The Nicholas Owen Block is our colourful and vibrant Pre-Prep department where every boy matters. The walls in the bright and airy classrooms are covered with the boys’ own work, of which they are all very proud. Each classroom has a full-time teacher and a support teacher, ensuring every boy has one to one time to further their learning every day.
Each day is busy and fun-filled with the boys being taught a wide range of academic subjects, which include weekly drama and music lessons taught by subject specialist teachers. Staff-to-pupil ratios are kept deliberately low to ensure the highest possible quality of provision is offered to our boys at such an important stage in their education.
Religious Education plays a large part in the Nicholas Owen Block: daily prayers are said in the classroom each morning and at lunchtime in the Refectory. The boys take part in weekly assemblies, whether on a religious or topical subject and these are often presented to our parents and grandparents, to great acclaim.
Hear from the Head of Pre-Prep, Mrs Powell-Harper, how it feels to be part of our wonderful SJB community:
Enjoy some impressions from a 'Day in the Life' of Nursery and Pre-Prep:
Our Early Years follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), giving the boys a broad learning journey where reading, writing and number work are taught through hands on and fun activities. The glass roofed outside area is a wonderful place for interactive games and relationship building at this early age. Learning through play is incorporated into daily planning ensuring the boys achieve the highest levels before moving onto the National Curriculum. Boys also enjoy regular access to our wonderful Forest School.
Each Early Years class (Nursery and Reception) is taught by a specialist, qualified teacher and supported by trained Early Years support staff which allows a great deal of small group work: this enables boys of different abilities to work at an appropriately challenging level.
From the beginning at St John’s, we emphasise the importance of literacy and numeracy, but also importantly the need to build each boy’s confidence. There are many ways we begin to support boys in doing this but one way is by teaching them music, drama and swimming through subject specialist teachers. This enables the boys to become comfortable with a small number of additional teachers and to receive the best possible introduction to the wider curriculum.
Boys typically begin to learn a musical instrument at this time and are encouraged to play in regular informal concerts to gain experience and confidence of performing in public
Blandyke (Year 1) and Berchmans (Year 2) boys learn by following the National Curriculum.
Daily Numeracy and Literacy lessons are taught through engaging activities, while much practical work takes place helping the boys to learn about the world around them. For example: fun Victorian teaching methods are used to learn about the past and boys will participate in practical Science experiments, for example to learn about electrical circuits to make a light bulb work.
In Year 2 (Berchmans) as the boys become a little older they are encouraged to become more independent and homework, which is kept to a sensible level, aims to help them consolidate their learning effectively. There continues to be a strong emphasis on literacy and numeracy but the slightly longer day allows us to introduce French as well as more sport and humanities.
Students of the Week are celebrated in assemblies and the boys take great pride in their coloured certificates. We join the rest of the school for Whole School Mass three times every term and have our own age-appropriate liturgies in the school’s beautiful Chapel. Our patronal feast day (St Nicholas Owen) in March is a wonderful day when the boys learn all about the brave and marvellous things St Nicholas Owen achieved in his lifetime and beyond and is celebrated by a special lunch.
All Nicholas Owen boys take part in Physical Education (PE) and Swimming lessons. During PE the boys learn about spatial awareness including; balance, agility, ball skills, dance and gymnastics. In the swimming pool the boys learn water safety and how to float as well as competing against older boys in galas. Rugby and football skills are introduced in Blandyke (Year 1), with football matches taking place against local schools. Berchmans thoroughly enjoy tag rugby, preparing them for contact rugby further up the school. The summer term brings all the boys’ learning together when they compete in the Inter-Animal Sports Day, to see whether the Tigers, Yaks or Emus are the best and cheered on by their parents.
Boys from Reception upwards are offered a wide variety of after-school activities to keep them busy and create well-rounded boys. These range from tennis and football, through to art and Lego, all the way to Spanish and self-defence. An after-school care programme is run on a daily basis from 3.00 pm until 6.00 pm. This helps boys to interact with children from other classes and undertake a variety of fun activities while enjoying their snacks.
After-school care is offered up to 6 p.m. to include a hot ‘tea’. A range of activities will take place including art and craft, construction, physical exercise using our beautiful outdoor learning environment as well as our structured play areas. Parents receive an after-school booking form in their welcome pack.