I have always believed that a top prep school stands apart from the crowd because of the breadth of experiences that is available to the pupils. We have a responsibility to introduce them to different teaching methods and approaches both in and out of the classroom.
Going outside for lessons in our canopy, bringing in visiting speakers, making maximum use of our state of the art Smart boards and taking the children out on a variety of trips all contribute a broad brush to what is taught and how we get the message across.
What has really impressed me over the past year is how we have managed to increase the range of activities available not just to our children, but to the whole of our community. There aren’t many schools where parents and children come together to learn Spanish after school, not many prep schools where the children can try their arm at clay pigeon shooting, where the parents can do a yoga session after dropping their children off in the mornings and where a small “Shooting Stars” group and a Challenge Club focuses on stretching the academically gifted children in different ways to standard classroom teaching, looking at problems laterally and teasing out solutions.
Twelve different activities have been introduced over the past four terms, including girls’ football, yoga for children, a magical maths club, origami and rock climbing. Some of these will only run once a year, others every term, but what is important is that children (and in some cases their parents!) can try things they have never done before. They may only try something for a term and then never go back to it and that’s fine. They have broadened their range of experiences and will have benefited from the opportunity. In other cases, of course, we may be igniting a spark that will develop into a furnace as something really catches their imagination, is taken on to another level at senior school and then even further as they become an adult.
All work and no play really does make Jack a dull boy and the importance of finding extra-curricular activities that provide pleasure and challenge as well as building character cannot be over-estimated. There is more to come here, but we are treading very firmly in the right direction!