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Barfield School

An Independent Preparatory School for Girls and Boys


Academic Subjects


At Barfield, the main aim within the English department is to encourage a lively interest in the subject and to develop skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening.


The children are encouraged to become enthusiastic, independent and effective readers. They are introduced to a wide range of literature through independent and shared reading and given the opportunity to read for their own pleasure as well as to seek out information. The children have a dedicated Library lesson each week in which they can make use of our excellent stock of fiction and non-fiction books in a quiet and comfortable environment.

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Pupils are taught to develop, organise and express their ideas for a variety of purposes including diaries, letters, reports, essays, stories, poems and reviews. The pupils are guided in their ability to organise and structure their writing, use paragraphs, punctuation and grammar correctly and develop their vocabulary and accurate spelling. A weekly club has also been established recently to support children with their handwriting.

Book Fairs are held regularly throughout the academic year allowing the children to purchase books if they wish, with commission going towards the purchase of an even greater range of books for the library, for all our pupils to enjoy.

Every spring, Barfield celebrates the joy of ‘all things literary’ with World Book Week featuring visiting authors, shared reading, story boxes and, of course, ‘dressing-up’ as favourite story characters.


Here at Barfield we aim to balance the unquestionable importance of such a core subject with fun and varied teaching styles.  Whilst the pupils have daily maths lessons using an established scheme of work, they also experience learning through more practical means, making use of The Cookhouse and the Outdoor Classroom.

When appropriate, the department is able to ‘set’ pupils in Years 6, 7 and 8 to enable us to teach pupils according to their preferred learning styles and to maximise their access to the curriculum.  There is also an additional opportunity to work at a more challenging level for potential scholars in Year 8.

We have additional teaching aids such as interactive whiteboards, data projectors and class pads as well as a host of practical games, puzzles, activities and supportive practical materials, all aided by our school computer network.

Pupils experience weekly times tables tests up to Year 6, when this becomes a weekly mental arithmetic test in preparation for Common Entrance examinations.

We have many mathematical activities which we run at school including Practical Maths Day, maths workshops, Suduko challenges, Deal or No Deal activities, Connect Four championships and a variety of class-based games.

Our history of achievement in maths is excellent, with a high proportion of children going on to their senior schools with A grades or scholarships.

We understand that maths can be a difficult subject to grasp and, hence, have opportunities to offer those weaker in the subject with appropriate support sessions and additional 1:1 reinforcement time with staff.

Together, we aim to make maths fun and to let each individual child feel confident and successful at their own level.


The teaching of Science at Barfield is designed to give boys and girls confidence in understanding the world around them. It hopes to give them the skills and knowledge to explore and explain what is around them, whether biological, chemical or physical.

While the topics taught follow National Curriculum and Common Entrance Syllabus there should be a constant message of awe and wonder in the topics they cover, with stimulating teaching and learning to inspire and motivate the children in the subject.


What are our bodies made of?

How do our bodies work?

How do plants grow?

What other plants and animals live in the world?

How do they live in different habitats?                                               


What is everything made of?

What properties do different materials have?

How can you join, mix or separate different materials and chemicals?

How do different chemicals react wih each other?


What is energy?

What makes things move?

How does electricity work?

What is light and sound?

Where is the Earth in Space?


We learn languages in order to be able to use them. Learning a language should be fun!

We aim to teach languages using a variety of media, including textbooks, flashcards, interactive whiteboards, listening materials, songs and websites.

The pupils are encouraged to learn and use phrases which will be useful to them when on holiday abroad and to attempt to communicate in the foreign language, albeit on a limited basis, whenever they are able to.


We start with a few greetings in Reception and gradually increase the dose through to Year 8, using songs, games, CDs, films, role-play and other activities to introduce vocabulary and grammar in a way that is enjoyable whilst instilling confidence and a firm foundation. Every March Years 6 - 8 go and stay in a converted chateau in Normandy and enjoy a week of adventure - all in French!


The study of Latin begins in Year 5, where we use the Cambridge Latin Course, followed by Disce Latinum in Year 6.  We study both the Latin language and also the background study of life in Roman times.

In the initial stages of Year 5, we concentrate on making links between the newly learned Latin words and both English and French. The integral study of grammar also helps pupils to understand the building blocks of language learning.



We learn Geography at Barfield in order to be able to interpret the world we live in. From Year 3 pupils start to look at Geography in more detail, they look at climate, life in a village and move on to the environment and introducing rudimentary map skills. There is a lot of emphasis put on making Geography a fun, relevant and interactive subject.  Pupils are encouraged to work individually on projects from Year 4.

There is a lot of importance put on physical Geography, such as earthquakes and volcanoes and these can be tracked using the interactive whiteboards and projectors available in the school.  In Year 4 the pupils look at India in detail, they look at what a village in India is like, the problems of living in such a dry climate but also the development of India as a country.  The pupils also look at the water cycle as well as map skills. In Year 5 more emphasis is put on the pupils working independently and they are encouraged to work on projects to hone their skills of analysis and evaluation. They cover topics on coastlines, water, wind and weather, rivers and map skills. In Year 6 the Geography department tries to build on the knowledge that the pupils have acquired as well as stretching them intellectually. In this year we look at two countries and how their climate affects them. The pupils look in detail at Italy and Kenya and how location can affect whether a country is rich or poor. The children also look at environmental concerns and weather and tourism. Pupils are encouraged to be aware of any current Geographical stories in the news and bring in any information that they may have.

In Year 7 and 8 they study the Common Entrance syllabus which covers both map work and physical geography. They also have to submit fieldwork to their future schools in Year 8 and this is certainly a good preparation for the rigours of secondary school!

Above all, Geography is taught to provide a vital opportunity for children to learn at first -hand about the world and to encourage them to be interested in what happens to their world! 


History at Barfield is mostly taught in a chronological manner.  We aim to create a learning environment where children enjoy the curriculum as well as developing the crucial skills of evaluation, analysis and independent thought. We start off in Year 3 with the Stone Age and look at what it would have been like to live in a Roundhouse. Year 3 are taken to Butser Ancient Farm to understand what life would have been like for those living in Ancient Britain. The pupils continue to look at Ancient civilizations as they discover Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. They create an Ancient Egyptian Museum and look at how a curator decides what would go into a museum and what would be left out. 

In Year 4 the history of the Anglo-Saxons and the Normans is taught.  Year 4 look in detail at the development of castles in this country and indeed, spend some time making castles in groups. In this year group we are trying to encourage group work as well as a more independent style of work.

In Year 5 the children study the Elizabethans and the Stuarts, looking at how the Tudors shaped the country that we live in today. Year 5 look at religious persecution, the perception of other races and the start of the British Empire with privateers such as Drake and Raleigh.

In Year 6 they study the Victorians, looking at the treatment of children in this era and the expectations put onto a child of 10 or 11 if they lived 100+ years ago. Year 6 look at the scramble for Africa, the peak of the British Empire and the consequences of Imperialism. The pupils then go onto look at The First World War and in particular, we look at the poetry of this period and the significant changes made in the field of military weapons. The pupils then look at World War II and in particular, the Home Front. The children have to under-take a project on World War II, which is a cross-curricular project linked with ICT. They then go onto look at post-war Britain and the changes that have shaped our society since 1945.  In Year 7 and 8 the children focus on the requirements of the Common Entrance syllabus and study the period 1500-1750.

Religious Studies:

Religious Studies is taught throughout Barfield starting in Reception and up to Year 8, when Scholarship and Common Entrance papers are taken. All children in Years 3- 8 have one lesson per week.

In Year 3 they look at five major religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Judaism. The pupils look at how the stories inter-relate and what are the most important tenements of each religion. In Year 4 they go onto look at The Old Testament, the different stories and what they mean to our life now. In Year 5 the focus is on The New Testament, the teachings of Christ and what messages do we get from the parables. In Year 6 the focus is on The Old Testament and we look in detail at different themes through the stories. We look at our role as protector of the earth and why that is important. The pupils also take part in debates on the various themes, for example: “Can Human Beings ever be truly unselfish”? Year 6 is an important year for the pupils as they are being moved towards the rigours of the Common Entrance syllabus. In Years 7 and 8 a course of Biblical texts, Ethical and Moral theory and Philosophy is taught. The pupils are prepared for their Common Entrance and Scholarship exams and are encouraged to try and place religion in a global context and in particular, to understand how it has formed a moral guide for people around the world.


All children at Barfield have access to all areas of Information and Communication Technologies from Owls to Year 8.   The children work through age appropriate software to become competent users.

Children at Barfield will have an opportunity to access ICT through interactive whiteboards, produce powerpoint presentations, create animations using digital photography, record songs and create their own websites!

Design Technology

In the D.T. department we aim to introduce our students to the many different concepts associated with D.T., through the design phase, into construction and ending with evaluation of our work.   We pay attention to our weaknesses as well as our strengths to discover how to improve on our initial plans.

The children are encouraged to work independently using a variety of tools and equipment, from drawing boards to sewing machines.   They are introduced to many techniques which they will be able to use as they move on to their senior schools.  They also appreciate the input of their classmates when evaluating their projects.

In Year 3 the children learn about two dimensional nets, accurate measuring of materials and joining methods.  They are also taught to use tools safely and correctly.  They learn about simple linkages and levers and how they can be used to control movement, as well as many other small projects.

In Year 6, as the children progress up the school, they are made more aware of the importance of the design process.  Among other things they learn graphical techniques such as isometric projection and orthographic drawing.  They look at the construction of bridges, and design their own slippers. 

In Years 7 and 8 the pupils look at more complex problems, such as designing working kites.  In systems we look at electrical components and their uses, and then put them into practice by designing and making a controlled vehicle.  In Year 7 pupils work in teams to design and make a load-bearing bridge using a limited amount of supplies. The bridges are then tested to destruction to see which one can hold the most weight.

The projects detailed above are all taught with the children’s safety in mind and, as such, before any work with tools is undertaken, a full briefing and demonstration is carried out.