At the age of seven boys progress into the main school and join the St John’s Junior department. They wear blazers, are placed in houses and receive their house ties. New boys who join us in Year 3 integrate easily with the Pre-Prep boys in bright and welcoming classrooms. At this stage academic development accelerates and the foundation of future success is laid.
“High quality teaching engages and motivates pupils, enabling them to progress rapidly in their learning”
ISI Inspection Report 2016
Years 3 and 4 are taught in the Junior Building where the core subjects are delivered by their class teacher, supported by a teaching assistant. Subject specialists deliver a greater number of lessons, for example Religious Education, French, P.E., Art, Music, Design and Technology, Computing and Games. For many of these lessons pupils benefit from being taught in smaller classes including Mathematics. Boys continue with a swimming lesson each week taught by specialist staff at Merchant Taylors'.
Boys in Year 5 are in three smaller classes and are taught on a secondary school model with specialist teachers for all subjects. They continue with the subjects they have studied hitherto with the addition of Drama and study skills. In Year 6 pupils are divided into three smaller classes and begin the formal study of Latin. At this point they start the build up to transfer exams and their next school.
In Years 7 and 8 pupils continue to be taught in small class groups, with greater focus being placed on each boy’s destination school. The class organisation remains flexible and is based on the particular educational needs of the cohort. This flexibility and the individual subject teachers detailed knowledge of the various entrance requirements helps to maintain the school’s strong tradition of achieving excellent 13+ results. After the transfer examinations Year 8 pupils are provided with a diverse range of educational opportunities through the Post Examination Curriculum.
Beyond the curriculum
School life is definitely not about academic lessons alone and St John’s provides the widest range of activities allowing each boy to develop his skills and pursue his interests.
As boys progress through the school they benefit from an increasingly challenging range of age-appropriate educational outings, activities and residential trips. Roman History and culture are studied in nearby St Albans and there are visits to a study centre in Northumbria, a chateau in Normandy, the Amalfi coast of Italy to study classical civilisation, an outdoor education centre on the North Devon coast and bi-annual ski trips.
These activities culminate in the annual Year 7 ‘night under canvas’ and the teamwork challenge day for the Year 8 boys. Alongside we run an annual Northwood Adventure Lecture to which local schools are invited and the boys experience training in pioneering and gardening.
Boys enjoy increasing levels of responsibility as they progress through the school. All boys vote to elect representatives of their year group to serve on the School Council and the Year 8 boys take on various duties including Head Boy, Deputy Head Boy, House Prefects and Eco Council representatives.
Daily life in the Prep School
The Prep school day starts at 8.25 a.m. with registration at 8.30 a.m. and regular assemblies at 8.40 a.m. Boys’ days are divided into six, with each lesson lasting 50 minutes. Morning lessons are divided by a 20-minute break at 10.50 a.m. and lunch is staggered with servings between 12.40 p.m. and 1.30 p.m.
Lessons restart with afternoon registration at 2.00 p.m. and the formal day ends at 3.50 p.m. for Juniors and 4.00 p.m. for Years 5-8. For many this marks the start of the extensive programme of after-school clubs and activities which end between 5.00 p.m. and 5.30 p.m.
Wraparound care is available from 7.30am in the mornings and until 6.00pm after school.