Message from Academic Deputy Head – 18th June 2021

Senior School
18 Jun 21

Repetition is the First Principle of All Learning
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time
– T.S. Eliot
The deepest “aha’s” spring from an encounter and then a return. Repeating a learning encounter fuses it into one’s awareness.  This is why as teachers, we give children opportunities to practise and rehearse. 

The learning process is one of gradual engagement with ideas; slowly building and developing to a point at which a child actually acquires an idea, skill or concept.  Repetition and practice matter because they can hasten and deepen the engagement process.  At SVPS, we consciously design and offer opportunities for our children to rehearse and practise, in every aspect of the curriculum.

This week, over one hundred of our Prep Department children have undertaken their LAMDA examinations; reciting poems and pieces that have been tirelessly rehearsed and practised.  We are so very proud of them all for undertaking this challenge; public speaking is a skill to be revered and valued.  I dropped in yesterday to watch some of Year 6’s rehearsal for their forthcoming play production, Cinderella and Rockerfella, lines and songs have been learnt, and now the earnest tasks of rehearsal, practice and refining are taking place; all of which require enormous amounts of focus, dedication and self-discipline.  Walking up to the Games’ Field, I see children practising bowling and batting techniques in the cricket nets, often in their own free playtimes.   As I sit writing this article, I can hear Mr Selby working with one of our Prep pupils, practising and refining their drumming techniques. 

Practice and rehearsal are essential in our classroom environments too.  At SVPS, we give our children a myriad of opportunities to recognise the value of rehearsal and practice.  Practising spelling patterns and undertaking TT RockStars (for times tables) is common practice throughout the Prep Department.  We all know the critical importance of regular reading practice as an essential and integral part of our children’s School and home routines.  Our Year 5 pupils, with their entrance examinations on the horizon, are industriously refining and extending their knowledge and understanding of English and Mathematics through their use of BOFA and Century Tech.  Indeed, because they have had so many opportunities to ‘practise practising’ we are confident that they will all readily embrace the summer holiday revision task timetable that we provide for them.

It doesn’t matter what subject a child is being taught, differences in their performance are affected by how much they engage in deliberate practice.  This is not the same as rote repetition.  Rote repetition is simply repeating a task and will not, by itself, improve performance.  Deliberate practice involves attention rehearsal and repetition; leading to new knowledge of skills that can later be developed into more complex knowledge and skills.  At SVPS, we intentionally provide our children with opportunities to practise and rehearse; fostering these essential skills and enriching their learning opportunities.  As the saying goes; ‘practice makes perfect’.

Mrs Harrison, Academic Deputy Head