Hazlegrove is an independent boarding and day preparatory school for 370 boys and girls aged 2–13. The School is set within 200 acres of parkland in Somerset, with direct access to the A303. Excellent facilities include a newly developed flood-lit sports area, indoor swimming pool, sports hall, squash courts, mini golf course, theatre, music school, design and art centre and a mini farm. A purpose-built, self-contained pre-prep and nursery gives pupils the ideal start to school life.
About the school
In today’s rapidly changing and demanding world, it is important that children have a breadth of opportunity to develop their abilities and potential, while enjoying the benefit of a caring, structured and secure environment. We provide this at Hazlegrove. Children are encouraged to seek high standards in academic, creative, sporting and many other areas of School life. At the same time, we are a family school and regard the happiness of the individual child, at whatever level of achievement, as of vital importance to their personal progress. . Pupils can board from age 7 when they join the Prep School. The full programme of evening and weekend activities, together with the large number of boarders staying in at weekends, ensures that there is always plenty to do. Music and drama play a significant role in developing personal confidence with all pupils being involved in a major production every year. Pupils have regular opportunities to perform in informal concerts and to join one or more of the large number of ensembles. Outdoor education is part of the curriculum allowing children to develop the skills to work as part of a team and confidence is built upon by pushing personal boundaries. Our aim is for pupils to leave Hazlegrove with a self-esteem which is intact, prepared to face the unknown challenges which lie ahead. Hazlegrove is a splash of colour in an increasingly grey and conformist world. It is a school that delights in children being children, it encourages individuality, and it values determination, perseverance and passion. The School has retained all that is best from the past, but, at the same time, is ready to respond to contemporary educational initiatives and to explore new technologies. Hazlegrove has a clear vision and an exciting future.
Hazelgrove’s Head of Lower School, Emma Bartlett, reflects on the use of Treasure Groups to help children navigate the challenges of growing up in uncertain times, one route that has seen great success is the setting up of ‘Treasure groups’.
2nd December 2020 — It is easy to be believe that an excellent education is everything we need to succeed in life. However, education alone is not the key to success and happiness.
We all need to believe that we are valued, or we will fall short of reaching our full potential.
Life is full of uncertainties, now more than ever before, and perhaps now is the most important time to prepare our children to deal emotionally with life’s challenges; to instill a greater confidence in their abilities, creating more resilience to enable them to fully engage in their futures.
Observing children is key to supporting them, as a parent and as a teacher. Being able to spot challenges they face, whether frustrations, anxieties or sadness is the first step to supporting a child’s emotional development. Communication between parents and school needs to be strong, consistent, and built on trust.
One route that has seen great success is the setting up of ‘Treasure groups’, which provide emotional support to children struggling to navigate friendships and/or feelings of anxiety or frustration.
The main aim of ‘Treasure groups’ is to share strategies or ‘tools’ to empower the children to respond calmly and positively to situations in which they may find themselves. With the help of a literal ‘Toolbox’ the children explore each week a range of strategies from which they can draw. Creative, collaborative tasks help to combat negative feelings and give a forum to discuss ‘triggers’. These are the incidents that often start a chain of events that can lead to a child becoming distressed or angry. It is a powerful moment when a child realises that they are not on their own in feeling this way.
Over the past few years I have seen the relief on a child’s face when they look around at the other children in our ‘Treasure’ group and realise they are not alone in struggling with emotions that often make their days, separating from parents, sleeping etc., so tough. Knowing that they are not alone allows the child a renewed confidence to share and to be heard. From there, the group can learn and support each other in finding, testing and celebrating times when their ‘tools’ have enabled them to have better days and more positive experiences.
For many children, parents and staff having the correct language and terms that explore and explain feelings is vital. For example, using colours to explain feelings, especially for the younger and less articulate, is very useful. Being understood quickly, offsets ‘triggers’ and incidents of frustration or outbursts of anxiety. The ‘tools’ shared can range from breathing techniques, to looking at how our brain works (fight or flight), looking beyond our problems by focusing on a positive to come. Standing tall and using a Superhero pose, along with more practical support (walking away and outside, water on hands, use of playdough to stretch and tug, kicking leaves etc) to help regain composure and return to a calmer state of mind and in a better place to learn. Role play too, is key to helping break down social/family situations whilst looking at empathy, facial expressions and the importance of body language.
These sessions allow our children to grow in resilience, to learn that ‘They’ve got this!’ To know that it is ok to struggle and to have tough times, and to be able to use their ‘Tools’ to get them back on track. It is a privilege to be on this journey and to know these children so well and to share in the triumphs of playing a solo in a concert or coping better when a game is lost. These skills are for life and I believe that with these skills explored now, the children’s future will be much healthier and happier.
An Apple for the Teacher - creating the New Normal
As we enter the second lockdown, the importance of teachers and early years practitioners is paramount. Their expertise, knowledge and care cannot be replicated, bringing normality to children at a time when ‘the norm’ can feel out of reach for many.
13th November 2020 — Head of Hazlegrove Pre-Prep, Miss Hannah Strugnell writes about the need to promote the new norm for children in a second period of lockdown:
On 10th November 2020, HMCI reported their findings from their autumn visits to education and social care providers which focused on the impact of the first lockdown on children.
Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, described how children’s learning experiences since the first lockdown had fallen into three groups; those who have, and continue to, cope well in the face of restrictions, those who have been hardest hit as a result of the interplay between circumstances and the pandemic and the majority, who were identified as having slipped back in their learning to varying degrees.
The document also described how children in their earliest years of education were hardest hit, with parents needing to continue to work and the lack of interaction with other children. This was evidenced through children’s regression to nappies, forgotten basic skills, loss of early progress in words and number as well as los stamina in reading and writing, physical fitness and increased mental distress.
These findings highlight the importance of school in a child’s life, especially during the Early Years. Schools, including Nurseries, provide children with activities which develop key skills that are the foundation for their future learning. From Nursery, teachers create environments and plan lessons to develop children’s language and communication skills, their social and emotional awareness, stimulate their imagination and challenge their thinking.
Teachers carefully create learning environments in which children feel safe, happy and where they are willing to take risks; environments which are familiar, friendly spaces to be in and where children feel secure in their understanding of rules and the routines.
As children have returned to school and started their new academic year, teachers have played a critical role in ensuring the future success and happiness of children. Teachers and early years practitioners are skillfully equipped to identify gaps in children’s learning and implement measures to support individuals in making accelerated progress. High-quality first teaching is the most important factor in children making this progress; involving experienced and skilled teachers carefully planning differentiated lessons which enable all children in their class to access the learning objective and experience success. This sense of achievement not only spurs children on academically, but boosts their self-esteem and mental well-being too, seeing themselves as successful learners.
Schools also have other means available to them to draw upon to support children through targeted intervention. Small class sizes, guided group work, 1:1 support in class and out and close relationships with external agencies all play a hugely important role in ensuring children continue to thrive, providing personalised learning under the guidance of the teacher.
As we enter the second lockdown, the importance of teachers and early years practitioners is paramount. Their expertise, knowledge and care cannot be replicated, bringing normality to children at a time when ‘the norm’ can feel out of reach for many of us. And for that, we thank them.
School's Stair Challenge raises over £5000 for Children in Need
Over 120 children, their families and some faithful dogs from Hazlegrove Prep School challenged themselves to complete the National Three Peaks Stair Summits Challenge in order to raise money for Children in Need.
12th November 2020 — Over 120 children, their families and some faithful dogs from Hazlegrove Prep School challenged themselves to complete the National Three Peaks Stair Summits Challenge in order to raise money for Children in Need.
Children climbed stairs, ladders and local hills to scale the height of the Three Peaks, which they did as both team and solo attempts all to raise money for BBC Children in Need.
The challenge was in replacement of the School's Children in Need Fete which could not go ahead this year due to the pandemic. A whole range of attempts were made, from hardy solo efforts, aiming for 753 ascents of Hazlegrove’s main staircase in 24 hours, to teams of two, three or four aiming to scale all three ‘peaks’ in three days. A range of competitions ran alongside, to add more fun and motivation, from Best Wildlife Photo to Most Stylish Summiteer.
The teacher who organised the climb, Mrs Mahoney said, 'Many of our pupils are only too well aware of how relatively fortunate they are. Their willingness to sign up and push themselves on behalf of others has been really impressive'.
Money raised so far is in excess of £5,000 and is still climbing.
Local school, Hazlegrove Prep School, has been featured in a new Top 200 listing of independent schools in the UK. Talk Education features the best of British independent education and is made up of the team responsible for the Tatler Schools Guide
12th November 2020 — Local school, Hazlegrove Prep School, has been featured in a new Top 200 listing of independent schools in the UK. Talk Education features the best of British independent education and provides detailed reviews on schools which they have visited for parents who are looking for an independent education for their children.
Talk Education's co-founders, Alice Rose and Lucy Williams, masterminded Tatler's Schools Guide for nine years. They left the magazine in 2018, with their entire team, to start Talk Education: a dynamic, data-driven, digital schools guide; parent advisory service and educational events company, giving parents properly informed guidance on their schools choices.
'Our connection with Hazlegrove developed over our time at Tatler, and our team has much enjoyed watching the school evolve over the years,' says Alice Rose. 'I was lucky enough to visit Hazlegrove myself a few years ago and was very impressed by everything I saw: I was welcomed so warmly, enjoyed a very entertaining lunch with some year 8 pupils, and came away with a strong impression of a school which is really going the extra mile for its pupils.'
Ali Rogers, Head of Admissions at Hazlegrove said, 'We are really proud to be part of Talk Education's Top 200. We are all too aware that it is a very challenging time for parents to be looking at schools for their children and a service which provides such a comprehensive review of the sector is essential'.
A Year 3 teacher at Hazlegrove Prep School was thrilled to receive a beautiful gift from one of her parents; a framed painting which had been inspired by a war poem written by one of her pupils.
11th November 2020 — A Year 3 teacher at Hazlegrove Prep School was thrilled to receive a beautiful gift from one of her parents; a framed painting which had been inspired by a war poem written by one of her pupils.
Matthew R's war poem which his Grandmother, Jenni Gerrard, used as inspiration for a poignant painting of poppies and troops. Jenni started her career as a freelance Graphic Designer and went on to become an Art/Technology/Textile teacher to GCSE and A Level students. She has painted for commissions and also made wire sculptures and has continued with this since retirement.
Jenni said, ‘I was so touched by the poem that Matthew shared with me, he asked if I could do a picture. We talked about what he had learnt about the war at school and I told him about how my parents were involved in the war, his great grandparents, and what it means to always remember. Matthew's poem touched my imagination and emotions’.
Mrs Bartlett said, 'One of the greatest pleasures I have is teaching year 3 pupils how to write poetry.
We love it and the children always blow me away with their grasp of adjectives and similes. The wonderful thing about November is that there is so much about which to write, draw and paint. Fireworks, Autumn leaves and right now being able to write poetry about the pride and gratitude we feel towards those who have fought in wars.
Matthew is someone who loves to write and wrote a stunning ‘Remembrance’ poem last year whilst in Year 3. His poem touched and inspired his very talented Grandma to create this striking picture to help mark this very important time'.
Prep School Opens its Forest to Parents and Toddlers
Hazlegrove Prep School is starting a new group for parents with toddlers in the local area who may have had restricted access to similar groups during lockdown.
10th September 2020 — Hazlegrove Prep School is starting a new group for parents with toddlers in the local area who may have had restricted access to similar groups during lockdown.
Many adults have experienced varying levels of anxiety linked to Coivd-19 and lockdown. The same can also be said for children who have had to navigate these unprecedented times, although often without the language and levels of understanding to fully process why their world has suddenly changed so dramatically.
It is well documented that children try to make sense of the world around them through their play and when this is limited, they may display a range of emotions from being very passive and withdrawn to being angry or upset. The role of an Early Years practitioner involves supporting children in understanding their emotions and those of others, developing their social skills and increasing their breadth of language, in order to communicate effectively.
Head of Pre-Prep, Miss Hannah Strugnell said, ‘ We are very aware that for many parents with young children, the opportunity to meet with other parents during the week is an essential lifeline and one which for many, during lockdown, was simply not available. Also, with Nurseries and Pre-Schools closing during lockdown at a time when children needed emotional and social support the most, many children were not able to interact with others and engage in rich learning opportunities.
On June 1st 2020, we reopened our doors to our youngest children; Nursery, Reception and Year 1, recognising that now, more than ever, children needed to reconnect with each other and experience the normality of school life. We greatly appreciate how fortunate we are in having such spacious and exciting grounds to have safely welcomed these year groups back; reinforcing their sense of belonging and enabling them to be immersed in nature and explore the great outdoors. It is well documented that spending time outdoors is not only physically beneficial but also mentally too. We are thrilled to be able to welcome families to Hazlegrove to continue supporting all children in their holistic development and well-being’.
The session will be run by the Head of Nursery, Katie Ellis, who has lots of outdoor activities planned which will enable children to explore the woods, develop their senses and socialise with others. Afternoons will involve welly walks, scavenger hunts, Forest School and other activities which enable the children to connect with nature and get a little muddy too.
Children visit for a taster day and during this time they have an academic assessment.