During recent years the government’s strategies for reforming education have placed increasing emphasis on the need for schools to work together. That is how it should be; Headteachers know what works best for their schools and, if we share expertise, mutual benefit for teachers and children alike will be an undoubted result.
Many schools seek collaboration only to fall at the first furlong due to a mismatch in viable expertise. As a relatively young school, we are in the very fortunate position of being part of a wider group of schools. A key feature of our current development plan is to ensure that we prepare our children for the important senior school entrance exams they will take in Year 6, whilst being mindful that we sustain our emphasis on breadth and balance ensuring that enjoyment of learning and achievement go hand in hand; a belief that underpins our practice.
With ten preparatory schools in the UK, Bellevue Education is well versed in preparing children for 11+ exams, not only for competitive entry to maintained Grammar Schools but also a range of Independent Day and Boarding Schools. Central to our philosophy, and that of other Bellevue Schools, is that education is not just about exam results. It is not just about reading, writing and arithmetic. Whilst we would be doing the children in our care a disservice if we did not prepare them adequately for exams at 11+ and encourage them to achieve the highest academic standards, we would not be filling our responsibility as a school if this was our sole focus.
Ensuring that our curriculum allows children to achieve and, at the same time, acquire a love of learning, requires developing a unique framework; a reliable, tried and tested one. At Wandsworth Prep, innovative and enthusiastic teachers are without doubt pivotal to our success. Pivotal to our continued success, however, are teachers and senior leaders with an in depth knowledge of what it takes to ensure the journey towards 11+ is successful but also gradual.
There is an increasing body of evidence for the benefits of close collaboration between schools. It may be worth addressing at this stage, however, the myth that partnerships concern a ‘strong’ school supporting a ‘weaker’ one; quite the contrary. The most successful partnerships involve two or more high achieving schools working together. Collaboration works when school leaders and teachers can share thinking and planning to spread expertise.
At Wandsworth Prep, an exciting partnership has been recently established with Norfolk House School, one of the group governing body’s schools in Muswell Hill, North London. Like Wandsworth Prep, Norfolk House School seeks to provide a blend of innovation and traditional teaching to ensure that the highest academic standards are attained. Children at Norfolk House achieve their individual potential as a by-product of an exciting curriculum and outstanding teaching and learning. What will ensue from this particular partnership, is the ensurance that Wandsworth Prep’s ambition to develop happy young people who have the confidence and learning skills to cope with the demands of whichever senior school they move on to, is met.