West Hill Park Award

A dictionary definition of our type of school is clear in what our purpose must be. Our role is to give the children the preparation they need for the education and life beyond. This is not preparation for the exams at the end of Year 8, but to give the children opportunities and experiences that will allow them to make reasoned choices about a whole range of subjects.

If you saw our school video from last year, you will know that our children get to create many special memories at West Hill Park and we are proud of the breadth of study and range of opportunities both in and out of the classroom that the children experience. Achieving this balance is a key part of what we do. Academic standards must be high and we are rightly proud of the results we see year on year across the school. These are not just in exams, but in activities and challenges that the children take on. Being able to argue and persuade within a Model UN conference, discussing results at a Senior School Science Day or achieving well above the national standards in a BEBRAS Computing Quiz all demonstrate the adaptable skills children learn during their time at West Hill Park.

Last year saw the introduction of the Outdoor Challenge certificate with every child from Year 3-8 taking part in an expedition. Being resilient, organised and working collaboratively was evident during every trip and training session. The opportunities to reach high levels of performance in sport, music, performing and creative arts are all present and our children are so lucky with the choices on offer.

As children leave Year 8, we have been aware that often the last certificate or prize that they are given are their Common Entrance Grades. These are valuable and show the children the rewards for their hard work, dedication and efforts in the eight examined academic subjects. However, they don’t represent the many other achievements or efforts in all of the other areas of a West Hill Park education.

So, we have introduced a new award scheme - The West Hill Park Award. Running initially from Years 5 to 8, it is a record of achievement across the 5 strands of our school life. Academics, Creative, Sport, Outdoor Education and Life Skills. The last recognises those softer skills that are so valuable in the workplace. Confidence, responsibility, politeness and a thoughtful mind for others and the world we live in. As the children move through the award scheme they record their achievements on their own spreadsheet. For every participation, every success and every achievement the children gain points. With points, come prizes and at the end of Year 8 each child will be awarded their West Hill Park Award. The more points they gain, the higher the level of the award - Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum. To achieve the top level, the children will have had to participate and succeed across all 5 strands. Gaining A*S in every subject but not giving anything else a go will not be enough. Having the record will also allow children to talk more confidently about themselves in a senior school interview and to show off the all-round education that we are proud to provide.

Think about the British Skeleton Team. How many of their successful gold medallists were skeleton experts aged 13. My guess is that many of them hadn’t even considered it. However, the all round sports education they had meant they were prepared to take up a new sport and excel in it because they had the necessary skills and motivation. Our children won’t join the job market for another 5-10 years and may then work in industries or jobs that don’t even exist at the moment. To make them successful, they need to be as skilled in as many different areas as possible. They need to have had a broad range of experiences that they can draw upon to help them as they face new challenges. The West Hill Park Award is there to be the first step and to give them the best possible start.

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