REVIEW OF Merrick Preparatory School BY parent, John Hopkins
- Date of Review
January 31, 2022
Gr. 9 - Gr. 9
(4) Student Experience
As our daughter hoped, she has found that the most rewarding aspect of being at Merrick Prep is the chance to meet and to learn with students from a variety of different backgrounds. She enjoys the sharing of different viewpoints and this is easily achieved in a school with such a student makeup. Furthermore she appreciates that learning occurs in more forms and ways than direct instruction and she knows that a school such as this allows for an enriching overall experience. Our daughter likes the quality feedback that she is given following the submission and return of assignments and she is able to use this feedback to help her to go to the next level. The difficulties brought about by COVID have meant that the classes are not quite as large as she would have hoped for and some of the students are having to join the class through the online learning medium that the school offers.
(5) School Leadership
The leadership in the school is excellent. We are kept informed as to what is happening in the school, and the school is also extremely responsive to any requests that we might have. Examples of the latter include the flexibility over course selection, the acceptance that our daughter takes classes such as life-saving outside of the school which requires an early departure, and her need to get to a part-time job a few days of the week. Even during these COVID-dominated times, the school is very welcoming, and as long as the proper precautions are taken the school welcomes us in at our convenience. The entire admissions and support program have been conducted in a truly efficient and professional manner and we feel that the needs of our daughter have been very well managed.
Our daughter feels that the teachers at Merrick Prep are well organized, committed to what they are doing, and are able to offer a variety of approaches to their lessons. They understand that quality feedback is the best medium through which to ensure that further progress is made and they understand that assessment should be used as a tool to enhance learning and not just as a summative result. The local environment is used when possible and the students have been out and about on a few occasions, adding a new dimension to the learning experience. Overall the quality of teaching is very high and the small number of students means that each and everyone of them can be in the focus of the teacher the entire time.
The educational standards that are set are high and the students are expected to fully commit to the assignments that are given for classwork and for homework. Deadlines are generally adhered to and the ethos of the school is one that encourages success from each of the students in the class. A range of courses is offered and these set the students up appropriately for the next stages of their education. Whilst our daughter does not share a great deal of her work with us it would seem as if the materials that are used in class are well prepared and that the individual needs of each student are catered for - these include language acquisition as well as academic capabilities and former educational experiences.
The students spend two afternoons a week in extracurricular activities and they are able to select their options from a list. These can be of a sporting, artistic and academic nature and they add a popular dimension to the school week. For a school of this size it is quite impressive how many options are on offer, but obviously, a larger school would be able to offer more.
The school makes it very possible for the students to interact with each other regardless of which grade level they may be in. Students see the school as the central part of their stay in Merrickville and therefore they are more than ready to club together and to participate in activities as a team. On school excursions, and in sporting competitions there is a very strong and supportive ethos. Perhaps the school is a little too small to enable students to stretch out a little and to make new contacts and this can be a little limiting, but the students make the best of what they have and the spirit is very high amongst them. The general atmosphere is one of positivity and they help to make the school a very welcome place to be.
(4) School Life
The school day is quite long, certainly for the day students who are used to something shorter. But it starts with a breakfast, which provides for a social start to the day and the other breaks throughout the day allow for this to continue. The students are also allowed to leave the school campus and to visit the old town of Merrickville, meaning that they can change their perspective a little during the day. Again, the size of the school means that the opportunities for a wider school life are sometimes limited, but again the school provides a great deal of options for the students. Boarding students participate in a wide range of weekend activities, keeping them busy as well as providing them with activities that they may well never have done before.
It has, of course, been an unusual year due to the COVID pandemic and therefore the school has not been able to incorporate parents into the routines and life of the school quite as much as they would have hoped. Had it been a normal year we would have been more involved and we would have been able to attend events such as a winter concert and a talent show. The school is very open to parental involvement and the parents of day students are seen as an additional resource that can be called upon when there is a need. I am sure that when things return to normal the parental community will be quite visible within the school as they will have a great deal to offer.
(4.5) School Location
The school is located in a beautiful building in a beautiful village. The banks of the canal are a few meters from the door of the school and, whatever the season, the surroundings could not be better. The village puts on a number of events during the year and the school is encouraged to participate to a large extent in these events.
We were made to feel extremely welcome from our very first inquiry. The courteous way in which we were dealt with is a credit to the school and each and every one of our questions was answered fully and honestly. We were provided with all the information that we required, we were given a tour of the school and, had it been during the school terms, I am sure that we would have been able to meet with the students to hear their points of view. The written information was well presented and thorough and the website gave us a very accurate picture of what life would be like at the school. The school deserves a very high level of commendation for its admissions procedures.