Thoughts from the Study
A Personalised Approach
It was a pleasure to welcome Dr Anne Cotton, Head of King’s College School, Wimbledon, to our school this Tuesday. Each academic year, prep school heads are invited to attend various lunches, functions, and events that aim to provide insight into the ethos, vision, and educational philosophy of each school. We are blessed to be surrounded by excellent senior schools, all of which, although similar in their academic pursuits, offer different experiences, environments, locations, and curricula, which are important to understand.
Although I enjoy a good lunch or match tea, while visiting senior schools, often the best way to gain the best insight, is to speak directly with heads, one-to-one, giving the opportunity to delve into their own personal vision and motivation, both in the short and long term. I thoroughly enjoy showing people around Broomfield, not only because I am positively biased (I love our school), but because it provides me with the time to reflect on the experience that each child has with us. On our tour, we were stopped by one of our Year 2 children who asked what we were doing. I explained that we were having a good look around the school and asked her to explain what she enjoys about being at Broomfield. She said that she likes it here because, “it is cool to learn.”
I often hear online platforms, other schools, and heads talk about the importance of personalised learning, but rarely do I see anything that resembles the approach we have at Broomfield. Where some schools look to create efficiencies within their model, by bringing in algorithmic online platforms or reducing the amount of physical staff, our educational model means that we staff the school extremely well, giving us the breadth to actually do what we say we do and give children the personalised level of support, consolidation, or challenge they need and deserve across the curriculum. In my time at Broomfield, we have never had more staff in school, an intentional move to create positive resilience that the children benefit from.
We know that our approach works, with academic data showing excellent value added and a strong standardised score 120 average across the school. However, the almost unmeasurable evidence is that when you walk around school, the atmosphere is positive, with happy children, enjoying their learning, gaining confidence, and feeling able to take part in positive risk-taking with their learning because someone is always there to appreciate their efforts. On our tour, we witnessed the Year 6 class working in personalised groups, looking at the wonders of the triangle. We spoke with children who were in a small breakout group in the library enjoying a phonics session. Children in the early years were reading with staff on the beanbags and, in art, children in Year 2 were independently creating their own art, with background music playing and a genuine sense of enjoyment and purpose.
This week has been full of additional outside school experiences for some of the year groups, with children heading to the Houses of Parliament, Forest School, the ISA Cross-country, Debating, and Hampton Court Palace, all key to our purpose to give every single child the very best prep school experience. Over my time in London, I have crucially built a strong rapport with senior schools and heads, and continue to ensure that Broomfield remains in their minds as a forward-thinking school with the very best children. Time and time again, either while visiting schools or heads visiting us here, the comment I often hear is that Broomfield children arrive to them happy, confident, academically ahead of their contemporaries, and that our children are authentic, with clear values and a strong moral compass. I believe this is down to the fact that our approach to education is personalised, holistically valuing wellbeing and academics, with the resource to adapt and flex to the needs of all the children, being responsive and above all, at all times, being available to listen, nurture, and praise our children, giving them the inspiration and motivation to want to learn, not because it leads to strong exam results (it often does), but because learning is cool.
Have a lovely weekend,