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THE KEY TO LESS STRESS School testing is tainting the golden years of childhood; exam stress is more prevalent than ever and is contributing to the mental health epidemic that threatens children from an increasingly young age. One north London school is addressing parents’ biggest worry for 2019* the subject to the curriculum, NBH Pre-Prep gained a Bronze Award for its outstanding commitment to P4C. As well as facilitating pupils’ ability to recognise and talk about big ideas, philosophy enables them to better articulate themselves; The Education Endowment Foundation stated that a year of philosophy results in two-month’s additional progress in Reading and Maths. “School pets also add enormous value to our community,” says Christine. “At NBH Pre-Prep


rom as young as four, children are sitting rigorous entry exams for private schools, while SATs testing looms at the end of Key Stage 1 in the state sector. Eager to support their children through the challenge, more and more parents are hiring tutors for their sons and daughters, spending thousands a year in a bid for low stress success. However, north London headteacher Christine McLelland is committed to providing pupils with a safe haven from the stress, avoiding external examinations at her Nursery and Pre-Prep Schools altogether.

Somewhat uniquely for independent schools within the competitive Hampstead marketplace, North Bridge House Nursery and Pre-Prep focus on providing a breadth of study not limited by exam preparation and testing. “We do not prepare children for the 7+ as the process can be very bruising for a child. We have seen confident and competent children crumble under the pressure, which has diminished their interest in learning and knocked their self-esteem. Instead we prepare children very well for the next stage in their learning through a broad and creative curriculum, promoting a deep understanding of the content taught,” explains Christine. The high-achieving schools saw nearly half of Reception children perform in the top four per cent of the country for English and almost half of the Year 2 cohort achieve in the top five per cent for English and Maths in their summer progress tests. To track pupil progress in a stress-free environment, Christine uses a progress test series which determines an age-standardised score for pupils, while they are prepared for natural progression to the Outstanding NBH Prep School without a formal assessment. Academic progress is enhanced at NBH by Philosophy for Children (P4C), a powerful approach to teaching and learning that boosts children’s reasoning, social skills, and overall attainment. Just one year after adding

we have three bantam hens, each named and very much loved by the children. They have been fantastic for the social and emotional development of the children… and perfect for a cuddle too!” The headteacher also transforms the school playground into a petting zoo for her pupils once a year, welcoming a family run farm from Cambridgeshire and an impressive menagerie of educational helpers. From alpacas and ponies to bearded dragons and hedgehogs, the Key Stage 1 children get to touch and hold the animals whilst learning all about the science behind their growth and development. “Happiness is the key to successful learning – particularly in the formative years of education – and we are committed to providing children with an enjoyable learning experience, which both reduces the stress they face and teaches them how to deal with it,” concludes Christine. For more information, call 020 7428 1520 or see * YouGov poll for Barnado’s, December 2018

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Fabric March 2019  

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