The New Beacon curriculum is tailored to the needs of the pupils and their future aspirations. While the National Curriculum is a useful starting point, departments adapt and enhance their programmes of study to ensure that every pupil is motivated, inspired and challenged, and individual learning needs and requirements are met.
The main subjects taught are English, Mathematics, Science, French, Geography, History, Religious Studies, Classical Civilisation, ICT, Design and Technology, Art, Drama, Music, CPSHE and Physical Education. Latin is introduced in Year 6 for the streamed form. Reasoning skills have also been introduced to the curriculum to cater for the increasing complexities of senior school entry requirements.
Staff are enthusiastic, dedicated and flexible and use a variety of teaching strategies. The curriculum is supplemented by a carefully planned programme of visits and trips, and learning is supported by regular and relevant preps. In Years 7 and 8, with many schools no longer requiring CE as an entry requirement, a revised, broader, largely non-exam led curriculum was introduced in 2019.
Careful planning, monitoring, assessment and recording are essential to ensure that each child receives a broad, balanced and appropriate curriculum for them and that their individual needs, strengths and any difficulties are quickly identified.
Our approach is designed to ensure that the boys are:
actively involved in the learning process;
exposed to a broad and balanced variety of learning strategies based on their individual and diverse needs;
safe and supported in an environment where their contributions are respected and valued.
‘We also wanted to take this opportunity and share with you how truly impressed we are with all your and the teachers’ efforts during this difficult period (Lockdown March – July 2020) – all the incredible assemblies, music initiatives, adaptive lesson structures, positivity and enthusiasm. We have never been more proud to be part of the New Beacon community.’
Boys from Reception to Year 8 study art at the New Beacon. Whilst the younger boys enjoy the freedom that creativity naturally gives a young child, the older boys start to understand that there is not necessarily a right or wrong way to do something, there are less restrictions and they practice decision making within the lessons, ‘mistakes’ become problem solving that is documented in their sketchbooks and this is as important as their final outcomes.
Art is not just about developing creativity however, it gives the boys so much more. We enhance their knowledge of other cultures and religions, giving them a better understanding and respect for the wider world. Art can build confidence, perseverance and focus. We encourage self-expression and imagination, and love to see what the boys come up with. The boys learn to work collaboratively and solve problems together and independently. Art also helps with motor skills, visual spatial skills and focus, which in turn supports the rest of their learning.
At the New Beacon we cover a wide spectrum of materials and processes. We keep our pupils engaged by adding pace to their projects. Our great facilities offer the opportunity to firstly draw, print and paint which then leads on to ceramics, textiles, photography, animation, sculpture, mixed media and casting. We ensure that the boys try as much as possible. When they reach Senior School they start to focus on the areas they enjoy most, creating individual artworks for our annual art exhibition.
The boys start to learn about artists and cultural art in Reception and this continues all the way to Year 8. As they get older the boys learn about art movements and start to understand how art has naturally evolved and changed.
There is a weekly ‘art club’ where each term we focus on something different. Whether this is animation, silk painting, a group mural or photography it is great to see boys from different year groups working together with enjoyment.
From literature to art, architecture to philosophy, drama to politics, the Classical world has had a significant impact upon the culture of Europe and beyond. The Classics Department at The New Beacon seeks to develop in the boys an awareness of and enthusiasm for Classical Antiquity, and also to explore its enduring impact over the past two millennia and its continuing relevance in the 21st century.
Latin is begun by the most able boys in Year 6, with a further set beginning in Year 7. Ancient Greek is introduced to the streamed form in Year 7; the language is also available as an after-school activity for those interested and fascinates the boys with its ‘exotic’ alphabet.
The boys follow a rigorous course in preparation for 13+ Common Entrance and Scholarship examinations, with great emphasis on translating from English into Latin, and they develop a wide variety of skills. Understanding the structures of Classical languages improves their ability to apply logical thought; the grammar and roots of the English language are reinforced and links are made with Modern European languages; there are opportunities to explore the myths and history of the ancient world through philosophy, storytelling and drama.
Classical Civilisation was introduced in 2013 to provide a challenging and supportive alternative to Latin studies.
The flexible and continually evolving scheme of work has been planned to assist the development of key literacy and thinking skills; to provide additional opportunities for boys to learn how to express themselves more clearly, with increasing accuracy and to take pride in original thought, both orally and in diverse written formats.
From sharing opinions about the Elgin marbles in Year 6 through to the study of Homeric texts using the Cambridge Schools Classics Storytelling Project in Years 7 and 8, Classical Civilisation aims to hone communication skills and does so through use of a variety of content elements such as: Greek and Roman myths; life in Athens and Sparta; critical thinking and philosophy; Greek drama; Pompeii; the War with Troy and the Odyssey.
The Department also runs a Philosophy Club which meets once a week, providing the boys with a lively opportunity to think and discuss with one another without the pressure or expectation of finding answers. We believe that the critical thinking and reasoned debate which these sessions engender are an important part of education.
Recent trips have included Jason and the Argonauts at the Unicorn Theatre in London and Bignor Roman Villa in West Sussex. The department also holds an in-house Dionysia festival, when boys in all Year 6 classes perform a short classical play in the open air, with props, costumes and acting direction all undertaken by the pupils independently , which is great fun for all involved.
CPSHE enables pupils to work together on issues of concern. It gives them the confidence and skills that they need to act with others to tackle real problems in society. This is done by researching and debating political, moral and social problems that may be faced by society now and in the future.
In the Pre-Prep and Junior School the boys are encouraged to work together, appreciate each other’s skills and to think about how we are all unique and learn in different ways. As they move into the Junior School circle time enables more group time which leads to discussion, problem solving and evaluating given situations.
Within the Middle School the importance of healthy living, encompassing diet, exercise and personal hygiene is explored. The role of rules and regulations in society is considered, including rules within the school and those within the context of sport. Pupils are introduced to the fundamental principles of the legal system and hold mock trials. Time is also spent considering possible motivations for crimes such as theft and burglary and whether these could ever constitute extenuating circumstances.
Year 6 also visit the Sutton Life Centre during the summer term which is a state of the art educational and community facility in South London promoting good citizenship, personal safety and the environment. The two hour Life Skills Tour helps to empower the children to make educated choices about the numerous challenges and situations that they will encounter during their time maturing from children to young adults.
In the Senior School the topics explored reflect the more adult issues to which the modern adolescent is exposed. These include crime, tobacco, money management and consumer rights and responsibilities. In their final year, the boys experience a Drugsline Education led interactive workshop on Drugs and Alcohol Education. They look further at bullying and they undertake a course in sex and relationship education, incorporating such elements as LGBT+ issues and awareness, relationships, marriage, contraception, STDs and STIs and the organisations that deal with such issues.
Design and Technology
In the New Beacon Design and Technology Department we aim to provide the boys with a breadth of technological, design and realisation experiences to enable them to exercise fully their problem-solving potential.
Opportunities are offered for pupils to develop their capabilities, through combining designing and making skills with an understanding of materials. Development of the critical understanding of technical processes, products and their manufacture prepares them for making a contribution to life and work in an increasingly technological society.
Learners are given the opportunity to develop their 3D problem-solving skill to a high level through a range of challenges and tasks coupled with a variety of materials and technologies, including specialist computer aided manufacture via the use of a laser cutter.
Through creative thinking, New Beacon boys are encouraged to make positive changes to objects and products used in everyday life. The nature of the subject encourages and enables students to become autonomous and creative problem solvers, both as individuals and as part of a team. It enables them to identify needs and opportunities and to respond by developing ideas and eventually making products and systems.
‘The best way to predict the future is to design it’. R.B Fuller
Sharing the joy of inspiring literature is central to the English Department’s mission. From the very beginning our boys are encouraged to develop a lifetime’s passion for reading, writing and analytical thinking.
We believe in the unique potential of every boy for precise, articulate and creative self-expression. This belief will take our boys along a path of learning which explores the creative and critical thinking opportunities that interacting with stimulating literature has to offer: discovering Beowulf, Shakespeare, Chaucer and many of the delights of modern literature are all exciting destinations along the routes of reading, writing and speaking.
Many inviting avenues for the realisation of these fundamental aims are afforded our boys not only within the classroom, but extended outwards to the wider community of the whole school and beyond. These opportunities provide a challenging yet nurturing introduction to public performance, firing a collective excitement and an increasing discernment for the written and spoken word. The experience and confidence gained from being able to communicate effectively are life-skills our boys will need in all aspects of life whether it be in the classroom, on the sports field or later in adulthood.
Opportunities for this are afforded in diverse and engaging ways:
• classroom and whole-school poetry recitations
• debates on broad topical issues
• “pop-in” shared reading days
• interactive Shakespeare workshop / author visits
• publishing of pupils’ creative writing – our “Dragons’ Teeth” publication
• independent project research
• plays and drama activities
French is studied by all boys from Year 5 upwards. After studying French for two years, boys are usually put into sets.
All boys start French with Equipe Nouvelle. The course book lends itself well to equal practice in the four skills, Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing.
Year 8 study from the in-house ‘Dossier Français’ and the material from the annual Year 8 French Study Trip to Le Touquet.
The extent to which the French language is used by the teacher in class varies according to the ability of the class. All teachers recognise the value of listening to the target language and attach great importance to pronunciation and fluency, and to listening to and responding to the target language. Explanations are always given in English to ensure that the pupils have a clear understanding of what has been taught.
Written French gives evidence of how well pupils have understood concepts of grammar. In the early stages, written French is fundamental and is used to reinforce grammar and vocabulary in simple exercises. Free expression in the target language comes in when the pupils have acquired a wider French vocabulary and a sound grammatical knowledge, and are competent in using a variety of tenses.
Teachers differentiate according to ability. The school exams complement this approach. There is regular testing in a variety of aspects of the subject. Each boy in the school (except the scholars) has an oral exam in the summer term. This is conducted by the pupil’s teacher.
French results at Scholarship level are traditionally excellent. New Beacon pupils regularly win the Tonbridge Knightley Scholarship (the top award for Modern Languages in Scholarship).
The standard of Year 8 Leaving Certificate is high. Most pupils are placed in the highest set for French at their next school.
For further information, please refer to the Curriculum Map in the online school resources.
As Geographers, we are passionate about how the world works and how change affects its fragile existence.
Through our teaching we adopt the “enquiry approach,” which allows the boys to ask questions such as: Where is it? What is it like? How did it get there? Who lives there? How is it changing? Coupled with this, the pupils draw upon their own personal experiences to bring more insight, interest and relevance to their studies. Pupils are encouraged to think for themselves and develop their own opinions.
How is Geography taught at the New Beacon?
Geography has long embraced the variety of technology on offer. The internet is used for research and there is an interactive whiteboard in the geography room, which is utilised during lessons. Together with a range of up to date textbooks, ICT, a modern library, demonstrations, fieldtrips and a variety of teaching skills, all styles of learning are catered for.
Global Location and Ordnance Survey map work are two very important life skills taught and these are complimented by a number of thematic studies, which include: earthquakes and volcanoes, weathering and erosion, geology, rivers and coasts, weather and climate, population and settlement, transport and industry. The value of fieldwork is also integrated through all years within the school.
Fieldwork, Trips and Investigations
Fieldwork utilises the extensive school grounds, local farms, villages and towns. Whatever the experience, the children have the opportunity to use their inquisitive skills. In addition to the many cross-curricular outings in the Pre-Prep and Junior Schools, boys at the New Beacon undertake the following excursions with a specific Geographical slant:
Year 4 orienteering around the school grounds.
Year 5 visits Dry Hill local nature reserve and completes a Microclimate project around the school grounds.
Year 6 visits the Medway floodplain.
Year 7 visits the Reculver Country Park and coastline, near Herne Bay. The pupils also use the on-site weather station to undertake a weather study on high and low pressure systems.
Year 8 visits the River Tillingbourne to collect data for the CE fieldwork investigation. Aspects of weathering around the school grounds are also studied.
Years 6-8 are invited on an overseas trip to Iceland.
Common Entrance & Scholarship
A rigorous approach is adopted where pupils are suitably challenged and prepared for a variety of high profile senior schools, near and far. Regardless of ability, extra support is always available. We aim to get the best out of every boy.
‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ George Santayana
From the clash of arms on a distant battlefield to the development of parliamentary democracy and the role of monarchy today, history is a vibrant and vital subject for today’s generation. At the New Beacon, history is taught with passion and academic rigour giving the pupils access to their culture, their heritage and their country’s place and role in the shaping of world events.
The syllabus we follow is wide-ranging and exciting, from Vikings terrorising the local population, to the Norman Conquest where our history was forever changed on the field of battle one October day; from the Roman occupation of Britain to the Normandy landings where so many soldiers gave their lives defending the cause of freedom against tyranny. Each topic is covered in a suitable way for the age group using a range of different teaching styles and techniques and supplemented by school trips and visits to places such as Duxford Imperial War Museum, Churchill War Rooms, the Houses of Parliament, the National Portrait Gallery and a Year 8 residential trip to France (covering WW1 and WW2).
Critical thinking and the ability to express a cogent and coherent argument in a structured and organised way are key features of the course we follow, vital skills for life.
‘We can’t have an informed citizenry if historic facts are hidden from future generations.’ Anonymous
ICT plays an integral role in every aspect of our lives and at the New Beacon we aim to prepare each and every boy by giving him a skill set that will allow him to tackle any number of problems that he may face in his school career, business career, or in general day-to-day life.
We aim to provide the skills needed in an environment that is relaxed and with material that is fun. At all times, computers are emphasised as being mere tools that allow us to complete a given task in an easier, more efficient manner.
Teaching is generally based around larger projects, making sure that boys learn the basics of saving, closing (and reopening) files. We also emphasise the need to work in a methodical manner that ensures proper organisation of files and resources within each boy’s personal workspace. These projects are designed to ensure an easier transition to senior school and the rigours of general, cross-curricular, ICT-based coursework as well as discrete ICT. To this end, many projects tie in to other subjects directly – by working with other class teachers and Heads of Department, using ICT to prepare material, projects, write-ups, etc. – or indirectly by researching background to major projects or fields of study.
Boys are introduced to coding in the Junior School. We use a variety of coding platforms and languages, starting with Scratch and Logo programming and progressing to coding advanced functions and Macros in Excel and HTML coding and cascading style sheets in the senior school.
Boys are encouraged to apply their learning from ICT lessons to other subject projects. Simply because they are doing a French or CPSHE slideshow for example, it does not mean they ignore the techniques taught in their ICT lessons.
Software and resources used in ICT lessons are, wherever possible, freely available/accessible on computers at home to encourage pupils to make use of the techniques they have been taught. Examples of this include Microsoft Office, Windows Moviemaker, BBC Dancemat, etc.
The Learning Support Team at The New Beacon comprises the Special Education Needs and Disabilities Co-ordinator (SendCo) and two other specialist teachers, all qualified to support pupils who follow a broad Prep School curriculum. Mainstream and specialist staff work together for the benefit of pupils with special educational needs and there is shared responsibility for making the curriculum accessible to all.
Early identification of any learning difficulties is important. If the special needs of a pupil have been identified prior to entry to the school, provision is put in place from the start. Every boy at The New Beacon is screened for dyslexia in Year 3 but screening and assessment at other stages, at teacher’s and/or parent’s request, is routine. If a child appears to have a specific learning difficulty, discussion with parents is initiated at the earliest opportunity. Advice can be given on speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, educational psychologists etc. Often eye sight and hearing checks are the first course of action.
Boys with specific needs are offered group or individual lessons (for which parents are charged) at a mutually agreed time. The content of the lessons vary. A range of multi-sensory programmes are in use to develop phonological awareness, motor skills, listening and memory skills, numeracy, comprehension, reading, grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and organisation. The younger boys work in a comfortable and stimulating room in the Pre-Prep building whilst the older boys have their lessons in a room near the ICT suite. Discussion of each child’s specific needs and the progress he is making, takes place regularly with parents and staff.
We encourage each boy to reach his potential, bearing in mind that self-confidence is of the utmost importance. Whilst an individual boy may be making progress at his own pace, his progress may be less than his peers. Our thorough knowledge of each boy and his particular strengths and challenges, enables us to advise parents on which senior schools will best cater for his needs, upon leaving The New Beacon.
At the New Beacon we aim to teach mathematics as a life skill and sometimes just to enjoy manipulating and working with numbers. Through this understanding, we can teach the boys the satisfaction of reaching solutions and conclusions numerically and algebraically and seeing the beauty of mathematics as a language in its purest and simplest form.
Mathematics is taught as a language as well as a science, hopefully leading to boys understanding the universal appeal of the subject. This also improves problem solving skills and the ability to translate mathematical problems written in words into more accessible numerical sums.
We aim to prepare boys for all the different exams they have to take; these include the 11+, pre assessment for Senior Schools including Tonbridge, Sevenoaks (for Year 7 and Year 9 entry), Caterham, Eton and many more. We also prepare boys for Common Entrance and Scholarship exams for a wide variety of schools, although the department sees maths as more than just a subject to be tested, it is education for life.
We also enter a variety of problem solving and puzzle competitions where boys can work individually or as part of a team.
The Primary Maths Challenge is a nationally set paper taken by thousands of Year 6 pupils across the country. At The New Beacon it is taken by the whole of Years 5 and 6, and some younger boys who are part of our extension maths programme. This gives all boys an opportunity to use their problem solving skills, and also allows scope for work and discussion in pairs when preparing for the paper and extension work for the gifted and talented programme.
The Junior Maths Challenge is a nationally targeted paper, set by the Mathematical Association, and is aimed at Year 8 pupils. At The New Beacon, it is taken by the whole of Year 7 and Year 8 and the streamed Year 6 class. Several of our boys regularly qualify for round 2 and we often win National medals.
Every two years we run a ‘tableathon’ during which all boys from Years 3-8 participate against each other in three different rounds to find the school’s tables champion! We also have a visiting company or speaker every two years for the whole school, as well as invited speakers for specific age groups.
We consider ourselves to be an active department with a modern outlook and traditional values. This is reflected in our excellent results at Common Entrance and Scholarship and in the various challenges we undertake.
There is a strong and well-established tradition of music making at The New Beacon. The philosophy of our music education is to develop a love and joy of music and a confidence to explore and develop each individual musical talent.
The Music Department is extremely fortunate to be housed in a purpose-built Music and Art Centre with two main rooms used for class music teaching, choir rehearsals and larger instrumental ensemble rehearsals together with four smaller teaching rooms, which are used for individual music lessons and to rehearse small ensembles like string quartets, woodwind quintets and percussion groups. Use is also made of The Mac Suite in The New Beacon Centre for composition based activities using Garageband and Sibelius software. Here are some recent examples of compositions:
Tom Smith in year 5 composed this beat in his first Composition Club session:
The singing-based Class Music aims to encourage and inspire a boy’s enjoyment of music. Through singing, boys are able to develop a secure set of musicianship skills which prepares them for learning an instrument. Music notation is introduced in Reception and by Year 2 boys are able to read notes from the stave in the treble clef.
All boys learn to play the recorder during class music lessons in Years 3 and 4.
In the Middle and Senior School boys continue to develop their musicianship skills through solo and group work. From Year 5, boys use the Sibelius music software program to compose their own music. In Year 6, boys learn to play the ukulele. The Senior School boys are using Garageband to compose and create film sound tracks in The Media Suite in The New Beacon Centre.
We have a strong tradition of singing at The New Beacon. All boys in Year 4 are encouraged to be members of the Year 4 Choir. All Years 5 and 6 boys are encouraged to audition to be members of the Middle School Choir. The Chapel Choir is for boys in Years 7 and 8 and we also run a Parent Choir, which regularly joins the boys at services.
The opportunity to sing abroad, most recently Rome, Venice and Dubrovnik, is an experience to be enjoyed by a Chapel Choir member on one of the fantastic tours organised bi-annually.
During their time at the school, approximately 75% of the boys learn a musical instrument with one of the peripatetic music teachers. Some study two or even three instruments. Lessons are offered on all woodwind, brass, string and percussion instruments, as well as piano, organ and singing.
Theory classes are held for boys wishing to take Associated Board Grade 5 Theory. Associated music exams are held for instrumentalists and singers in a one, two or three day session at school each term. Approximately 190 Associated Board music exams are taken by boys annually, with impressive results. Aural classes are held to prepare boys for this aspect of the Associated Board music exams.
Boys having individual instrumental lessons may join one of the instrumental groups which are offered: in the Junior School: Year 4 Orchestra, Beginner Strings, Junior Strings and Brass group; in the Middle School: Second Orchestra, String Training Orchestra, Middle School Brass Group, and Concert Band; in the Senior School: First Orchestra, Senior Strings, Big Band, Senior Brass Group, String Quartets, Woodwind Ensemble and Concert Band. There are also Guitar Ensembles for Junior, Middle and Senior School boys, and a Percussion Ensemble for Middle and Senior School boys.
All Middle and Senior school boys are invited to Composition Club, and there is a Barbershop Group for Year 8 boys.
The highlights of a New Beacon boy’s musical experiences may be found by playing in the Big Band, a String Quartet or playing in the band for the Year 8 Leavers’ Play.
Very talented young musicians are encouraged to consider applying for a music scholarship either at Year 6 or Year 8, as they progress on to their next school. There is a high level of success at The New Beacon.
In recent years, Music Scholarships and Exhibitions have been won to Eton College, Sevenoaks School, Tonbridge School, Charterhouse and the King’s School, Rochester.
Boys from Reception through to Year 8, have numerous opportunities to perform. Every year group has Harvest services in St George’s Chapel; Pre prep boys present nativities in the Theatre at Christmas; Years 3 and 4 have their own Carol services in St George’s Chapel; Middle and Senior School boys all participate in a Carol Service at Tonbridge Chapel. There are also regular Middle and Senior School chapel services each term. Years 4, 6 and 8 perform musicals in the theatre; Year 5 performs a Music Evening in The New Beacon Centre. Pre prep and Junior School boys do a May Concert, in The New Beacon Centre and the majority of Years 4 to 8 celebrate instrumental music making and singing at a large concert in the summer term in The New Beacon Centre.
Pre-Prep and Junior School
Every boy has one lesson of PE a week. In this lesson he will learn different skills with a ball, balance and co-ordination. These are taught in a disciplined environment for safety reasons, but also trying to introduce a firm and more relaxed atmosphere when introducing invasion sports to these young boys.
Middle and Senior School
These lessons consist of as many indoor sports as possible, such as football, basketball, cricket, handball, badminton and dodge ball. Less time is spent on skills and more on playing the sports.
The opening of our all-weather surface has added an extra dimension to PE lessons providing a large open area in which to develop new skills.
Pre-Prep and Junior School
In the Pre-Prep and Junior School Religious Studies is based on the Canterbury scheme of work, with the aim of introducing different world religions to the boys, ways of life and the different ways in which people worship and celebrate. Christianity is studied by Reception to Year 4, and as the boys move up through the school Judaism, Hinduism and Islam are also taught.
Collective worship is linked to our learning, as well as different events throughout the year, including Harvest Festival and other services held in the Chapel. Boys are encouraged to explore their own understanding and experiences of religion, whist being encouraged to be understanding and tolerant of the beliefs of others.
Middle and Senior School
Religious Studies in the Middle and Senior School is largely based on the Common Entrance syllabus, with boys studying the Old and New Testaments, together with a study of World Religions in Year 7. This study centres around Buddhism and Christianity.
The aim is to study religion as an academic subject so that boys can make informed choices for themselves about religion, perhaps later in life. Boys will also be well prepared for either Common Entrance or Scholarship at the end of Year 8. Success rates are excellent, with many boys gaining top grades.
The best way to understand science is to do it, see it, touch it, and – in some cases – to smell it!
Wherever possible, we teach Science practically, to give every child the opportunity to ‘get their hands dirty’, creating lasting memories and experiences that make the subject so much more accessible. This approach, combined with projects, outings and field trips helps pupils to develop an understanding that Science isn’t confined to the classroom; it is all around us and plays an essential role in our everyday lives.
At The New Beacon, we aim to challenge each child’s ability to hypothesise, plan and reason whilst simultaneously nurturing a sense of awe and wonder for the natural world. Above all, our job is to convey our passion and enthusiasm for science, so that the children can’t wait to discover what the next lesson will reveal.
Science at the New Beacon is not confined to the excellently resourced laboratories, with the Millennium Garden and newly developed school garden area also giving pupils from Reception to Year 8 the opportunity to develop their knowledge and appreciation of science and the natural environment around them.