The judges praised the sense of belonging and nurturing atmosphere of St Peter’s School in York.
The school, for pupils aged 2-8, has an ethos of innovation beyond the classroom and prioritising the wellbeing of every child. At a time when personal resilience has never been more important, St Peter’s supported pupils through an engaging remote learning programme and a recovery programme once children returned to class.
The Treehouse, a quiet safe space at the heart of the school, embodies the school’s approach to mental health. The PSHE curriculum teaches children about mindfulness and how they can relate positive mental health to other aspects of school life, such as PE and the food they eat.
Themes are carefully chosen to develop pupils’ emotional literacy. Through Learning Superheroes, children build resilience and self-awareness, working through challenges to help them adjust to the highs and lows of the learning process.
They are also taught about kindness and caring for the environment. Inspired by an oceans theme, they pursued a campaign to discourage single-use plastic bottles in school. And they worked to support the local community, with music workshops in care homes and a reverse advent calendar for the homeless.
The school encourages pupils to use ICT, and they are adept at using robotics, virtual reality (VR) headsets, augmented reality and creating digital content. Meanwhile, its “classrooms without walls” approach means learning also takes place outdoors, as well as in the city of York and the environment beyond.
Children are exposed to a wealth of opportunities, such as collaborating to light a fire at Forest School, exploring the Amazon rainforest through VR or designing working Stone Age tools.
Lead judge Annette Roberts said St Peter’s “showcases everything an independent pre-prep school should offer: an outstanding, innovative and broad curriculum, which encourages curiosity in an ever-changing world”.