Architecture runs through the veins of every child at Eton End. Perhaps not architecture in the traditional sense; there are no detailed structural plans or foundations being laid.
What there is however, is a well-coordinated construction-team of children, scurrying around: creating and building dens for their peers to enjoy, each and every playtime.
Front gardens are planted and doors are created as these structures rise from the ground; meld into the tree-line and develop into a street scene enviable of any self-respecting Enid Blyton novel.
“Children are encouraged to play in the mud and dirt so that they can discover for themselves the joy of the outdoors.”
Collaboration is seen at its very best, with a touch of perseverance required: when initial plans fail. Children are allowed to be exactly that, they are encouraged to play in the mud and dirt so that they can discover for themselves the joy of the outdoors. Alumni often speak fondly of their time in the Dens and with separate spaces for Prep and Pre-Prep children in the woodlands. Combined with a new outdoor learning centre, nature and learning intertwine and grow.
The school was originally founded in 1936 by Francis Johnstone, the school’s first headmistress, who responded to the request from Eton College Masters to start a school for their children.
When the school opened in a wing of the Eton Vicarage, there were only fifteen pupils aged between six and 12 years. By the time Miss Johnstone left the school, 27 years later in April 1963, there were 70 pupils on roll and the school had moved to its present site in Datchet.
The school began as a PNEU (Parents’ National Educational Union), a movement which started at the end of the 19th Century, and based the entire focus of education on the fact that “the child is born a person” and that authority must not encroach on a child’s character and personality – an approach still followed at Eton End today.
“Sophie Banks was appointed in 2018 as only the sixth headmistress since the school was founded.”
In 2017 a new chapter in the school’s history began where, boys joining Eton End in the Early Years could stay at school until age 11, rather than having to leave at age 6. Sophie Banks was appointed in 2018 as only the sixth headmistress since the school was founded; to continue the development of Eton End as a fully co-educational school.
Eton End is proud to be an IAPS school and now boasts a school roll of over 240 pupils. Merging its traditions with a forward-thinking approach to teaching and learning, Eton End prepares children for life. However, the priorities remain as they were at the beginning: academic standards are very high; there is excellent pastoral care and the “whole child” is taught. We still live by our motto: “I am, I can, I ought, I will” and our children continue to have a childhood they can cherish.
“The staff team took it upon themselves to train and run the Royal Parks Half Marathon.”
Education is about so much more than just teaching children a body of knowledge. These days, it needs to prepare children for life; developing life-long skills and a love of learning along the way. At Eton End, children think about their resilience; they learn to persevere and the staff model their own example of courage, pushing themselves out of their comfort zone.
The staff team, made up of some sporty and some sportingly-challenged adults, took it upon themselves to train and run the Royal Parks Half Marathon, raising money for charity along the way.
Children need to see that the idea of stepping out of one’s comfort zone can be scary and daunting for everyone yet you can achieve anything, if you put in the required amount of effort and believe in yourself. Eton Enders can do anything.
The children at Eton End focus on their happiness, using the bespoke “Sunny Selves” mental health and wellbeing programme as a way of understanding their emotions. Providing children with the tools to talk and understand their minds and body is essential for their future wellbeing.
“Perhaps Miss Mason did not imagine children’s learning being enhanced by a well-placed shelter pole or splodge of mud.”
Regular wellbeing weeks and mindful moments all add further to preparing our children for their future lives. Happy children have always been at the heart of the Eton End philosophy, from the early days of PNEU founder Charlotte Mason to the current day.
Perhaps Miss Mason did not quite envisage the smiles and learning of children being enhanced by a well-placed shelter pole or a perfectly placed splodge of mud, wiped lovingly across the back of one’s hand. However, she would no doubt be proud that happiness still forms the foundations of everything we do.