Small School – Small Classes – Highly Praised Pastoral Support
We are a small school with an excellent teacher to pupil ratio. We pride ourselves on the individual relationship we have with each pupil, which enables us to really know each child and help them meet their potential.
So how do we do that?
Understand each child’s potential
At OLA we work with aptitude tests, ongoing assessment and a good working knowledge of our pupils to stretch each one at the appropriate level. Instead of counting how many A* grades we get we look at how each pupil has progressed against their baseline expectations on entry.
Teaching in ability sets
Maths, English and Science are taught in ability sets, which are adjusted each year as pupils develop at different rates. Entrance exams will only determine where a child starts and does not define the class they are in for their whole school journey.
Track each child’s progress effectively
Understanding each pupil’s individual learning journey is critical. At OLA the subject teachers work with Form Tutors and Heads of Section to provide comprehensive support and guidance for pupils as they progress through the school.
Homework is an important part of learning as this is when the pupil can follow up classroom teaching with their own independent work, to see if they have really understood. Every child will have a homework schedule to ensure the homework load is reasonable and spread out over a week. Homework is marked and pupils get feedback so they understand where they need to improve.
Teachers will also check how well pupils understand the work and their progress in the subject with regular topic tests or by marking a significant piece of work. The marks for these are shared with parents via our Parent Portal so parents are seeing objective information regularly.
Every pupil also has a school exam in each subject in the summer term. In some subjects, this will contribute to, but not be the sole criteria for, decisions on setting for the following year.
Pastoral care to support each child’s development and progress
Form Tutors and Heads of Section play an important part in the holistic oversight of how a pupil is doing in school. OLA’s pastoral care is “outstanding” (ISI November 2016) and ensures that we get the balance of expectation and challenge versus care and support right for each pupil.
Learning support to meet specific needs
Pupils who find they need a little more support with their studies can be timetabled for additional one‑to‑one lessons with a Learning Support teacher. Pupils can access this support for a short period to help with transition to Secondary School or longer term if that is the requirement. Specific support for learning needs such as dyslexia is provided by our very well qualified team of teachers, as well as specific Maths support lessons provided by a Maths teacher.
Our Learning Support Department also ensure that pupils get any exam entitlements they are due, such as extra time.
Stretching and challenging more able pupils
As well as our very talented Music, Art, Drama, Sport and Academic Scholars, we also recognise ‘More Able’ pupils who have missed out on scholarships. Provisions for these pupils include a programme of McAuley Lectures on stimulating topics, events run within subjects and across the curriculum. In return, scholars and more able pupils contribute to school events for their particular skill. We track scholars to make sure they are living up to expectation and also so we make sure they reach their potential.