Prep School (for 5-11 years)
In Atelier 21s Prep School, for pupils aged 5-11 years, we want our children to have lots of fun at school! As well as plenty of time to play and learn the things they choose to, we have sessions everyday to practice our reading and writing, maths, P.E, swimming, music, art, sculpture, animation, self-directed learning (SDL) and lots more. During the other times of the day, the children use the Atelier to make and create and be involved in class projects, as part of the whole school ‘Big Studies’ cross-curricular projects that run across the school.
The school environment
Our beautiful building offers many inspirational environments for our younger children to learn in. From our Reception garden, school garden and other areas within the class rooms and school such as the media lab, performance studio, children’s kitchen and piazza. This gives the children the opportunity to explore and research the things that they most interested in developing life-long skills along the way. We love to hear the children’s ideas, they can share their thoughts about different parts of the day, including voting for what we might have for snack and giving their views on lunch each day. They will also be invited to create the class agreements with their teachers and classmates. These will be the rules for how we behave in school so that everyone feels safe and respected. There is also the opportunity to become a school Ambassador and run/take part in real life business meetings every Friday morning – accompanied by hot chocolate and croissants!
Mastering new skills
Mastering new skills is encouraged but we understand that sometimes this can be tricky. We have many of ways to help our pupils work through challenges and we think that mistakes are an important part of the learning process. Our small classes enables our teachers to be more available to support the children in overcoming difficult situations, help them to reflect on what they have learnt and share their findings with the teacher and others.
Experiential learning is embedded in Atelier 21s DNA as the UKs first future school to incorporate the Reggio Emilia, enquiry-based educational philosophy, for pupils throughout primary and secondary. Atelier 21 aims to make learning more joyful, relevant and meaningful for children of all ages.
For example, as part of their Wild Friday outdoor learning our Reception children took part in a ‘Fascinating Fungi’ project which developed their understanding of many different subjects during an investigation into the power of mushrooms. They discovered that mushrooms can communicate through microscopic networks of fungus via mycelium and mycorrhizal networks, can make different sounds, fight cancer, combat depression and save the environment. They learned a wide range of skills in communicating their scientific findings to other pupils and parents through different ‘languages of expression’ – leaflets, invites, art, video, animation, photography and much more… The children now know far more about mushrooms than most adults!
Upper Prep school
As the children move up the school, they are encouraged to learn to challenge themselves and take more control of their learning experience at school. We want their days to be filled with challenge and laughter and for them to truly enjoy learning about the things that really interest them (and some stuff that they might not as much!) Children experience being part of class projects in Big Studies, take part in mastery workshops in subjects such as art, design technology, science, maths and English, have the opportunity to join work in the School Business – our Tuck Shop, and get involved in an array of sports from indoor climbing, swimming, team sports and lots more. On Fridays we always learn outdoors for as long as possible – this will involve learning in both Broadfield and Tilgate Park, forest school days, beach school and trips to local places of interest to explore our natural world.
Immersive learning experiences
To further spark the children’s interest in different subjects and a greater understanding of them, once a term we collapse the timetable to enable everyone to develop a deeper level of learning in a particular area of study and experience true flow.
This gives pupils the opportunity to discover the subject by working collaboratively together in teams to explore different activities and provocations. For example, during our ‘Space’ themed immersion week, the pupils practiced many of the essential technical and teamwork skills required to be a successful scientist. They made all kinds of different rockets (rocket mice, straw rockets, balloon rockets, water rockets and fizzy rockets) and designed spacesuits which Class 1 then showcased on their own fashion runway! The week ended with an impressive egg drop from the top of the Piazza simulating a returning space capsule from orbit. We want our children to develop all the important skills they need to set them up for a happy and fulfilled future at Atelier 21, and developing and sharing our ideas in STEAM is also a great way to learn to do this.
Other immersions have included an IT week where the children learned key programming and practical skills and took part in ‘Robot Wars.’ In DT week the whole school were challenged to work together collaboratively to create a wooden outdoor classroom, a shelter, table and chairs, waterproof storage and a rain collection system for hand washing.
Every summer we also showcase a whole school performance in real theatre environments at The Hawth Theatre and The Capitol. In recent years productions have included ‘Seussical the Musical JR’, ‘Matilda’ and the ‘School of Rock.’
The whole immersive learning experience incorporates plenty of time for exploring and experiencing, connecting and creating and sharing and reflecting following the founder of Reggio Emilia, Loris Malaguzzi’s belief that learning should be inviting, exciting and thought provoking – ‘Nothing without joy’ The excitement and enriching experience of these types of projects is unforgettable.