By Mrs Nicky Black, Head of Cokethorpe Prep School
‘Head, Heart and Hands’ is a phrase used widely in schools in recent years, popularised because the ‘3Hs’ encompass a holistic education in a way that is easily remembered and explained to children. Of course, teachers want their children to experience a balance of the academic, social and emotional, and practical learning in order to grow into well rounded and fulfilled adults.
However, as people who work to targets and measures, it is also natural that schools will work most on that which they can quantify to show success. Schools which focus solely upon academic results will, of course, find that less and less time is devoted to the other important ‘Hs’ along the way. And this is simply not enough.
When we consider, as adults, that which is most important in life, it is almost always the ‘heart’ that comes out on top. For this reason, at Cokethorpe Prep School, our teachers are also focused pastoral learning and development that comes through every aspect of the school day. This occurs in designated lessons, but also through the interactions we model with pupils and colleagues, with opportunities to meet pupils from other schools at sports fixtures, and Corinthian Partnership events, through community projects, performances and stimulating discussion in the classroom across the whole curriculum. A pupil participating in a school swimming lesson, or ballet class, is not just learning to swim or dance. There is so much more in terms of developing independence, social skills, self-regulation, responsibility and, of course, courage. In offering a broad co-curricular programme, we teach the 3Hs across a range of activities designed to nurture our pupils’ developing strengths, to encourage them to step out of their comfort zone and try something new, and to grow in heart and hand just as much as they do in their academic focus.
The skills developed through our broad co-curricular programme serve to benefit children in the classroom too. Any teacher will tell you they can feel in their own hearts that this works for their pupils. It is less tangible, less easy to measure, but then, so many of the important things in life are. Like all schools, we measure the progress that our pupils make academically. It is excellent because we understand that success at school cannot be met by teaching to ‘the head.’ Pleasingly, this approach leads to greater academic progress, not less.