Prep school education is incredibly well regarded around the world and the benefits of a broad and wide ranging curriculum are clear, if tricky to quantify. In recent years there have been a number of excellent initiatives run by different organisations to try and make up for the shortfall that primary aged children are missing out on due to the constraints of the National Curriculum, class sizes and budget constraints in some primary schools and the demands placed on family life. The National Trust’s ‘50 things to do before you are 11 and three-quarters’ is an excellent list of fun, outdoor activities that all the family can become involved with. The Girlguiding Association and The Scout Association have been advocates of outdoor learning, problem solving and adventure challenge for years. I am delighted to note that the Education Department has now launched ‘My Activity Passport’ a list based on a vision for every child to have the opportunity to enjoy new and varied experiences. This comprises of key areas; “drive and tenacity; sticking at the task at hand; understanding how to work towards long term goals when reward might be a long way off in the future; and being able to pick yourself up and bounce back from life’s challenges.” www.gov.uk
This initiative is long overdue and a wonderful step in the right direction for all children. Behind the excitement of finally understanding the value of lessons learnt not sat at desks, is the realisation that for some children this way of thinking and being does not come naturally. We are so fortunate to have the wonderful grounds, the resources and the staff to facilitate these core skills being embedded into our curriculum alongside our unique Learning@Woodbridge ethos both within subjects and as stand-alone discrete lessons. Forest Schools, Mindfulness, Engineering, Food Technology, Drama, Music and PE are fundamental pillars of the experience at The Abbey. Together with House Captains, Leaders, Librarians, Eco-Committee, School Council and a myriad of other opportunities the skills of confidence, resilience, and involvement are woven throughout the curriculum.
This initiative should, in time, slowly start to enhance learning for all children and not just those who are fortunate enough to already benefit from this positive step forward.