It is interesting to think about what the “Prep” in Prep school is all about. I think in the past I might have said it meant preparing children to get into the best senior schools, but now my answer is quite different. Of course, that is, in part, our focus and I know we do it well. This week’s parent welcome evenings have been focusing on what parents need to know and do in the specific year groups to which the children now belong, and the feedback has been most positive and complimentary. We have a fantastically well-attended Senior Schools Fair coming up on the 17th October, when I know all parents who come will be impressed and reassured by the range of schools to which we feed and with whom we have strong working relationships.
But of course, the preparation that we are involved in every day is in enabling your children to flourish and become purposeful, reflective, self-aware and engaged citizens in the world. Tomorrow’s world is not a world where facts need to be retained and churned out, but discernment and critical analysis and the ability to collaborate and to be creative are at the heart of the workforce we need to prepare. So, our vision is to enable and to encourage the skills for life not just for the school beyond.
Having said that, I have been pleased to visit a few schools in the last two weeks and would commend to you for your consideration Skinners’ School where I was most impressed with the attention of the boys at their Prize Giving, their evident camaraderie and mutual support in the applause as the prize winners walked across the stage and the respectful relationships which were clearly evident between staff and boys and boys and one another.
On Wednesday I was glad to welcome Mr Ben Charles, newly-appointed Principal of King’s Rochester. I was inspired by his focus on meeting pupils where they are and welcoming boys and girls into a small, spectacular, nurturing, Christian environment, with a rich breadth of opportunity. With four young children of his own, Ben is fully aware of what parents need in a senior school. Do drop in and meet him at the Senior Schools Fair.
I spent an enjoyable morning at Sevenoaks School on Thursday, where I was lucky enough to be at the opening of Aisher House, named after my late grandfather-in-law, who was a generous benefactor to Sevenoaks School and on the governing body. Last week we met the incoming Head of Sevenoaks School Mr Elzinga. We enjoyed good philosophical debate on the importance of the curriculum within the school and on the styles of learning that can be offered to children at Prep school aside from Common Entrance. I look forward to getting to know him better in due course.
Today I have been at Beechwood Sacred Heart in Tunbridge Wells, a co-ed, independent through school with a similarly impressive mansion at its heart and a good view too. Since my last visit, there has been a change of Head, now Helen Rowe, and the successful refurbishment of the sports centre, as well as the creation of an outdoor classroom on stilts. The school is in good shape to welcome boys and girls who wish to transfer at 11 or 13 and the A’ level class sizes make it a very attractive option for transfer at 16 too. Beechwood offers boarding too. I commend it to you for your consideration.