The start of the new academic year already seems an age away, as does the warm September sunshine. Our new children settled with remarkable ease, assisted, in no small part by the friendly and welcoming nature of the children and staff members already here. Quietly observing children find their feet is a very precious part of working in a school and I feel somewhat humbled by how kind and natural the children are with one another. Their default position is to help and encourage each other which serves to create a wonderfully cohesive atmosphere, full of smiles and an ever-present sense of confidence, security and achievement.
This academic year sees a full complement of year groups and, with that, comes our first cohort of children in Year 6 taking entrance exams to secondary schools. Having been at Wandsworth Prep since 2012 and, furthermore, in the prep school world, for almost 20 years, the vision has been to ensure that our children achieve their potential through a broad and balanced curriculum, with success at 11+ being the by-product of a rounded education. Whilst our children are practised and confident at the point at which they sit the exam, we have placed equal emphasis on ensuring that they maintain perspective and continue to pursue their interests in other areas of the curriculum.
Children at Wandsworth Prep play in teams, act in plays, sing in choirs, understand the complexities of mathematical principles and concepts, explore science through scores of experiments, learn foreign languages, apply their learning both in and outside the classroom and, amongst all this, find the time to pursue what they enjoy, whether it be coding, sewing, drama or archery; they are given the opportunity to find it. From themed curriculum weeks to specialist subject workshops, charity fundraising events to nationwide competitions, alongside the usual myriad of clubs, this term has certainly been a little breathless.
In September, the school begun a partnership with AM Sports Academy with the view to ensuring that the school’s sporting provision remains inclusive, wide-ranging and progressively challenging. Children throughout the school enjoy a curriculum which offers focused teaching of sports each week in Netball, Football, Dance, Tag Rugby, Hockey, Gymnastics, Athletics, Tennis, Cricket and Rounders. Supporting the vision for the school to be part of a league of competitive fixtures, children in Year 2 and above benefit from participating in a balanced programme of inter school competitions or friendly fixtures against children of similar ages from a range of local schools. The Spring Term calendar sees children participating in a competitive fixture on a bi-weekly basis.
Music Teacher, Hephzibah Tagoe's vision that each child has the opportunity to enjoy and appreciate music has become ever more palpable. Termly whole-school music events are now a part of Wandsworth’s calendar which sees every child in the school perform, either alongside their peers or individually. For those children who learn an instrument, there are further opportunities to perform in the regular recitals. In the Spring Term, children in Years 3 to 6 will be able to showcase their talents alongside other schools in the group, at the Bellevue Education Music Festival, to be held at Hampton School.
This year saw our youngest children in Reception and Year 1 tread the boards in a professional theatre in Putney to stage their nativity ‘Born in a Barn’. The children guided the audience seamlessly through the excitement of Christmas as seen through the eyes of animal characters. In preparation for the show, the children benefitted 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.
What we do so well at Wandsworth Prep, alongside teaching core skills and knowledge in English and maths, is ignite in each child a joy of learning that will be with them for life. We encourage children to think creatively. The termly projects that children undertake which encompass art and design and technology, computing and the humanities reach beyond enabling children to simply make links between these subjects. What we enable children to do, is exploit their natural curiosity and creativity, encourage their imaginations to flow and their descriptions of what they experience to become ever more elaborate. Our 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; they have become a hall mark of the school and tangible evidence that creativity and achievement go hand in hand.
Confidence, kindness, teamwork, perseverance and resilience continue to underpin every aspect of life at Wandsworth Prep. These characteristics are ever-present in our children and are the foundations which allow us to do all that we do and, perhaps more importantly, to have just a little bit of fun along the way!
Bridget Saul - Headteacher