Once again, we find ourselves at the end of another busy and successful school year and, in keeping with the spirit of Wandsworth Prep, the children have once more thrown themselves fully into life at school, grasping the many opportunities at hand. We are always mindful, however, that the school would not be the success it is, without the commitment of so many parents in supporting on the touchlines, applauding in plays and concerts, encouraging with prep or simply dropping off and collecting children, sometimes at unearthly hours of the day!
Selecting any one highlight from the list of events which have taken place seems like a somewhat dubious exercise. Whilst July 2018 saw the school say farewell to its first cohort of Year 6 leavers, July 2019 represents a rather poignant moment in the school’s short history. The educational journey that the leavers of 2019 have experienced, has been Wandsworth Prep. When the school opened on 6th September 2012, the vision was to create an environment which would ensure that children leave us as happy, confident and kind individuals, equipped with the skills and personal resources which will enable them to thrive in a rapidly changing world. Words cannot quite do justice to the qualities that we see in the children themselves; curiosity, creativity, courage, flexibility and thoughtfulness, alongside an innate mindset which leads to a lack of fear of making mistakes on the road to success.
Entrance to independent schools at 11+, in London in particular, is undoubtedly competitive, yet our children received offers of places from some of the finest schools in the area and, moreover, schools which are right for them. Amongst the co-educational schools, offers were received from Emanuel, Epsom College, Fulham School, The Harrodian, Kew House and St John’s, Leatherhead. Offers for girls were received from More House, Queensgate, St James’ Senior, St Paul’s, Streatham and Clapham High, Wimbledon High, both part of the Girls’ Day School Trust and The Laurels. In the maintained sector, offers were received from Ernest Bevin School and Tiffin Girls’, one of the most selective and high achieving grammar schools in England.
Where we remain uncompromising, is ensuring that preparation towards 11+ is gradual and supportive, placing our knowledge of each child at the heart of the process. Whilst preparing children for a variety of senior school entrance examinations is always at the forefront of our minds, our identity should never be purely defined by our ability to prepare children successfully for a diverse range of schools at 11+. Integral to the character of Wandsworth Prep is a commitment to a spread of excellence which encourages children to achieve beyond the classroom, develop respect for individuality and difference, recognise the power of teamwork and the value of contribution to the life of the school and the community.
According to research, the top ten ingredients for a great education, are: joy, creativity, good mental-health, knowledge, physical health and happiness, focus and aspiration, creativity, moral and ethical purpose, flexibility and emotional literacy. To us, the only way we can do this, is by putting the children first, as the central driver for the direction and vision of our school. September will see us embark on a renewed cycle of development with focus thus far having been on continuing to ensure our child take calculated risks in learning, not deterred by making mistakes; developing children’s ability to take charge of their own development, including involvement in assessment and target setting and encouraging elite performance in the creative arts and sport alongside inclusivity and participation.
In the 2019-20 academic year, you can expect to see further emphasis being placed on the five key areas of our strategic plan: excellence in teaching and learning; future-focused values; broadening horizons beyond the classroom; nurturing the individual and partnerships. We will continue to focus on academic stretch, both within and beyond the classroom, to enable each child to become the best version of themselves that they can possibly be and, alongside this, provide new opportunities for our children to develop the strength of character required to be effective later in life.
As children grow and develop, we are aware that there will inevitably be times when they meet challenges not only in their learning but also in their relationships with their peers. Whilst the priority will always be to support all the children, in September, we will be introducing a number of initiatives which we feel will allow them the opportunity to explore and resolve arising issues themselves; peer mediation. Peer mediation is a conflict resolution technique which trains children as volunteer mediators to work with their peers. Schools who have worked for some time to prepare their pupils as mediators, have noted a fall in low-level conflicts and bullying.
Continuing to build a culture across the school, which enables every boy and girl to become more independent and resilient before finally taking their place in a world beyond Wandsworth Prep, is crucial. A key factor in achieving our objective is the need for all of us, as parents and teachers, to be resilient role models for the youngsters in our care – this can be a demanding challenge, particularly when our instinct is to solve problems for our children rather than encouraging them to find their own solutions and learn from their mistakes. More so than at any point in the past, it is essential that we all work together to help the current and future generations to develop resilience to give them the best chance of building their own happy and successful lives.
To those families moving on, we will miss you and your children and hope that you will share their news with us over the coming years – they will be very much in our thoughts at the start of the new school year. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very restful summer holiday, wherever it may take you.