Tucked away down a quiet lane in Cheadle Hulme is one of the area’s best-kept secrets. Nurturing our youngest residents for almost seven full decades, Greenbank Preparatory School and Day Nursery is among the top prep schools in the country for value for money and has a remarkable claim to fame in the form of a championship canoeist at its helm.
I Love Cheadle Hulme spent some time with head Malcom Johnson to discover the many reasons why this is one hidden gem that deserves to be unearthed.
With the school year now underway, Greenbank is adapting to the ‘new normal’ under the capable leadership of Mr Johnson, who joined in 2019 with more than 20 years’ teaching experience. Nothing could have prepared Mr Johnson, however, for what lay ahead in his first ever year in the role as the Covid-19 pandemic unfolded.
Keen to settle into his new position and familiarise himself with life at Greenbank, Mr Johnson found himself instead leading the school through a tumultuous period of uncertainty and change. Six months later, the school has emerged the other side in a good position thanks to the collective efforts of staff.
When schools were closed by the government in March, Greenbank adapted to the situation, moving learning online. Delivering top quality teaching and care even at a distance was a priority, so staff worked with parents to tailor their processes and create new routines for children, bearing in mind that many parents were now home-based, too.
Not all the online interaction was academic: the school house point system continued, children were able to tell teachers how they felt at the start of each day and staff acted accordingly, and a changing weekly theme gave youngsters an interesting new point of focus from week to week.
Mr Johnson oversaw a phased return to school for all pupils during the latter part of the summer term, with school staff adapting so well to the new measures that Greenbank was even able to safely open its holiday club over the summer. Now, with all pupils back into the full swing of the autumn term, Mr Johnson says that should such a situation ever arise again, he has complete confidence that the school has everything in place for a smooth transition to remote or blended learning.
He may have experienced something of a baptism of fire in recent months but Mr Johnson is a dab hand when it comes to determination and resilience. After qualifying as a teacher back in 1998, keen sportsman Mr Johnson split his time between the classroom and canoeing, reaching the lofty heights of elite sports and even attending the Olympic Games in Athens as a reserve.
After officially retiring from championship canoeing, Mr Johnson returned to teaching and spent some time in TV sports commentating alongside – all of which gave him wide-ranging experience, both on a personal and a professional level.
Before joining Greenbank, much of Mr Johnson’s career was spent at local schools, including Stockport Grammar, Cheadle Hulme School and Altrincham Preparatory School, teaching a wide variety of subjects including PE, science and history. Over the last two decades he’s taught every year group and taken a hands-on role in all aspects of school management as a deputy head.
Mr Johnson says that he was delighted to take on the headteacher role at Greenbank, with which he shares aligned views on holistic education that nurtures potential, inspires dreams and gets children off to the best start in life.
Greenbank Preparatory School is committed to knowing and nurturing its students, encouraging children to fulfil their own unique potential and providing firm foundations for each pupil to be the best they can be. Academically, children excel, but the school also places a strong focus on helping youngsters develop characteristics like compassion and kindness.
Mr Johnson greets children at the school gate to encourage good manners but also to foster a sense of belonging, and because class sizes are kept small, every student receives plenty of one-to-one attention. It’s this mix of traditional values and a holistic ethos of nurturing each child’s unique talents that attracts pupils both locally and from further afield, with students attending from Cheadle Hulme, Bramhall and Hazel Grove, as well as Altrincham and Holmes Chapel.
Alongside its values and ethos, Greenbank Preparatory School also prides itself on offering value for money, having featured in the Times and the Telegraph among the country’s top prep schools in terms of delivering exceptional value.
If you’re interested in finding out more, why not come along and discover this hidden gem for yourself? An open afternoon is being held on Wednesday September 23rd, and a second is taking place on Thursday October 15th. Booking is essential so register here to reserve a slot. In the meantime, check out the links below to find out more about Greenbank Preparatory School, or to get in touch.