Q&A with the Principal of The Gower School
Q&A with the Principal of The Gower School
Miss Emma Gowers gave us a little insight into life at The Gower School, and the extracurricular activities they have on offer.
Q. When was The Gower School established and what are the school's key aims?
I set up The Gower School in 2000 to offer children in our community top-quality education and care which is truly centred around every individual child's own potential and needs, across a broad academic, sporting and arts curriculum. Since then I am proud to have assembled an outstanding staff team who combine first-rate, imaginative teaching with a deeply kind, nurturing and fun approach.
Our central aim is to help all our children be happy, confident learners who achieve their potential. Happy and considerate self-motivated learners enjoy coming to school. Confident, independent, inquiring, articulate thinkers are well prepared to face new challenges. We are proud to hear from the schools our children go on to, including some of the most selective schools in London, that they share this view of our children.
Q. How does The Montessori Philosophy differ from other educational methods?
The Montessori approach understands the value of children learning through hands-on practical experience, appropriate to their age. Within the overall learning and development framework, children are encouraged from the earliest stage to be independent and take responsibility for their own learning and environment, closely supported by their teachers.
This helps to develop children with deep knowledge and understanding, with a strong sense of independence, and who are able to express themselves with confidence. From the start of primary school, our children start to give presentations to their class, as well as many music, dance and drama performances.
Q. What is the age range of The Gower School pupils? And what is your teacher to child ratio?
Our youngest children come to us from three months old, and say farewell to them going on to senior schools at age 11. We are consciously a community and mixed-ability school, focussed on helping every child achieve their own individual potential. In the upper years we work very closely with every child and their parents to help them secure a place at the right senior school for them, including the most selective independent and state schools in north and central London.
At our youngest age, there will be one staff member to every two children, who bond very closely with their key person and co-key person. We have plenty of early years staff, in addition to those set by Ofsted- 1:3 for under 2’s, 1:4 for 2-3 year olds and 1:8 for 3-5 year olds. In the primary school reception class there is always at least one teacher for eight children, and one teacher for ten children in each primary class. Every teacher is a specialist in the age they teach, and an expert in inspiring and encouraging every child with their own individual style. Science, sport, languages, music, drama, dance and art are all taught by specialist experts, right through the school.
Q. Do you offer any additional courses or workshops?
Over the years we have worked with parents to develop an outstanding range of specialist additional learning and play opportunities - for parents as well as children! These start even from before nursery begins, with baby massage, baby signing, different kinds of music, Gymboree and Diddi Dance, treasure baskets and heuristic play, and Forest School. As they move through nursery, French, Spanish, mini golf and a range of sports skills also join the mix.
Our primary school offers 46 different After School Clubs each week, including three choirs and three other musical ensembles, origami, cookery, yoga, Chinese Mandarin, board games, and two theatre clubs. Our children do 13 individual sports across after school clubs and the mainstream curriculum, including football, cricket and quicksticks/hockey. Most children do at least one swimming lesson each week. From Year 3 children take part in a programme of sports matches against other schools, with national success in recent years in athletics, girls football and swimming.
In school holidays our Holiday Fun Club for age 4-11s enjoy a wide range of opportunities, from many visits out to museums, shows and sports facilities, to in-house activities. In many weeks children learn a new skill such as a new musical instrument, or work together to put on a show. Many children take individual music, drama and dance lessons, taking grade exams and with regular opportunities to perform to each other and parents.
Our workshops with parents include our flagship Empowered Parenting Course, held over five evenings, and normally at least one subject area workshop per term for the parents of each class or group, covering areas such as maths, reading or culture. We also organise a termly parents talk from a specialist - speakers this year have included Jonathan Taylor on Online Safety, Dr Aric Sigman on Screentime and Professor Samuel Stein, a psychiatrist on children’s brain development and behaviour.
Q What is school life like at The Gower School?
Our school is a very open and friendly community, in which every child and teacher knows each other. Kindness and calmness are immediately evident, and we are proud of our children's exceptional behaviour and courtesy. Parents play a key part in our community and we take our real partnership with them seriously. Parents frequently see their children's work in their classroom, and we are fortunate that they are very supportive of a wide range of activities, from participating in Science and Engineering Week and numerous special events, to reading to their child's class or perhaps giving a talk about their area of work.
There are always happy, exciting moments at school, and the children are caring and considerate of each other. They seem to thrive on the variety of activities and arrive with enthusiasm each morning, eager to learn. Children at TGS are passionate about their school and love being part of it. They share new ideas, and reflect on new concepts visiting speakers bring. This year we have had workshops from a problem solving maths company, Christopher Lloyd the author, poet Neal Zetter, Perform drama workshops, a variety of authors, scientists, musicians as well as safety talks from the London Fire Brigade and about online safety. The children frequently go off site to make the most of being in central London, and love visiting museums and galleries, supporting their classroom learning.
Children enjoy being part of the School Council, dealing with suggestions from other children and fundraising for charity. Having become a Silver Eco School, our Eco Committee is working towards the Green Flag level and recently wrote to the Mayor of London about air pollution - they were delighted when Sadiq Khan wrote back congratulating the school on achieving their Gold School Travel plan. The children love having a role in their school community, and we are a very inclusive school which enables this to happen for them. Our children are very kind and supportive of each other, and this shines out when you visit.
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