At Ballard, we offer our Pre-Prep pupils many opportunities to explore, build, create and investigate, both in the classroom, dedicated play areas, Forest School and the wider Ballard grounds.
Whether it’s building a marble run, working out the best angle to hold the pipe so the bean bag comes out, or measuring rainfall, our Pre-Prep pupils are very keen on STEM. They also feel incredibly comfortable with computers and iPads, which they use daily.
ICT & Computing
In Pre-Prep our pupils move onto iPads and more sophisticated computers; they still have the coloured buttons but the keyboards are only slightly larger than normal. Pupils can log onto the computers in the library and can spend time on educational games, they can also take iPads into the classroom for many of there lessons.
Computers add another dimension to their work and support learning in different ways. Composing their firework poetry on iPads enabled Year 1 to not only add colourful imagery but also to see which onomatopoeic words they had spelled incorrectly.
After Nursery and Kindergarten Ballard pupils feel very comfortable with Mathematics when they join Pre-Prep. We build on this and help stretch the more able, whilst supporting those who find some topics more challenging.
There are lots of exciting approaches to learning Mathematics in Pre-Prep and our pupils look forward to their lessons. Whether it is using the computers and iPads to test their skills or working with whiteboards in front of their peers, our pupils are keen and eager to get involved.
Ballard pupils are a curious bunch, and we fully support the hands-on approach to learning. Whether it’s in the classroom, the Science laboratories or out and about in our expansive grounds and varied habitats, we give them every opportunity to feed their inquisitiveness. They really do start their scientific journey from an early age here at Ballard.
We love children who ask why, and we enjoy seeing the delight on their faces when they work out answers for themselves. Whether it is measuring liquids, identifying trees, or hunting for insects in the Bluebell Woods, our pupils love their Science lessons.
In Pre-Prep, the Expressive Arts at Ballard are taught by both form tutors and specialist teachers for Music and Dance within their curriculum. They also have access to our amazing facilities, peripatetic music and Speech & Drama teachers.
Specialist teachers offer our pupils the skills and confidence to help make them shine. From understanding the difference between a minim and a crochet to learning choreography, Ballard Pre-Prep pupils always rise to the challenge. All pupils are encouraged to have a go by their teachers and peers.
We have an annual nativity and production. Our latest Performing Arts treat was our ‘Magical Mystery Tour’. Pupils worked as individuals, in pairs and groups entertaining their parents, peers and staff with exceptional performances.
Some recited poetry, some danced and others acted out scenes from ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Many got into the spirit by dancing along, whilst singing some incredibly tricky songs, including ‘Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo’ and ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ and they all loved it!
With all the creativity enjoyed in Nursery, our pupils love art in Pre-Prep. They have a huge array of materials and ideas available to them and they are encouraged to flourish and create independent art work – letting their own creativity continue to shine.
As they progress through Pre-Prep, they develop their skills and are able to use more complex techniques and can undertake trickier projects, which are often overseen by our specialist art teachers.
This year our ceramics teacher worked alongside form tutors to plan out a very complicated project creating personalised post boxes! Using rollers and cutters, the pupils created their boxes out of clay and personalised them with their initials using their own Plaster of Paris stamp before painting them.
Dance is timetabled in the Ballard Pre-Prep schedule each week. Wherever possible we work with other departments on cross-curricular topics, emphasising what they are learning in the classroom. For example, by exploring the words and phrases in movement to bring a poem to life in a literacy lesson. Pupils develop fundamental movement skills, become increasingly competent and confident and access a broad range of opportunities to extend their agility, balance and coordination, individually and with others. They have a lot of fun learning, creating and performing dances together.
We get involved in World Book Day, which includes a dance down our catwalk for all our fabulously dressed pupils!
All children participate in performances, including the annual Nativity and Summer Showcase. This year’s Magical Mystery showcased a variety of dances from Nursery’s ‘Teddy Bears’ Picnic’ to a beautiful dance to the music from ‘Moana’ using colourful scarves.
For those who are keen to do more, there is a dance club open to all boys and girls in Years 1 and 2. They are offered opportunities to perform at various events in school and also within the whole-school dance production that takes place every two years. The last production ‘Eureka’ was a fantastic experience and performance for all involved based on ‘Eureka’ moments throughout history. Dance scholars from the senior school often support our younger pupils in their dance club and the opportunity for these pupils to work and perform alongside older dancers provides both inspiration and challenge.
Pre-Prep music at Ballard is all about fostering a sense of enjoyment and achievement, building confidence, co-ordination and collaborative skills through a variety of fun activities.
Pupils receive weekly curriculum music lessons with our specialist staff in the music department building. We expand their musical understanding through a range of fun, practical learning tasks including singing, musical notation and instrumental work. Whether it is learning the difference between minims and quavers on a glockenspiel or strumming an electric guitar our children love music.
All children participate in performances, including the annual Nativity and Summer Showcase.
Many of our Pre-Prep pupils take up individual music lessons with our specialist teachers. They also have the opportunity to perform alongside our older pupils, many of whom act as mentors to our younger pupils.
Pupils receive a fully-developed programme of individual sports and team games, which concentrate on embedding the foundations learnt in Nursery. Many of the skills learnt are now identified as strengths and weaknesses, with particular emphasis on improving body control and gymnastic movement.
In Pre-Prep, we introduce two extra-curricular activities a week; skills clubs and fun sports. In addition to this, pupils are given the opportunity to join the Ballard gymnastics after School club.
Ballard has an extensive array of gymnastics equipment and a large sports hall, so we have hosted the New Forest Gymnastics Festival for the last couple of years, which welcomes twelve local schools.
Throughout the summer term, children receive intensive swimming lessons in our School swimming pool to increase water confidence and refine their strokes. Certificates are presented at the Pre-Prep swimming gala and this year, more pupils swam two more lengths than they ever have before.
Pre-Prep Life at Ballard is exciting and full of wonder. Our pupils love the variety of work and all the opportunities open to them. Whether it’s completing their diary or rescuing frogspawn, pupils are always keen to give their all. They look forward each week to the Headmaster reading to them and unlocking a world of imagination. In addition to our academic curriculum, we offer a wide variety of after-school activities, such as Art Club, gymnastics, multi-sports, horse-riding, rugby tots, to name but a few.
Our spacious site allows pupils to play freely in a secure and safe environment. Ballard pupils climb trees, explore the adventure playground, ride bikes, play on the pirate ship, run on the fields, tennis courts and practise fine motor skills using balls, hoops and skipping ropes.
Families have many opportunities to visit and they regularly attend our assemblies at which we celebrate the children’s achievements and reward them for their work during that week. This recognition is based on our core values; kindness, respect, curiosity, responsibility, safety, honesty and a positive attitude.
In Ballard Pre-Prep we continue to embrace English as a key part of everything we do. We continue to encourage our children to write using an array of equipment and techniques.
We introduce composition by asking them to write down what they did at the weekend and to illustrate it – mimicking the picture books they love to read. We introduce spelling and grammar alongside correct letter formation and, as they develop, more complicated English concepts such as poetry and onomatopoeia.
Pre-Prep have also had a huge focus on reading with much success! At Ballard we believe that reading and sharing stories at home, and developing a love of literature is of real importance.
To help create positive daily reading habits, pupils collected sponsorship for reading every day for a month with some children reading for over 600 hours! Pupils were then asked to design their own reading corner in their classrooms which they created with their teacher before being judged by our School governors!
Ballard Pre-Prep also ran a competition to see who could do the most ‘extreme’ reading in an unusual place. Photos flooded from pupils reading on horseback, to their dog, up a tree, on a trampoline, and even whilst doing gymnastics.
At Ballard we encourage our pupils to input their ideas and this year our pupils chose how they wanted to celebrate World Book Day. This included a book swap, dressing up, book reviews, role play in their character and a fashion catwalk!
Part of our recent refurbishment was spent on using the pupil’s ideas for our Pre-Prep library. They wanted a bright space with new furniture, cushions, animals and new books. Children have the opportunity to borrow books from the library and often ask to sit and read there.
Our visiting author BB Taylor with her yeti, pets and stories made reading come even more ‘alive’ for our pupils. Parent workshops on spelling and reading have also supported with ideas at home to continue a love for reading.
At Ballard, our Pre-Prep pupils are surrounded by Geography! We are lucky to have a range of ecosystems: the gardens, playing fields, woods (including Forest School), our Victorian Pond and the water meadows, all within the school grounds.
Form tutors take pupils out and about regularly; exploring, investigating, questioning. We visit the nearby beach too. This variety stokes our pupils’ innate love of nature and we integrate this into our day whenever we can. The success of our Forest School lessons underlines the ability of even the youngest child to get involved and let their curiosity lead them.
Ballard’s cross-curricular approach in Pre-Prep enhances our pupils’ learning with recent rain water measurements helping them understand not only our weather (Geography) but volumes and quantities too (Mathematics).
In Geography we also study Human Geography. Year 2 recently made a big map of the New Forest National Park and surrounding area showing all the villages and towns. We then worked out where we all lived and put our pictures there. We also study other cultures; most recently India.
In Pre-Prep children love to listen to stories about ‘olden times’. At Ballard we also try to transport them into these times with dressing up and visits to local historical landmarks and museums.
A visit to Manor Farm took the children back in time to the Victorian era and a rather harder life. They practised sleeping ‘three to a bed’, hand washing clothes and polishing brass. At the school the children had to use pen, ink and chalk for their writing which was rather tricky. The teacher was very scary and strict – not like at Ballard!
Modern Foreign Languages
French is taught from Year 1 on a weekly basis with a trip to the Pre-Prep library to meet Camembear and his owner, Mrs Prout, Ballard’s Head of Languages.
Quite complex vocabulary is taught in fun and engaging ways with pupils naming parts of the body before launching into a rendition of head, shoulders knees and toes – in French, of course!
Each week our star pupil is allowed to wear the beret at celebration assembly – the children love it.
RS in Pre-Prep provokes challenging questions about the ultimate meaning and purpose of life, beliefs about God, one’s self and the nature of reality, issues of right and wrong and what it means to be human.
We aim to develop pupils’ knowledge and understanding of Christianity but also other principal religions, religious traditions and worldviews that offer answers to questions these important questions.
RS also contributes to our pupils’ personal development and well-being and to community cohesion by promoting mutual respect and tolerance in a diverse society.