Sunday, 22 September 2019

Pupils explore the great outdoors

Pupils explore the great outdoors

DOLPHIN School was founded almost exactly 50 years ago.

Nestled quietly in the Berkshire countryside on the outskirts of Twyford, it is a hidden gem.

Pupils come from all directions, with many drawn from Henley and further afield.

It is an independent prep school in name but that is where many of the comparisons with the traditional prep school system end. Dolphin does not conform to stereotypes and is proud to do things its own way.

The unique trips programme is perhaps what Dolphin is best known for: 125 days a year are spent on day, walking or residential trips.

Walking trips are physically and emotionally challenging, designed to encourage the boys and girls to face and overcome challenges, inspiring leadership, teamwork and resilience.

Day trips are curriculum-focused, with clear learning at the core and work before and after supporting each outing.

Finally, the residential trips are intrinsic to the Dolphin journey. From year 3 upwards, our children spend two to eight nights away each year at a carefully chosen setting, where subject specialists lead an array of activities, from studying architecture and sketching to re-enacting battles and role-playing.

It is a testament to these experiences that parents frequently report their children returning with stories and knowledge to be recounted across many evenings at the dinner table and that visiting alumni head straight for the trip photos around our main hall, recalling their own memories with nostalgia. Dolphin does not tie itself to a traditional style of teaching and learning but is always seeking to encourage enquiring minds and different ways of thinking.

Many of our lessons take place outside the classroom environment, whether on the playing fields, by the school pond, or in the copse. Forest School is hugely popular among our children, with every year group spending at least two half-days there per term, learning to become practical risk-takers and problem-solvers.

Within this innovative and dynamic learning environment, academic rigour and progress abound, with excellent results and places at first choice schools, such as Abingdon, The Abbey and Sir William Borlase, the norm. From year 3 upwards, pupils are taught by subject specialists, most of whom are secondary trained, while modern foreign language, PE and music are taught by subject leaders from nursery upwards.

A quarter of our 2011 cohort went on to read at Oxbridge and a disproportionate number of our students go on to become head boys and girls at their next schools.

Whether in the press or in conversation, parents often state that they are looking for a school that is not afraid to be different, somewhere that celebrates individuality and encourages each student to be “the best version of themselves”.

If you believe that education should be more than simply a journey to a set of exams, then book an appointment and visit the school for yourself; it is just down the road.

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