Woodford Green Prep School Head, Jonathan Wadge, on a WWII lucky escape, 11+ success and being known as The Red School
Could you offer us a potted history of Woodford Green Prep School…
This year marks 90 years since our school was founded by Miss Norah Read. Initially established as a co-educational school of approximately six pupils, it soon grew quickly, enjoying the premium reputation that continues to this day. The school relocated in 1935 from where Hawkey Hall now stands to its current site nearby, where it has remained to this day. It was lucky that we did relocate, as the original site was bombed during WWII.
Today, what does the school offer?
We are a thriving co-educational prep school of more than 380 pupils from 3 to 11 years offering a superb route to equip our children with the skills and knowledge they will draw on throughout their lives. We successfully prepare pupils to go on to a range of outstanding schools at 11+, including City of London, St Paul’s, Bancroft’s, Chigwell and Forest, as well as a range of grammar schools and others further afield. Our provision is such that each week an amazing 200 individual music lessons take place, plus a wide range of sports fixtures and educational visits. Everything we do is geared towards giving children opportunities for personal development. Their personalities and collaborative problem-solving skills will be key in their futures.
Do you like the fact it is known locally as The Red School? What’s the story behind the distinctive uniforms?
Yes, absolutely. Our red blazers go back to the founding days of our school. Recently we have welcomed several Old Reds (alumni) back to visit us. Having attended in the 1940s, they distinctly remember the red blazers and the symbolism of putting on the blazer to be ambassadors for our school values. This rings equally true today.
What do you love most about your job?
I love the creativity of the children’s ideas and the curiosity that motivates them. There is a great team effort from our whole school community and so any opportunity to celebrate their hard work and success is a privilege.
What curriculum do you follow at Woodford Green Prep?
Our curriculum is bespoke to the needs of the children. We adapt quickly to the ever-changing world around them. The curriculum is broad and exciting, with technology and outdoor activities being key. However, as exciting as our curriculum might be, it is the pastoral care and careful nurturing that are the foundation for happy and successful learning.
Can you describe a typical classroom scene?
As the lessons are so varied, it is impossible to label anything as typical. One minute I might walk in on a class researching on their laptops, the next I might see children going round the school on a specially designed treasure trail. What is seen in all classrooms is the children being inspired to take on new challenges that take them out of their comfort zone, yet are brilliantly rewarding.
What were the highlights of the last school year?
We were able to put on a range of special events during the Covid lockdowns, but to see the full range of curriculum events and educational visits return has been very satisfying. In particular, some of our whole school events such as our special Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebration were memorable occasions.
What are you looking forward to ahead of the new academic year?
The first day of term is always so special, with new faces joining us and seeing everyone moving up into their new classes. Whilst schools are full of planned activities and carefully tracked learning, they are essentially about people; so seeing all our pupils, parents and staff together again brings a smile to my face every time.
For more about Woodford Green Prep’s Open Day on Saturday 24 September, 10am-12 noon, call 020 8504 5045 or visit wgprep.co.uk