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I had great fun yesterday as I accompanied the Year 2 Boys’ Adventurers to their second Fencing demonstration with the wonderful Mrs Besley. Since our last session in Michaelmas term, the boys have keenly practised their ‘en guard’ positions in the woods and, as you can imagine, have been very much looking forward to building on their skills. We perfected our ‘lunges’ as well as our forward and backward step movements and even got to the giddy heights of practising a ‘parry riposte’! Great fun was had by all and there are definitely a few budding professionals among the group.

I was lucky to be able to both join in and observe the boys as they practised their skills. It was fascinating to see how they all responded so differently to the session and as I stood there, it was almost like seeing the different stages of a child’s Pre-Prep journey laid out before me. There were children new to the group who simply wanted to dive in and explore the equipment and found it hard to control both their emotional excitement as well as physical control over their bodies. There were those who sustained their focus for a short while but then gave in to their imaginations – “It’s just like being in Star Wars”!!! There was a group that were fully focussed and engaged; concentrating on perfecting their stance and taking it all rather seriously.

I would imagine that success in Fencing, like most fields that require a technical mastery, is dependent on getting the basics right to start with; to not pick up bad habits, to not take short cuts and to develop a passion for continual improvement. Similarly for me, the Pre-Prep years are about laying those strong foundations for future learning to be built upon. We strive to provide children with experiences from which they learn to manage and understand their feelings and emotions, to develop their core physical strength, to master the fundamentals of academic success, to communicate effectively with their peers and others and, above all, to nurture a passion for learning and finding out. Empowering children with this skill set by the age of 7 is a challenge, as are most things we really want in life, but worth every ounce of commitment, hard work and dedication when we see the end result. As our current Year 2s come to the end of their penultimate term in Pre-Prep, I know each and every one of them is very nearly ready to ‘fly’ as they ‘perfect their stance and begin to take it all rather seriously’!

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