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The advantages of specialist teaching in primary education

I was walking around the school this morning and couldn’t fail to notice all the wonderful activities going on; year 4 counting to twenty in Japanese and using art techniques such as ‘Scumble’ and ‘Sgrafitto’ in their rainforest focused art work; year 5 learning to compose ‘cross rhythms’ and ‘cyclic patterns’ on African drums and using Roman numerals to write the date in Maths. These were just a few examples.

Research shows that strong subject knowledge impacts on the effectiveness of teaching and learning. Here at Gateway, our school day is designed to provide maximum opportunity for pupils to explore, discover and be challenged and we are extremely fortunate to have teachers who specialise in areas such as art and design, music, physical education, ICT, and modern foreign languages who teach throughout the school. All our students, from Preschool upwards, benefit from this team of specialist staff, who bring deeper and broader subject knowledge, deliver their instruction passionately and have greater insight into the subject that they teach. Some of the staff teach children from Preschool through to Year 6 so they really get to know them well, enjoy watching them grow, and monitor the progress they make over the years.  

Four weeks into term and the year 5 children are really settling into the routines of the senior school, the structure of which aims to prepare them socially and academically for their next school. Having been based with a class teacher until year 4, it must be quite daunting to be with faced with a different teacher for each subject, not to mention following a personalised timetable and having to find your way around the school site. However, the children have managed the transition really well and are definitely beginning to develop independence and responsibility - there haven’t been quite so many messages about ‘lost’ blazers or kit bags this week!  

All year 5 lessons are delivered by specialist teachers - this certainly paves the way for the demands of secondary school. We often receive comments from headteachers of the local secondary schools about how Gateway children stand out because they are so well prepared for the transition from primary to secondary education. The children are used to moving around the school from lesson to lesson and interact confidently with their teachers and are well organised with their belongings.

Finally, when asked what would sum up their experience of Gateway, and how it prepared them for life, two former pupils wrote:

‘The social aspect of walking from class to class and having a planner really put me a level above everyone else when I went into secondary school.’

‘Building of confidence, development of organisation and responsibility. It formed the foundation for secondary school’

Here at Gateway, we couldn’t wish for anything more.

Have a great weekend,

Rebecca Izard

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Gateway Pupil in music lesson