This morning, Miss Ellis spoke at our Annual Prize Giving and Celebration of the Year. This is what she had to say about our second successful year at Banstead Prep School:
Our School values were launched at the beginning of the academic year and have been embedded throughout the school. The values have been the theme of assemblies and recognised when awarding star of the week certificates. They have given staff a common language to use, and the children a clear understanding of behaviours and attitudes expected of them.
Many of the examples of activities and achievements you will hear about this morning, really embody these values and it’s an aspect of school we intend to develop further next year.
Education with Character
I spoke to you about Education with Character at last year’s prize giving. Whilst it’s just one strand of United Learning’s Framework for Excellence, we made the decision to adopt it to help articulate our ethos, as it encompasses everything we set out to achieve; there is more to a good education than learning.
You may also remember that last year I drew upon a body of research conducted by the world Economic forum that cited the top ten workforce skills for 2020, these included, amongst others: problem solving, critical thinking, co-ordinating with others, emotional intelligence, decision making, and cognitive flexibility. I really believe many of the activities and opportunities we have offered in school support these fundamental skills.
I feel that Education with Character is an area where we have achieved a great deal, and can be proud of what we have accomplished. The children are thriving and our curriculum has gone above and beyond just knowledge acquisition, in all subjects. Looking at photos from events through the year, analysing data from our most recent assessments and reading the children’s end of year reports has highlighted just how much we have done this academic year. Not all activities make a great photo opportunity or news story so to give you a flavour of what has happened throughout the year the children and I will share some examples with you throughout the morning.
Perhaps I shouldn’t say this with the entire teaching body present, but when I look back at my years of primary school I cannot remember how I learnt to read and write. I do remember being slightly traumatised by spelling tests and I have fond memories of residential trips to Wales and the Isle of Wight, playing netball and rounders for the school, sports day, gymnastic displays, art and design projects (especially first being allowed to use the glue gun), school productions, making daisy chains on the field at break and hating school dinners, which were not at all comparable to Chef’s.
I believe we are giving all of our children a wealth of experiences upon which they will draw for years to come, in addition to the fantastic progress they are making academically.
Yesterday, in our cups assembly, as well as cups for effort, progress and manners, I awarded certificates for exceptional academic achievement. Our standardised assessments that the children complete termly top out at a score of 130+, which is the top 2% nationally. I presented certificates to 19 children who have topped out in ALL assessments combined – Reading, Writing AND Maths, that’s 12% of the children.
We have a total of 162 children in Years 1 – 6, who completed a total of 324 assessments, of those, 102 achieved a score of 130+ meaning that rather than the 2% expected nationally our children achieved a staggering 31% at a score of 130+!!
We consider children working above 115 to be working at greater depth for their age in a subject, which is over 50% of our current cohort in Reading, Writing and Maths.
One of the ways in which we bring learning to life is through trips and visits beyond the classroom. Some support specific curriculum areas, such as visiting Hampton Court or Watts Gallery, whilst others are designed to foster personal development and independence. PGL was a fantastic example of that. Our Year 6 cohort is now large enough next year to run the much anticipated Sports Tour for a single year group, and this has already been booked, details of which will follow in September.
We have also found opportunities to enrich the children’s experiences through activities they might not otherwise have known about or had the opportunity to participate in, for example watching a Women’s International Hockey and tennis at Wimbledon next week.
We don’t always have to leave school; we’ve also had a range of visitors ranging from authors and French theatre productions to senior school sports staff who have enhanced the curriculum. As always, we would welcome any suggestions of appropriate visitors with whom you might have connections.
Last year we began new traditions, and this year we added many more events, such as the Art Exhibition and Coding Hour for parents. I hope many of these will become regular calendar features.
This year Book Week and Science Week featured on the school calendar – Subject learning cannot take place in isolation. Many skills from other subjects are intertwined. We value all subjects across the curriculum and don’t have enough weeks for all subjects to have a designated week of their own. Next year, we are planning to have curriculum days to ensure all subjects have a day in which they can be a focus, and cross curricular, and inter phase learning can take place.
We have provided many opportunities for the children to perform in front of an audience, to build their confidence and step out of their comfort zone. Whether playing an instrument as the other children walk into assembly, or taking a lead role in a production, all children have made progress; whether small steps or large strides.
In addition to the usual celebrations and instrumental concerts, years 3 and 4 rose to the challenge of a very demanding script in Gangster Granny.
Year 4 had the opportunity to join over 30 United Learning schools from all sectors to perform songs from the world-famous opera, Carmen in London’s Olympic Park. What an amazing opportunity and experience at such a young age!
Years 5 and 6 performed the visual and vocal spectacular of Lion King Jr. this term. We have some highlights from the show to share with you this morning, one of which you have heard already.
The house system has been further strengthened this year, including all staff now belonging to a house. In addition to the weekly house point totals and existing house sporting events, we added further, non-sporting events, which have bought the children from different age groups together to collaborate, problem solve, negotiate and support one another. The Christmas song competition and rubbish fashion show have been highlights of each term. As you’ll see from the pictures, the staff really threw themselves into it too; they’re a competitive bunch!
Destination Schools and Scholarships
Our Leavers List is different from last year, but shows the same breadth, with the 20 children going to 14 different schools. These results demonstrate our commitment to support you to find the right next school for your child.
These children have done particularly well and were awarded scholarships:
- Benji – Trinity 10+ -Academic & Music, Whitgift 10+ All Rounder
- Gaby – Box Hill – academic & Sport
- Jessica – Reigate Grammar – Hodgson House scholarship for academic excellence
- Poppy – Box Hill – Drama
- Rajan – Epsom College – John Propert Academic Exhibition Award, Caterham School – Sport, Trinity – Sport
- Ranvir – Reigate Grammar – Academic
- Yash – Trinity 10+, Music Tuition Award
- Alexander Skinner – Art Highly Commended at Box Hill
Success comes in many forms, whether topping out on an assessment, swimming a width of the pool for the first time or standing on the stage confidently. The children have achieved a wealth of successes both within and outside of school. We love sharing in achievements beyond the school gate too.
School sporting successes:
- 288 matches played
- 21 athletics records broken at sports day
- 9 swimming records broken
- Runners up in the North Downs Schools Partnership, girls football tournament
- U9A Football plate winners at Caterham
- IAPS Swimming Debut
- North Downs Schools Partnership Girls Cricket tournament winners
- 3rd place at District Athletics
Outside of school:
- 2 county cricketers, 6 more nominated
- Rajan off to the Gothia World Cup with the South East of England Prep Schools team
- 5 club swimmers, 2 of whom also swim for the county
- 1 Club Gymnast
Wealth of success across the curriculum:
- Year 5 took part in a United Learning design and enterprise challenge, United Ideas Competition in which the children had to come up with a ‘world changing idea to make people happier, healthier or smarter. Three Yr5 children had the opportunity to pitch their product to a panel at the IBM Headquarters.
- In Maths, our Year 5 team got through to the second round National Young mathematics award
- In Art Melina was a Finalist in the Toyota Dream Car Competition and Alexander won the Children’s Trust art competition
- 6 competition winners Banstead Arts Festival Poetry Competition
We are very proud of:
- Benji who is currently playing in the National Youth Orchestra
- Arthur who is a Chess Megafinalist
- Logan Clark – Gavrosh in Les Misrables show
Over 50 co-curricular clubs have been on offer this year from Lego to Fitness, Computing and STEM to Cookery and Chess. This programme serves to support the progression of skills and personal development, as well as enrich the curriculum, adding an additional range of activities and challenge.
Charity and Community
We are also teaching our children to be compassionate, and about the importance of social responsibility. This year we have supported:
- Banstead in Bloom – our wheel barrow helped the community achieved silver gilt. You might have noticed our recent addition of the BPS bike on the roundabout at the top of Sutton Lane
- We have hosted KS1 Multiskills events in which 6 local schools come and competed in a variety of sporting activities. Year 2 have participated this year and it provided an opportunity for Yr 6 to develop their leadership skills. Yr2 did exceptionally well and came first over the year.
- The Early years have enjoyed Boogie Beats sessions with Sunrise Living
- Charity – we’ve supported Children’s Trust, Water Aid, Homeless Boxes, Night Shelter, Glow walk
I am really passionate about developing our charitable efforts further next academic year.
This time of year is full of mixed emotions – we want to celebrate a successful year but acknowledge goodbyes. Year 6 and any other children moving onto pastures new, we wish you all the best for the future. Mr Timms and Mrs Mayo have reached the end of their planned time with us, I wish them well and hop to see both of them back at BPS in the future. Mr Abbott has an exciting next chapter ahead as Head of Steephill. We wish him the very best of luck and will miss his assemblies and calm demeanour.
Thank you to all those parents who made these events possible and to the school community who supported them through their attendance. Through these events the children have had a great time and additional funds have been raised, which have purchased items such as: branded gazebos, high vis vests for the younger children, the most watched eggs and subsequent chicks, parent noticeboard, the new school song which has been composed and will be performed for you shortly and the rainforest, amongst other destinations came to school, via virtual reality!
We are now at the stage of the school’s development where we feel a more formalised parental body could be formed, and we have already sought feedback from parents as to how this organisation should be managed. If you are interested in supporting the school through co-ordinating community events, please email the School Office. A meeting date will be set in September.
It’s a challenging time for all Independent schools. I recently attended a conference at Brighton College, the title of which was ‘Extinction’. They didn’t publicize this in advance, for fear of no one showing up, but it did really highlight that no matter how established a school you are, there are pressures and uncertainties affecting all independent schools.
Most notably this year, economic and political uncertainty and substantial increase in Teacher Pension contributions that will not be funded by the Treasury for independent schools.
All schools are having to adapt their structures to cope with these new pressures, whether this means closing year groups, adding additional classes or amalgamating with other schools or groups. There are several examples of this locally that I’m sure heard about. I’m very proud of the fact that we have created what I hope is an agile organisation fit to face the challenges of the current climate.
United Learning are very supportive of the school and understand that following a merger, there is a journey to be made. The recent announcement of the summer building works of the sports facilities and extension of the dining hall demonstrates their commitment to invest in our school, its future and ongoing success. Following an initial investment in school facilities and buildings of £1.2M, a further £670,000 is being spent over the next 18 months. It’s not just about money, they support us with many back office functions and add an additional layer of challenge and review to our teaching and learning.
The recent visit from two of our trustees was very positive, it is clear we have come a long way, but we will never rest on our laurels and have clear next steps to develop in September.