Innovation: Engineering & Coding

The opening of our ®LEGO Innovation Studio in 2016 was a landmark for S. Anselm’s and it is now hard to imagine the school without this exceptional facility.  Since then our curriculum has extended to include timetabled coding and, in 2022, engineering for all pupils from Year 3, to ensure they develop the most relevant skills base to thrive in the future workplace and as globally connected citizens.

The knowledge and skills involved in innovation, coding, engineering are fundamental to all aspects of life and their importance will only increase in the future.  Think of almost any business or profession and it is hard to separate these skills from the day to day success of that business or its potential for future growth.  In the engineering sector itself, there is a significant shortfall of high skilled engineers with 49% of advanced engineering employers struggling to recruit, according to the Institute of Engineering and Technology.

Innovation is an integral part of all areas of the S. Anselm’s curriculum from Pre-Prep upwards.  Our children are encouraged to focus on finding solutions to problems in an imaginative, creative and collaborative way.  As well as being an exciting environment that supports all areas of curriculum delivery throughout the school, the Innovation Studio serves many purposes: robotics centre, STEM club, 3D design studio, architecture workshop (using our extensive LEGO Architecture sets), TV/green screen filming studio and theme park construction area, to name but a few.  Many amazing structures emerge from the studio’s 3D printers, from mechanical inventions to artistic creations.

Once in the Prep School, all pupils are taught engineering studies and coding.  Indeed, S. Anselm’s is one of the first schools in the country to introduce engineering to the curriculum from Year 3, promoting transferable skills such as creativity, problem solving, teamwork and resilience as well as specific technical skills and knowledge.

As a Prep School we take our responsibility for preparing children for the world they will enter and the opportunities that will open up ahead of them very seriously.  Therefore alongside our traditional values, innovation, engineering and technology is a core component of a S. Anselm’s education.

Innovation in Pre-Prep

Children in Reception, Years 1 and 2 use their tutor time and their very own ®LEGO WeDo sets and iPads for coding.  This captivates children’s imagination and inspires them to take the first steps in programming using picture blocks of code on the iPads to create instructions that are sent wirelessly to their robots.

In 2020, our Year 2 pupils won first prize a National STEM Competition – ‘Farmvention’ – run by the NFU (National Farmers’ Union), for their design for a Magnificent Carrot Hoover, which they were invited to present at the House of Commons.   The carrot harvester was designed to harvest carrots whilst preserving the soil structure around them, all powered by renewable energy.

Innovation, Engineering & Coding throughout the Prep School

From Year 3 onwards, all pupils are taught engineering and coding studies as part of S. Anselm’s innovation curriculum, by subject specialist teachers.  This is a new and exciting subject, introduced in 2021, that combines creativity with team working and practical skills with problem-solving and mental agility skills.

Older children in Senior Prep use the advanced Mindstorm robots (which are used as a resource in the first year of Engineering at Cambridge University) as well as learning RobotC text based programming language which is widely used in University robotics departments.  Using a wide array of motors and sensors (including motion detectors, light sensors, gyroscopes and infrared), pupils are encouraged to find their own individual solutions to problems, working in a similar way to those designing robots and machines in industry.