Over 30 years since its frst school opened in a room above a church hall, a holistic education remains the focus of the Northwood Schools family, emphasised throughout a child’s journey at Broomwood Hall and Northcote Lodge.
Much has changed at the three schools in the group in the years since 1984, but the central ethos of the education of the whole child is still strong. Children are not assessed on entry to reception, but still manage to gain a wide range of prizes and scholarships in different disciplines when they leave – reﬂecting the importance placed on a fully rounded education.
As well as stretching them academically, there is considerable emphasis on music, drama, art and sport, and each child is encouraged and supported to achieve the highest standard they can. Carole Jenkinson, Head of Broomwood Hall, explains: “We look to see if a child has a passion or talent for something, and then give them every chance to develop it.”
This starts from day one. “In the Lower School, we concentrate on getting the foundations right. Education should be an enjoyable experience and we ensure that children are stretched and challenged without them even realising it”. Gently building life skills is also subtly emphasised from the start. “Every child is greeted by a member of the senior staff every morning and is expected to shake hands and make eye contact,” says Jenkinson.
Performing in public is also something that begins at an early age and children regularly perform on the stage and speak in front of an audience, because instilling positive self-esteem is hugely important to the Northwood ethos. In the classroom, teachers give pupils the confidence to try without fear of failure, knowing they don’t have to succeed immediately and that having the time to develop at the pace that is right for the child will reap greater dividends.
All children start together at Broomwood Hall Lower School in Reception, then at the age of eight, in Year 4, the boys move to Northcote Lodge and the girls move on to Broomwood Hall Upper School. At this stage girls and boys mature at different speeds and in different ways, so each school tailors teaching methods to its pupils’ specific learning styles. For the final two years (Years 7 and 8), children at both schools have increasing opportunities to collaborate on activities such as music, sport, debates and some trips and expeditions.
Many children know each other from their pre-prep days or through brothers and sisters, and it’s this family feel that parents adore, and which enables children to thrive. They feel part of a community that cares for everyone, evident in their excellent pastoral care. “A family looks after its different members, cares about what those different members are doing and enjoys spending time together,” explains founding-Principal, Katharine Colquhoun, “The fact that we are family-owned has a big impact of how we feel and how we behave.”
It’s this attention to each child within a caring environment that gives every pupil the opportunity to build their confidence, to have a positive attitude to their education and to believe in themselves. A Northwood Schools’ education is about more than preparing for the next school, it’s about building strong foundations, developing a true sense of self and so preparing for life.