MUCH like the contestants settling into Mastermind’s famous black chair, Britain’s schools show off their skills in a wide spectrum of specialist subjects. Dr Trevor Richards, Educational Psychologist and Head, explains All Hallows Preparatory School’s areas of expertise…
What are the academic areas, sports or pastoral provisions which you feel set you apart from the crowd?
At All Hallows we have developed a unique approach to the educational provision for our children. We do not see academic and pastoral development as separate entities, rather as mutually reinforcing aspects of development which gives rise to our whole child-centred approach to education.
We work hard to develop the children’s intellectual and mental character alongside teaching traditional academic skills. Time is taken to ensure pupils have an understanding of the progress they are making; each year, the All Hallows pupils take a qualitative survey which evaluates their attitude to themselves and to school. Results of this survey are given the same importance as is placed on maths and English assessments with intervention taking place if necessary. They reveal that the children are confident and have high regard of themselves as learners which grows as they progress through the school.
Fundamental to this approach is the delivery of a curriculum that encompasses a wide breadth of experiences. Sport, music, drama, art, creative design and Forest School all contribute alongside our dynamic academic programme. Younger pupils embrace the hands-on based approach of the International Primary Curriculum relishing experiences such as canoeing down the River Wye as an introduction to learning about rivers. Older children study for 13+ Common Entrance or scholarship where study sessions are open to all who are able to perform at this higher level. This enables those children who have a passion for a particular subject to benefit from the additional challenge this offers alongside those who will go forward to sit scholarship examinations.
Beyond the curriculum, our enrichment programme enables children to experience things not normally found in a school curriculum. Taking place on Saturday mornings, more than 95 per cent of pupils from year six to year eight opt to take part in activities such as animation, photography, drama production, bushcraft, clay pigeon shooting, Young Enterprise and Exmoor Challenge – a tough 16-mile orienteering course on Exmoor.
On the sporting front, in addition to the high quality of provision that has come to be accepted as the norm in prep schools, All Hallows has a highly popular and successful Tennis Academy. An extensive programme of individual and group lessons means a high proportion of pupils are able to take part in lessons and to compete in matches and tournaments with national success.
Throughout the school, there is a palpable sense of community which is characterised as being warm, inclusive and welcoming. Key to this is the quality of the relationships between parents and staff, between staff and children and of the children with each other.
What successes have you enjoyed in this particular field?
The biggest determiners of our success in our approach to educating the whole child are the entrance records of pupils to their senior schools and the feedback we get from those schools once the children have left All Hallows.
Success at scholarship is remarkable with around 60 per cent of year eight pupils gaining scholarships or awards to senior schools in recent years. These awards include academic, sporting, musical, art and design and all-round awards. Additionally, all pupils have gained places to the school of their choice at 13+ Common Entrance.
Feedback from senior schools is overwhelmingly positive with All Hallows pupils regularly noted for their maturity, confidence, approach to risk-taking and their positive outlook. Our pupils display a readiness to be open-minded, a willingness to be creative with their thinking and they are critical about the value of information.
Sixteen children represented the school at the National IAPS Tennis Championships in 2017 with individual silver medals being won in the U11 boys’ singles and the U13 girls’ singles competitions. A fantastic achievement given these children were competing against others from across the country.
On a more local level, the children have had noteworthy success at the Bath Speech and Drama Festival and have had the opportunity to display their work at art exhibitions on site at school as well as in the local community.
Find out more about All Hallows Preparatory School at allhallowsschool.co.uk