Academics

Somerset College Preparatory School is a member of the Cambridge International Primary Programme. At Somerset College, we strongly believe that academic excellence manifests itself through consistent effort, diligence and academic rigour.

Somerset College follows the Cambridge International Primary Programme where English, Mathematics and Science form the core curriculum areas. Afrikaans, isiXhosa and Social Science are included in the taught curriculum. Prescribed elements of the National Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements are also covered.

Learning does not take place in isolation and skills such as goal-setting, planning, organisation and maintaining a healthy balance are essential components of each student’s development. Just as a child learns to deal with success, so too should failure be seen as an opportunity to build resilience and determination.

The International Cambridge Primary Checkpoint assessments were written for the first time in 2018.

Subjects

The Life Skills curriculum is divided into three main parts, namely:-

  • Life Orientation (personal and social well-being)
  • Physical Education (physical development and the knowledge of movement and safety)
  • Bible Education

The children are encouraged to focus on four main values throughout the year, namely DIGNITY, CREATIVITY, ASPIRATION AND CONTRIBUTION. Assemblies and lessons focus on one particular value each term. Children are encouraged to discuss these values in class discussions and to ‘live’ these values in their everyday life.

The development of self-confidence, independence, individuality, emotional intelligence and the ability to embrace change and make the right choices is encouraged throughout the grades and is an ongoing process. The contribution of each child is valued and acknowledged.

The curriculum exposes the children to safety education, sexual education, entrepreneurship, leadership opportunities, outdoor activities, philosophy, physical fitness and well-being and teaches the children how to lead a healthy and caring lifestyle. Life skills aims to teach the students goal setting and prepares them for future planning.

Our journey in exploring and learning the isiXhosa Language and the culture in which it is embedded, starts informally in Grade 3. The focus at this stage is to encourage the children to develop an awareness of, and an appreciation for, the unique qualities of the language through games, songs, poetry and African folklore. The emphasis is on developing a love of the language and on experimenting with all the sounds that are unique to the language in an interactive and play orientated environment.

The children are exposed to the written language from Grade 4 onwards, by which stage the sounds of the language have started to “click” in and the children are ready to make the connections between the written and the spoken language. The children are challenged to recognise and predict patterns in the language from an early age and encouraged to appreciate the poetically rich and naturally musical nature of the language. This opens up many opportunities to teach in collaboration with other subjects and learning areas such as Music, Drama, Information Technology and Life Orientation.

Most of our lessons happen outside of the classroom. This allows for more practical and meaningful interaction between the children and offers them the freedom to work in smaller groups and experiment with the sounds of the language in a less formal environment. Great emphasis is placed on encouraging the children to put into practice all they are learning through active engagement in class activities.

At Somerset College, Afrikaans is a compulsory First Additional Language offered from grade 1 to 12. In grade 8 the children are awarded the choice of taking isiXhosa as a First Additional language.

In grade 1 the focus of the Afrikaans curriculum is on developing the children’s ability to understand and speak Afrikaans. In Grades 2 and 3 learners start to build literacy on this oral foundation. They also apply the skills they have already learned in their home language.

From grade 4 – 6 the children continue to strengthen their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. In grade 7 the children enter the Senior Phase and should be reasonably proficient in Afrikaans with regard to both interpersonal and cognitive academic skills.

At Somerset College we focus on developing the following skills in Afrikaans:

  • Listening and Speaking
  • Reading and Viewing
  • Writing and Presenting
  • Language Structures and Conventions

We follow the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) as prescribed by the Department of Basic Education.

The Cambridge Primary English curriculum is presented in five content areas or ‘strands’. The framework promotes an enquiry-based approach to learning to develop thinking skills and encourage intellectual engagement. The five strands are:

  • Phonics, spelling and vocabulary
  • Grammar and punctuation
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking and listening

The curriculum aims to enable students to communicate confidently and effectively and to develop critical skills in order to respond to a range of information, media and texts with enjoyment and understanding.

Students who follow this framework will develop a first-language competency in English based on a curriculum designed to be successful in any culture and to promote cross-cultural understanding. The Cambridge Primary English curriculum framework provides a solid foundation on which the later stages of education can be built.

Mathematics follows an integrated Cambridge and CAPS curriculum with our focus being on growing a love for Mathematics amongst our students. We incorporate practical activities using manipulatives in our teaching as well as Maths games to develop good thinking skills. We try and form a positive approach towards learning Mathematics as this leads to success. The students are encouraged to think critically and should not be afraid to solve problems.

Our aim in the Preparatory School is to form good building blocks and to fully equip our children to cope with the mathematical challenges they face as they progress in education.

We work under four strands which all contain a problem solving element.

  • Number
  • Measurement
  • Geometry
  • Data Handling

The Science Department at Somerset College Preparatory School aims to ignite an interest and passion for the Sciences in students during their primary education years. The Cambridge Primary Science Curriculum is followed and content covered falls under the following strands:-

  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology

We aim to develop students’ critical thinking skills through enquiry-based activities, both in the classroom as well as outdoors. The vineyards, river, and dam on the College premises offer a multitude of opportunities for outdoor learning – from plant and animal studies, to the study of rock and soil types.

Inside the classroom, learning activities vary from hands-on, practical learning, to activities designed to allow learners to apply their knowledge in different ways. With an interactive smartboard, well- stocked chemistry laboratory, as well as many different learning support materials and educational games, students are encouraged to have fun and take part in practical learning as much as possible.

With a strong background in Science, different learning opportunities will become available to students as they move from preparatory level, into high school. We aim to guide and prepare students for high school, so that those who develop an interest in engineering, science, and medicine may have a solid foundation to pursue their interests and passions.

Social Science as a subject is comprised of the subjects History and Geography and is the study of people and their past. The decisions that were made and how these have influenced life today. It is the study of the Earth and the way humans live on Earth, their relationships and their interactions in society.

At Somerset College, the CAPS curriculum is used as a guideline, integrating the various topics into our other subjects. Social Science is also integrated into computer and multimedia lessons. Projects are done in the library where students are taught various research skills using different media. It is a subject which encourages analytical thought and informed discussion (not only in the classroom, but in the home too). Through the vehicle of their studies, children are encouraged to think independently. Social Science seeks to equip students with the tools they need to make moral and ethical decisions about the civic issues, as well as environmental issues, that affect them and their families.

At Somerset College Preparatory, Information Technology (IT) is used to support and enrich our teaching.

We live in a world where knowledge is easily accessible; our challenge is to educate our students to interpret this information. We provide the opportunity for learners to become competent and confident users of ICT through the integration of technology in the classrooms.  The children begin Computer lessons in Grade R, and have access to a modern IT Lab with 28 laptops and a bank of 30 iPads. These iPads are kept up to date with hundreds of educational apps and are available for curriculum specific use in the classrooms.

We are a Google Apps for Education school and use this platform to provide a unique and modern teaching and learning environment. The students have the ability to work from any device, at home or at school, as well as share and collaborate using Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and more. Somerset College holds licenses and membership for many of the top productivity and educational packages including Purple Mash and Mathletics.

Children born into today’s fast-paced technological age are used to information being readily accessible to them, both through computer programmes and the Internet. As such, it is essential that Somerset College remains on the cutting edge of Information Technology.