Advertorial: Achieving a great education from 3 to 13
As Michael Morpurgo says "The best thing you can leave to children is an education". Few would doubt the wise words of this esteemed author of over 110 books, OBE, Children's Laureate (and former Mount House School parent). So it's worth considering what makes a great primary age learning experience.
Patrick Savage joined Mount House School, Tavistock as headmaster in September 2012 and has overseen a year in which over 50% of Year 8 leavers have been awarded scholarships or awards to some of the finest senior schools in the country including Blundell's, Canford, Millfield, Sherborne, Sherborne Girls, Wellington and Winchester. The awards encompass a broad range of educational success including academic, sport, music and DT. This year's success builds on this Ofsted 'Outstanding' school's exceptional track record of awards to senior schools: over the last five years the school has consistently achieved success rates of 35% and above. The school also continues its longstanding record of achieving a 100% pass rate for Common Entrance and other senior school exams.
What makes an inspirational learning experience?
According to Mr Savage, first and foremost a school must inspire, through developing curiosity, application, confidence, and, not least, enjoyment as the key building blocks to developing a passion for learning. "Essential to this process is a school's ability to recognise the learning style of each child, and then to play to his or her strengths. Some children learn best via the written word, some aurally, others kinaesthetically. Lessons, play, sport and social activities should be designed so that every child can participate and benefit. The children need to know that their teachers care about them, that they are interested in their progress and indeed their future. The focus must always be on the individual," explains Mr Savage.
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School relationships and pupil behaviour
From seven to 13, the children in a good school should be inspired by and be respectful of their teachers, as well as working and playing together, with the older ones showing real responsibility and leadership towards the younger ones: easily detected by the way they interact with each other, every day. A great school will recognise that the measure of success is not just what pupils are inspired to learn – but what they are encouraged to become. This esprit de corps and positive teamwork will be recognised and reinforced by school culture and ethos.
First steps to success
The other area of great differentiation between adequate and great is the crucial importance of the first years of school life (ages three to seven).
Good habits laid down here will pay off longer term. It is generally accepted that most children learn best with as much individual attention in a nurturing environment as possible.
Clearly a happy, caring start where children learn through play and exposure to a range of different experiences and stimuli – and plenty of fresh air! (the Mount House Forest School and School Farm activities are good examples) will pay a crucial part in helping a child to achieve his or her potential in later school years.
Selecting best secondary option
Finally, for many parents, another key indicator of prep school excellence is its ability to help identify your child's potential, and to specify areas of greatest interest and focus to help ensure success in senior school entrance exams (11+ or other). An excellent school should help guide you as to the best secondary school opportunities for your child, based on his or her aptitudes, interests and family considerations.
Perhaps, the best endorsement of a school is the parents' view. As one Mount House parent has said: "The kind of results Mount House delivers year on year are exceptional - enabling pupils to achieve peak performance in a highly enjoyable and supportive environment – combining happiness with rigour."
For further information, phone 01822 612244 or visit the website at www.mounthouse.devon.sch.uk