I am the mother of two young boys, aged 5 and 7 who joined Dame Catherine’s School about 6 months ago. Despite the short time period, they are both flourishing at this school and have made new friends very quickly, with boys and girls of different ages. It gives me immense pleasure to see them going to school so happy and content. They are confident and secure in the knowledge that they will enjoy the teaching and get better at their work. I do not need the results of an Ofsted report to tell me DCHS is outstanding in their provision of an excellent learning environment, for any child.
I have found DCHS to be a wonderful school for many reasons; the main one being, I have a benchmark with which to compare it to. My older son started his schooling at our “good with outstanding features” local school, which had an excellent reputation within the community. His reception class teacher was particularly highly regarded for her fantastic results. However, I quickly came to realise this did not mean an excellent start for my son. Within a year, having barely reached 5, he had been labelled as having SEN, was disengaged with his learning and sadly thought he was ‘stupid’.
At DCHS it doesn’t matter whether they are young in the year and not ready to start formal education because the teaching is child centred. They are taught at a level appropriate to their development and the small class size accommodates this style of teaching. Classes are informal which means pupils address the teacher by their first name and this lends itself to a more collaborative approach to learning rather than curriculum based work that is imposed on them. The pupils have a degree of choice in the learning especially on Friday when they are given a choice of activities rather than spending the time finishing off tasks from earlier in the week. This period of time is called Golden Time and is the highlight of my sons’ week.
However, underpinning the success of the teaching at DCHS has to be the lack of standardised testing. Not only does this remove the pressure on the teacher to input enough material for the test but it allows them to build in activities to inspire their pupils and put curiosity at the heart of their teaching. The pupils are not graded and ranked against their peers so their self esteem and confidence are great. My two boys are testament to this.