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A New Junior School Community

A New Junior School Community
A New Junior School Community

When School Director Nicola Sparrow and the team were thinking of a name for the new programme coming to Aiglon College at the start of the 2024-2025 academic year, one word stood out for them: wonder.

“Each of our programmes has a different name. We currently have the Discovery, Exploration and Diploma Years,” Ms Sparrow explains, referring to each of the school’s current cohorts. “We have worked in recent years to really develop an identity for each stage at Aiglon, and a clear progression of how students grow throughout their time with us.”

The new programme, which will see Aiglon for the first time welcome students as young as seven, needed a similarly appropriate name. “At that age, it’s all about awe and wonder, that amazement at the world around you, as you start to realise all the things you’re able to do,” Ms Sparrow says. “In establishing the Wonder Years, which will run from Years 3 to 6, we want to capture something of that youthful joy; it’s the perfect description of what we’re trying to achieve.”

The new Wonder Years programme is being developed around the idea of a Mountain School, enabling Aiglon’s youngest students to become fully immersed in the local environment while taking full advantage of all that Aiglon has to offer in a warm and caring atmosphere. While the curriculum that will make up the academic pathway is still being defined — and will continue to be adapted to take into account the specific needs of each student — Ms Sparrow and a specialist primary curriculum team are taking inspiration from some elements found in Forest Schools. “We are developing this idea of a Mountain School, which will be based on the same concepts of outdoor, integrated learning,” Stuart Hamilton. Director of Junior School at Aiglon College explains, pointing out that this educational philosophy fits in perfectly with Aiglon’s ethos of the balanced development of mind, body and spirit. “I can’t think of a better guiding principle for a seven-year-old,” Mr Hamilton adds. “And the sooner we can start this educational journey with young people, the better, since it gives them time to explore who they want to be and their values.”

Creating this sense of wonder starts first and foremost with the right environment: warm, welcoming, somewhere children feel safe and cared for. Preparations to build such a space are already underway, with orders placed for pint-sized desks and chairs that will be housed in classrooms that are integrated in a section of the junior school. “We need it to be a very nurturing, protected environment,” Ms Sparrow explains. “That will be the foundation on which we can build a solid academic pathway.”

Recruitment has also started for the team who will oversee the programme, with the goal being for them to join in April 2024. Years 3 and 4 will not be boarding at Aiglon, although, as with other day students, they can take full advantage of the school’s offerings. The Wonder Years will have dedicated campus spaces and be free to develop its own learning environment and culture of growth, but being part of a bigger school has many advantages and every resource that older Aiglonians have access to will be available to younger students. “All our students at Aiglon ski twice a week in the winter term, and the new Year 3 and 4 students will also do that,” says Ms Sparrow. “They’ll also be part of our instrumental music programme, where every child learns an orchestral instrument, get football training with our full-time coach from Manchester City Football Club, and have the opportunity to do lessons in their home language.” 

Although the aim is to give the Junior School a small-school feel in its own environment  — a community within a community, so to speak — the younger students will benefit from their proximity to their older counterparts in far more ways than simply being able to share their resources. “We want to create a family community, where the older year groups come up to the Junior School and read to the children, and inspire them,” Ms Sparrow says. “We have major successes at the school, like students who have been selected for their national ski team or others who have scored 45 points in the IB Diploma. For younger students to see this type of success in people who have followed the same pathway they’re on is very powerful.”

Ultimately, Ms Sparrow says, the goal is for the Wonder Years programme to provide students with the best of both worlds. “We want our Junior students to have all the opportunities that come with being part of an all-through school, but in an environment that feels intimate, happy and nurturing.”



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