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I’d say the theme of the Pre-Prep Summer term is a mix of transitions and celebration. During this final term of the academic calendar, we work with the children to prepare them for the year ahead. At the same time, there is a real sense of excitement and joy as we celebrate the children’s growth and achievements. The process prepares children for the next stage of their educational journey: when you reflect on the year and celebrate what you’ve achieved it gives you an awareness that you’re ready for that next step. It’s a very poignant moment of the year.

Our term began with a new collaboration between the Pre-Prep and the nearby Lauderdale House called Down to Earth. Taking inspiration from the residing flora and fauna, and Lauderdale’s current exhibition ‘London Trees’, Y2 pupils will work over a number of weeks to create their own botanic-inspired paintings and 3D sculptures, ready for a public display during half term.

We’ll be wrapping up our partnership with Hammerson House this term, a new project launched in September. During Michaelmas, Reception pupils worked on a project in school exploring community values, including care of the elderly. This developed through the year to include weekly visits with a local care home, building relationships across the generations and engaging in music and drama activities. It’s been a gorgeous project and something we’ll return to again next year.

Connecting with our local community is core to the heart and ethos of the Pre-Prep. From the popular parent and child singing classes at a local library led by our music teacher, to the kind support of our parents who visit nearby state schools to read with their children, these partnership projects widen our community connections and bring mutual benefit.

Many Highgate teachers work with colleagues from our partnership schools to undertake extensive research projects and develop their knowledge in certain areas (including but not limited to maths, diversity and early literacy) and share best practice with each other. Our drama teacher spends half a day a week at a nearby school to share her specialist skills through live teaching sessions, culminating in an end of topic production. Whilst many of these projects press on unseen, they are critical to our school values and are integral to developing our own skills and pedagogy as teachers.

Throughout the summer term, we do a lot of work with our Y2s who are moving on from the Pre-Prep. Some of it takes place in the class, having discussions and preparing Q&As. Teachers from the Junior School come down to visit and talk to the children, and in return, Pre-Prep pupils are invited for tours of the Junior School and to meet with the Head of Year and explore the new environment. They take part in a lovely letter writing project with the Y3s where they can ask questions and receive first hand advice from Junior School pupils. For some children who may need additional support, we do extra transition work, through one-to-one tours or chats with the new class teacher.

The summer term is also a real time of excitement and celebration. Y2s have a week of events to mark their time at the Pre-Prep with lots of fun activities and an end of year assembly for the parents. One of my favourite moments is their big end of year production. It is often a moment that really puts into perspective how far they’ve come since Reception. One lovely example of this that resonates with me is from about six years ago. A pupil, who had been extremely shy and timid when he joined, performed alongside his peers and stole the show with a beautiful solo in the end of year show. What really resonated in that moment was what an incredible journey he had gone on during his time at the Pre-Prep. A moment of great pride for himself, his parents and us as a school. Even now, when I bump into his parents, I love to hear about how he’s flourishing in Chamber Choir, as well as lots of other singing pursuits.

We probably see the most growth of any part in the school in the Pre-Prep. During the period September to July, you see a huge amount of progress, academically, but also around their social-emotional developments. The changes are incredible to see.

Gideon Zucker is Deputy Principal Pastoral of the Pre-Prep About the author
Gideon Zucker, Deputy Principal Pre-Prep
Gideon's first teaching role was in a small state school in Mill Hill, moving to Haberdashers’ Boys’ School before joining Highgate seven years ago. He has been Deputy Principal (Pastoral) for the last three years. Outside of work, he spends most of his time just trying to keep up with his 3-year-old daughter!