Another term, with the characteristic busyness which defines us, draws to a close, allowing time for reflection on all that has been achieved. In a term that ends so close to Christmas, it is not easy to imagine that we returned for the new academic year in blazing sunshine in September.
Our new children have settled in with remarkable ease, assisted, in no small part by the welcoming nature of the children and staff members already here. Quietly observing children find their feet is a very precious part of working at Wandsworth Prep and I feel somewhat humbled by how kind and unassuming the children are with one another. Their natural default position is to help and encourage each other, which serves to create a wonderfully cohesive atmosphere, of beaming smiles and an ever-present sense of confidence, security and achievement.
Whilst an inspection report cannot be expected to fully capture the powerful and intricate relationships which underpin the success of a school, the inspectors who visited us in September witnessed at first-hand how the pastoral structures which we have created allow for each child to be known as an individual, alongside a common understanding of the methods which help children learn most effectively, leads to achievement. In this technological and results driven age, the importance of a rounded and balanced education where achievement, creativity, emotional and personal development are not considered mutually exclusive, can often be overlooked.
Our children and teachers give a great deal of themselves to school life, seldom not mentioned by the countless visitors to the school. New families who are interested in exploring what a Wandsworth Prep education can offer their child, without fail, are struck by the warmth of our community and that is a hallmark of who we are.
The free hang aspect (no body contact with the wall) advertised as adding to the sense of exhilaration with the opportunity to experience the east London skyline from a new perspective, served to lure a team of teachers and parents to bravely abseil 17 floors from the top of the Royal London Hospital in aid of the school’s new charity, the London Air Ambulance. Whether the team settled so easily in to the Autumn Term, is a little questionable! Whilst not all those who took part benefitted from the promised panoramic views on the 305 feet journey to terra ferma, we all made it and, more importantly, raised £4606 for a very worthy cause.
Planning a curriculum which ensures continuity and challenge is a small part of a far wider jigsaw. If a child can remember what they have learned when they are thirty, we will have achieved our fundamental aim to ignite in our children a genuine love of learning. The events which best epitomise our approach to teaching and learning, are undoubtedly the end of project show cases. Somewhat unique, our end of term project show cases have become a family affair where parents come to be immersed in the learning journey of their child.
A culmination of an in-depth study of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis, children in Upper School led us to the magical land of Narnia. What stood out, was the sensitivity with which the children, some as young as eight, delivered every line or sang every song. The audience of parents and grand-parents alike were struck as to how the children had risen to the challenge of bringing to life a story that still resonates some 70 years on. Children seem fascinated in this part of our nation’s heritage and by including plays which refer back to those pivotal moments in time, we are sure to maintain this connection to our past.
Etched on the Wandsworth Prep calendar, is the Lower School nativity and is a starter in the festive feast that is the last week of the Autumn Term. As one might imagine, the subject matter was somewhat lighter than that of Upper School yet the families of our youngest children were treated to a performance to remember. It is somewhat impossible to predict what may happen when 4 and 5-year-olds are suddenly in front of an audience of over 100 adults. Hosted under the lights of Putney Arts Theatre, however, the children guided us seamlessly through the excitement of the Christmas story, as seen through the eyes of animal characters.
The term ended with what can only really be referred to as a Christmas musical feast! The concert demonstrated what an astonishing variety of talent our children possess. From the opening bars of Hear That Train A’ Coming from our guitarists to the closing bars of Where’s Rudolph? our audience remained spellbound. Personally, I am glad there was not a camera on me when our soloists performed, there was not a dry eye; such events are the very grass roots of success!
I close by wishing you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas and holiday.