School is about so much more than academic lessons alone and St John’s provides the widest range of activities allowing each boy to access a fully rounded education and discover interests which he will take on to senior school and beyond.
“My mum and dad chose St John’s because of the facilities, but I think the way we play sport is the most important thing. Everyone tries their best and we all work as a team.”
Year 6 boy
The chance to burn off some energy playing sport should be a feature of every child’s education and it is an important part of life at St John’s. In addition to P.E. lessons given by a specialist teacher from Pre-Prep onwards, there is plenty of room to run, climb and play for boys throughout the school.
From Year 3 on there is a dedicated afternoon of Games where the boys are taught the basic skills of athletics, cricket, hockey, football, rugby and tennis. Sport also appears across the schedule of clubs and activities with after school training and fitness sessions held each week in addition to sports like golf and mountain biking on offer to boys.
Music plays a vital role in the life of the school and boys of all ages engage frequently with a vast range of performance opportunities.
“I have seen a quiet, shy little boy flourish into a confident performer in music, speaking and drama – it has been a real joy.”
Year 7 parent
All boys from the nursery to the end of their time at St John’s receive curriculum music lessons in our specialist music department, with a large majority of boys opting to learn to play a variety of musical instruments. All boys leave St John’s having had the opportunity to learn a musical instrument.
All our musicians regularly enjoy high levels of success in local music festivals and external graded music examinations. Outstanding individuals often receive music scholarships to prestigious independent Senior Schools.
St John’s has an extensive range of extra-curricular musical activities which develop, stretch and challenge the individual abilities of the boys. Numerous concerts are chronicled in The Lamb and the School Magazine. Weekly rehearsals culminate in both internal and external concerts. Recent external performance engagements have included performing for the Lord Mayor’s Show, Young Voices at Wembley Arena and Merchant Taylors’ Hall in the City of London. Boys collaborate with other Prep Schools for an orchestral afternoon at Merchant Taylors’ School and a joint concert with other schools across the Merchant Taylors’ Educational Trust to give an experience of musical life at Senior School.
Dramatic performing is another way to build the confidence of the boys and they give their first performances within weeks of starting school. The Pre-Prep boys read and sing at harvest performances in the autumn term, and each class puts on a Christmas Play for parents and friends.
As boys progress through the school, the opportunities to be involved in full-scale dramatic productions increase. A short play presented by boys in Years 5 and 7 normally forms the second half of the Arts Evening in the autumn term. Junior boys involved in Drama Club spend the first two terms of the year learning performance skills before working towards a play which is performed at the end of the spring term.
The end of each school year features a production from the Senior boys. Alternating between a straight play and a musical, this is an opportunity to take on some challenging dramatic roles. Boys are involved with lighting, backstage and props, costumes and feature in the pit band for the musical ventures. There is the atmosphere of a real theatrical company and this has resulted in consistently high standards in the productions.
The House System
St John’s House System has been a feature of the school since its earliest beginnings. From Year 3 onwards, boys are allocated to either Churchill, Lawrence, Lincoln or Oates and quickly form an allegiance to their house and its colours. A sense of fun and friendly competition is a feature of all house events.
The House System is a chance for boys to interact across the age groups and to mix with different teaching staff most of whom are members of houses. Extra responsibilities for boys are possible, including Year 8 House Prefects who play an important part in the life of the school. Initiatives, such as charitable giving, are often the result of house discussions.
All boys are motivated to gain house points through good work and behaviour. The points accrue individually and certificates are awarded in assemblies when certain milestones are reached. Points are also calculated by house and the house with the greatest number is the proud holder of the Burton Page Cup which is awarded termly.
There are annual House activities including music, art and photography competitions, a Christmas Quiz and a cross country race around the grounds. At the culmination of each school year there is everything to compete for at the junior and senior sports days. A running points tally keeps the crowd on the edge of their seats and big swings and surprises are often experienced before the winning House is crowned that year’s champions.
“The personal development of the pupils is outstanding. Throughout the school they are confident, polite, show respect for each other and for adults, and co-operate extremely well.”
ISI Inspection Report 2016
The School Council
Democracy and Citizenship are concepts that boys learn early on with each class from Years 1-8 voting to elect a representative to send to the School Council. The Council was established in 2009 as an inclusive forum for discussion and decision making and a way of giving the boys a voice in the running of the school.
Members meet monthly under the chairmanship of Deputy Head (Pastoral), Mrs Savage, who insists that conventional committee procedures are followed.
Class representatives take their roles extremely seriously and bring issues or concerns raised by their classes. Members of the School Council have regularly contributed to significant changes at St John’s including the installation of water fountains in the main playground, a review of the homework diary, the introduction of house ties and improvements to safety in the car park.
The Eco Council
All boys are offered the opportunity to take part in a school wide Eco Council, which has been instrumental in achieving the Green Flag award for the School. Boys regularly lead different initiatives such as recycling and switch-off fortnight to encourage all members of the School to be more eco-friendly.
“St John’s dedicated staff and approach to learning has given both our boys a fantastic start - combining academic achievement with the chance to try new experiences.”
Annual calendar fixtures
On top of the regular schedule of events, there are some calendar fixtures that boys and staff look forward to eagerly. The first of these is the St John’s fireworks evening which coincides with bonfire night and the Hindu festival of Diwali.
At the end of the autumn term the whole school gathers in nearby Emmanuel Church in Northwood for the annual carol service which the vicar insists marks the start of Christmas for him each year.
In the summer term the Charity and Fun Days are two wonderful family events organised by the St John’s Association and every school year concludes with Speech Day and Sports day.