Highbury’s Senior Primary is a careful balance between preparing boys for the demands of high school, while recognising that they are still young and need plenty of nurturing and opportunities to play.
Mr David Burns, Head of Senior Primary, says, “There has been a shift in how important character development and emotional intelligence is. Growing the character and resilience of children is as valuable as factual knowledge and rote learning. Learning is now seen as a more dynamic field; before learning was finite, but now it is far more infinite, an ongoing process. We are on a continuum that doesn’t end and we have a more fluid understanding of knowledge.”
Overall, the vision for Senior Primary is based on six pillars:
Happy boys – strong, nurturing and loving relationships are formed between teachers and boys as the basis for growth;
A teaching/learning programme that is relevant and holistic – focused on what and how boys learn best;
Innovative and dynamic teachers using best practice – working together to create an optimum learning environment;
Promoting a Growth Mindset in staff and boys – striving for excellence in all things;
A Culture of Honour that is built on our schools’ ethos and heritage – instilling values that promote inclusion and acceptance of others;
Laying a foundation for young men that is rooted in Christian values, with an open mind and an open heart for the needs of others.
Our Senior Primary staff include 13 class teachers as well as a further 6 specialist teachers. Boys are taught Mathematics, English, Afrikaans, isiZulu, Scripture, ICT, PE, Music, Art/Design, Theme (Grade 4 and 5), History, Natural Science, Geography, Speech and Drama and Guidance (Grade 6 and 7). The standard of Highbury’s academics is tested annually through benchmarking and Highbury teachers connect regularly with Kearsney teachers to continually ensure a smooth transition and the best academic foundation.
Boys in Grade 6 and 7 are academically streamed for the first time in English and Maths and there is one extension class in Grade 7 for our top academic achievers. Boys do both isiZulu and Afrikaans in Grades 4 and 5 and then choose one second language to progress for Grade 6 and 7, enabling them to reach a higher standard through specialising. Academic support is available in many ways, from a Grade 4 Learning Support class to our Grade 5 and 6 academic bridging programme as well as extra lessons in selected subjects available after school at no extra charge.
Making mistakes and testing boundaries are natural parts of growing up and Highbury aims to be a safe space for boys to learn about consequences and experience forgiveness. Discipline comes from a shared set of values and behaviours and Highbury teachers work hard to instil Christian values and our Culture of Honour as a positive foundation for boys’ actions. The Highbury ‘Pupil Charter’ document provides clear guidelines for boys and their parents and is signed as a mutual understanding and agreement in Senior Primary. Our Discipline Policy is available on our website and clearly outlines both processes and measures. Highbury has zero tolerance for bullying and our Senior Primary Information on Bullying and Hurtful Behaviour document has guidelines for both parents and boys.
Highbury’s new science laboratory was opened in July 2019. It is a realm of excitement and discovery, with interactive stations and flexible workspaces. Designed especially for boys, to encourage curiosity and a love of learning science, it is well equipped with everything from chemicals, gas, electrical circuitry, a Tesla ball, a real rhino skull, to a LEGO Saturn V rocket replica and more.
Mr Burns explains the thinking behind the design of our science laboratory: “Boys want to experiment and experience science for themselves and, as teachers we know that the best learning happens this way. We believe that Highbury boys need to leave our school knowing that science is ultimately about asking questions, doing research, developing experiments and then seeing if you have enough information to answer your question.”
Assessments and Exams
Highbury boys have assessments in Grade 4 and 5 and start sitting formal exams from Grade 6. Grade 6 and 7 end of year exams prepare boys for their transition into high school.
Every Grade 7 boy has the opportunity to give back to their school in various roles and responsibilities through taking part in a Service Group. From spending time with our Grade Rs, to helping the IT or Marketing departments and many more areas of school life, boys grow in their ability to take responsibility and initiative.
Enrichment and extension go hand in hand. Our Senior Primary Enrichment Club is run as an extra-curricular activity for boys who want to investigate what interests them and feedback their findings to the club. The questions that need to be investigated and are ‘why’ and ‘how’ things happen. The outcome is the cherry on the top, but not the reason why they get together.