The Pre-Prep is a vibrant, inclusive and very happy school, where small classes ensure a high level of care and attention to every boy, and where boys are encouraged to embrace the values of friendship and respect, alongside perseverance and a love of learning.
The Pre-Prep Department is housed in its own attractive, purpose built accommodation, surrounded by a wonderful expanse of green space which the boys use throughout the day. Nursery and Reception have their own covered, outdoor classrooms which include a very popular mud kitchen!
We enjoy continuity and shared human and physical resources with the rest of the school including use of the swimming pool, the playing fields and the school dining room at lunchtime. Boys remain at Thorpe House until they are 16, so interaction between the Pre-Prep boys and their older peers is important. There are several vehicles which facilitate this including a Year 10 mentoring scheme where the older boys help in the Pre-Prep classrooms and a ‘reading buddy’ initiative where Year 1 and Year 6 boys meet up at lunchtime in the school library for guided reading sessions.
Our classes are small with no more than 16 boys and teaching styles vary to create a positive and enabling learning environment. Standards are high and boys are encouraged to be independent in their learning and ask questions about the topics they cover, though support and guidance is always available should a boy need it. Music is part of daily life at Pre-Prep and is taught by a dedicated peripatetic teacher who knows how to encourage even the most reluctant musician: the boys love the opportunity to showcase their work in year group assemblies, school performances and end of term concerts.
The description above only begins to describe life at Pre-Prep; I encourage you to visit us, so that I may show you around myself and introduce you to the wonderful team of teachers and to the boys we are so proud of.
Mrs Natasha Doran, Head of the Pre-Prep Department
Rain or shine (there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing) each year group spends two hours per week on Austenwood Common, the woods behind the Pre-Prep Department where sessions are led by Mrs Doran, our Forest School practitioner and Pre-Prep parent helpers.
For those unfamiliar with the concept of Forest School education, its purpose is to nurture the child holistically; to give the child the opportunity to take risks in the natural environment; to learn about flora and fauna; to connect with the changing seasons; to explore learning in teams and as an individual; to learn skills in the great outdoors; to be creative and imaginative and most of all to reflect and grow from their learning experiences. You may be interested to read an article The Times recently wrote about the benefits of Forest Schools in an age where children spend less time outdoors than prison inmates – not at Thorpe House Pre-Prep!
The benefits of Forest School are seemingly endless: Quieter boys are more naturally talkative, brimming with ideas and opinions that must be shared. Physical development sees huge benefits, as boys climb trees, negotiate steep clay pits, walk along fallen branches and generally build up their fitness levels in the fresh air. Being outside in the forest environment also benefits the boys’ mental well-bring; it seems impossible to feel any pressure or stress amidst such beauty. The little altercations which are so normal in the playground aren’t evidenced here; instead language and communication thrive and the children learn to negotiate and to respect each other’s points of view.
Thorpe House Nursery is a happy and busy place where our boys thrive in a nurturing and fun, learning environment. We work hard to develop curiosity, independence and a joy of learning and we pride ourselves on our holistic and bespoke approach to all the boys in our care.
To stimulate creativity and help the understanding of new concepts we enjoy taking our lessons outside: counting can be practised by calculating how many hops it takes to get from one side of the playground to another; right angles created with sticks; and minutes and seconds practised by timing each other running from one football goal to the other! In addition to this, Nursery and Reception have access to their own outdoor classrooms as well as a mud kitchen, which creates an additional hands-on learning environment for the younger boys.
We encourage the boys to have an interest in their local community by inviting visitors in to talk about the work they do. Boys have enjoyed visits from charities such as the NSPCC, local ‘people who help us’ such as the fire brigade and police officers and local authors.
School trips linked to the curriculum bring to life concepts explored in the classroom. During the year visits are organised to the Tower of London, ZSL London Zoo, Brighton Sea Life Centre and closer to home, Chiltern Open Air Museum, the Elgiva Theatre, Woburn Safari Park and the Roald Dahl Museum. We also organise in-school workshops including Professor Brainstorm, drama experiences, Lego workshops, creature roadshows and most recently, the Royal College of Music for a percussion workshop.
Finally, we offer an extensive range of lunchtime and after school clubs ranging from judo, French, cooking and art to mini tennis, gardening club and Mouse Wizard Masters!
Pre-Prep pupil – Year 2
Mr A Penman, Woodwind
Mr M Morris, Guitar and violin
Miss L Butt, Pre-Prep Office Manager