We catch up with the head of Pre-Prep, Heidi Pedlar, at the school near Lymington
Tell us a bit about the school
Walhampton is an independent day and boarding school for boys and girls aged two to 13. We’re lucky enough that the school lies in ancient woodland on the southern edge of the New Forest, set within 100 acres of lawns, lakes and woodland. The location is truly remarkable. The Pre-Prep department is only a short walk from the Prep school. Parents find a happy, warm place where pupils develop the building blocks for a lifelong love of learning.
What do you see as the main strengths of the school?
Engaging the individual sits at the heart of teaching and learning throughout Walhampton, however, our location and facilities allow for a curriculum which stretches beyond the four walls of a classroom. Lessons are often taught outdoors, in the school’s kitchen garden or surrounding woodland, helping to bring academic subjects to life. In how many schools would you find the Battle of Trafalgar staged on a lake, or the Battle of Hastings re-enacted with children in armour on horses? There is a distinct Swallows and Amazons spirit that burns brightly at Walhampton. I am a great advocate of combining the academic environment of the classroom with the wonder of the outdoors. Alongside development and learning, there is a strong emphasis on character. Every Walhampton pupil is encouraged to develop a depth of character so when they leave, they do so as confident, compassionate and independent young people.
In the Early Years, the school has a ‘learning through play’ approach. Each year group is provided with a wealth of experiences in and out of the classrooms. Timetables include the expert teaching of letters, sounds and basic numeracy that every parent expects. We also make visits to Walhampton’s Forest School, the gym, cookery kitchen, music rooms and library. Pre-Prep is hands-on and organised to help each child progress. New activities are introduced to them, including one-to-one reading and daily phonics lessons. Interactive whiteboards and iPads help to provide a more immersive learning experience. Children spend one morning every week at the Forest School, cooking over the fire, and learning about bugs and team work. The children also delight in taking responsibility for Reception’s vegetable garden and caring for our chickens.
Do you offer extra-curricular programmes for little ones?
Each child is inspired to have a love of nature and the outdoors. Extra activities for our Pre-Prep pupils can include horse riding, exploring along the shores of the lakes, pottery, art and cooking classes, and Rugby Tots.
How do you see Walhampton progressing in the future?
As a school we are constantly striving to make further improvements. Plans are being considered for more classrooms, and extra activity centres based around the arts to complement the sports facilities and riding centre are on the agenda. Walhampton is striving to be the best school of its type and is committed to allowing children to remain children for as long as possible while here.