Choosing The Right Primary School For Your Daughter Assistant Head Of Westfield Junior House Clare Baines, Offers A Jargon Buster For Parents

Issue 17

We hear lots of different education terminology, please explain.

GCSE and A Level: These are the national secondary public examinations in England and, generally, without at least five GCSEs, including English and Maths, it is hard to get a job or an apprenticeship these days.

At Westfield our A Level results put us fifth nationally for small independent schools. Over 48% of the grades awarded to Westfield girls were at A and A*. Our GCSE students were also fantastic this year achieving 90% A* to C grades, including English and Maths. Many schools advertise their pass rates but some do not include English and Maths nor the number of the highest grades (A* to A).'s just another reason why we are special and we are the hidden gem in the heart of Gosforth

Westfield is a non-selective school which means that we welcome girls from all academic backgrounds. We ensure that all girls settle quickly into school life and, with individualised support, achieve the high quality results that has seen us top the league tables in Newcastle and Northumberland

KS1 SATS: These take place at the end of Year 2 and are used as a Government measure of standards. They are a basic measurement of progress.

KS2 SATS: At the end of Year 6, all children are assessed in English (reading and writing), SPAG (spelling, punctuation and grammar) and Maths. Westfield achieved well above the national average and exceeded previous year’s results. This means that every girl at Westfield leaves our Junior House highly skilled in literacy and numeracy and well ahead of her national counterparts.

What is it about the Westfield experience that makes these achievements possible?

We achieve these results because at Westfield, not only do we have really committed and skilled teachers, but we raise girls’ aspirations. If a girl’s mind is enriched by the creative intellect provided through Westfield’s extra-curricular activities, this complements their academic achievement which helps her to grow and flourish for her journey beyond Westfield. Amongst the many clubs and extra-curricular activities on offer is our Chess, Fencing and Engineering and Construction Clubs.

What makes Westfield different, what is it that makes it a special place to be?

It is hard to sum this up in one sentence, but there are many aspects to our school and what that means for a girl. Our academic performance is obviously important; that is how we are measured, but we believe that the “school experience” is so much more than that. It is about knowing how to bring out the best in everyone, nurture the less confident ones, challenge and bring aspiration, open a girl’s mind and make sure each girl knows how important she is as an individual.

Talk to us about open days, what should a parent be looking out for on their visit?

Choosing the right school can be a tricky one. Some parents will have checked ISI or DfE information prior to turning up at an open day but, more likely than not, they will have received recommendations through word of mouth. It is important to know that it is difficult to judge a school on a first visit but the feel you get for a school is important. Some schools will have fantastic displays on their classroom walls on open day but not during the rest of the year. Some schools will have dazzling and high tech facilities but soulless corridors and average results.

Probably the most important factor is how the staff relate to the children. Are they interested in your child? Does your child respond enthusiastically to them? Parents should also visit during the school day and take advantage of taster days for their children. At Westfield parents and girls are welcome to visit us at a time to suit them.

Remember, what is best for one child isn’t necessarily best for another. Every child has different strengths and weaknesses and it is important the school provides the right environment for them to thrive in. That is partly down to academic ability but also to a caring pastoral system. At Westfield we make sure that parents are well informed about their daughters’ education and emotional well-being every step of the way.

Primary vs Junior,

Kindergarten vs Reception

At Westfield we use the term Junior House as the word House emphasises that we are an extended family and we are based in a former Victorian family house. Kindergarten, is the traditional word for what everyone knows as ‘reception’. We like to keep some old fashioned terms …

As a teacher with many years’ experience and a parent, I know how hard it can be to choose the right school. Westfield follows a small school structure and it is because of this ethos that we do so well.

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