It only seems like yesterday that we were all arriving for the start of the new academic year, our then new Reception class wide-eyed at the prospect of starting ‘big school’ and our older children enthused by the promises that come with joining a new year group or Key Stage. The children and their teachers deserve warm congratulations on all that has been achieved, particularly, during the course of a very busy and somewhat calescent summer term.
A legacy of challenging, interesting and unique productions has become a hallmark of end of term show cases in recent times at Wandsworth Prep. The Key Stage 2 showcase, hosted at the ALRA theatre in Wandsworth, was no exception to this and a veritable feast for the ears and eyes. Couched in a historical project surrounding the Ancient Greeks, the performance of Persephone and the King of Darkness, was a chance for children to actually embody a character; the sheer joy that acting and connecting to the audience gave to the children, some as young as seven, was palpable, with boosted confidence and a sense of purpose.
Children in Reception, who, only ten months ago, embarked on school life, performed their own versions of the traditional tales that they have been studying for their summer term project. As a group of fairy tale problem solvers, the children worked as a team of experts who solve problems, none too big or too small, through careful listening, thorough planning, and creative thinking. Throughout the term, the Problem-Solvers accepted a series of commissions, helping characters in fairy tales in any way they were able in order to pervert injury, hurt or upset to others.
The humanities based Africa project for children in Years 1 and 2 culminated in a fundraising event on Wimbledon Common. Parents and children worked in four teams to compete a series of ‘jungle style’ challenges, to raise money for a charity for children in need in Zambia.
Aside from the skills and knowledge that children acquire across a range of subjects, the projects that children undertake serve to deepen understanding to go beyond facts and content. Projects foster curiosity and a love of learning, teach grit, perseverance, growth mindset, and self-regulation and, furthermore, solve the problems of tomorrow in the classrooms of today.
In a small and nurturing environment such as Wandsworth Prep, children may feel that they know their classmates and teachers well from day-to-day contact in school, but the experience of living with them in a residential community, albeit for 72 hours, added a new dimension; interpersonal skills, including leadership, team work, trust and respect, were subtly reinforced. In May, children in Years 3, 4 and 5, spent three days at PGL’s Windmill Hill located close to the coast on the beautiful Sussex Downs. After climbing and abseiling, aeroballing and canoeing, children returned to school walking just a little bit taller, inspired to embrace new challenges.
The challenges were finally put to the test on Sports Day. The summer term, in particular, favours Sport, with the more affable temperatures lending themselves seamlessly to athletics and strike and fielding games. The beauty of athletics is that there is a discipline for everyone; running, jumping or throwing. Our ‘Sport for All’ sports day in June, saw each child have the chance to compete for their house as an individual or as part of a team and to feel included in the intangible experience that such an event can bring.
Within the broader curriculum, this academic year has focused on expanding the musical life of the school. Now a well-established part of Wandsworth Prep’s calendar, the summer music extravaganza, was an event where individual and collective highlights were aplenty. Clapton style guitar ensembles, voice, percussion and wind, and solos from four-year olds which brought tears to the bravest of eyes. With the curriculum transformed, what stood out most, was that each and every child is able to take advantage of the broad range of stimuli and opportunities that the department now provides.
Finally, fundraising at Wandsworth Prep is by no means just about shaking the charity can. We are a school that prides itself not only on academic success, but also on creating an ethos with relationships and community at its heart. One afternoon in late June, the school was awash with paintings, drawings, models and sculptures created from a variety of media. Children from Reception to Year 5 chose their best pieces of artwork to be entered in to the school's inaugural Art Auction, in aid of the school's charity, Great Ormond Street Hospital. The auction was silent, with parents and guardians placing sealed bids for pieces of work in to bidding boxes for each year group. At the end of the afternoon, the event raised £320.00.
I never fail to be impressed by the quality of learning that takes place at Wandsworth Prep; teaching and learning that goes beyond pen and paper to ensure that each child is a learning child. It is at the end of this year, in particular, with children from Reception to Year 6 in September, that our fundamental aim is becoming ever more visible. Wandsworth Prep children are happy and confident individuals; they have the skills required to be independent learners, well-prepared for their next stage in learning and, most importantly, a natural readiness to embrace challenge.
Happy summer holidays!
Bridget Saul - Headteacher