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, 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 central part in the lives of boys at St John’s and the school resonates daily to the sound of singing and playing from the many choirs and ensembles.
“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 begin recorder tuition in Year 2 and many boys start to learn an additional musical instrument in Year 3. All are able to read music by the end of their time at St John’s. Specialist individual tuition is offered in a wide range of instruments and boys have the chance to try out anything from trombone to tabla. Aural and theory classes are also offered for boys preparing for Associated Board Grade exams.
For those boys with the ability and dedication, a rich musical experience unfolds as they move up the school. There are opportunities to play in numerous ensembles and the orchestra, and to make music together in the various choirs.
There are regular opportunities for boys to perform at concerts, services and at the annual Arts Evening. Each year we take a group to the Merchant Taylors’ livery hall in the City of London for a concert with Merchant Taylors’ School, and boys regularly use their musical skills to entertain residents of several local care homes and an RNIB school for blind children.
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 5-7 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 performing skills before working towards a play which is put on at Easter.
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, and also 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, Mr Brown, 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.
“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, Prize Giving and Sports day.