Life at the top of the school

What are the benefits of remaining in the prep school system until Prep 8? Last year I used the analogy of the ‘big fish in the little pond’ and this in many ways still prevails.

After hearing from past students of the successes they achieved during these formative and important years; the plays, roles of responsibility, the higher levels of self-confidence and the sheer fun they had; I once again have been asked to put forward my thoughts.

Personally, I recall my years 7 and 8 at Dean Close Prep to be the most influential of my entire schooling. The feeling of being at the top of an institution and the responsibility and benefits that came with it, remain fondly in my heart and memory, although one is failing faster than the other these days! It was in these important years that sport became more serious and enjoyable, leading to a lifelong love of rugby, cricket and hockey. The opportunity to represent one’s school for a 1st XV or 1st XI should not be underestimated. The opportunities afforded the top years in terms of teaching, academic rigour, trips and socials, (pizza not included) go a long way to developing the self-confidence and self-worth of 11-13 years olds.

I think our Prep 7 and 8 cohort would agree that they are treated more as young adults when they reach the dizzy heights of Room 8 and 11 in the Castle. I recall a prep 8 child commenting to me many years ago and how different teachers taught in these years compared to in Prep 5 and 6. How the teachers seemed to understand that they were becoming teenagers and the staff were accommodating with their needs. Obviously, I replied, ‘get on with your work’ but I was still impressed with their thoughts!  

I still firmly believe that at Hatherop, we nurture well balanced students who leave us with a love of learning and an enviable work ethic. The comments often received by the senior schools, often through the parents, is that of a settled child in year 9 and one who is rarely phased by their new school and the commitments to school life.