‘Sometimes since I’ve been in the garden I’ve looked up through the trees at the sky and I have had a strange feeling of being happy as if something was pushing and drawing in my chest and making me breathe fast. Magic is always pushing and drawing and making things out of nothing. Everything is made out of magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us. In this garden – in all the places.’
-The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
This idea of magic being all around us, and in all things, perfectly expresses what motivates us at the Prep. To engender a sense of joy and exploration in our children as they go about their daily adventures in school informs all that we do. Importantly, through our curriculum and teaching we want to inspire our children and instil in them a lifelong love of learning. It goes without saying that I am confident we succeed in bringing a little magic on a day to day basis into our classrooms.
That magic is part of our Shrewsbury High DNA and I am so enjoying envisioning the possibilities of our new site on Town Walls and the adventures to come. To consider how we can add to that magic, how we might extend, enrich and re imagine our bespoke and engaging creative curriculum, the spaces in which it is delivered and the chance to further broaden our horizons with topics delivered through faculties rather than subjects, gives us so many opportunities for our children to make real-life connections and explore ideas.
A mysterious package arrives which unlocks the beginning of a creative curriculum topic, a group of nine-year-old pupils investigate gas expansion with latex gloves and bicarbonate of soda, the theory of colour is explored and translated into 20 different works of art; we pride ourselves on excellence in teaching and learning and we are presented with a wonderful opportunity to enrich this special offer even further. And as the project gets underway, we have the chance ahead of us of to really build and focus on creating a sense of awe and wonder for our pupils and that all begins with the rich, fit for purpose, stimulating environment that we are creating.
It is a common idea that children’s brains are like sponges, absorbing everything going on around them, from the relationships they have with others to the environment that surrounds them. Every little thing they soak in builds connections in their brain and this idea of connections and being connected is what is stimulating our plans. After all, the stronger a child’s brain connections grow, the easier time they will have thinking, talking, interacting, learning and believing in themselves. Our youngest children in particular absorb huge amounts of information from their environment effortlessly, continuously and indiscriminately and it is the environment that will surround us in our new Junior School that will become our real curriculum.
Designing and planning our new classrooms, from selecting the most appropriate ergonomically designed furniture to considering how the layout can have the greatest impact on learning is well underway and it has afforded us the opportunity to really consider this idea of possibility. The possibility of weaving integrated technology seamlessly through each classroom; video walls, iPads assigned to each individual, green screens, robotics and augmented reality. The possibility of being able to consider and ensure that moving forward we are sustainable and environmentally friendly whether that be through purposeful neutral-natural furniture, bringing the outdoors indoors to reaffirm children’s connections with nature whilst considering light and air quality. The possibility of developing quirky outdoor and indoor spaces that our pupils can play in, imagine in, lose themselves in and make their own. The magic we are aiming to create in our Junior School environment will intrinsically create a sense of awe and wonder, stimulate initiative, confidence, interaction and perseverance whilst providing opportunities for imaginations to run wild as children engage with interest and develop their own curiosities.
It is common knowledge that universities today are more interested in creative thinking, in experimentation and improvisation and this is what we will be able to create. In our purposeful, creative classrooms, our children will quickly feel at home and grasp daily possibilities for learning and discovery. We are endeavouring to create a clear sense of order and aesthetic harmony within the environment as a whole and importantly, this extends outside of the classrooms and buildings. The outdoor spaces we gain, from the first steps through the gate alongside the river and Quarry, through the enclosed enchanted forest, along passed the walled garden and hidden orchard and through the cobbled stone arch onto the Junior School lawns adjacent to Hector’s magical garden will fill our children with warmth and feelings of excitement.
These new facilities, along with fully modernised, fit for purpose learning hubs and the technology needed to excel in today’s global world, can only strengthen our community, giving our children, as they move to the new Junior School, meaningful, high quality experiences, opportunities to create and make connections and love learning even more.
To end where I began and in the words of Frances Hodgson Burnett, ‘If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden’, and we are so excited to be in the process of planting the seeds and establishing the optimum conditions for growth and flourishment now that we have a greater sense of possibility.
Head of Prep