Junior School Academics

Taking the first steps beyond one's family is an exciting and special time that needs an exciting and special place. The GNS Junior School — “The Beach” — is that place, living up to the name Francis Rattenbury gave to his home that sits in the middle of the campus: “Iechineel,” meaning “the place where good things happen.”

At the Junior School, sustained inquiry forms the centre piece of the curriculum. We use structured inquiry into both established bodies of knowledge and complex problems. With this approach, prior knowledge and experience establish the basis for new learning, and students’ curiosity provides the most effective provocation for learning that is engaging, relevant, challenging and significant. The nature of the entire program is transdisciplinary; a key concept is explored across numerous subjects through a variety of different lenses.

English Language

The development of language is essential to communication as it supports and enhances a student’s ability to construct meaning. Language plays a key role in providing students with the intellectual framework to support conceptual development and critical thinking. At GNS, students engage in daily, meaningful and developmentally appropriate literacy experiences that support their growth in reading, writing, listening and speaking. Language is viewed as a vehicle to support inquiry so, where appropriate, it is integrated into our units of inquiry.

Additional Languages: French and Mandarin

All students from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 5 participate in both French and Mandarin classes. In both languages, students develop their interpersonal communication skills in an immersion-style environment. Where appropriate, French and Mandarin are integrated into our units of inquiry.

In Junior Kindergarten, Kindergarten, Grade 1 and 2, the focus is on acquiring speaking and listening skills. Reading and writing are introduced in Grade 3 and further developed in Grades 4 and 5.

Junior Kindergarten 20 minutes a week
Kindergarten 35 minutes a week
Grades 1 & 2 50 minutes a week
Grades 3 to 5 105 minutes a week

French: The basis for the French program is the AIM (Accelerated Integrated Method) which uses a kinesthetic, visual and auditory approach to engage all learning styles.

Mandarin: In Mandarin class, students develop their Mandarin communication skills and an appreciation of the Chinese language and culture through activities such as stories, songs, rhymes and games.


Mathematics is a highly effective tool used to describe and analyse the world around us and to solve problems. Students need to be competent users of the language of mathematics and see it as a way of thinking as opposed to a series of facts and equations to be memorized. Mathematics is viewed as a vehicle to support inquiry so, where appropriate, it is integrated into our units of inquiry. Specific instruction and exploration in the five strands of mathematics occurs as both part of our mathematics program and through our Programme of Inquiry: Number; Measurement; Patterns and Functions; Data Handling; and Shape and Space.

Science and Social Studies

All Science and Social Studies is taught through our Programme of Inquiry. Science is viewed as the exploration of the biological, chemical and physical aspects of our natural world, and the relationships between them.

Social Studies guides students towards a deeper understanding of themselves and others and of their place in an increasingly global society. It provides opportunities for students to look at and think about human behaviour realistically, objectively and with sensitivity. Our faculty teach Science and Social Studies in context, exploring content relevant to students. The six Transdisciplinary Themes provide the framework for a highly defined, focused, in-depth Programme of Inquiry.

Information Technology

Technology is used in the Junior School to enhance learning for our students. We use iPads to challenge students to extend their learning in a variety of ways. In Grades 3, 4 and 5, each student is issued an iPad for their exclusive use for the year.

Junior School Curriculum Book
Download a copy of our Junior School Curriculum Book to read more about our Junior School program.