I set off on a ‘space walk’ with Mrs Evans and our Year 3 scientists on Wednesday afternoon, knowing with certainly that I would find inspiration to write about creative and inspiring ways to bring learning alive. However, as we ‘travelled’ between Jupiter and Saturn, I was instead inspired to reflect upon the opportunities and challenges on offer to Heywood children as they ‘step up to Prep’.
As we set off from Heywood Prep (the sun) along the High Street, pausing briefly at ‘Mercury’ and ‘Venus’ to consider their size relative to the sun and the Earth, hot-footed it through Corsham Court to learn about the speed of light, I enjoyed listening to the children’s knowledge of our solar system, but also marveled at their enthusiasm about being part of the Prep Department.
Whilst the children chatted away about Science, space boots and satellites, I took the opportunity to ask them all about being in Year 3. They keenly shared their experiences of lots of games kit (and lost games kit!), competitive matches against local prep schools, more specialist teaching in Art, Science, Computer Science, Geography and STEM, moving to different classrooms and having lots of different teachers. These changes give the children opportunities to develop their organisational skills, to work collaboratively and to learn from teachers passionate about their subject.
Somewhere between ‘Jupiter’ and ‘Saturn’ on our tour of the solar system, the children told me all about their work on The Bloodhound in STEM where they are creating their geared vehicle prototypes – researching, collaborating, redesigning and refining and ‘learning not to get cross and give up’ when their initial plans don’t work. They tell me that they are decoding the story of ‘le petit Chaperon rouge’ (Little Red Riding Hood) in French lessons and learning about plate tectonics in Geography. In Art lessons, they have been learning about shade and tone through the medium of ice cream…. memorable teaching at its best, surely?
In my opinion, Year 3 is the year in which we see the greatest shift in the children’s maturity and independence. It is a year of change and these children are already making giant leaps in just four and a half short weeks. As our children ‘step up to Prep’ they experience a whole new world of opportunity, carefully crafted and guided by their Form Tutors, subject specialist teachers and overseen by senior academic and pastoral staff to provide just the right amount of challenge when each individual child is ready.
When our seven-year-olds enter Prep, they are on a new journey. This journey prepares them fully for senior school, so that they move on as happy, confident and able pupils to a school that suits them perfectly. Change doesn’t happen overnight; it is a 4-year journey during which we gradually develop their independence and offer them increasing opportunities to excel. To return to the theme of our ‘space walk’ and the speed of light, the closest solar system is roughly 4 light years away, so it is incredible to think that the light from the closest solar system to our own (Proxima Centauri) will have set off when they started Y3 and reached them roughly as they leave Y6 – incredible. Of course, this is only the beginning of their exciting journey to excellence; the next three years beyond Year 3 will bring even more learning, opportunity and achievement for our pupils.