Art & Design Technology
HEAD OF DEPARTMENT Mr Daniel Roach
Art, Design and Technology presents pupils with opportunities to develop new skills with which they are able to participate in an active and creative way to a rapidly changing world of technology and ideas.
In Art we will learn to use a range of media, gaining confidence in the artistic elements of line, shape, tone, form, colour, texture and pattern. We take a walk in the shoes of artists, past and present, experiencing creative work from ancient times and other cultures, and use our discoveries to make progress with our own artwork.
Projects undertaken include themes such as self-portraiture, still-life drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, computer aided design, block printing, lino cutting, and collage. Activities are further enhanced by visits to galleries and the chance to attend art clubs and workshops and take part in regular exhibitions.
In Design and Technology, pupils will learn to design and construct objects and products, which are both functional and visually stimulating. We will learn to become creative problem solvers and inventors by identifying a range of concepts and practices related engineering, product design and other exciting creative industries.
Our pupils will experience a wide range of tools and processes involving resistant materials whilst in the workshop ranging from traditional wood working and planning on the drawing board, through to complex mechanisms, advanced computer aided design and 3D printing.
Whilst studying ADT pupils will learn to think and be creative and present and explore ideas in new and challenging ways. Fundamentally, pupils
HEAD OF DEPARTMENT Mr Richard Waddington
Many of the cultural assumptions that we share in the western world, and, indeed, in global culture, have their origins in the classical world of the Romans and Greeks. Having a classical education allows our boys to engage with language, history, philosophy, religion, politics and society in a confident, cultured and polished manner. Linguistic studies in Latin and Greek massively enrich the boys’ vocabularies, enable them to think systematically about the structure of language, and to overcome rigorous challenge. Our study of myth explores the identity of the hero, and what makes a monster. Ancient history enables the boys to explore a significant part of Britain’s past, and to learn about key historical figures like the Roman emperors. Classical civilisation compares and contrasts ancient ideas about the family, food, housing, entertainment, politics, education and slavery with our own.
Minimus: Our boys begin studying Latin in Year 3, using the media-acclaimed Minimus course by Barbara Bell. The boys deepen their knowledge of their language and culture through using Latin word games, cartoon format narratives, Greek myths and the historical setting of Vindolanda, near Hadrian’s Wall. The boys learn about Roman Britain in Year 3 History lessons, enriching their understanding of a context in which Latin was spoken. The boys also study the Greeks in Year 4 History lessons.
Cambridge Latin Course: Our Year 5 and Year 6 boys use Book I. Here they meet a real Roman family which lived in Pompeii famously destroyed by the volcano Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79. Our Year 7 and Year 8 boys use Book II and Book III which are set in Roman Britain and Egypt. Our studies are fully supported through the use of the course DVD in the classroom on the interactive whiteboard. Here the boys have access to grammar summaries and expert documentaries. They can also see stories from their books acted out on screen!
Myth: Our Year 5 boys encounter Herakles (Hercules), Jason, Perseus and Theseus. In Year 6, our boys listen to War With Troy (told by expert storytellers Daniel Morden and Hugh Lupton), and examine bravery and fate. Year 7 is focused on the story of Odysseus in Return From Troy. Year 8 consists of an introduction to Ovid’s Metamorphoses.
Ancient History: Working with the History Department, our KS3 boys create a project focused on a key classical figure.
Greek: Boys who have excelled in Latin in KS2 are invited to begin Greek in Year 7. We use our own course which enables the boys to explore making meaning using a different alphabet up to and beyond Common Entrance standard.
Language Design: All boys create their own language in KS3, with its own alphabet, vocabulary and grammar. This is a fantastic creative opportunity in which the boys are encouraged to be both precise and imaginative.
Archaeology: In Year 3, the boys bury two boxes of artefacts in the School grounds, and make predictions about what will happen to their objects. In Year 4, the boys excavate the artefacts and see what changes have been wrought.
UK Visits & Visitors: We have welcomed both Roman and Greek reenactors from Portals to the Past. Authors Barbara Bell and Caroline Lawrence have enthused our boys with their presentations. Daniel Morden and Hugh Morden have wowed our boys with their storytelling. We also visit Verulamium Museum (Year 3 and Year 5), the Museum of London (Year 6) and the British Museum (Year 8).
Visits Abroad: We also regularly travel abroad so that the boys can experience the classical world in its own setting, something which is both memorable and formative. Recently, we have visited Rome, Tivoli and Ostia in 2012 and 2017, and Greece in 2014. We are planning to return to Greece in 2019, and Italy in 2021.
HEAD OF DEPARTMENT Mr Marc Knight
English is a form of communication and a vehicle for thinking. A child’s development in English is an aspect of his/her personal growth. At school, English pervades and transcends the whole curriculum. It pervades it because it is the medium of most spoken and written communication in other subjects. It transcends it because as well as this it is a subject in its own right, with its own subject matter. An English department must be aware both of the need to use the utilitarian language of everyday communication and of the delights of English literature.
There can be no rigid division in teaching English between language and literature but some sort of bargain must be struck with the technical side - formal grammar, correct punctuation, spelling and written presentation. While some minimal communication can take place without proficiency in these, it will at the very least become more efficient as the mastery of them increases, so that the development of technical skills must have a high priority. However, there will be occasions when matter is more significant than manner, and it is vital that progress in expression, whether imaginative or practical, should not be held up by excessive concentration on the mechanics of language.
Enjoyment is a prime essential. There should always be a keen interest in words - their sounds, shapes and meanings - from the point of view of hearing them, reading them, speaking them, writing them and thinking about them. Combinations of words, from phrases to poems to novels, should be enjoyed fully too, from the point of view of their music, their form and structure. Children should learn the possibilities and value of communicating and thinking clearly and in depth. Although most of our children appreciate that learning English is obviously useful, they are less likely to embark on literature unless they enjoy it. The path to literature must be carefully graded so that at no stage do they face something with which they cannot cope - yet at the same time we must provide an adequate intellectual challenge.
Language is essential to our survival as human beings. Language gives us a past beyond our memories and a present beyond our senses. Literature encourages a critical and appreciative view of life in general, partly because itssubject matter comprises the whole of human experience. The learning of English is part of a child’s education in many ways. It contributes to the development of good working habits and all the minutiae of classroom life. Children will learn in their English lessons to describe and qualify experience, to form and justify opinions, to collaborate with others and to face and overcome difficulties; less obvious but just as important, they will develop their emotional and spiritual life.
HEAD OF DEPARTMENT Mr Richard Bowman
Geography is everywhere and everywhere is Geography. Within the context of our global community and the themes and concerns which dominate our lives one could easily argue that no academic subject could possibly be more consistently relevant and evolving. This is certainly something which is being reinforced here at Merchant Taylors’ Prep.
Topic work in Pre-Prep provides every child with a concrete sense of place and a growing understanding of the diverse environment around us. This work then becomes the foundation of the boys' studies in Year 3 and Year 4. Here they begin to extend their mapping skills and start to look more closely at the human and physical processes at work around the world, as well as the ways in which they are related. The subject also reinforces the idea of a global village in which we must show a moral and social understanding of one other. Empathy is a core value of the true geographer
In Year 5 to Year 8 practical work, independent learning and superb resources cover a wide range of geographical themes ranging from the physical (tectonics, coastal processes, rivers) to the human (population growth, industry, development) as well as interactions between the two (natural hazards, pollution). In Year 7 all boys take part in a field study week designed not only to give them experience of fieldwork but also to extend their geographical skills and apply their learning to real situations.
Having studied such a wide variety of themes and topics, as well as the most recent geographical news, the boys are able to leave Merchant Taylors’ Prep with not only an excellent academic preparation for their next step in education, but more importantly a sense of place and a firm understanding of what a rich and restless world we live in, a world which they shall all be responsible for one day. .
HEAD OF DEPARTMENT Mr Tony McConnell
There are so many reasons to study History. Merchant Taylors’ Prep is housed in a site of tremendous historical significance: the Manor of the More belonged to Thomas Wolsey and then Henry VIII, and was home to Queen Katharine of Aragon at the beginning of the English Reformation. We encourage our boys to think about what it means to work and play every day on a site of such special interest: is our understanding improved by recognising the emotional connection that comes with a shared place?
Our curriculum provides our pupils with four things. First, there is a broad chronological history of Britain. Our boys know the stories of our tribes, our kings and queens, our revolutions, our fashion, and our culture. Some subjects, such as the Norman Conquest and the development of youth culture in the twentieth century, are studied in depth. Others are studied in overview, enabling boys to draw conclusions about the way in which the nature of British kingship, or the rights of British citizens, have changed over time.
Second, our boys learn about some of the most significant non-British cultures and events which form part of our historical consciousness. What made the Greeks and Egyptians so special? How on earth did so many people convince themselves for so long that American slavery was acceptable? Why do some conflicts – such as the Crusades and the First World War – stick so long in the mind?
Third, we think about the skills which are necessary to make great historians. By the time they reach Year 7 MTP students are able to conduct independent historical investigations, for example into Indian independence or the great figures of the ancient world. They know how to structure an analytical argument; how to find, assess, and extract meaning from sources; how to quantify and evaluate change.
Finally, we think about the place of historical thought in our culture and our sense of self. What do we remember at an Act of Remembrance? Is it possible to take an objective view of the history of one’s own people? Most of all, our boys are encouraged to think about why there are so many competing representations of the past – representations found in the classroom, in textbooks, on DVDs, in popular culture, on visits to museums, to (other) royal palaces, and to the battlefields of Belgium, but most of all in themselves.
History is taught by class teachers up to Year 4, and then by the Head of Department in Years 5 to 8, as a separate subject.
HEAD OF DEPARTMENT Mrs Babitah Hibbert
Students from Reception to Year 2 have access to laptops or iPads in their own class and timetabled IT lessons. Year 3 to Year 8 have IT lessons which take place in our IT suite. There are many opportunities for children to use the IT facilities to support their learning across the curriculum using tablets or laptops.
A high-quality computing education equips pupils to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world. Computer Science (CS), Information Technology (IT) and Digital Literacy (DL) have deep links with Mathematics and Science and provide insight into both natural and artificial systems. The core of Computer Science is teaching children the principles of information and computation, how digital systems work and how to put this knowledge to use through programming. Using this knowledge and understanding, pupils are equipped to use information technology to create programs, systems and a range of content. Computer Science also ensures that pupils become digitally literate. This enables them to express themselves and develop their ideas through, information and communication technology – at a level suitable for the future workplace and as active participants in a digital world. Cyber security and e-Safety are embedded in the course, allowing discussion and development of safe transferrable practise when using all types of digital technology.
HEAD OF DEPARTMENT Miss Rebecca Levy
We believe that, almost without exception, all pupils can do well in mathematics. Our teaching programme and our methods are based on the Singapore Maths programme, which is a ‘teaching for mastery’ curriculum - we adopted this approach almost a decade ago. We aim to ensure that pupils have a deep conceptual understanding and achieve mastery by following a Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract sequence in our teaching. Pupils master concepts through the use of manipulatives (concrete) and drawing representations of these (pictorial) before engaging in written (abstract) work. This approach commences from the very beginning in our Nursery and Reception classes. The Nursery and Reception children experience an introduction to a maths programme which follows the Singapore Ministry of Education Kindergarten curriculum, but which has also been further enhanced in order to reflect some key findings from worldwide educational research. We do not believe in hot-housing pupils, especially in the early years. It is vital that we dig deep and firm foundations in the formative years so that we can build higher when the pupils are older.
A key element of this approach is mastery learning: pupils are expected to master a topic at a level before moving onto a higher level or a new topic. Problem-solving is at the heart of our approach to teaching maths and an increasing emphasis is placed on pupils developing their critical thinking skills through the use of heuristics (problem solving strategies) including bar model drawing, systematic lists, working backwards, supposition, and looking for patterns – pupils are encouraged to look for connections and to identify relationships.
As well as using real manipulatives that they can physically handle, with access to online apps, pupils can also use virtual manipulatives that help to deepen their understanding and to master the topics they are studying. We are continuing to develop the use of IT in maths across the school because, when used appropriately, it can be a powerful tool for learning.
Pupils are encouraged to be independent learners but also to work collaboratively – working collaboratively helps to develop their ability to explain, reason and argue, whilst also promoting the personal qualities of resilience, perseverance and self-regulation. However, with a suitably challenging course most pupils will need support and help at some stage, and we provide intervention sessions where necessary.
Singapore Maths to Y6 and beyond
From Y1 to Y6, the pupils follow the same maths scheme as that used by most schools in Singapore, and which is now being adopted by many UK schools. Unlike pupils in Singapore, our Y6 pupils do not have to spend a lot of Y6 practising for a leaving examination at the end of the year, and so in Y6 we move ahead of the Singapore Curriculum. The teaching of critical thinking skills and heuristics (strategies for problem solving) is embedded into the programme – one of the strengths of Singapore Maths is the use of the bar-model drawing method to represent word problems. This method enables pupils to solve problems that would be considered years ahead of them in the UK.
In Y7 to Y8 we have designed our own maths programme tailored to the needs of boys preparing for entrance and scholarship examinations at 13 plus. However, this is still very much based on the Singapore Curriculum and approach. External examination results confirm the success of this pathway.
A proven method
Since introducing Singapore Maths to our school almost a decade ago, we have seen an improvement in the standard of maths for all pupils. When sitting the most demanding scholarship examinations, our more able pupils have consistently achieved A* results in maths, and they have also been awarded a string of medals in the UKMT Junior Maths Olympiad competition. Equally, pupils who have found maths challenging in the past are now achieving a standard well beyond what we might have previously expected.
Use of Technology to Support Learning
The use of appropriate technology can enhance the teaching and learning process. All the pupils use our Computer Aided Maths Instruction (CAMI) system installed on the school network. The system contains practice material in mathematics from Reception to Y8, and well beyond. It keeps individual and class records, which enable teachers to monitor the development of pupils. There is a CAMI reporting system, helping teachers with their assessment and planning. Every pupil up to Y7 spends at least half an hour a week on the system as part of the normal timetable. We have many interactive resources on the network, and through the use of interactive whiteboards we are able to bring this technology into the classroom.
Meeting the needs of all
If a pupil is finding some aspect of maths to be difficult, we provide support and intervention. For those able pupils who need extending, we run a Key Stage 2 Olympiad Maths Club (Y5 and Y6) and a Key Stage 3 Olympiad Maths Club (Y7 and Y8) once a week after school. In these clubs pupils have the opportunity of engaging with the sort of content and level of maths that will help prepare them for national and international competitions.
Modern Foreign Languages
HEAD OF DEPARTMENT Mr Raphael Kopel
- Modern Foreign Languages have an important place in the school curriculum here and we are pleased to be able to offer a range of languages to our pupils, namely French from Nursery to Year 8, Spanish and Mandarin as part of the Life Skills carousel of activities in Years 5-8 and a foundation course in German and Spanish after 13+ exams in Year 8.
- The MFL Department is fully and firmly committed to the practical use of the language. Pupils learn how to communicate in the language in both spoken and written forms.
- This approach means that the target language is used predominantly and that pupils speak French etc. from day one. The underlying philosophy is that Modern Languages are both fun (fun to learn and fun to teach!) and functional.
- Pupils are fully prepared and equipped to tackle GCSE courses and examinations in their next school.
There is a strong team of four members:
- Mr Kopel, Head of Dept, is a native French speaker who teaches French in Years 6/7/8 to Entrance & Scholarship levels. He also offers a foundation course in Spanish in Year 8 and a Spanish language introduction in our programme of Life Skills.
- Mr Crook, Deputy Head, teaches French to Years 5/7/8 and offers a foundation course in German in Year 8.
- Mme Lad introduces French to our pupils in Nursery and Years 1/2/3/4 and imparts a love of languages.
- Mme Pollock is a native speaker and works with the older boys on their conversational French.
Junior School French Club for Years 1 & 2 two afternoons a week.
- French as a curricular subject (oral approach) from Nursery - five years before the mandatory age (Y7) in state schools.
- Development of listening, speaking & reading skills and introduction of writing in Year 3.
- Reinforcement of the four core skills through more formal study of a course book from Year 4.
- A Year 3 and 4 French day with a French breakfast & language/cultural activities.
- French is studied in greater depth & breadth on a daily basis from Year 5 when pupils are set by language ability.
The modern and best-selling Studio course is followed & supplemented by a range of audio-visual & ICT resources.
- The four skills of listening, reading, speaking and writing are accorded equal importance in line with the National Curriculum & Common Entrance. Skills are regularly practised & assessed through a mixture of assignments (classwork/homework/unit tests/exams) from Year 3 onwards. By Year 6 pupils learn to express themselves more fully and use the language for real on a residential French Language Visit to Northern France (Normandy 2014).
- A third Set (formerly called the scholarship set and now called E*) is offered by the School in Year 7 and this allows thorough preparation in small tutorial sets for 13+ exams. Our Year 8's have a command of past, present and future tenses and can express themselves more fully and freely. The syllabus is finished in good time to focus on past papers and examination technique. Pupils sit Entrance and Scholarship exams to a range of academically selective Independent Schools. Results at 13+ have been consistently outstanding with most grades being A*'s and A's.
- Year 8 pupils then follow a foundation course in German or Spanish to give them a taste of another Modern Foreign Language before language options at their next school.
- There are further language learning opportunities in Assemblies and other school events.
It is hoped that the pupil's experience of a first foreign language and of other modern languages at Northwood Prep is positive, enjoyable and rewarding. For further information, please contact the Modern Languages Department.
HEAD OF DEPARTMENT Mrs Carolyn Hawkes
Music at Merchant Taylors' Prep is an inclusive activity for all boys from Nursery to Year 8. All boys receive specialist tuition in the subject from either the Director of Music or the Assistant Director of Music. The Scheme of Learning provides boys with the opportunity to learn an instrument as well as to compose, perform, appraise and develop their appreciation of this subject.
Facilities are of a very high standard with two well-resourced teaching rooms and practice facilities for instrumental tuition. Boys are all encouraged to take up an instrument, and tuition is given in class for all boys to learn a band instrument from Year 7. Standard notation is taught as part of the curriculum from the outset, and boys are encouraged to take individual instrumental studies from Year 1.
Specialist Music Technology classes are also offered in small groups for boys in Year 3 upwards, run by specialist Music Technology teachers from M:Tech. Each term the boys have the opportunity to compose using dedicated computers: recent projects include composing music, adding sound effects to a computer game and creating dance Music.
The Department has a team of extremely able and enthusiastic peripatetic teachers. Instrument specific ensembles are run by the visiting teachers, who also prepare and support boys as they work towards their Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and Trinity Guildhall Examinations. Tuition is offered on piano, violin, cello, percussion (orchestral and drum kit), double bass, guitar (classical, electric and bass), flute, clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, trumpet, trombone and French horn. We will always endeavour to obtain tuition for pupils who may wish to study instruments other than those listed here.
There are a number of ensembles and groups for the boys to participate in: Choirs, String Orchestra, Brass Ensemble, Flute Choir, Guitar Ensemble and School Orchestra to name a few! These activities take place in non-contact time, either before or after School, and opportunities to perform are provided throughout each term to develop confidence and musicianship.
In recent years we have been fortunate to perform in some spectacular locations including the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.
The Music Department has strong links with Merchant Taylors’ School, and often join forces to take part in Music festivals and recitals. A number of our pupils in recent years have won prestigious scholarships to Merchant Taylors’ School, The John Lyon School, and Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School.
Physical Education & Sport
DIRECTOR OF SPORT Mr Dominic Todd
At Merchant Taylors' Prep Physical Education and Games Department we have a strong commitment to inclusion and ensuring that all boys benefit from their experience in sport. Pupils experience a diverse curriculum, offering opportunities for both team and individual sports. The vision of the department is firmly embedded in the idea of every pupil being provided the opportunity to reach their potential, and develop at a pace which suits the individual. Our aim is to provide a range of sporting experiences at all levels of development and encourage boys to achieve in a safe and supportive environment. The overriding goal of lifelong participation in physical activity and the understanding of a healthy lifestyle is one which we hope to have instilled in all our boys as they move into the Senior School.
To this end, the curriculum is delivered by a department of highly experienced teachers and coaches, each with their own fields of expertise. Our broad and balanced curriculum is not limited to the statutory requirements of any National Curriculum, and offers additional choice and depth. Pupils have the opportunity to play in competitive matches, either through fixtures against other schools, through our extensive House Competition and Cohort Development systems and through intra-year group fixtures. We celebrate the occasions when we are successful and understand that enjoyment and sportsmanship are key factors in sporting development.
In our Pre-Prep, pupils participate in a variety of activities with a focus on movement, enjoyment and participation. Individual creative developments and co-ordination are further fostered within Fundamental Movement Skills and Gymnastics programs. In addition, the fundamentals of working with a group underpin the curriculum through a variety of modified games activities.
In addition to the Physical Education Curriculum boys participate in two games afternoons each week, significantly increasing their exposure to physical activity. Games are played seasonally with Rugby and Hockey being played in the autumn term, Football, Cross Country and Hockey in the spring term, and Cricket, Tennis and Athletics in the summer term.
Our sports facilities are extensive and timetabled in such a way that weather conditions very rarely interrupt sessions. Our boys benefit from a fully equipped sports hall, indoor cricket nets, floodlit Astroturf and several acres of playing fields, enabling numerous activities to be run simultaneously. Our facilities are fully utilized through our extensive extra-curricular program and use at both evenings and weekends when required.
We have a Prep School Hockey Tour to Bath for those boys in Y7 and Y8 who have excelled in the autumn each year. All boys in Y6-8 also have the opportunity to attend an annual Ski Visit (currently Italy) at Easter which is open to all skiing abilities, and is extremely popular. The high standard of Cricket at the school has also led to the establishment of a bi-annual Cricket tour to Barbados which is highlight of the cricketing calendar for aspiring young cricketers!
Please join us at twitter.com/MTSPrepSport and follow the latest news from Merchant Taylors' Prep School Sport as it happens. A chance to keep up-to-date with all things Sport including results and photographs of the latest events and future activities.
With sport playing such a major part in the life of the school, the only issue might be deciding which ones to do first!
HEAD OF DEPARTMENT Mrs Nicole Pollock
Religious Studies is an important subject taught in all sections of the school.
In Pre-Prep, the children examine and discuss their own place in the world through their understanding of themselves and their relationships with those close to them. The boys examine how ritual is used in their families to mark important events in their lives.
In Years 3 and 4, the boys examine each of the main world religions, focusing on buildings, festivals and rites of passage.
In Year 5, the boys study Christianity in depth, exploring the Bible and the main beliefs, festivals, ceremonies and places of worship. They visit a local church to bring their studies to life.
In Years 6 and 7, the boys study a selection of Old and New Testament narratives. They examine various ethical issues to develop their ability to explain their ideas about our complex world and to understand points of view different from their own.
In Year 8, the boys learn how to express their own ideas and how to argue their own points of view successfully. They continue to develop their study of ethical issues. They explore the main world religions in greater detail, using their studies to analyse relevant historical events and current affairs.
HEAD OF DEPARTMENT Mr Hans DeVynck
Science is a key component of the curriculum at MTP. We aim to develop a sense of curiosity and stimulate interest in the natural world. Our syllabus covers Physics, Chemistry and Biology as well as some aspects of the Earth Sciences and Astronomy. It is taught inside and outside the classroom.
We make use of our extensive site for our studies, and we organise trips to other centres of excellence in order to enhance the learning experiences of the boys. There is a field trip in Year 7, where the boys have an opportunity to examine the biodiversity of an area in a distant locality and conduct ecological investigations. From Year 3 to Year 8, each pupil’s progress is monitored and assessed at regular intervals, and we use this information to make provision for the differing needs of each boy.
Science is an important area of learning and application, and the thinking processes involved are valuable. Every opportunity is taken to allow the boys to experience the practical aspects of Science and to develop an investigative and thinking approach to the solving of scientific problems. In Year 7 and Year 8, the boys embark on an intervention program called Thinking Science, which aims to speed up cognitive processes using challenging Science scenarios. These are stand-alone lessons that allow boys to work together outside of their mental comfort zones, and think about their thinking (metacognition) to develop their overall ability in Science.
Through a differentiated approach we aim to pitch the work so that it is achievable, as well as stretching each pupil so that they achieve their full potential. We seek to create an atmosphere in which the pupils learn and enjoy Science, and come to appreciate that it is a vital area of knowledge for them as future citizens.
Speech & Drama
HEAD OF DEPARTMENT Mr Spencer Hinton
At Merchant Taylors’ Prep, we celebrate the role every individual pupil has to offer in our progressive learning environment where ‘everyone is someone’. In line with recent developments in the new Primary National Curriculum, Speech and Drama has become an important part of our quest to develop well-rounded and assured boys who will approach their future schools, lives and careers with confidence and high self-esteem.
Merchant Taylors’ Prep boys receive Drama tuition as early as Nursery and Reception, where they participate in a wide range of drama games and exercises to explore characters, to raise social awareness and to consider the emotions and challenges of the modern world. All Pre-Prep boys also take part in school performances in The Lalani New Barn Theatre such as nativity plays and recitals in collaboration with the Music department. Recent Pre-Prep productions have included ‘Manger Mouse’; ‘Santa's Little Helper’; ‘To Be Or Not To Be’; ‘The Boy With No Talent’; ‘A Donkey's Tail’ and ‘George and the Dragon’.
Years 3 and 4
As they move in to Senior School in Years 3 and 4, Merchant Taylors’ Prep pupils receive specialist Drama tuition from the Head of Speech and Drama. Weekly workshop sessions include physical and vocal exercises which help to build confidence and to remove inhibitions. The boys work together to promote a healthy atmosphere of teamwork, co-operation and trust towards future dramatic projects and everyday school life. There is a strong emphasis on storytelling in Year 3 as well as the exploration of characters to work alongside the English curriculum. We also focus on clear public speaking in the delivery of poetry, prose and dramatic text.
By Year 4, the boys use Drama sessions to explore specific characters and scenarios from their English class readers. They also work more closely with play scripts and the spoken word, before moving on to experiment with the body including mime, tableaux and physical theatre. All Year 3 and 4 boys participate in a spring musical production in The Lalani New Barn Theatre as well as taking part in the annual Beale Clear Speaking Poetry Competition. Recent Year 3 and 4 productions have included ’Hoodwinked’; ‘Daniel – A Hard Act To Swallow’;‘Blast Off – Mr Jones Goes to Jupiter’; ‘Treasure Island’; ‘The Keymaster’ and ‘The Pied Piper’
Years 5 and 6
In Year 5 and 6, pupils investigate characters and dilemmas from novels in greater depth and detail, with more emphasis on improvisation, theatrical terminology and the evaluation of performance. All Year 5 boys take part in a mask theatre project during the spring term, exploring the intricate demands of mask technique and devising their own scenes for public performance using the school’s collection of character masks provided by Trestle Theatre Company. There is also an opportunity for Year 5 pupils to write and perform their own dramatic scenes in the style of their English class reader, ‘The Boy Who Fell into a Book’.
Boys spend the first half of Year 6 rehearsing for a full-text dramatic production in March. The production is auditioned, rehearsed and produced by a creative team of ex-industry professionals including the director, stage designer and lighting designer. Recent Year 6 productions have included ‘Emil and the Detectives’; ‘Bugsy Malone’; ‘Seussical the Musical’; ‘Oliver!’; ‘Our Day Out’; ‘The Wizard of Oz’; ‘‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ and ‘Grimm Tales’. Year 6 Drama lessons then return to more intensive study of characters from novels, preparation for the Beale Clear Speaking Poetry Competition and the devising of individual play scripts inspired by ‘Ernie’s Incredible Illucinations’.
Years 7 and 8 – LAMDA Examinations
As part of our world class educational outlook, Merchant Taylors’ Prep embraces LAMDA public speaking examinations within our progressive curriculum. All Year 7 boys receive individual tutorials in preparation for their Level 1 Grade 3 Communication exams in The Speaking of Verse and Prose. LAMDA examinations are globally renowned and highly regarded by future schools, boosting the boys’ confidence and self-esteem in readiness for next school interviews as well as their future lives and careers. The school is extremely proud of our impressive record of Merit and Distinction passes since the inception of LAMDA exams in 2010. Year 7 boys celebrate their exam success with ‘An Evening of Poetry and Prose’ in The Lalani New Barn Theatre for an invited audience of family, friends and staff.
Finally, with their next school places secured, Year 8 boys audition, rehearse and perform one final major school production in The Lalani New Barn Theatre as part of their farewell to Merchant Taylors’ Prep at the end of June. Recent Year 8 productions have included ‘Private Peaceful’; ‘An Italian Straw Hat’; ‘Twelfth Night’; ‘The Prodigious Snob’; ‘Holes’; ‘The Tempest’; ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and ‘The Treaty of the More’ for the Royal Visit of the Duke of Gloucester. The Year 8 production of ‘Ernie’s Incredible Illucinations’ was also made into an independent short film which was shot on location by a professional film crew in 2012.
The Lalani New Barn Theatre
Merchant Taylors’ Prep is fortunate enough to have its own purpose-built, 200-seat performance space, The Lalani New Barn Theatre, which was opened in 2008. Spencer Hinton, our Head of Speech and Drama, is an ex-professional theatre director who has staged over eighty productions in the UK and abroad, working for such companies as the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, the Almeida Theatre and the Peter Hall Company in the West End. Spencer was the Artistic Director of Brave New World Theatre Company for eleven years as well as running Manitou Children’s Theatre in Ontario, Canada. He is also the Drama Subject Adviser for the Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS), advising prep school Drama teachers throughout the UK and Europe.