04 Dec 2023

A Day in The Life at Walhampton Prep School: Head Visits Pre-Prep

Pre Prep
Head's Blog
Pre Prep Life

At Walhampton Prep School, we believe in the importance of understanding and participating in every aspect of our pupils' education. This commitment goes to the very top, as Head, Jonny Timms, demonstrates.

Mr Timms recently spent the day immersed in the vibrant world of our Pre-Prep department and, in his own words, shares a unique glimpse into daily life at Walhampton.

Headmaster Jonny Timms Navigates a Morning in Pre-Prep

"So, I spent the day in Pre-Prep yesterday. Some of the children were, I was told, incredibly excited about my visit due to some of them not even realising they had a Head.

I had made sure I was dressed for the occasion. Gone were the Saville Row suits and silk ties; the thought of my herringbone weave being stained with snot, playdough, paint and glue was too much. Instead, chinos, jumper and sensible shoes. I looked and felt every part the early years practitioner.

I crouched next to a little girl and boy using their iPad to research owls and create a fact file. She was spelling out ‘regurgitation’ phonetically. Impressed at her word acquisition, I thought I’d use this opportunity to get her to explain to me what she was learning.

‘What does that mean, and why do they do that?’ I asked. She looked at me like I was an absolute buffoon for being unable to grasp such a simple fact. ‘It’s the food that they can’t digest. Last week, we looked at their pellets.’ She announced.

In the neighbouring class, we all sat on the mat, sharing our work with partners and explaining our findings.

Then, it was to 1:1 reading. We went through our phonics – with actions – and recognised some matching words. I came across a smaller group of children who were investigating some nonsense words using our blending skills.

I’ve never seen a child so delighted to put a collection of words inside their very own starred treasure chest box.

The use of questioning in one classroom was inspiring. Children were engaged in discussion by asking justifying questions that held the learner accountable for their learning. Individuals were gently pushed to provide evidence and support their ideas."

The Importance of Outdoor Learning in Pre-Prep

"Next, it was snack time, and we had pizza slices and listened to a story about pirates and dinosaurs. What’s not to like?!

A little group of children was also exploring a sea bass and a sea bream outside. The group were delighted with the opportunity to explore these two creatures: slipping them out of their hand and feeling the texture of the scales and fins, exploring which had sharper teeth, and comparing the eyes of both fish.

And all the time they were talking to each other and sharing their thoughts:

‘They use their wings to swim.’

‘It makes me feel a bit funny when I touch it.’

‘That one must be tastier because it’s got less bones.’

 ‘It smells like fish.’

‘The fish are grey because that’s the colour of the sea.’

The teacher resisted the urge to ‘correct’ every little misconception they spouted. Instead, they kept asking follow-up questions that encouraged them to take their thinking to the next step, forcing them to evaluate the logic of what they were saying.

And, when they could see it might not be logical at all, they happily changed their original conceits without a moment’s doubt."

What Did I Learn During My Time in Pre-Prep?

"And so ended my morning in Pre Prep.

But what did I learn?

Well, I learnt that not a minute is wasted. I had, after all, only experienced a mere fraction of the opportunities that were available to the children throughout the day.

Every single activity that was planned (and there were lots) was grounded in their topic and designed to help them develop a practical skill or learn a little bit more about the world.

The adults were focused, at all times, on capturing and stretching the children’s learning. Specific needs were met. Children benefited from direct teaching that explored the concepts and ideas that were then taken further as the morning continued.

It was playful. It was purposeful. But, above all, it was so much more than just regurgitation."

Cultivating Curiosity and Confidence at Walhampton

Mr Timms' immersive journey through the dynamic world of our youngest learners at Walhampton Prep School underscores our ethos of nurturing curiosity, confidence, and a love for learning in every child.

Creating learning opportunities where every moment is one of discovery and growth. At Walhampton, we take pride in offering an atmosphere where children are encouraged to explore, question, and think critically.

A Walhampton education is one rich in experiences, nurturing, and exceptional in its ability to prepare young minds for the future - while enjoying the joys of being playful children, of course!

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