Head of Falcons Nursery Chiswick playing with students

It is not just about the academics

As I head into the last term that will end my second year at Falcons Pre-Prep, I have spent some time reflecting on my initial vision for the school.  When I joined the school, the key element to my leadership was to enhance what my predecessor and his team had already brought to this wonderful community.

I remain steadfast in my belief that the two key ingredients for a successful school for any student is academic rigour and emotional wellbeing.  When these two areas are done well, we will be enabling our students to access every opportunity possible at the end of Year 2.  It is certainly not a case of one size fits all, and therefore opportunities will vary from family to family and boy to boy.  It is my job to provide a learning environment that prepares each and every one of them for a successful future.

So in the reality of a day to day of school life, what does this actually mean?

I am passionate about teacher quality as, again and again, research has shown that the biggest impact on a child’s learning is the ability of the teacher working with them.  Over the past 2 years, I have built on the capacity of an already strong teaching team by using research-based teaching practices and tools.  To name just a few, we have brought in a researched-based math programme, a researched-based emotional regulation programme and a researched-based reading comprehension programme.  Teachers have worked harder than ever behind the scenes to collaborate and ensure that every staff member working with the children knows each of their strengths and needs.  By giving teachers the tools of researched-based programmes, we are enabling all teachers to have the best possible impact on their students.

If we were to only focus on academic rigour, and we fail to ensure the emotional wellbeing of our students, then those opportunities at the end of Year 2 will be difficult to achieve.  Our aim is to provide a safe space for learning, an environment where it is not simply ok to ask questions, fail at a task, or to ask for help, but positively encouraged.  With this safety in place as they learn, I am able to watch with pride as my students run through the school gate with happiness every morning, and leave with reluctance in the afternoon.

Of course, when I joined the school nearly 2 years ago, dealing with a global pandemic was not part of my master plan!  It has definitely brought with it many new challenges, but I would say that these challenges have only made our community stronger – more resilient, more focused and more connected than ever.

I cannot wait for the next 2 years and seeing what new challenges arise, whilst watching our school grow as we welcome 2 year olds (both boys and girls) from September.