Parsons Green Prep, or PGP, in Fulham is an independent school for boys and girls aged 4–11 and was rated Excellent in all areas of its 2022 ISI Inspection. It won the ISA’s Award for Outstanding Provision in STEM in 2016 and is now hoping to become a leading STEAM school.
We talk to Tim Cannell, who’s been principal at PGP for the past five years, about the school’s various successes and challenges, as well as the appointment of its new headteacher, Dr Pamela Edmonds.
How is leadership and management at PGP effective in promoting a culture of pro-active and empowering learning?
As a leadership team we are very child-centred in all that we do. For example, we have introduced mindfulness alongside a curriculum that enables children to think for themselves and develop personal lifelong skills that help them to become resilient, independent thinkers and to understand that not being perfect is normal. We encourage all our staff and children to develop a growth mindset attitude, which means that as a community we are always learning and developing together.
How does your ISI Inspection report highlight the importance of STEAM at the school?
Throughout the report, there are references to our STEAM curriculum and how the outcomes promote the ability for children to question, think for themselves and become active learners. It promotes the links across subjects and develops the ability to understand how skills are transferable from one area to another. This will not only prepare themselves for senior school but future work life, too.
What will Dr Pamela Edmonds bring to the school as the new headteacher this year?
Excellence in an inspection is merely just the start – we are keen to continue to improve and offer the very best in all that we do. Dr Pamela Edmonds has a wealth of knowledge and understanding of education and possesses the skills to ensure a school is a real community and that we will continue to grow and learn together. Her interview and subsequent visits have demonstrated that she will use those skills to lead the school community with a passion for excellence, yet ensuring the child and family remain the beating heart of the school.
What were the challenges of teaching and running the school during the pandemic? How did PGP overcome these?
The challenges were to ensure a quick and smooth transfer to online learning and to create a curriculum that was stimulating with an appropriate balance between screen time and other activities. Our teachers reviewed their programmes of work and adapted them, so that pupils could access the work and be suitably challenged without being chained to a screen all day. We also felt it vital to keep in close contact with all our families and teachers on a more personal level as we were concerned about the negative impact the pandemic could have on their mental health.
School is a community and the partnership between staff, parents and children is something that we all have to work on as a breakdown between any of these leads to children possibly not thriving as much as they can. We received a lot of excellent feedback from our parents about our offering during the pandemic.
What areas is PGP particularly proud of being rated excellent?
For me the key areas are the incredibly positive attitude our children have to school and learning, as well as the excellent development of their thinking skills as they progress through the school. These can only happen as well as they do by ensuring that the children feel safe and secure and are encouraged to be the best versions of themselves and this comes from a strong leadership team and staff who provide a warm nurturing environment, always positive and encouraging children to take risks in their learning knowing that getting things wrong is an important learning process.
What particular areas of the school is PGP hoping to maintain as excellent and what does it hope to improve before the next report?
We have to ensure that all areas remain excellent and we will be working on developing the curriculum to enable the pupils to become even more independent in their learning. We are introducing passion projects in the summer term of Years 5 and 6, which will enable children, with the guidance of their teachers, to follow their own interests, encouraging independent research and thought. Of course, for this to be fully successful we must give more prominence to developing the skills required to do this in the younger years and, as such, we will be building this into the way we work with the younger children, too.