This week I had the pleasure of visiting Red Maids’ Junior School, a small independent girls’ school situated in the leafy residential area of Westbury-on-Trym.
Red Maids’ Junior School offers first-class education for girls aged 7 – 11 years. Opened in September 1986, it is coming up to its 30th anniversary and continues to flourish, boasting an ‘Excellent’ ISI Inspection report.
I had gone to Red Maids’ Junior School to find out more about the school and to meet the head teacher, Lisa Brown.
Lisa, who is smart with a friendly and professional manner, was appointed head teacher in January after teaching there for twenty years. She describes her thoughts on being made head: “I am very pleased to have the opportunity to be head teacher as I feel very strongly about the school.”
A mother of two girls herself, Lisa’s own daughters attended Red Maids’ Juniors and are both presently at Red Maids’ Senior School.
While her girls have completely different personalities, Lisa described to me how have both flourished at Red Maids’, attributing this to the school’s attitude of encouraging strong academic success while simultaneously encouraging each child’s individual strengths.
While she doesn’t wish to change the ethos of the school in any way, Lisa is nonetheless making her own mark on the school by introducing exciting developments, for example, she is currently looking to develop links between Red Maids’ and other schools in other countries.
Lisa also recently introduced the Red Maids’ Junior School Award. This award recognises achievements beyond the classroom and motivates girls to take part in the many extra-curricular activities, both in school and outside, thus developing the whole child.
Such developments very much reflects the ethos of Red Maids’; that learning should be fun and that it is “cool” to do well, and that every girl is capable of achieving success and this success should be celebrated.
Red Maids’ Junior School prides its curriculum on providing an “all-round and exciting” education. The school loosely follows the national curriculum, but with a nip and tuck here and there, thus taking the best and adding extra stimulating subjects and activities. For example, girls are actively encouraged to become involved in engineering, science and robotics activities.
As well as core subjects such as English and maths, the girls enjoy Current Affairs, Latin, music and a variety of sports lessons, too. Girls are introduced to foreign languages at an early age and the school offers regular French, Latin and Spanish activity clubs.
There are also lots of fun activities which support the curriculum such as drama productions, trips to the theatre, debating and poetry. The school provides the girls with homework which is interesting and involving, yet manageable and just enough for the child’s particular age and stage.
Red Maids’ Juniors also offers a huge amount of extra-curricular activities, including ballet, judo and drama, plus there is a thriving soccer club with a particularly good football teacher who plays for a women’s football team in her own time.
The school enters the first LEGO league every year is also proud of its outdoor education programme and the girls regularly go camping, rock climbing, caving and kayaking! Music is also valued very strongly at Red Maids’ Junior School.
Red Maids’ Juniors is proud of its many achievements, its recent accomplishments including reaching the South West regional finals of hockey, achieving the National Schools for Relay Swimming and one of the school’s Year 3 girls also recently won the Bristol Young Gardener award.
As well as aiming for high levels of academic achievement, the school works hard at developing each child’s own individual strengths and encourages them to become original and independent learners and gives them good grounding for senior education later on in their education.
There is a strong emphasis of learning and working together as a school. For example, every Friday there is an Activity Hour whereby children from different school years are grouped together to enjoy fun learning activities.
This attitude of joining in and learning together extending to the teachers too and the classroom is seen as “a shared learning journey”. This attitude is reinforced by Lisa herself, who also regularly takes part in the school’s extra-curricular activities alongside pupils, and she explained to me that she had recently even been caving and kayaking!
The school building itself is lovely, being bright and spacious. While Lisa showed me around, I was struck by the friendliness of the staff and the happy atmosphere, with the sound of the school’s orchestra playing some impressive music in the background.
There have been recent developments at Red Maids’ Junior School with two new classrooms being built. This means that from September years, 3, 4, 5 and 6 will be a 2-class year, making classes even smaller, while at the same time catering for the demand for children wanting to come to Red Maids’ Juniors at an earlier age.
The school grounds are also impressive, with a play area and large green space surrounded by tall trees. This pleasant outdoor space is used for learning as well as play; in fact, Lisa was showing me around outside, two girls were there carrying out a science experiment. There were also vegetable patches for the girls to tend.
Plus, being situated next door to Red Maids’ Senior School, Red Maids’ Junior School has full use of the sports facilities, which includes an all-weather pitch.
I was interested to learn what makes Red Maids’ Juniors different from all the other primary schools in Bristol. Lisa explained that, as well as the diverse school curriculum and huge amount of extra-curricular activities, the staff at the school are specialists in girls’ education.
Teaching is therefore angled this way, with lots of learning acquired through talking and discussion, while always ensuring all personalities and strengths are catered for.
Lisa also describes her staff as being a strong team, getting along with one another very well and tending to stay at the school for many years due to it being such “a happy place”. And, by getting along and communicating with one another in a polite and respectful manner, the staff are thus strong role models for the girls.
Such good communication extends to teachers and the girls’ parents. For example, parents are welcomed into their child’s class room in the morning at school drop-off so that they have the opportunity to chat to the teacher and discuss any aspect of their child’s education should they wish to.
Leaving Red Maids’ Junior School later that morning, I felt both impressed and inspired; Red Maids’ provides girls with a first-class, all-round education within a supportive and stimulating environment and it boasts fantastic facilities.
Lisa describes Red Maids’ Junior School as “a fabulous place to be”.
She couldn’t have put it more perfectly.
If you would like to learn more about Red Maids Junior School, please visit http://www.redmaids.bristol.sch.uk/junior/
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