Moor Park is an independent boarding and day school for boys and girls aged 3 months to 13 years. Set in 85 acres of beautiful countryside on the Shropshire/Herefordshire border, it is a school where the individual really matters
About the school
Renowned as a happy school, Moor Park is a school where the individual child really matters. The children not only achieve success academically but also in sport, music, art and drama. Every year, Year 8 win scholarships and awards, and the school prides itself on its ability to get every child to the senior school of their choice. The children have lots of freedom with 85 acres to play in. Facilities include a floodlit Astro turf, sports hall, tennis & netball courts, large playing fields, Assault course, Art block, DT block, swimming pool. All the children will take part in at least one school production a year, and in addition will participate in class assemblies, music concerts and poetry speaking.
The world of work was changing swiftly before this pandemic and I suspect that the pace of this change has only increased since March. Now, more than ever, it is important for organisations to encourage creativity.
2nd October 2020 — We have all needed to adjust quickly in recent months but one interesting consequence of the pandemic has been to throw a magnifying glass over the relative flexibility of various organisations. Those who have managed to adapt quickly whilst ensuring a shared understanding of the mission amongst staff have coped well and this may be particularly true in schools where the efforts of all school staff have an enormous effect on the outcomes for children. Staff rooms with a shared sense of purpose, a focus on the needs of individual children and a sense of pride in what they do have fared well and the results of this are clear to see: outstanding provision during lockdown, a continued focus on the health and well-being of individual children and a can-do attitude to problem solving has led to outstanding outcomes for children during what was, very sadly, a difficult time for many.
Having reviewed our entire curriculum and teaching methods two years ago, Moor Park deliberately encourages children to think in very particular ways: critical thought, curiosity, confidence, independence and resilience are all developed from Tick Tock nursery to Year 8 but the mindset of creativity has been particularly important to us in recent times. All our staff have reviewed their entire scheme of work to ensure that creative thinking is actively encouraged alongside our other Moor Park Mindsets; however, this process has also encouraged the adults in school to be creative when finding solutions to problems. As a result, the full timetable of lessons and extra-curricular activities has been possible with a creative use of technology making daily Chapel services and assemblies for all children a reality as one example. Staff are determined to plan events as varied as Carol Services, Halloween Fright Nights and parents’ evenings whilst adhering strictly to the latest Covid guidelines so that the children do not miss out and everyone is kept safe. This creativity and willingness to go the extra mile for the children is a litmus test for any school and I could not be more proud of the work that our Moor Park staff do for the children here.
The numbers of local children at the school have risen this year and I am determined to increase access to our brand of education to the widest possible variety of families. Please do contact email@example.com if you would like to discuss this further. This is a kind, inclusive but Excellent (Inspection 2019) school and it is the creativity and dedication of our staff that have ensured that Moor Park children have continued to thrive during this difficult period.
The world of work was changing swiftly before this pandemic and I suspect that the pace of this change has only increased since March. Now, more than ever, it is important for organisations to encourage creativity and I suspect those who thrive will often be those in whose culture this mindset is firmly embedded.
Charlie Minogue, Headmaster of Moor Park, Shropshire.
Taking the plunge… timing the move to independent education
The decision to take the state or independent route is one that many parents are wrestling with currently. Charlie Minogue, Headmaster of Moor Park states why you should invest in your child's education in their early years.
22nd September 2020 — I suspect that, for many, the last few months have brought what matters in our lives into sharp relief. Friends and family will have been at the top of most people’s lists and, as always, education and schools have played such an important part in helping our young people to stay happy and healthy. With an increased focus on the importance of education at the moment, perhaps it is not surprising that parents are considering all of their options for their children’s schooling and the decision to take the state or independent route is one that many parents are wrestling with.
Here at Moor Park, we can point to plenty of evidence that our children continued to make progress at a similar rate during lockdown and did not suffer unduly from the experience because of the live teaching they were given and the 1:1, regular, pastoral care that they received.
In more normal times, we can also point to plenty of evidence that we take children of all abilities and enable them to punch well above their weight academically and/or perhaps in a sporting, musical or artistic sense. Most importantly, they leave with a sense of self and their place in the wider world that enables them to fit in anywhere. They are kind, hardworking and know right from wrong – surely what everyone wants for their child. Add to this the thinking skills that we quite deliberately encourage through our Mindsets programme and you have a process that enables children to take their place with no arrogance but plenty of confidence in a fast changing world.
In building a house, you start with the foundations and there is plenty of research suggesting that children’s attitudes and basic personal make up is largely set in the primary age group. My firm belief is that investing in children’s education whilst they are young enables them to take on any challenge in any environment when they are older but the reverse is also true: forming bad habits of mind early affects their ability to make the most of their opportunities later on in their education.
I would urge parents to bear all of this in mind when making decisions: your children are your most precious resource and they only get one chance at an education – make sure that the those formative first few years lay the foundations for what lies ahead, whatever that may be.
MOOR PARK SCHOOL given the top grades in latest inspection report
MOOR PARK SCHOOL given the top grades in latest inspection report and deemed to be EXCELLENT IN ALL AREAS.
5th July 2019 — The school was inspected over three days in June by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI), a Government regulated body, equivalent to OFSTED, who judge the quality of independent schools. The result was an improvement even on the previous very positive report from the school’s inspection in 2011.
Headmaster, Charlie Minogue, was delighted with the findings in what he describes as a team effort throughout the school. ‘This report highlights both the historical strengths of Moor Park together with the improvements to the school made over the last few years, made possible due to the excellent working relationships between staff, pupils and parents. It is well-deserved recognition of the hard work contributed by everyone.’
Moor Park Educational Quality Inspection
The Educational Quality inspection reports on the quality of outcomes for children in two key areas:
1. The achievement of the pupils, including their academic development, and
2. The personal development of the pupils
Moor Park was judged to be EXCELLENT in all areas, the highest rating available.
Key findings given were:
1. The quality of the pupils’ academic and other achievements is EXCELLENT.
Excerpts from the Moor Park inspection report:
• ‘The pupils are typically articulate and extremely confident when speaking to others…they do not fear speaking in public and do so exceptionally well.’
• ‘The pupils’ attitudes to learning are excellent: they want to succeed in all they do.’
• ‘Listening comes easily to the pupils: they want to learn, not just from their teachers but from each other; and in assemblies the stillness of their concentration as they listen to members of staff or other pupils is palpable.’
• ‘The excellent knowledge, skills and understanding across the curriculum of pupils of all needs and abilities underpins their considerable achievements.’
• ‘Excellent examples of higher order study skills were seen.’
• ‘The pupils, including those with special educational needs… make good and often excellent progress in their learning. …Leaders’ and governors’ focus upon individual pupils and the dedication of the teaching staff have contributed greatly to this success.’
• ‘The pupils enjoy great success in academic subjects and in art, design, drama, music and sport.’
2. The quality of the pupils’ personal development is EXCELLENT.
Excerpts from the Moor Park inspection report:
• ‘Pupils display high levels of resilience, self-discipline, independence and self-confidence…The School’s recent initiative of the Mindset programme, promoted by leadership and governors, is successful in developing such qualities as well as other more intellectual ones…from the EYFS onwards…’
• ‘The moral awareness of the pupils, underpinned by the school’s Catholic ethos, is extremely well-developed.’
• ‘Behaviour throughout the school was observed to be exemplary and demonstrated most effectively the leadership’s commitment to kindness in the life of the school.’
• ‘The social development of the pupils is excellent, with boarding playing a central role in this development.’
Under Twos Educational Quality Inspection
Moor Park’s Tick Tock nursery for the under two-year-olds was judged to be OUTSTANDING in all areas, the highest rating available under the OFSTED levels used for this age group.
This is the 4th time in a row that the setting has been graded in this way and the first since its move to new and expanded facilities which opened in September 2017.
Key findings given were:
• The overall effectiveness of the early years provision is outstanding.
• The effectiveness of leadership and management is outstanding.
• The quality of teaching, learning and assessment is outstanding.
• The personal development, behavior and welfare of children are outstanding.
• Outcomes for all children are outstanding.
Excerpts from the Moor Park EYFS inspection report:
• ‘The setting provides exceptional care to ensure that all children’s needs are met.’
• ‘Leaders have an ambitious vision…to improve the outcomes for the children.’
• ‘Dedicated staff utilise every opportunity to interact with children and further their progress.’
• ‘Children feel extremely safe, happy and secure owing to the strength of the relationships they have developed with staff.’
• ‘Children meet or exceed the expected level of development for their age.’
As a result of the compliance part of the inspection, Moor Park was also judged to have met all requirements of all regulations.
The full report is available on the Moor Park website https://www.moorpark.org.uk/about-us/independent-schools-inspectorate-report/.
More detail about the School and the report
Moor Park’s inspection report contains the best judgments of any independent school in the immediate area (see map). The inspection confirms Moor Park’s ability to get the best out of every child, regardless of their ability, and specifically mentions the school’s new innovative approach to teaching, the Moor Park Mindsets, as being central to its success at encouraging higher order thinking skills in all children. Headmaster, Charlie Minogue, says ‘we are keen to give children an advantage in a rapidly changing, A.I. dominated, world where the right thinking skills are likely to be as important as knowledge. The entire curriculum and our teaching methods have been evaluated from Tick Tock Nursery to Year 8 to ensure that Moor Park children are deliberately encouraged to think in carefully selected ways. Critical thinking, curiosity, creativity, confidence, independence and resilience are all part of a Moor Park education at all level.’
Moor Park routinely sends children to complete their secondary education at a range of school including Shrewsbury School, Malvern College, Cheltenham College, Hereford Cathedral School and other high profile schools further afield such as Winchester, Radley, Eton, Harrow, Uppingham and Oundle, with a high percentage of students obtaining scholarships. In the last three years a total of 81 children have won a total of 68 awards; a remarkable record for a non-selective school.
For further information or comment, please contact
Charlie Minogue, Headmaster T: 01584 812 342 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
The role of prep school has often been to enable pupils to move to senior school. Thinking about the world the children would be entering,we thought what our children now and in the future would need to build themselves into achievers in that world.
17th January 2019 — Even the greatest teachers have heard this many times: here at Moor Park we are increasingly focused on how we help the children deal with it for themselves. Helping our pupils learn how to learn is now at the centre of our teaching.
For example, a science teacher recently wrote to me, saying: "I was thrilled when some Y8 children designed their own (safe) test for a gas that was being given off in an experiment. They didn’t just wait to be told what it was or ask me, they wanted to find out for themselves; an example of how we are already being successful at developing this kind of independent and curious thinking. "
In May 2016, Charlie Minogue, our Headmaster, sent me on a course in London. Nothing so unusual about that, you might think, except this was a course that has led to a complete revisioning of our school’s approach to teaching and learning. Never in my professional life has the 0550 from Leominster had so much significance…
The course was called Independent Minds and was centred around things variously called mindsets or learning habits. These are habits of thought and approach that schools have been making the centrepiece of their teaching and learning. They are inspired by the work of Carol Dweck, psychologist, whose work on growth mindset has inspired many educationalists to revisit what it is that enables students to achieve highly.
Several schools presented their existing programmes. In each case, the common denominator was that the school had chosen some habits of thought or approach that they believed their pupils needed to engage as part of their everyday learning. These had become part of the whole school's life and were being used by all members of the school community to help boost achievement.
It set us at Moor Park thinking. Up until now, the role of a prep school has often been simply to enable pupils to move to the senior school of their choice; that, or the school has had a particular, powerful ethic of its own that it has wanted to spread. When we thought about the world the children would be entering - a deeply uncertain world, one marked by rapid and constant technologocial change; one marked by social change; one in which the political and cultural landscape would likely be radically different from today (Brexit has, of course, shadowed Moor Park's development of the Mindsets) - we thought what our children now and in the future would need to build themselves into achievers in that world.
The first thing we did was study what kinds of skills we saw being necessary in this future world. We saw these as being dominated by flexibility, rapid adjustment to disappointment and change and the ability to think logically and creatively.
We distilled these concepts into twenty nouns that we put out for all staff members at Moor Park to consider: if you had to choose six of these for the children to develop over the course of their school lives, which would they be? I collated the results and presented the data to the SMT. This led to six concepts: creativity, critical thought, independence, resilience, curiosity and confidence.
Bear in mind that the consultation meant that this was not just what staff felt about the future, but it was their combining of their knowledge of our children, our demographic and their thoughts about the future. It was also important for all staff to be involved because kitchen staff, maintenance staff, nursery staff and games coaches all see different sides of the children.
At this stage we were careful to work as a whole school. The programme was always intended to include our nursery and Pre-Prep school. Nursery children (and in fact children up to Y2) have some cuddly toys to help them visualise the six Mindsets. In the Nursery, children have used the 'independent iguana' to show that they are happy exploring their new surroundings or have used the confident camel when they have been participating in activities they have found challenging.
The mindsets, it was foreseen, would each present their own issues. Developing resilience, for example, involves failure: by definition, it cannot be easy to learn. We had to discuss how we could always be positive in setting children challenges in academic and social life and how we could enable children to fail safely. An interesting example of this from earlier this term is a child in nursery who was struggling to blow bubbles; using the Resilient Rabbit toy to motivate her, she kept going until she could do it. I have seen children in Year Six become inspired by seeing someone else trying hard at something they found difficult and wanting to do the same: all because the children now know that resilience is a prised quality, not a sign of weakness or incompetence.
Implementation of the Mindsets began in earnest in the autumn of this academic year. We have encouraged teaching activities with Mindsets at the forefront of learning objectives; we praise and recognise children's use of the Mindsets and we discuss them in assemblies. We have Mindset Champions and displays in classrooms that show how the Mindsets are being used by the children. This applies all the way across the school. I have seen a child in Y8 applying resilience - knowingly and deliberately - to try to work quickly enough in exam conditions. Instead of feeling as if time is something she struggles with, she has made it part of her working skills, just like long division in maths or verb endings in French.
In some ways, using and applying the mindsets is a matter of sharpening what we already do. For example, in science, the teacher gave the class some climate change data recently which was deliberately rather inconclusive to get them to be independent (to think against the norm) and think critically about what was being presented. This sort of activity has been a staple of effective, challenging teaching for decades: now, we find we plan more of these to help the children learn to use the mindsets.
It is not just lessons in which we promote the use of the mindsets. In the morning, the children from Y6 to Y8 register with their tutors. This is also a good time for discussion . As one tutor told me, '"We used critical thinking, curiosity and creativity the other day in tutor period to discuss open questions from the children: why is grass green, why do people in the north of England tend to favour Brexit and why is Rudolf’s nose red?"
Above all, motivating all of this, was the desire to equip children with the methods to help them succeed. With these skills we hope the children who come through our school will be able to meet the challenges they face and will have the resouces to deal with those. Putting Mindsets at the heart of our teaching and learning is nothing less than saying to the children: "We want you to succeed, long after you have left us. We want you to be happy and fulfilled in whatever you do and wherever you go." I cannot think of a better motivation for a school than that.