Lower School caters for pupils aged 11-13 (Years 7 and 8) and is the ideal preparation for life at Haileybury. With its own tutors giving personal support and encouragement and subject teachers offering specialist tuition, Lower School provides a focused and secure environment for every pupil.
What's life like for a young 11 year-old joining Haileybury for the first time? Here we give an hour by hour insight into what a pupil can expect on a typical day in Lower School...
For Lower School boarders, it's time to start the day. Those still in bed are woken up. Others will already be in the school pool for a morning swim, having an invigorating jog around Haileybury's impressive grounds, or have made for the showers.
Once everyone is showered, beds are made and rooms are tidied, pupils make their way together to breakfast in the College's main dining room.
On Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, boarders who play a musical instrument practice for 25 minutes. Non-musicians return to Highfield to collect their school books, check their bags and gather their PE kit.
Now the day pupils arrive! Registration takes place in form groups, presided over by a tutor.
Depending on the day of the week, the next stop is either Chapel or Lower School Assembly.
Lessons are mainly taught in the dedicated Lower School classrooms, apart from subjects requiring special facilities, such as the Sciences, Music, Design Technology, Art and Physical Education, which use buildings in the main part of the school. Most week days there are six lessons in three lesson blocks, apart from Wednesday, when the afternoon session is devoted to sport.
Next, there's a half hour break (The Half) to regroup and refresh in the Lower School Common Room. Most pupils have a drink or snack, catch up on the morning’s events, or perhaps play pool or table football. It's a time to clear the mind and get ready for the next block of lessons!
Class sizes in the Lower School are small, ranging from 15 to 20. This ratio of teacher to pupil means everyone in the Lower School receives individual care and attention, and we become familiar with their capabilities and can devise strategies to improve them.
It’s time to head to Haileybury’s main dining hall. The self-service set up offers nutritious fare, expertly prepared by award-winning chefs. The Lower School, on its own table, has a slightly earlier sitting so pupils are not overwhelmed by the rush!
Different activities are offered on different days of the week, to provide extra time for sport, music and the creative arts. All pupils are expected to be involved in at least one activity.
After all that excitement, pupils quickly reconvene for Registration in form classrooms. Everyone is accounted for and ready for the afternoon ahead, notices are read and matters of housekeeping attended to. And then we are off again…
So now it is back to the classroom for two more lessons (except on Wednesdays, which are given over to Games).
This takes place in form classrooms and signals the end of taught lessons for the day. It has been quite an intense day of learning, and great preparation for the years to come in Middle School. The school day ends at 4.30 pm, and day pupils are free to go home (although of course they can stay for after-school activities if they want to!).
When lessons are over, a whole range of options are available - from Mandarin lessons and dance classes to football. Pupils can choose between doing activities or prep (homework), which is supervised. As well as specialist clubs, Lower School pupils are also invited to get involved with Model United Nations (MUN). Haileybury runs one of the oldest and largest MUN programmes in the UK. Over 700 delegates from five different continents attended our last conference, giving pupils the opportunity to learn from, debate and mix with their international peers…
After activities finish at 5.20 pm, Lower School boarders can now get changed into their own clothes and enjoy a welcome half an hour of free time. They can catch up with friends, or perhaps phone home to let their parents know how they are getting along.
And so for some early-evening sustenance in the impressive Memorial Dining Hall. Once again, the Lower School has a slightly earlier sitting than the rest of the school.
Pupils who travel home on Haileybury’s minibuses depart at 6.35 pm. For the boarders, there is prep at 6.30 pm. This is a quiet daily slot in which to complete any set homework or revision. It helps to consolidate work that has been taught during lessons, and gets pupils into the hugely important habit of independent study.
There is plenty going on to keep boarders busy in the evenings but now the emphasis is on fun. Depending on the day of the week, there may be board games laid on, giant Jenga, jigsaws, or perhaps a film. Depending on the day of the week, pupils can pick up some circus or cooking skills, take part in quizzes, or head for the swimming pool. This period is fully-supervised, and tends to be a time of highly enjoyable camaraderie.
The Houseparent or duty Tutor comes around to make sure bedrooms are tidy, school uniform is hung up, teeth have been cleaned. This is a quiet time, when most pupils take the opportunity to read. In Highfield, girls and boys sleep in different wings.
The long day is over. Time for sleep.
Lower School operates for the most part within Russell Dore, its own self-contained building on the College campus. Under its own Head of Lower School, Dr Laura Pugsley, it is, as she says, a "school within a school" and the perfect preparation for a new life ahead at Haileybury.
Of the 40-50 boys and girls who join Haileybury at Lower School, close friendships are forged during their two years here which can last a lifetime.
Though pupils are joined by an intake from prep schools when they graduate to Middle School, a special bond remains for those who joined at 11+.
For every Lower School pupil, there is always plenty to occupy mind, body and spirit. When in school and during activities, Boarders and flexi-boarders are supervised at all times.
The secure and protective environment given to pupils forms a solid base from which boys and girls can gradually become immersed into the school at large.
Academic standards at Haileybury are high across the board and Lower School is no different.
Pupils will already have done well to get in, but now their educational journey begins for real. There’s more support and encouragement at this stage, but they are already preparing to become self-starters.
The Year 7 and 8 curriculum in the Lower School covers: Art and Design, Biology, Chemistry, Design Technology, Drama, English, French, Geography, History, ICT (Information and Communications Technology), Latin, Mathematics, Music, PHSE (Personal, Health and Social Education), Physical Education, Physics, Positive Psychology, Religious Studies and Spanish.
Class sizes in the Lower School are small, ranging from 15 to 20. This means that the ratio of teacher to pupil is low and that every child receives individual care and attention. Crucially, this allows us to become familiar with each pupil’s capabilities and be able to devise strategies to allow each to blossom and excel.
Although Haileybury is fully committed to the ethos of boarding, many of the girls and boys who attend Lower School do so as day pupils.
Others opt to ‘flexi-board’, staying in the boarding House for up to four nights a week, preparing them for full-time boarding in Middle School.
All pupils who board enjoy a full range of evening activities, including supervised study time.
For those who do board, Highfield House provides a safe and comfortable environment under Gabrielle Alway, the Houseparent.
Gabrielle is supported by a tutorial team of Haileybury teachers, including a male resident tutor for the boys' wing, and a female resident tutor for the girls' wing.
The links below give more information about life at Lower School, including the curriculum, co-curricular activities and boarding facilities for those who choose to board at Highfield.