Our Educational Philosophy
The education we provide at ESMS Junior School is sector leading. Our 'Junior School Tree' is how we depict the broad curriculum that we offer, with our School Values as the roots and three interconnected branches, signifying the equal prominence we give to curriculum, extra-curricular and pastoral care. Supporting our tree trunk are the words modern and traditional because we put traditional values and core skills such as numeracy, good handwriting, spelling and grammar at the heart of our curriculum and we are also leading the way in the use of technology to enhance teaching and learning.
A Broad Curriculum
Our broad curriculum gives children extraordinary opportunities to excel, which includes the subjects below.
By combining the traditional with the modern, I am confident that our children will have every reason to be the modest, confident, happy and successful adults of the future.
Mr Mike Kane
Head of ESMS Junior School
Passionate Teachers with Innovative Teaching Methods
Our teachers at ESMS Junior School are passionate about the subjects they teach and classes are interactive and fun. A culture of innovation runs through the school, blending our traditional curriculum with innovative teaching to make classes interactive and fun and inspiring pupils to think differently and creatively. We are proud to be the first independent school in Scotland to be named as a Microsoft Global Showcase School. This makes us part of a leading group of schools recognised for innovation in teaching and learning and preparing students for the future.
Handwriting is a skill which demands dexterity, coordination and an attention to detail. At ESMS we concentrate on children’s handwriting skills from Primary 1. Cursive handwriting is introduced during Primary 3.
Spelling and grammar are taught rigorously to all children. These skills are important building blocks for learning and will help children to create a positive first impression long after they have left school.
Reading is the gateway to all other academic subjects and can underpin a child’s general academic success. The teaching pf phonics and decoding is the bedrock of our early reading programme and our aim is to develop all of our children to become fluent, confident readers who are passionate about reading.
Exposure to a wide range of text types, as well as delivering a knowledge rich curriculum fosters a deep sense of comprehension for our children which we explore through discussion and written responses.
We teach Mathematics and Numeracy as separate subjects and we integrate them where appropriate, including across the curriculum, in areas such as mapping skills in Geography and spreadsheets in Digital Learning.
We allocate children to broad ability sets in Mathematics from Primary 4 to Primary 7. We believe that this structure offers children of all levels of mathematical ability the best opportunity to become both confident and competent in all areas of Mathematics and Numeracy. We always ensure that there are advanced problem-solving activities available for those who would relish the additional challenge and we support our less confident mathematicians by allocating them to particularly small sets.
The ESMS Junior School offers specialist teaching of French from Primary 1 onwards. When children reach Primary 7 they also learn German.
Social Studies, Sciences and Technologies
A practical, cross-curricular approach is taken to the teaching of Social Studies, Sciences and Technologies, using a variety of subject areas to reinforce learning, including Art, Music, Literacy, Numeracy and our new curricular area Learning for Life.
History and Geography lessons are brought to life through school trips, virtual reality and learning outdoors. Children examine sources of evidence and learn how events from the past can have implications and consequences for the future. Mapping skills are taught from Primary 4 and children learn the names of the continents, oceans and major countries in Europe. Children are also introduced to the basics of weather and climate as part of their Planet Earth and Beyond topic.
Science is taught throughout the Junior School from Nursery to Primary 7. By the time children reach the top of the Junior School they are working in a Senior School Science laboratory with a qualified Senior School specialist teacher and technician. Amongst the scientific topics encountered in Primary 7 is a CSI Unit about stolen items and a ransom note which always proves very popular! This incorporates scientific methods of study, including the analysis of hair samples and fingerprints, as well as the use of chromatography to differentiate between different types of inks.
Technology, like Science, is a very practical subject which we endeavour to make a hands-on experience for children. It involves a range of skills including teamwork, coordination and fine motor skills. In Primary 7 we run a Technology day, led by the Senior School Product Design specialists.
Digital Learning provision at ESMS is sector leading. It begins in Nursery where children play with built in code blocks, code-a-pillars, bee-bots and mark making light boards. As they move through the school, we introduce desktop computers, ipads, chromebooks and VR headsets. Children are also taught about e-safety and the importance of being kind and respectful to others and creating a positive online presence.
When children enter Primary 6 and 7, they are each given an individual device – a laptop – and this promotes further application of their digital learning skills within the general classroom environment, both enriching their leaning experiences and helping them to develop 21st century learning skills.
Children at ESMS Junior School are given unique opportunities to perform, thanks to our talented and dedicated staff and our state-of-the-art facilities. In addition to our school performances, we are also privileged to be the ‘go to’ school for professional companies. The Junior School has performed nearly 800 times in professional West End touring musicals and international operas.
Children have a weekly Art lesson, taught by their Class Teacher or the Junior School Art Specialist. As they move up the school they develop their skills in observational drawing, painting, collage, clay and graphic design using Digital Learning. A reflective and critical approach is encouraged with opportunities to look at the work of artists past and present to support this.
Music is taught by specialist teachers from Nursery. Music classes focus on singing, playing and listening and by Primary 4 children are writing their own compositions. Specialist instrumental lessons begin in Primary 3. Our children are spoilt for choice with a range of 29 different instruments to choose from.
Support for Learning
Whilst children broadly learn in similar ways, some have larger learning cycles and require additional practice and support to help them to thrive. We believe that all children are entitled to educational provision which enables them to achieve their full academic potential. The Support for Learning Department supports children of all intellectual abilities through a range of small group teaching and in-class support.
Learning for Life
Our Learning for Life curriculum permeates all areas of the ESMS school experience and is underpinned by our nine School Values. This curriculum encompasses a variety of subjects: Health and Wellbeing (including PE), Religious and Moral Education and Philosophy and Citizenship. Children are also given the opportunity to participate in Mindfulness practice and taught how to understand and manage their emotions.
Our extensive outdoor learning programme starts in Nursery. While the children are having fun taking on challenges and exploring the natural world around them, they are developing confidence and a host of vital life skills, which you can learn more about here.
Support for Learning
Every child is different and as a result, each will have their own preferred style and pace of learning. All children are entitled to educational provision which enables them to achieve their full academic potential. The Support for Learning Department supports children of all intellectual abilities through small group teaching and in-class support.