Starting School at Four

Oliver Snowball, Head of Eaton House The Manor Girls' School, on the importance of starting school at four.

On a June day this year, four-year-olds Clara and Isabelle came to an Eaton House The Manor New Girls’ Tea Party with their mummies, who chatted as the girls enjoyed arts and crafts and made bright bead necklaces together.

The teachers, hearing both of the children say that they loved drawing, sat them together. By the time that the cakes and sandwiches had been cleared away, the mothers had arranged a playdate for the girls. They have been best friends ever since.

It is this process of familiarisation and creating a warm and nurturing environment for our youngest pupils that is so important to us here.

Geared for success

Sadly, it can be hard to play catch up if you enter independent education after the age of four, even for the brightest girls.

At Eaton House The Manor Girls School, we start with firm foundations and we build on them very quickly. In the last two years, pupils were awarded 24 scholarships to London day schools and boarding schools. Beyond academics, our girls are happy, balanced, emotionally intelligent, kind and have good manners.

The benefits of staying for the long term

So, what are the exact benefits of spending the full seven years with us?

We feel that developing positive habits and attitudes in the early years of a child’s education is absolutely crucial. If the fundamental building blocks of learning are established in a safe, nurturing environment, children are more likely to fulfill their academic potential and grow into purposeful, well-rounded young adults.

With class sizes of up to 20 and two adults (one teacher and one teaching assistant) with the girls at all times throughout the first three years of their time with us, we ensure our students are incredibly well supported.

Academically, with these ratios, we are able to give each girl significant amounts of one-to-one time and a more bespoke learning process.

Through our single-sex ethos, we put the girls front and centre of all we do, offering a complete range of academic and co-curricular experiences without the pressure of any gender stereotyping.

With the boys’ Pre-Prep and Prep on the same site, opportunities are also regularly provided for the children to come together. As a result, both friendships and positive working relationships are forged.

Recognising age gaps

We understand that a girl’s date of birth can make a difference to how she approaches school life. For this reason, when girls begin with us, we place the older girls in one of our kindergarten classes and the younger ones in another.

With the classes organised by age, the teachers are able to adapt their teaching according to the fine and gross motor skills, the concentration spans and emotional maturity of the girls in their charge.

With every girl allocated into one of our four Houses at their point of entry to the school, the House system not only provides another layer to our pastoral care but also a series of events and competitions.

The Spelling Bee, Poetry Recital and General Knowledge Quiz are just a few of the competitions that sit alongside the termly House sports matches, ensuring girls with different talents are able to compete for various trophies.

Breadth and depth of education

A broad and balanced curriculum lies at the heart of all we do.

In the senior half of the school, Reasoning, Critical Thinking and Latin are also introduced, subjects that not only deepen the girls’ cultural understanding but also develop the creative, analytical and evaluative thinking skills that are increasingly sought after in tertiary education and beyond.

For the girls to receive the best possible tuition, many of these subjects are taught by specialists. This creates a deeper knowledge for the future that is truly invaluable.

This article was first published in Absolutely Education, spring 2019, www.absolutely-education.co.uk