Inside the Head’s Head:
I have spent a good amount of this week wandering about the Prep and poking my nose into other people’s lessons. This has been partly motivated by the fact that we have actual lessons taking place now in such normal, rich abundance and partly because I can never get enough of observing first-hand how pupils learn and all the different ways in which my colleagues teach. I have been impressed by everything I have heard the boys sharing in lessons along with the variety of questions they are keen to ask. For them there is very rarely any “sorry for asking the wrong question, but…” or comments like “this might be a silly answer but…” This natural, unabashed curiosity that I believe is characteristic of young learners always reminds me how important it is to keep an open mind and to look out for learning something new, every day of every week. Do please keep encouraging your children to remain curious and inquisitive; it is a tremendous help to us here at school.
This week Miss Bee and Mrs Sheaff both led excellent assemblies based upon the theme of ‘challenge’, which we will continue to explore up until half term. Please ask your sons how it is possible to fit yourself through an A4 sized piece of paper (Miss Bee managed to fit herself and Mrs Tinkler through one A4 sheet at the same time!) Mrs Sheaff had a whole host of mini challenges which she pulled out of a hat and encouraged the boys to rise to in assembly, straight up, with no preparation to guide them on their way. Both colleagues ultimately left us with a clear understanding of how important it is not to become overwhelmed when faced with academic or personal challenges. If ever we are struggling, as Miss Bee explained, we might default to “I cannot do it…” Her advice was to try and finish that sentence with the word “…yet!”
Mr Ford was very pleased to explain details of our Academic Enrichment Programme to boys in Year 6 this week. A new initiative for this year, on a rotation each week boys in Year 6 will spend some time out of regular lessons developing their thinking skills in 30 minute ‘blast’ sessions in English, mathematics and reasoning. Inspired by our assembly theme for this half term, all teaching colleagues here recognise how important it is for us to remain challenged, so we can consider how best to develop and improve our approach to teaching the boys. Work will be prepared by Mrs Sheaff and Mr Hole and most of us across the Prep will take our turn teaching it. We are looking forward to seeing the boys rise to this challenge.
Mr Barber will be running the L.I.O.N. Award this year (Leadership, Independence and Opportunities to Nurture), our bespoke pupils’ leadership skills development programme. Further information will shortly be sent out from Mr Barber, regarding the L.I.O.N. Award, to boys in Years 3 – 5 as well as to parents. Mr Barber will be ably assisted in his duties this year by his two L.I.O.N. Award Ambassadors from Year 6, Henry Morgan and Daniel Wheeler. Mr Barber and our two pupil Ambassadors will be promoting the L.I.O.N. Award all year long. How Mr Barber runs some aspects of the Award will doubtless have to be adapted this year, and he is currently working through the changes he wishes to make. Nonetheless, we are looking forward to seeing the boys in Years 3 – 5 throw themselves into completing the different stages of the Award with their usual gusto.
Some advice and recommendations from Mr Henderson in Year 3:
As a teacher at Hampton Prep, I am fortunate to be part of a family that strives to help the individual improve in all areas of their lives, not just academics, but also to build resilience and initiative. It has been lovely to see all the boys back at school after what has been a challenging time for us all. I have seen real enthusiasm in each of the Year 3 boys to learn new methods and ideas and to progress their work to a new level. Independence is key to all of this, naturally. We are anxious that the cheerful fellows in Year 3 will soon be increasingly able to organise everything we explain to them on their own. It is important for Year 3 parents to keep an eye on what the boys should be recording in their prep diaries. Although it is always terrific to hear from parents via email, much of what we have been fielding this week from parents in Year 3 we know the boys already know. Our aim is for each boy to take ownership of his prep diary and to be responsible for making sure he records everything he needs to do in it, especially when it comes to the instructions required for prep. The boys are all works in progress (aren’t we all?) but ensuring they check their diaries and they think carefully about how to complete a prep by themselves will build independence and resilience, which ought to benefit them in their learning and their life, long after they leave us.
News from Mrs Morris, Head of Science:
The Year 4’s had a delightful science trip outdoors in the sun on Monday at the Stockyard Education Centre in Bushy Park. The boys conducted themselves in such a mature way i.e. no one ended up IN the pond! Lots of different equipment was used to find aquatic invertebrates in the pond areas and terrestrial invertebrates when log rolling and grass sweeping. The boys were then given the chance to identify and classify their finds using charts and a Trinocular was even used to see some examples close up. Who could have predicted that the boys would find a greater water boatman, loads of different tiny fish and a water scorpion! It was a real pleasure to see the boys full of interest and excitement throughout the day and such a lovely way to begin the academic year learning with friends outdoors.
News from Mr Salt, Head of Games:
In the week that summer returned for one last blast and the new season of the Premier League kicked off, the players of The Spicy Lemons, The Ultraplex Space Warriors, The Cheesy Goats and the Flashing Thunders took to the pitches of Carlisle Park to kick off the inaugural Hampton Prep 5 aside Premier League. It was great to see the enthusiasm and excitement that had been brewing in the playground channelled into effort, teamwork and some excellent football. One particularly pleasing moment was when one boy beat a defender, dribbled at pace through the middle of the pitch, took the ball out to the left of the opposition penalty box and shot with his weaker foot from 15 yards out. When an opposition player asked him, ‘How did you do that?’ he replied, ‘You just need to practise on your weaker foot, then you get better.’ For me this highlighted what every coach and teacher knows. If you want to improve, practice has to be purposeful and deliberate. This boy had done just that, turning himself into a much more effective player over lockdown and the summer by the challenging himself to have a go with intent and discipline, thus turning a weakness into a strength. This is what we ask of every boy at Hampton Prep; not to simply go through the motions, but engage, focus and put thought behind the action.