to communicate and inspire others. 

Alongside encouraging reading, or being read to at home, we expose pupils to a wide variety of stories, genres and authors to foster a love of reading, enable the children to gain a deeper appreciation of different texts and to translate that into their own writing. We incorporate the latest technology into teaching English, making lessons interactive and facilitate pupil collaboration in class. 

Events that bring English literature to life punctuate the calendar: our inter-house poetry competition, book week, trips to see plays on the London stage, drama workshops and visits by published authors. Bassett House children leave us as confident and articulate communicators, well able to use the written word to persuade, entertain, amuse, educate or enlighten their readers.

A story opening written by a Year 6 pupil:

“As he scattered down the gravel path, he did not dare to look back. He sprang past the closed toy store in distress. He could hear the howling sirens closing in on him”.

“He was GONE, LOST, SCARED…”

“Fear grew up his spine like fungi crawling up a winter pine tree. His hair stood on end; his heart pounded like a basketball being tossed across the gym floor. His eyes wrenched shut as his head hit the ground.”

Phonics

“Words are the only things that last forever.”
William Hazlitt

At Bassett House, a love of reading is established by using a combination of the most effective reading programmes aimed at teaching phonics in a fun, engaging and child-friendly way. We use a ‘teach, practise, apply’ lesson approach aimed to cater for all learning styles.

We ensure children gain a secure understanding of phonics right from age 3 by reading with each child every day through to the end of year 2 and allowing them to progress at their own pace. There is a phonics coordinator who oversees the teaching of phonics through the early years.

 

Mathematics

“Mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.”
Albert Einstein

At Bassett House, we have adopted the ‘maths mastery’ teaching style to help every child become a successful mathematician. We encourage the children to master each mathematical concept they encounter, so that skills and knowledge are embedded and consolidated in ability-boosting building blocks.

This gives all our pupils, from the least to the most able, growing confidence in handling mathematical data and problems, so that when they come to tackle more abstract concepts they are stretching from a bedrock of solid maths skills. This maths mastery is encouraged through concrete resources and visual aids, using terminology consistently throughout the school, tackling the same concepts from different angles and adapted to different learning styles, and aiming for depth of understanding over breadth of coverage. Most of all, the children are encouraged to adopt a growth mindset and to think like mathematicians.

Participation in maths is celebrated through our maths problem of the week and our whole-school STEM week, championing Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

A question for ages 8-10:

THREE WISE OWLS
Problem created by Anita Straker.

Three wise owls catch some worms. The first and second catch 6 worms altogether. The second and third catch 9 worms altogether. The first and third catch 11 worms altogether. How many worms does each owl catch? 

Science

“The science of today is the technology of tomorrow.”
Edward Teller

We build on the children’s natural curiosity about the world around them to harness an enthusiastic approach to science. We use ‘hands on’ and interactive learning to develop key scientific skills across a varied curriculum: dissecting a lamb’s heart, watching eggs hatch in a classroom incubator, hunting for invertebrates in the park, ‘exploding’ volcanoes by mixing vinegar with bicarbonate of soda and creating electrical circuits are all part of a Bassett scientist’s life (and all our pupils are Bassett scientists).

We ‘scaffold’ learning up through the school so that the children consolidate previous learning and add depth of understanding as they progress. We also emphasise the importance and relevance of science by exploring the discoveries, impacts and real world applications of famous scientists and inventors.

Each week a child is awarded Scientist of the Week and annually we have a whole-school STEM week, promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. We also take our science quest elsewhere: a much anticipated Bassett thrill is our year 5 trip to stay overnight in the Science Museum.

Geography

“Geography is an earthly subject, but a heavenly science.”
Edmund Burke

In geography, we encourage the children to gain knowledge and understanding through enquiry.  We explore a range of case studies from the local area to the countries in the wider world, creating an understanding of human and physical geography.

But this is no mere classroom activity: right from the early years, when we might head out with iPads to photograph buildings in our neighbourhood to better understand our local environment, we use field work and outdoor learning to enhance the children’s understanding of different geographical processes.

So we might be looking at river courses in Suffolk, thinking about the topography of Salisbury Plain on a trip to Stonehenge, pondering urban planning in York or finding examples of coastal erosion in the Isle of Wight.

History

“If you don't know history, then you don't know anything. You are a leaf that doesn't know it is part of a tree.”
Michael Crichton

Bassett House children are taught a wide range of historical topics, spanning different periods and places. Our emphasis is on innovative teaching with cross-curricular links to ensure that the children not only learn content but also skills, including historical enquiry, developing a sense of chronology, and critically evaluating and debating historical accounts.

The children are given a firm foundation in the chronology of a topic as well as exciting trips to provide context, drama to encourage empathy and research projects to promote independence of thought.

Activities that bring the past to life for our Bassett historians include dressing up as Victorian servants at Gunnersbury Park Museum, experiencing the sights and smells of the Vikings at York’s Jorvik Centre, creating their own Greek temples or Egyptian sarcophagi, exploring Stonehenge and Danebury Hill Fort, discovering the dynasty of Victoria and Albert at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, and following in medieval footsteps by climbing York Minster tower.

Religious Education

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Socrates

In religious education, we explore a wide variety of topics including world religions, Judeo-Christian scriptures, values, beliefs, leadership, contemporary issues, significant people, saints, current affairs and moral dilemmas. We enhance pupils’ awareness and understanding of the variety of religions and beliefs, teachings and practices, as well as of the influence of religion on individuals, families, communities and cultures. Lessons might include songs, stories, religious art and artefacts and, on special occasions, food and ritual.

We visit centres of different worship (including our neighbouring church, St Helen’s) in order to give the children some practical insights into different faiths and we are fortunate to have parents willing to share their own religious practice by visiting us and telling us about it.

Children from different religious backgrounds attend Bassett House and we celebrate our religious diversity by observing all the major festivals.

PSHCEE

“For children to be able to navigate, participate and stay safe in this world, it is vital that we equip them with the skills to do so.”
Anne Longfield

PSHCEE (sometimes known as PSHE or PSHCE) provides a timetabled opportunity for the children to explore themes of personal, social, health, citizenship and economic education, with an emphasis on open discussion and debate.

We take a consistent approach to teaching important moral values throughout the school and provide a safe and nurturing environment in which children are free to express their ideas and beliefs while learning to respect cultural, social and religious differences.

We engage our pupils not only in our internal school community via our thriving house system, Children’s Council and Eco Council, but also in the wider world by looking at current affairs, supporting local charities and inviting in speakers such as police officers, doctors, nurses, firefighters and politicians.

Art and Design Technology

“Everything you can imagine is real.”
Pablo Picasso

At Bassett House, children are encouraged to think and behave like real artists and designers. Bassett children critique their own work and that of their peers from year 1 onwards, giving them the confidence to try different approaches and techniques and to strive for continual improvement. Importantly, they are taught that making mistakes can be where the magic really happens. We forge connections with practising artists and designers, inspiring our pupils in their own artistic endeavours.

We theme art lessons, making different cultural and historical connections, as well as looking at contemporary references. We work in a variety of media, including stop-motion animation and green-screen film work.

We celebrate the artistic and cultural riches on our doorstep by taking trips to London galleries, holding a Royal Academy life drawing workshop for our older children and visiting local professional art studios. Each week one child’s effort is recognised by our Artist of the Week award and we celebrate the whole school’s creativity in our art week and open day come May. Miss each class’s brilliant ensemble creations (constructed in our hall) at your peril! We are very proud that our alumni have won art scholarships to prestigious senior schools.

Computing

“I think it's fair to say that personal computers have become the most empowering tool we've ever created. They're tools of communication, they're tools of creativity, and they can be shaped by their user.”
Bill Gates

We cover all aspects of computing at Bassett House: digital literacy, computer science and information technology. 

In timetabled computing lessons, from the Den onwards, children are encouraged to explore technology, solve problems and think logically. We aim to produce competent, confident and creative users of information and communication technology.

Our children become digitally literate and learn how to use the internet safely, respectfully and responsibly. Most importantly, at Bassett House, computer technology is one of the tools used to deliver the whole curriculum, whether creating a PowerPoint presentation on the life of a Roman slave, delivering a quiz on the human digestive system or racing one another at times tables. 

All our classrooms are equipped with iMacs and interactive whiteboards (connected to teacher iPads) and we have banks of iPads, MacBook Air laptops and Google Chromebooks available for class use.  We run a weekly programming club and have recently acquired Raspberry Pis, which are being built by our year 6 children. We also work in harness with other subjects, for example making this short stop-motion animation film on the value of eating five pieces of fruit or vegetables a day.

French

“To have another language is to possess a second soul.”
Charlemagne

Bonjour! We teach French to help the children not only to start communicating in another language but also to assimilate different concepts of grammar and language structure.  The emphasis is on understanding French through immersion (French being spoken by our native French teacher throughout lessons),

developing vocabulary through fun games and songs, using French language apps to support learning and gaining confidence in adopting the correct pronunciation. We offer a French club, participate in French competitions with other schools and take trips to see French films at the Ciné Lumière.

Come year 6, our children spend a week at a French château at which the staff speak nothing but French. We aim for Bassett House children to progress to their senior schools with a can-do enthusiasm for learning foreign languages, as well as a grasp of basic French.

Latin

“Non scholae sed vitae discimus”
Anon (“We do not learn for school but for life”)

We teach Latin at Bassett House because it enriches children’s English vocabulary, helps them to learn modern languages and brings in other subjects such as history, geography, art, drama, literacy and science. We focus on bringing Latin back to life through the use of comic strips and songs, acting and story telling (at times treating it as though it were a modern language).  

We look at classical history and civilisations and, during our year 4 trip to York, explore a legionnaire’s life in the Roman army. We also celebrate the Bassett House Latin motto, quisque pro sua parte, which we translate as ‘from each, the best!’: everyone should try their hardest.

Music and Drama

“We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.”
Arthur O'Shaughnessy

At Bassett House we consider every child to be a performer. We encourage performance in music and drama for the buzz it gives our pupils, to promote teamwork, as a means of building confidence and to cultivate public speaking, singing and instrumental skills. We aim to recognise each pupil’s strengths and talents and to develop these to their fullest potential. 

All our children perform to children and adults alike, from the Den onwards (aged 3), whether in class assemblies, nativity plays, whole-year theatre productions, our Harvest Festival and Christmas carol services, young musicians’ assemblies, orchestra, choirs, instrument ensembles, eurhythmics dance movement lessons, our Bassettones barbershop group, or even carolling for tourists on the Portobello Road (in aid of charity).

The emphasis is on participation, not perfection. We study music in the curriculum through movement, composition, drama, dance and improvisation and look to engender a lifelong love of music through exposure to a breadth of musical genres. We also offer drama and performing arts clubs.

PE

“The five S’s of sports training are: stamina, speed, strength, skill, and spirit; but the greatest of these is spirit.”
Ken Doherty

At Bassett House, sports and physical education are focused on nurturing a love of sport and physical exertion through positive experiences. We want our pupils to have the opportunity to try out a variety of sports and activities, delivering these in progressive, differentiated lessons that allow pupils to progress at their own pace. We also want children to enjoy teamwork and the buzz of competition, and so provide opportunities for all children in years 2-6 to participate in fixtures and tournaments against other schools. The sports and activities we offer include netball, hockey, football, tag rugby, Eton fives, squad training, cricket, rounders, tennis, gymnastics athletics and bouldering, all done at excellent local facilities within easy walking distance of the school. We also offer a swimming club.

We encourage other forms of physical activities through our clubs providing yoga, ballet, Zumba and martial arts. We celebrate sporting prowess through trips such as visiting Lord’s cricket ground and the Olympic Park and by awarding full colours and half colours and a sports captaincy to our talented sportsmen and women.

Our sports day is a highlight of the annual calendar, with every child competing on behalf of their school house. The day ends with a nail-biting go-kart race and tug of war.

Enrichment

“We keep moving forward, opening up new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
Walt Disney

Each week all Bassett House children from Lower 1 (reception) upwards participate in an Enrichment session, giving them the opportunity to have broader experiences outside the core curriculum. Subjects covered vary from term to term but the smorgasbord includes (among other things) philosophy, origami, scientific experiments, debating, kids’ fitness, Zumba, outdoor learning, board games, construction, Star Wars, paper craft, plasticine modelling, film making, martial arts, pop dance, Lego coding, rock band and country dancing.