A British education

A British education prides itself on developing well-rounded individuals, nurturing each child holistically as well as academically. Visit any good British school and they will talk about their ethos and extra-curricular opportunities with as much spirit and enthusiasm as a plethora of A*s at GCSE or A-Level. We must remember that a good education is not just about regurgitating information. It is about creating independent thinkers who are resilient and adaptable, have good manners, are able to cope with whatever is thrown at them and have the skills to take their thinking to the next level.

An emphasis on extra-curricular activities allows children to develop their education outside of the classroom and provide them with the time and opportunity to follow their interests. Small class sizes combined with subject specialist teachers allow staff to deliver a high level of attention to each child, ensuring a deeper understanding of a subject and the ability to move beyond the National Curriculum.

The British School of Amsterdam was the first school in The Netherlands to be accredited by the UK Government as a British School Overseas. The School is inspected by an independent inspectorate every three years to check that the standards are maintained. The most recent inspection was 2014 and the next one will happen towards the end of 2017.

Our year groups are arranged depending on chronological age and according to the UK academic year, which runs from 1st September until 31st August.

National Curriculum used in England

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets the standards for the learning, development and care of a child from birth to 5 years old. After the EYFS our children will broadly follow the National Curriculum for England. The curriculum is broken down into four key stages from Key Stage 1 (KS1) to Key Stage 4 (KS4). The National Curriculum sets out the most important knowledge and skills that every pupil has the right to learn. It is a teaching framework which determines what should be taught and identifies targets for learning.

Ages Year School Key stage Assessment
3 to 4 Nursery Early Years School EYFS Teacher assessments
4 to 5 Reception Early Years School EYFS Teacher assessments
5 to 6 Year 1 KS1 Phonics screening check
6 to 7 Year 2 Infant School KS1 National tests and teacher assessments in English, Mathematics and Science
7 to 8 Year 3 KS2
8 to 9 Year 4 KS2
9 to 10 Year 5 Junior School KS2
10 to 11 Year 6 KS2 National tests and teacher assessments in English and Mathematics, and teacher assessments in Science
11 to 12 Year 7
KS3
12 to 13 Year 8
KS3
13 to 14 Year 9
KS3
14 to 15 Year 10 Senior School KS4
15 to 16 Year 11
KS4 Pupils will take around 10 GCSEs
17 to 18 Year 12
Sixth Form Pupils will take AS Levels
18 to 19 Year 13
Sixth Form Pupils will take A Levels

The Early Years, Infant and Junior schools

The Early Years, Infant and Junior schools are grouped together to form the the primary phase and the Senior School is often referred to as the seconday phase.

In the Early Years School, children are part of the Foundation Stage, which develops their core skills and their curiosity and love of learning. The areas of learning are:

  • communication and language
  • physical development
  • personal, social and emotional development
  • literacy
  • mathematics
  • understanding the world
  • expressive arts and design

After The Early Years School the children move through to the Infant and Junior schools where they will study:

  • English
  • mathematics
  • science
  • design and technology
  • history
  • geography
  • art and design
  • music
  • physical education (PE), including swimming
  • computing
  • personal, social and health education (PSHE)

At The British School of Amsterdam children study Dutch and French as additional languages, and children with Dutch or French as a first language study in a different group as native learners for their language sessions.

The primary curriculum is broad and balanced, with a strong focus on the core academic skills of numeracy and literacy. As children progress through the school, they focus on phonic awareness and the ability to apply their skills in reading, spelling, grammar, writing and speaking and listening. Reading for information and reading for pleasure are important facets of our approach. Mathematics teaching enables the children to explore and discover, as well as apply their skills to a broad range of mathematical activities, including mental maths ability and agility.

The school follows the assessments arrangements for pupils in England, where they are regularly assessed throughout their education. In the Early Years, children are assessed continuously through observation and a well-structured child-led curriculum, and in Key Stage 1 and 2, teacher assessment is ongoing. The use of structured Assessment Weeks when children begin to use more specific test frameworks develops through the Infant and Junior schools, with Standardised Attainment Tests (SATs) at the end of years 2 and 6. Children are fully involved in their learning and as they grow older, develop the use of personal targets, so that they can set goals for themselves alongside their teachers.

The BSA approach at Infant and Junior level is about being inclusive, with children of different abilities taught in peer age-grouped classes, however, within each class, teachers are trained to differentiate learning to the appropriate level for each child. This allows children to develop their skills and strengths at an appropriate rate.

The Senior School

The Senior School is broken down into three stages. Key stages 3 and 4 run from year 7 to 11. Years 12 and 13 are often referred to as the Sixth Form (which is an old fashioned term often commonly used in secondary schools in England).

Key Stage 3 (KS3) is comprised of three year groups, Years 7, 8 and 9. In the Senior School all pupils follow the same core curriculum, which includes:

  • English
  • mathematics
  • science
  • history
  • geography
  • computing
  • physical education (PE)
  • music
  • art and design
  • drama
  • personal, social and health education (PSHE)

Pupils also select two modern foreign languages (MLF) from French, Spanish, German or Dutch. For pupils whose native language is not English there is an opportunity to choose English as an Additional Language (EAL). For our native Dutch pupils we offer a Native Dutch language course.

Key Stage 4 (KS4) is a two year programme taken in years 10 and 11 leading to the UK qualifications called GCSEs (General Certificate of Secondary Education). A pupil would take a GCSE qualification in each subject they are studying for. Pupils follow a core curriculum of English Language and Literature or English as an Additional language (EAL), Mathematics, Science (three GCSEs in Biology, Chemistry and Physics or Science Double Award which counts as two GCSEs). In addition a further four subjects are chosen by pupils. Subjects studied in Key Stage 3 are offered, alongside Business Studies and Media Studies.

The Sixth Form is years 12 and 13. Pupils take courses leading to the British qualification called General Certificate of Education (GCE) Advanced Levels (A Levels) or Advanced Subsidiary (AS Levels). These qualifications are recognised by universities around the world. There are no compulsory subjects, and, after an application process and advice from teachers, pupils select up to four appropriate subjects to study in Year 12. Pupils are then required to continue into Year 13, taking at least three of their subjects to gain the full A-Levels. GCE A Level courses are made up of a number of units. Most units are assessed by examination, though some are assessed as coursework.

Having small classes throughout the Senior School means that we can equip pupils with varied skills so that they attain the attitudes and qualities necessary to fulfil their academic potential in today's challenging and diverse society. In addition, we have an excellent tutoring system where each pupil has a tutor who supports the tutee through the school in their academic and social development as well as being additional support for university applications.

An enriching curriculum

At all levels, the statutory curriculum is enhanced by extra-curricular activities in a wide range of areas of sport, music and drama.

We ensure our pupils have opportunities for investigative and independent learning, outdoor learning educational visits, team work and leadership activities.

Our Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) programmes help pupils to develop the life skills they need to lead healthy, confident and fulfilling lives as responsible citizens with a global and environmental awareness. We actively promote fundamental values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance.