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218 The Story of Parliament


A liberating environment that


instils confidence in children Newton Prep school in Battersea mixes academic ambition with an impressive range of extracurricular facilities


have to look to the past,” says Alison Fleming, Head at the Battersea-based preparatory school. “We’re liberal in the very best sense—equipping children with a sense of self, resilience and hopefulness, beyond the obvious need to excel academically.” And, with Battersea being a hub of regeneration and


T


redevelopment, the school is constantly inspired by its locality. On its doorstep is the grand vision of the Battersea Power Station development, and the massive regeneration of Nine Elms, where the new US Embassy is being built, is just down the road. “Tere is a vibrancy about the area and there’s a burgeoning community,” says Fleming. “It’s important that we are a part of that buzz.”


A hive of extracurricular activity Just like its surroundings, Newton Prep—a mixed school for children aged three to 13—bursts with activity inside its walls. Running through the school is a core of academic ambition, but one that is balanced by the extracurricular. “We encourage children to think beyond the curriculum, and they hoover it up,” says Fleming. “Whether it’s piano lessons, judo or archery, children need ways of engaging. It means they’ll enter adolescence feeling they have more to contribute than just academic achievements.” And the school’s extensive resources truly facilitate such


exploration. Boasting an all-weather pitch, a 120-seat recital hall, a music technology suite, recording studio, 300-seat auditorium, three gymnasiums, art studios, dance studios, a library and science labs, children are encouraged to “do” as well as “learn”. Tere is


he Head Teacher of Newton Prep always tells parents that it’s “not a blazers-and-boaters kind of place”. “We don’t


“The kindness and generosity shown by the pupils towards their peers is remarkable”


even a well-loved garden, an oasis of green tucked away at the back of the school site. Here, children are able to practise circus skills, hunt for mini-beasts and conduct scientific experiments. Despite such first-class facilities and the school’s excellent


reputation, children are notable for their lack of arrogance and entitlement. “Te kindness and generosity shown by the pupils towards their peers is remarkable,” says Fleming. “We’re so proud of the engagement between older children and the little ones.” For drama enthusiasts, the annual Oscar Night for Year 4 pupils is a standout event. “Each year the children form into class ‘troupes’ to record black-and-white shorts,” says Fleming. “It’s fabulous; parents dress up, older pupils act as paparazzi, autograph hunters and security guards, and awards are given out. It’s representative of the effort Newton Prep goes to and gives pupils a precious lifelong memory.”


All-year-round events Notable events of 2015 include Science Week with children’s TV presenter Johnny Ball, preparing for the school’s 25th anniversary in 2016 and the Empowering Women in Education Leadership conference in March, held in close partnership with Newton’s state primary neighbours. Speakers included Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, and the Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP, Education Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities. Te school is proud of its parent body. “Tey are interested,


involved and enthusiastic,” says Fleming. Tey are also generous; in 2014, the school’s sponsored walk in aid of the Kids Company charity (pictured opposite, bottom) raised £25,000—the biggest donation the charity has ever received from a single institution. Such enthusiasm is characteristic of Newton Prep. “One of


the great privileges for me here is that, at best, children will take memories away that they’ll keep for the rest of their lives,” says Fleming. “And that’s partly down to the fact that children are, in every sense, able to expand and to be themselves completely.” With no boater or blazer in sight, Newton Prep is a


liberating, engaging, exciting place to grow up and to learn. — www.newtonprepschool.co.uk


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