The Junior Primary school is headed by Derryn Odell and a very capable, experienced and committed team of teachers. Wendy Fryer Dudley and Derryn Odell are the Grade 1 teachers, Joanna Lourens teaches with Dorrianne Julius in Grade 2 and Kim Nero and Hayley Tweedale are the Grade 3 teachers. These ladies provide a caring and nurturing environment for their young charges, where boys are extended, developed and given a sound academic, social and emotional foundation, before moving into the Senior Primary phase of the school. Boys are encouraged to become the best that they can be, whilst maintaining their individuality.
The beginning of the 2015 academic year heralded an exciting move into the magnificent Centenary Junior Primary building, which was officially opened on 6 February 2015. We have spent 5 years in this section of the school and it is fast developing a distinctive character and atmosphere. All 6 classrooms are situated around a beautiful, central grass quad. The classrooms are big, modern, light and airy; the perfect setting for learning to take place. The dedicated Reading Room within the purpose built building is well-used. Our sandpit and exciting jungle gym are also popular with the boys at break time and a point of interest is the vegetable boxes in the quad.
The Junior Primary is a happy, vibrant place, filled with activity, fun and interactive learning. There is a busy hum as boys are guided to new knowledge and skills, in a spacious environment conducive to learning and exploring. The development of a positive self-esteem in each pupil is of paramount importance, the exploration of creative ideas is a focus and the development of problem solving and critical thinking skills, through relevant activities, makes this school an ideal learning environment for young boys. They begin to work co-operatively with their peers and develop their language skills as they communicate their ideas and learn tolerance and acceptance of others in group situations. Additional languages, isiZulu and Afrikaans, are introduced from Grade 1.
Every Junior Primary classroom is equipped with computers and an interactive Smartboard, as well as having access to iPads. This technology is used extensively as an integral part of many lessons, especially for group work and during Numeracy lessons. Cordwalles has adopted the Number Sense programme as the core approach to the teaching of Numeracy. All Junior Primary classes make use of CAMI Maths and boys use the Mathletics programme for homework, to support the concepts which are covered in the classroom. On a weekly basis, each class attends an hour long IT lesson in one of the Computer Labs, led by our specialist IT teacher. During these lessons, the boys learn the fundamentals of working with specific programmes and hone the most necessary skills, all in relation to their classroom themes and skills checklist.
Boys learn best when they are actively, physically involved and therefore the Environmental classroom in the Cordwalles forest is utilised extensively. Each week, one of the Junior Primary grades goes down into the forest with Sam Hubble – a passionate, knowledgeable advocator of outdoor education. During these lessons, as well as on ‘whole grade, whole day’ days, the boys learn outdoor skills and gain knowledge about the environment and the fauna and flora of the area. In addition, boys are afforded the opportunity of regular outings and excursions, where they benefit from new experiences and being gently pushed ‘out of their comfort zones’ to build their confidence, in a way suited to their age and stage. These ‘Magic Moments’ make school a memorable and exciting place to be, where friendships are shared and boys’ strengths and passions are identified and enhanced.
Boys who require academic support benefit from the services of several experienced, in-house remedial teachers, an occupational therapist and two speech therapists, by attending group or individual sessions during the school day. The Junior Primary classes are supported by student interns, meaning that all boys receive the best possible attention and that teacher/pupil ratios are most favourable.
Because at Cordwalles we are concerned about developing the whole child and providing a balanced, dynamic curriculum, both the spiritual and physical aspects of our boys’ development are important to us. Our boys attend assemblies and a chapel service each week, where Christian values and sound morals are emphasized. Grade 1 and 2 boys have sports practice bi-weekly and the emphasis on enjoyment, participation and good sportsmanship makes these practices a firm favourite. A variety of sports such as rugby, cricket, hockey, soccer, tennis and swimming are offered at different times during the year and the boys are given the opportunity to enjoy the challenge of matches against opponents from other schools. Our Grade 3 boys take part in a fuller sports programme where longer sports practices and some weekend matches are the norm.
The Grade 3 boys play the lead parts in the annual Junior Primary production. This is always a highlight of their Junior Primary years; something which they look forward to with excitement and anticipation. The younger boys participate in supportive roles and great fun is had by all, with colourful costumes and much music and singing being the order of the occasion! Art, drama, music, ukulele, guitar and violin lessons are offered by specialist teachers. These lessons allow our boys to be exposed to a wide range of culture and art, where they can identify their skills, interests and passions early on and develop their areas of personal excellence. Individual tuition on a variety of musical instruments is offered, as they become age-appropriate.
Once a year, the boys in every Junior Primary class share a very special time with their Mums and Dads during either a “Mums and Sons” or a “Dads and Lads” event. These consist of a variety of activities, during which some vital one-on-one bonding takes place between parent and son, within the school environs. Grandparents’ Day is one of the happiest days on the calendar, when we are reminded how much it means to the boys to host their grandparents for a morning of entertainment and to show off their school and their world! Every class also participates in a specific Outreach project of their choice, as well as numerous ongoing Outreach activities in which the whole school is involved.
The Junior Primary builds on the initial foundation laid by the Pre-Primary department and provides the necessary bridge to the Senior Phase of Cordwalles. It is a happy, exciting place; a perfect boy-centred environment for a boy to lay his “Foundation for Life”.