Junior Aspirations Project with primary schools
The Junior Aspirations Project is run by King’s College School with pupils at St Mark’s, Ronald Ross, Abbotsbury and Cranmer primary schools. It is designed to enhance the learning of gifted and talented children in Year 5 with the aim of preparing them to apply for places at selective senior schools in Year 6.
Each year a group of pupils selected by each school in consultation with their parents is invited to a one-year programme of classes which are held every Friday afternoon in term-time. Devised by three members of staff, these consist of two classes every Friday, one in the arts and one in Maths or the sciences. The teachers are supported by a group of sixth-form volunteers, who act as classroom assistants. Although it is hoped that some of the pupils may apply to join our Lower School in Year 7, the project is not designed to prepare pupils for tests for 11+ entry to any particular secondary school.
The aim of the project is to give gifted or talented pupils in Year 5 a range of skills and knowledge that may make it easier for them to sit entrance tests for selective senior schools in Year 6.
The identified need was that gifted pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds were not being prepared for 11+ entry tests to selective senior schools, thus making it harder for them to access the bursaries that their natural ability might make them eligible for.
The critical factors for success are the support of the head teachers and other staff at the four primary schools who select the pupils and the pupils’ parents, who are involved in the process from the start. Other factors are the frequency of sessions (weekly in term-time) and the availability of King’s staff and sixth-formers to devise and deliver an inspirational course.
The immediate beneficiaries are the Year 5 children themselves, but King’s staff also benefit from the experience of working with schools in the maintained system and our pupils gain valuable work experience.
The project was created by Heather McKissack in 2009 and devised and delivered by Jason Hipkiss and King’s College Junior School until 2015. Two of the primary schools are partners of KCJS and two of the senior school. The project is now part of the senior school’s partnerships and outreach programme. It is co-ordinated and devised by three members of staff from King's.
Availability of staff, pupils and a budget for transport. The project takes place on the King’s site and uses our facilities, including our science laboratories and equipment. Two members of the teaching staff are available every Friday.
The main expenditure is invisible, but there is also a budget for catering (we give the pupils lunch when they arrive) and transport.
Although the course includes progress tests, the real success of the project is measured by the number of pupils who eventually succeed in getting in to selective senior schools. The success rate so far has been well over 50% and it is hoped to improve on this rate in future years.
Eight King’s sixth-formers act as mentors to the sixteen or so Year 5 pupils every year.
The pupils attend a science and an arts session every Friday in term-time, and go on occasional excursions. The programme is designed to continue for many years.