Top of the class: academic excellence at Prince’s Gardens
Samantha Gibbon, Deputy Head, says that while academic excellence is a priority, a broad curriculum is also key
This article originally appeared in the Autumn edition of Little London Magazine.
Prince’s Gardens Prep aims to give each pupil an education that enables them to realise their potential and grow as individuals. Through a determined focus on academic excellence and character development, we prepare our children for all the exciting challenges and opportunities that life has to offer.
As a school which prepares children for the 11+ exams, we believe that a prep- school environment gives parents the time with which to really consider their child’s secondary education and to choose the senior school to which their child is most suited. We help guide parents and pupils through the 11+ process to ensure that every child goes on to a school in which they will continue to thrive.
We aim to nurture a strong sense of community and family, an environment where children feel that they belong. One of the ways we will do this is through a dynamic house system: our houses, named after British explorers include all children from reception through to Year 6 and will foster friendly, inter-house events such as sports tournaments and art competitions, house singing, poetry recitation and sports day, along with house fundraisers. These will occur every half term and the children are given the independence to consider and choose which charities they would like to support.
Woven into the very fabric of our school is the importance of giving back to the local community. We have built many links with charities through the Kensington & Chelsea Foundation and our children will choose ways in how to raise money for charities as well as planning and implementing those ideas.
Older pupils have the opportunity to go and visit some of those charities such as Age UK. For example, at Christmas, they might sing carols to residents in a care home or deliver homemade hampers to those in need and less fortunate than themselves.
We will also have a wide range of speakers, for example, from the Guide Dogs for the Blind and Partially Sighted, come into school, and who we feel, will help to widen the pupils’ horizons.
The curriculum is broad and balanced with excellent and inspiring teachers. Whether your child is a budding Leonardo da Vinci or Ariana Grande, Albert Einstein or Marie Curie, we pride ourselves in being able to spot and nurture their talents.
We have specialist teaching in music, PE and French from nursery as well as in drama and science further up the school. In our top two years, the children are encouraged to develop their organisational skills by moving round the school and going to specialist classrooms in science, English and maths. This is just one of the many ways in which we prepare them for senior school life.
Children will be rigorously prepared for the 11+ entrance exams to top senior day and boarding schools in London and beyond. This will be done in a carefully planned and measured way to ensure that the children are also able to enjoy all that their school life has to offer.
We will gradually introduce lessons such as current affairs where topical issues, such as the plastic in our oceans, are discussed, enabling children to learn to articulate their thoughts and ideas, and to form opinions and views which are so important in the interview process.
Also timetabled are lessons in reasoning from Year 4 and debating in Year 3 to build on the important communication skills which are as valuable in life as they are for their interviews.
By the time children arrive in Year 6, they will be having weekly lessons in exam and interview technique and weekly practice in exams which are focused to their needs. Weekly scholarship lessons also take place.
Once the children have finished their 11+ examinations in the February of their final year, there is an exciting programme of events and activities in store. The objective for us is for them to remember these final two terms as the happiest days of their school lives.
Trips of a lifetime
One of the highlights of the year will be in the summer term when we will take many of our children on residential trips.
They range from one night in Year 2 to four nights in Year 6 and are greatly looked forward to by the children.
They will have the opportunity to take part in a range of activities ranging from abseiling to orienteering, fire building to canoeing and archery to cooking.
These trips help to develop the children’s independence, confidence and resilience. They are a wonderful opportunity for children to stay away from home, often for the first time, in a safe and nurturing environment surrounded by their friends and teachers.
The Year 6 play will be a particular highlight as well as The Fiver Challenge where all of the children are given £5 each and asked to design, make, market and sell a product in order to try to generate a profit.
Our dynamic and varied programme of enrichment and extracurricular activities will enable each pupil to develop the skills needed for them to step out confidently in every situation that they face.
We believe that children should be given opportunities to shine in music, art, drama and sports through their scheduled lesson activities as well as school productions, concerts, music ensembles and competitions. All these challenges encourage their self-esteem and resilience, skills which will help them navigate the world around them and in life to come.