Whilst the weather may not quite reflect the quintessential English Christmas card, there is nevertheless a palpable festive feel at the school and a clear sense that the community is looking forward to seasonal celebrations alongside opportunity for rest and replenishment.
What best epitomises the kindness and positivity amongst our community, is the remarkable ease with which our new children have settled. When four-year-olds set off for their first day at ‘big school’, they should be full of positive emotions; excitement, confidence and happiness. This can only happen if children know exactly where they are going, who will be there, what they will be able to do when they get there and how long they will be staying. Quietly observing children find their feet at the very start of their educational journey, is a precious part of working at Wandsworth Prep and is in no small part underpinned by the meticulous forward planning of the Lower School team; what is created, is an environment full of smiles and an ever-present sense of confidence, security and achievement.
Integral to the character of Wandsworth Prep is a curriculum which enables children to retain, source and apply newly acquired knowledge in interesting and creative ways; motivated, creative and confident individuals who can solve problems, collaborate and communicate effectively are highly sought after in all areas of life, and these are the qualities we engender in our children. The hallmark end of term project showcases are a clear demonstration of how successful this approach to teaching and learning is, and what makes us so unique.
The appropriate use of inverted commas in writing can be an exacting skill to master and what better way for children to accomplish this than writing their own comics which focus on the adventures of a hero or villain of their own creation. The project undertaken by children in Years 2 and 3, culminated in a morning of comics and coffee, with parents challenged by our young authors to write a prize-winning comic strip.
An interactive exhibition, led by children in Upper School, served to dispel the myth that the majority of inventions used today are recent, but that many of the essentials used in day to day life were in fact invented during the Victorian era. Visitors to the exhibition were then taken on a dramatic journey through the works of Charles Dickens. It is learning such as this that ultimately leads to careers in engineering, the arts, technology or research.
This year saw our youngest children in Reception and Year 1 tread the boards once again in a professional theatre in Putney to stage their nativity ‘A King is Born’. The children guided the audience seamlessly through the story of Christmas. In preparation for the show, the children benefited from two specialist workshops, led by the Group64 teachers from Putney Arts Theatre to develop confidence and performance skills; a rare opportunity for children of such a young age.
This academic year marks the second year of our partnership with AM Sports Academy, with a particular focus on encouraging elite performance alongside inclusivity and participation. Since September, a busy calendar of events have taken place ranging from friendly fixtures in football and netball to opportunities for our older children to challenge themselves in regional competitions hosted by the Independent Schools’ Association in football and swimming; new to the sporting calendar this term, was a cross-country event for children in Years 3 to 6.
In the Summer Term 2018, children in Upper School entered the 'Screen Your Story' competition which presents the opportunity for young storytellers to become a published author, with the most engaging story to be made into a film. The story of a child in Year 6 at Wandsworth Prep was selected to be filmed with children in Years 3 to 6 chosen by some very discerning film directors to be the cast. In late September, the story was selected for the award of best performance at the short film competition hosted at Barnes Film Festival; subsequently, children in Upper School were invited to audition for the musical production of Misfits Farm at OSO Arts Centre, a theatre in Barnes Green. Two children at Wandsworth Prep were selected from a very competitive field to assume leading roles. Such successes are testament to the rationale behind our expectation that children should step out of their comfort zone and experience a variety of co-curricular opportunities.
The Spring Term will see our strongest cross-country runners travel to Hampshire to compete against peers from a variety of schools in the South East; our youngest musicians display their talents at the Lower and Middle School music recital in February, followed by children in Upper School in late March; children across the school create what they would like to see on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square by entering the annual Lord Mayor’s competition; children in Year 3 take part in the creation of one of the largest group portraits ever made, to be displayed at the Tate Modern, a project led by Turner Prize and Oscar-winning artist, Steve McQueen. Our children are lucky!
Reading back some of the end of term summaries in recent years, it has come to my notice that I am less inclined to focus on academic success. Not addressing such, is not a conscious decision, merely a reflection that creating a culture that delivers results is the bedrock of the school; a belief that focussing on inspirational teaching, challenging children is preferable to stultifying them, underpinned by an understanding that happy children, comfortable in their own skin, can only be the first class versions of themselves that we want them to be.
On behalf of us all at Wandsworth Prep School, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy Christmas and every good wish for the New Year.