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Our new Head of Pre-Prep, Sarah Hall, reflects on her first term


Even as a member of staff, starting a new school can be daunting, with lots of names to learn! But when I joined The Pilgrims’ School in September, I was immediately made to feel so welcome by both the staff and the boys.

On my second day a boy (who had been in my interview lesson seven months previously) came up to me and said, “Hello, Mrs Hall, how are you and how have your first few days been?” I knew I was in a very special place. It's always heartening to feel a sense of belonging in a new place, especially in a profession as demanding as teaching.

Reflecting on my first term at Pilgrims’ I am delighted to share my experiences and insights. I was fortunate to start my career in a cathedral school in Devon and have taught in many different settings, both state and independent. The breadth of this experience has really equipped me with a rich understanding of different educational contexts and with the ability to adapt to various environments.

As I had been at my previous school for a good period, I knew it would take somewhere special to lure me away, having dedicated 14 years of my life there. Pilgrims’ really stood out. I am leading the educational phase I love and am working with forward thinking, modern, fun-loving, brilliant colleagues, children, and families. The staff are truly dedicated to each individual boy and Pilgrims’ is an environment that puts the holistic and wellbeing needs of the boys at the centre of its practice and pedagogy. Our small class sizes are an important part of this nurturing culture. 

Being married to a musician, I have been fortunate to experience world class music in some of the UK’s most iconic venues. Music can be heard everywhere at Pilgrims’ and the opportunities boys receive is first class. From amazing music lessons to Games teaching, French lessons, and weekly Forest School sessions for all the Pre-Prep year groups. As part of a traditional culture of learning outdoors, Forest School is integrated into our curriculum to help enable the boys to develop socially and emotionally alongside their academic endeavours. It builds an appreciation for the natural world and enables children to foster collaborative working practices and skills that are transferable into the classroom. To be able to do this in the idyllic natural environment we have in the shadow of the cathedral is very special.

My most joyful experiences have been within the Early Years and the formative stages of schooling. This is a magical time for children, when every experience is fresh and exciting, imaginations run wild, and laughter goes together with curiosity and wonder about the world around us. Working with the youngest children is utterly wonderful; you see the beauty in the smallest things. The tiny smiles and bright-eyed awe with which young children view the world is heart-warming. I have loved getting to know the boys' characters and what they love, as well as the Pre-Prep staff team, who have been so supportive and engaging to work with too. Each boy is unique and offers so many wonderful insights into their lived experiences.

There are lots of exciting projects in the pipeline. However, the most important priority is making sure our children are happy and safe and receiving the very best educational and pastoral experience possible at the start of their journey at The Pilgrims’ School. We will continue to nurture the hearts and minds of the boys, providing not only an education that equips them with knowledge but also develops character, builds resilience, and fosters a love of learning. Our vision for the Pre-Prep aligns with creating an environment where boys can thrive, not just academically, but also emotionally and socially.

Sarah Hall, Head of Pre-Prep at The Pilgrims' School
This can be found in the latest edition of Forum Magazine (in Winchester, Test Valley, Itchen Valley and Meon Valley)


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