Academic

Overview, Aims & Ethos

‘Pupils of all abilities are suitably challenged and supported. Pupils make consistently good progress in developing their knowledge, understanding and skills.’

- SIS Inspection Report, 2018

At Pembroke, we aim to develop the all-round child, through a broad and balanced curriculum. We want to bring out the best in every child, by providing each pupil with a wide range of opportunities to find their strengths, achieve success and build self-esteem. We have a rigorous academic and intellectual education from the Early Years Foundation Stage through to Year 8, which will challenge and engage pupils, and offer continuity and progression of learning. We also cap our class sizes at 18, which ensures that there is individualised attention for every child. We also want to enable every pupil in our care to make appropriate progress across all subject areas, providing a secure, broad foundation on which to continue into secondary education and beyond.

We are proud of our teaching excellence, which ensures the curriculum is planned and delivered with passion, enthusiasm and expertise, inspiring a quest for knowledge among the children. Through regular formative and summative assessment, teachers effectively tailor their lessons to enable excellent pupil progress.

Our robust provision of Learning Support, both through in-class assistance and separate one-to-one Learning Support lessons, enables children of all ability levels to access the curriculum. The provision of dedicated Gifted & Talented and Scholarship sessions, supplemented by extension lessons with the specialist subject teachers in the Senior School, provides the stimulus to extend and enrich the curriculum for the more able pupils. The extra-curricular programme is equally as broad and further enables children to find and develop their strengths and interests.

Pupils are taught 47 lessons per week, for a duration of 35 minutes each. In the Foundation Stage, and Years 1 - 3, the pupils are taught by their Form Teachers with class assistants and/or gaps, with some subject specialists. In Year 4, more specialist teaching is introduced, and in Years 5 - 8, the pupils are taught almost entirely by subject specialists.

Subjects & Curriculum

We believe that our broad-ranging curriculum is one of our greatest assets, and something that sets us apart from other schools. From an early age, our children take part in a large variety of subjects, giving them diversity and a mix of educational opportunities to meet different learning styles and interests. Although we offer many paid extra options, we also include many of these in our standard curriculum, to give a taste of what they involve to all pupils. This includes subjects like Rhythm & Dance, Tennis, Squash and Design Technology. We want our children to be challenged academically, but also to be exposed to non-academic subjects that give them a break from traditional pencil and paper disciplines, and appeal to more kinaesthetic learners.

In Pre-Prep, the Junior and Middle Schools, we tend to be guided by the UK National Curriculum, albeit with the opportunity to adapt planning and learning areas as we feel appropriate and necessary, and to tie in with a Kenyan context. In Years 7 and 8, the majority of our subjects are geared towards the Common Entrance curriculum, which culminates in the children sitting their formal Common Entrance exams in June.

English

We believe that English is one of the most important subjects in our curriculum, as it is so fundamental to our everyday lives, as well as to all learning at Pembroke and beyond. We want to foster in children a love of the English language, which encompasses the key skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening. The aim of the department is therefore to guide children to become effective communicators, at the same time as engendering a lifelong passion for literature and language. We believe that English develops a huge array of skills and provides pupils with pleasure and broader horizons. We also want to extend this to pupils who learn in different ways, or find conventional learning more challenging. Our planning and expectations are therefore diverse, inclusive and constantly engaging, and delivered by English teachers who are highly knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the subject.

Maths

The Pembroke Maths Department is a vibrant part of academic life at the school. Lessons are taught with a variety of activities, investigations and games, concentrating on many different areas of Maths, whilst giving children the opportunity to explore ideas and concepts. One aim is to prepare children for 13+ Common Entrance and Scholarship, but all through the school, assessments are used to check understanding and target areas for improvement. However, Maths is much more than tests at Pembroke and we aim to give children confidence, understanding and many opportunities to extend their mathematical knowledge. Most importantly, children at Pembroke enjoy solving puzzles, conquering new skills and the joy of success. We allow the children ample opportunity to talk about their Maths learning and give them a deeper understanding of many number ideas and number relationships. We strive for all children to feel confident in Maths, with the aim being to enjoy the multitude of elements it has to offer.

Science

We believe that the study of Science is key to understanding many elements of the world in which we live. We want children to be able to have an understanding of key concepts to help solve problems in unfamiliar situations and to use scientific methods of investigation to solve problems in a disciplined way. Our Science curriculum helps to prepare students to study Biology, Chemistry and Physics at a higher level. Pupils also learn to appreciate the contribution Science makes to society and realise that applying Science can lead to the addressing of moral and ethical issues. It is also about understanding that learning in Science contributes to personal development because the interest and curiosity shown need to be balanced by an awareness of health and safety matters and respect for living things and the environment. The focus is ultimately on appreciating the powerful, but provisional nature of scientific knowledge and explanation, and understanding that Science is always developing.

Geography

The purpose of learning Geography at Pembroke is to provide pupils with the skills and knowledge needed to understand this subject and the world in which they live and one they may well influence now and in the future. Geography is taught in the knowledge that it is a subject which is increasing in relevance to everyday life and is consequently very interesting to pupils of preparatory school age. The variety of topics covered, the continual need to update topics and review them as the world changes, can only capture the imagination. Geography is the study of the way the world works and as such, it is uniquely diverse and integrative.

History

History is a fascinating subject, and much can be learned from the past. The narrative drive, giant personalities and dramatic events should be imbued in every pupil through passionate and stimulating teaching. The aim is that by the end of Year 8 each pupil should have some grasp of the magisterial sweep of History across the continents, alongside a basic grasp of the essay writing and document analysis skills that are needed at CE. We want pupils to investigate and think for themselves, as History should create enquiring minds that enjoy discussion, whilst tying their studies into current affairs. By the end of their time at Pembroke we hope that History pupils can face the world with the ability to express themselves lucidly on the page and engage with controversial topics through open-minded debate, along with going out into the world with a questioning and analytical approach that does not accept received wisdom.

Theology, Philosophy & Religion

In the setting of an international school, with all its abundant multi-cultural and multi-ethnic and religious influences, TPR must play a dynamic part in the education of every pupil in order to further their awareness, tolerance and thought process. Studying TPR creates the opportunity for each pupil to study religion and the nature of God, question and discuss philosophical concepts and consider ethical dilemmas. Connections with other subject areas, including History, Geography, Science and PSHEE are reinforced, and the vision and values of the school are embedded within the curriculum. Classrooms are regarded as a safe space where an atmosphere of mutual respect, consideration for others and open-mindedness is fostered. As a department we seek to equip pupils with the skills needed to face the modern world as confident individuals, clear of their own views and respectful of the views of others, whilst at the same time allowing them space to develop their own spiritual, moral, and ethical beliefs. This accumulation of knowledge leads up to the Common Entrance examination in which pupils will be required to recall, describe, analyse and evaluate a variety of religious, philosophical and ethical topics.

Languages (incorporating French & Kiswahili)

One of the distinguishing features of the human race is the ability to communicate effectively, precisely and efficiently by use of the spoken word. Language is the key to much of our daily experience, and how we share with others our thoughts and emotions. For the majority of the world's population, the ability to speak two or more languages is a natural and necessary part of life, enabling more effective communication with members of other linguistic groups for political, economic or social reasons. The study of French at Pembroke House has long been a part of the curriculum, and this romance language is also the basis of many other languages spoken around Europe. It is logical and important for our students to learn Kiswahili; not only do many have Kiswahili as a first or additional language, but it is almost universally spoken within Kenya and therefore a vital means of communication with people throughout our society.

Citizenship

We believe it is essential for students at Pembroke House to learn about the country they are educated in. It is also compulsory in Kenya, according to the Ministry of Education, for all international schools to teach this subject. We cover pertinent and contemporary issues, including peace education, ethnic and race relations, and social cohesion. Our curriculum also examines patriotism and good governance, human rights, child care and protection, and gender issues in education, among other topics. It is a broad and detailed syllabus, which provides students with a depth of knowledge that helps them understand and appreciate Kenya and its society in a multitude of ways.

Computing

We endeavour to equip students with ICT and Computing skills that prove to be useful in pragmatic, community, cultural and personal settings. We aim to enable our students to be capable, critical and reflective users of computing and technological resources. They should be able to apply their knowledge in a range of situations, and to use technology for fun, learning and - eventually - for work. We also want pupils to develop appropriate social skills essential for harmonious and collaborative learning based around Computing. This includes ensuring children are aware of the potential dangers of online communication and gaming, as well as understanding the many and varied benefits of technology in society today.

Personal, Social, Health & Economic Education

The purpose of learning PSHEE at Pembroke is to focus on developing the knowledge, skills and attributes to keep children and young people healthy and safe and to prepare them for life and work. The curriculum helps them develop fully as individuals and as members of families and social and economic communities. Its goal is to equip young people with the knowledge, understanding, attitudes and practical skills to live healthily, safely, productively and responsibly. PSHEE learning is shown to not only support pupils' health, relationships and wellbeing but also their academic attainment. It can lead to improved attitudes to health, being able to deal with personal difficulties and improved behaviour.

Thinking & Reasoning

Thinking & Reasoning aims to get pupils to be active thinkers. It is a fortnightly lesson for all Middles and Seniors and embraces a plethora of  different activities, from puzzles to verbal and non-verbal reasoning, and from discussion of world events to ethics topics such as morality. We are using a new UK online assessment system called Planet Bofa which helps train pupils to be prepared for many 11+ reasoning tests that senior schools often require. Thinking & Reasoning also covers 'values'. As a British School Overseas we look at British values; to this end, we explore how the values of a country are shown and what values different countries have (including Kenya), and how they are expressed, leading to explorations of politics, legal systems and notions of justice. There is no standard Thinking & Reasoning lesson, but all are designed to help students solve the many problems that come their way.

Art (including Pottery & Design Technology)

The aim of Art and Design Technology at Pembroke is to provide pupils with opportunities to experience a wide range of skills that enable them to express their ideas, imagination and creativity through varied and stimulating topics. Art is studied through a range of artists, cultures and the elements of Art. We aim to develop an environment that motivates and inspires both 2D and 3D work. Drawing, painting, pottery and woodwork are key features throughout the department and basic skills are taught and developed. We want pupils to experience a wide range of techniques so they can find areas that inspire and stimulate their imaginations, so they move onto their next schools with a wealth of experience and a passion for Art. Pupils are encouraged to believe in themselves and create work of a high standard.

Design Technology aims to provide pupils with the opportunity to express curiosity in the world around them: planning, exploring ideas, experimenting, problem solving and evaluating. Design Technology has many cross curricular links and pupils learn to work confidently, independently and collaboratively. We encourage pupils to make decisions and evaluate their work alongside activities that extend their knowledge and understanding of using different tools and equipment.

Music

At Pembroke, we believe that music contributes to the personal development of our pupils. It stimulates the acquisition of many skills, attitudes and attributes which can be transferred to other areas of experience and learning. We take pride in having one of the most dynamic Music Departments in the region. About 150 children have instrumental and/or voice lessons every week from specialist resident and visiting teachers. Our purpose-built Music School resonates with the sound of the widest and richest variety of exciting music throughout the day. Many of Pembroke's pupils participate in the Senior and Junior Choirs and new children are encouraged to join, with rehearsals taking place throughout the week. These activities add immensely to the cultural wealth of the school and the pupils perform in regular school concerts, recitals, and Inter-School music festivals.

Music is also a vital part of Pembroke's morning assemblies, Chapel services and the annual Christmas Carol Service. We have found that group-song has an ability to forge a special sense of unity that may be remembered forever. At Pembroke, music provides opportunities and links between home, school and the community at large, and is taught as part of the curriculum to all classes. It introduces students to different forms of music-making and encourages objective judgement of musical quality.

Performing Arts (incorporating Drama and Rhythm & Dance)

Drama and Rhythm & Dance are taught to every child at Pembroke, from Nursery to Year 8.

Drama is an essential tool for teaching children the art of public speaking, empathy and imagination. It fosters an ability to perform, understand and observe all of which come in handy later on in life. Like most of The Arts, it also provides an alternative area in which to excel for those children who may not be so adept on the academic front, or in the top teams at sport. All pupils throughout the school have Drama lessons each week. Drama is also integral to the curriculum with major dramatic productions of exceptional quality taking place over the course of the year. Senior school plays are performed before Easter, and recent performances have included Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Little Shop of Horrors, The Lion King, Bugsy Malone and Matilda. The Trinity term offers a Middle School play, while the Junior School pupils also perform a yearly nativity before Christmas.

The Rhythm & Dance curriculum covers a varied spectrum of dance from all over the world, from Ballet to Hip Hop, Tap dance to the Tango. Many of the dance topics link closely to the Music and Drama curriculums, and these lessons are used to prepare each school for their play choreography. Dance performances take place in end of term concerts and showcases, as well as ad hoc performances throughout the year.

Physical Education, Swimming, Tennis & Squash

The areas of Physical Education, Swimming, Tennis and Squash offer Pembroke pupils a valuable physical outlet. These subjects appeal to kinaesthetic learners and provide them with an opportunity to learn, participate, make progress and achieve in practical ways, in a variety of environments and disciplines. Whether this is improving their ability to dodge in invasion games, learning to glide in breaststroke, serve overarm in Tennis or perform a drop shot in Squash, all students are exposed to basic skills, with many being extended as appropriate. At many schools, some of these disciplines are only taught outside the curriculum, but we believe it is essential to expose as many students as possible to these four areas within regular lesson time. This inclusive approach also serves a role in increasing all pupils' physical fitness and health, which is so important for a balanced and diverse education, and lifestyle.

Exams, Assessment & Reporting

Assessment is the process which provides information on an individual’s learning and achievement. It defines what the pupil knows, understands and can do, as well as indicating areas of difficulty. This information is used to guide future planning and learning. Measuring pupils’ performance happens in both formative and summative ways. This means that we use things like verbal questioning, class participation, group work, projects, preps, self-reflection, peer marking and regular class work in conjunction with more formal testing to assess a child’s progress. However, as the Common Entrance system comprises formal examinations when students are at the end of Year 8, we ensure all children have significant practice at sitting exams throughout their schooling.

Students in Years 5 to 8 sit formal examinations at the end of the Michaelmas and Trinity terms, with the Year 8s also sitting mock exams at the end of the Lent term, before the CE exams. We use a separate exam timetable, which includes accommodation for students with access arrangements - readers, scribes and extra time. In Years 1 to 4, pupils also sit exams, but within their own classrooms and timetables.

Parents receive reports every Half Term and at the end of every term. Half Term reports comprise effort and attainment grades for all subjects, and a tutor comment; end of term reports comprise effort and attainment grades as well as individual exam results and form averages, in addition to detailed comments from subject teachers about the child’s performance for every subject.

We also hold Open Days for current parents towards the end of every term. Open Days give parents the opportunity to meet with their child’s Tutor, as well as any particular subject teachers, (including Learning Support teachers), and discuss academic performance and results, and any pastoral issues that may have arisen throughout the term. Open Days are always in line with other major school events, such as the Senior School performance or Ndume 7s competition, to provide parents with an extra opportunity to see their children involved in school life.

Learning Support

‘The learning support for pupils with identified special educational needs successfully enables these students to make good progress.’

- SIS Inspection Report, 2018

Our Learning Support Department is one of our biggest assets. Our aim is to ensure that all Pembroke pupils are recognised as individuals, and that we identify their potential and help to nurture this. This includes meeting their learning needs, whether this is with remedial intervention in our Coach House Department, or through our Gifted & Talented Programme, which extends students (see Scholarship Programme).

We have six specialist Learning Support teachers, who are trained and experienced in providing one-on-one assistance to children with recognised learning difficulties.  Every child that goes to the Coach House has an Individual Education Plan (IEP) that highlights areas of weakness or difficulty, and the related targets. Teachers must also be familiar with these, so they can ensure they are implementing appropriate assistance and interventions in their classrooms. Some children also have testing by an Educational Psychologist to provide a more comprehensive report on their difficulties, and ways to help overcome them. This report is generally required for exam access arrangements, such as being permitted extra time, or a reader and scribe.

Coach House lessons mostly revolve around extra support with Literacy and Numeracy, but we also accommodate students who have anxiety or social issues, and those from EAL backgrounds. Teachers use a range of programmes depending on the needs of the child, but all are specifically geared to seeing improvements in areas such as reading, comprehension, spelling, basic number skills, problem solving, concentration, proofreading and processing speed.

Children who attend Coach House are taken out of other lessons in the curriculum. We feel that the benefits to the child from one-on-one coaching outweigh the impact of missing out on the content being delivered to the rest of the class. Pupils usually have their lesson in their teacher’s classroom, where there is a quiet space and resources are readily available.  We usually see tremendous improvements from children who receive Coach House support, which becomes invaluable in making them more confident and prepared in the classroom.

Ten Learning Support lessons per term are included in the school fees, which equates to around one lesson per week. There is a cost of ksh1800 for each subsequent lesson.

Please read our full Learning Support Policy here.

Learning Support

‘Standards of achievement are excellent among the oldest and more able pupils who receive well-directed scholarship support.’

- SIS Inspection Report, 2018

Our Scholarship Programme essentially begins when pupils are in Year 5. This is when they are identified by testing and teachers as having extra academic potential, and they join the Gifted & Talented Programme. They are then given extension lessons by specialist teachers, which also help to determine whether they are suited to sit for scholarship exams in Year 8.

Apart from just academics, potential scholars are also identified for All-Rounder, Sport, Drama and Music Scholarships. All these children are given extra tuition by subject-specific teachers, and preparation for scholarship exams and assessments at a range of schools in the UK, Kenya and elsewhere around the world. Parents of potential scholars need to liaise closely with both Pembroke and their chosen next school as to their child’s potential. This helps us make an informed decision about a pupil's suitability to sit for a scholarship or award, and the time to give them the preparation they require.

In 2019, we received the highest number of scholarships and awards in our history, totalling 23 pupils out of a cohort of 41 students, and equating to 56% of the total Year 8 group.

Results

Our children’s strong results are testament to their work ethic, but also to our balanced and focused curriculum and dedicated teachers. These factors combine to ensure every child achieves to their potential. This extends from the youngest years to those sitting their CE exams in Year 8.

Our Year 8s receive very strong final grades in their Common Entrance exams. Over the past decade, our Year 8 classes have received an average of 69% A* to B grades, across all examinable subjects. In 2019, our A* to B average was 77%. This proves that our strong academic focus and preparation for CE candidates is paying dividends, and that our children are well-placed to perform extremely well in their next schools.

Pre-Prep

‘The children’s personal development, behaviour and welfare are outstanding. There is a positive culture and set of expectations in the early years which promotes children’s positive attitudes towards their learning. They become confident and self-aware and develop positive attitudes towards others.’

- SIS Inspection Report, 2018

Our Pre-Prep has evolved gradually, and is now a flourishing and intrinsic part of our school. Our Pre-Prep classrooms and play areas are comfortable, bright, fun and safe spaces where the children can interact and learn through a mixture of child-initiated experiences and adult-planned activities. We can accommodate children between the ages of 1 and 5 years, and these are divided into three distinct classes: Pre-Nursery (1 - 3 years); Nursery (3 - 4 years) and Reception (4 - 5 years), who all have dedicated teachers. Children can come on a daily or ad hoc basis, with different fees depending on attendance. However, we generally encourage more frequent attendance as children become older, to help with the eventual transition to Year 1.

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) follows a play-based curriculum. In this, there are three primary areas of learning which are fundamental and underpin the rest of the curriculum: Personal, Social & Emotional Development; Communication & Language; and Physical Development. Then there are four specific areas of learning: Literacy; Mathematics; Understanding the World (Science, IT, Humanities, RS, etc.); Expressive Arts & Design.

The Pre-Prep children are therefore given daily opportunities for purposeful play to explore and investigate, alongside more formal teaching. They are also very lucky in that the teachers and resources in the rest of the school mean that they receive specialist lessons in Swimming, Drama, Music, PE, Horse Riding, Bike Riding, Computing and Kiswahili each week.

As with all areas of the school, we welcome visits to Pre-Prep at any time, so that prospective parents and children can see the amazing things on offer, and chat to teachers. Please email registrar@pembrokehouse.sc.ke to arrange a visit to Pre-Prep at a time that suits you.

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