There is a lot of exciting change at Runnymede, but none more exciting than the start of the Runnymede College Prep School – the first and only bespoke Independent Prep School for pupils in Years 4 to 8 in Spain. Runnymede has always been steeped in the best of British educational models, and prides itself on being the very best school to embrace and adopt the top English private school systems. The College now transitions from being 2 schools on one site (Senior School and Junior School) to being 3 schools (Pre-Prep, Prep School, Senior School), and work is already underway to construct a new state-of-the-art, 3 storey, 3000m2 facility which will house pupils and their learning up to the age of 13.
The Prep School will continue to prepare pupils for the academic rigour of the Senior School, but will also have more focus on the preservation of childhood. We are acutely aware of the pressure that pupils face, but also know that it is important to not let them lose sight of the more fun aspect of growing up – in an educational environment where success is both fun and desired.
Duncan Bailey is responsible for leading this new section of Runnymede after his appointment as Headmaster from September 2023. He has 20 years of experience in leading Prep Schools in France, and more recently, as Headmaster of Cothill House in Oxfordshire. Mr Bailey is known to be very pupil-first in all his decisions in the school, and he brings great passion for education as well as tremendous energy for as much extra-curricular provision as is possible, beginning with the setting up of the first girls football teams – inspired by Spain’s World Champions.
Mr Bailey, and the Runnymede Prep School, have four simple, and yet non-negotiable, pillars of education of what a successful school will look like. It will be full of pupils, teachers and staff who are HAPPY, BUSY, POLITE and KIND, and the first few assemblies of the term have been centred around these. The pupils are supported by dedicated and committed staff who provide a nurturing environment so that everyone can feel valued, as well as challenged to exceed their potential and grow into respectful, kind and curious members of society.
So, what is actually new for the pupils? The truth is that a lot of what Runnymede Junior School has always done so well continues to run through the veins of the Prep School, but there is now ambition to bring a greater breadth to the educational options for the pupils. Pastoral support is enhanced by Heads of Years, but also by the timetable insisting that all pupils spend the beginning and end of every school day with their form tutors – the teachers that take ownership for the progress and support of all those in their forms. The curriculum too has been revamped: we are now all studying French, Drama and Computer Science and PSHE as part of the timetable, and cries of ¨Bonjour¨ or ¨A bientôt!” can be heard at the beginning and end of the day in the playground!
The weather has been fantastic and we are all enjoying a longer summer. Pupils have been out on several excursions, including kayaking and paddle boarding on the water at Cervera de Buitrago, or team building at Lozoya. Just before the recent long weekend, the entire Prep School was out under a blue sky at the Parque Andalucia, invited by the Alcobendas City Council, to take part in the Runnymede Cross Country Tournament. Just as much can be learnt about oneself outside of the classroom, and we are keen to get involved in much more inter-school competitions – both here in Madrid, and further afield, in particular the UK when Runnymede joins the IAPS (Independent Association of Prep Schools).
It is a very exciting time to be at Runnymede, and there is a real buzz around the school. Behind the metal fence, and under the towering cranes up high, a new Prep School domain is taking shape – to be finished in June 2024. However, while the dedicated Prep School facilities are being finished, the life of our school remains centred around the pupils, and they have made a super start to his new academic year.