Anson Lo’s Action Packed Visit to England

Anson Lo’s Action Packed Visit to England


We had a visit from Anson Lo from Prep4Hong Kong. Anson spent a week visiting UK schools with Victoria Davies Jones, Xiaomoa Lily Zhang and Betsy Ng from Prep4 Hong Kong and David Boddy from ASIS.

After his school visits Anson spent two weeks with the Lee family in the heart of the Sussex Countryside, working with us on a special programme to build up confidence and interpersonal communication skills in English. We also devised a special extension programme for Anson to experience a wide selection of British and European life.  He joined a Mandarin lesson at Benenden School and delivered a presentation about China to the reception class at Broad Oak School in Heathfield.

Our programme of extension visits varied from “The Seagulls” (Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club) to Cheltenham races, Oxford University as well as London plus a taste of Europe with a trip on the Le Shuttle to the ancient city of Bruges in Belgium.  We were sad to see Anson leave at the end of the two weeks but we were delighted with his increased confidence and very good command of English.

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Youth Speaks by Graham Lee

Youth Speaks by Graham Lee


Over the last 6 weeks I had the pleasure of working with the Benenden School public speaking team, helping them with their preparations for the Rotary ‘Youth Speaks’ Competition. The competition is organised and promoted by Rotary International in Great Britain & Ireland and sponsored by Gandys (Orphans for Orphans). Benenden was asked if we’d like to host the competition and we were delighted to do so, welcoming visiting teams from Sutton Valence School and The Tower School, Ashford.

Youth Speaks is a four stage competition designed to support and encourage development of effective communication skills. The competition is open to teams of three students in full time education in two age groups: Intermediate 11 to 13 years and Senior 14 to 17 years. Each team member takes one of three roles: chairperson, speaker or vote of thanks, and is allocated a specific time to perform their role. With no intermediate team in our competition in this round, Tenterden Rotary decided that each team could include a younger speaker who would deliver a 4 minute speech and this would be judged separately from the senior team.

The evening was great success and the competition was a great opportunity for young people to practice their speaking skills in a structured and supportive environment.

Congratulations to Sutton Valence for winning the team event and at Benenden we were delighted that our Senior Speaker won the individual speaker cup with a talk on “Improving the Education System” and our Junior speaker won with a talk on “Does Religion Hinder Social Progress?”.

Our Senior speaker was Caitlin Powell and I asked her to write me a paragraph on how her experience was useful to her.

“When we present ourselves, or our projects or apply for jobs, the way we speak is incredibly important. Articulation and projection when talking before others, specially large groups of people is essential. Speaking confidently fills an audience with conviction. We are more likely to be persuaded by someone when they speak well and sound like they know what they are talking about. Public speaking is a key skill everyone should learn from a young age. Whether for business, competitions or jobs this skill is one I would recommend everyone to develop.”


The Hero’s Journey Workshop Photo Gallery


Half Term Creative Workshop “The Hero’s Journey”

    Prep4’s Half Term Creative Workshop
 “The Hero’s Journey”
Facing challenges, building confidence

200px-ALBW_Link_Drawing                                                                                                                           October 29th and 30th, 10.00 to 4.30 at The Old Rectory Folkington

Using drama, story making and creative arts, a unique opportunity for 11 to 13 year olds to learn performance and communication skills, build confidence, develop innovative thinking and have lots of fun!

Prep4’s Workshop is designed for students at any level of ability to work on a project using drama and presentation techniques, combined with creative arts to produce a performance. Students will also learn how to apply the “journey principle” to their own lives.                                                                                    

For details tel 01323 483367 or email

A week of learning, laughter and fun with Prep4’s Twelfth Night workshop


The final scene

The final scene

Who says children can't have great fun performing Shakepeare?

Who says children can’t have great fun performing Shakepeare?

Someone asked me last week what I was doing loading armfuls of costume into the car. “It’s for a week’s Shakespeare workshop for children”, I answered. “Shakespeare…… for kids? I bet they don’t think much of that!” Sadly many people have similar negative reactions, left over I suspect from unimaginative teaching of Shakespeare at school.The children who worked with us for a week won’t ever feel like this. When they look back at what was for many of them their first experience of performing Shakespeare, (and also the first time for some of them performing in front of an audience), they will remember a fantastic sun-soaked week full of drama, action, fun and laughter, culminating in a performance in the beautiful floodlit garden of The Old Rectory. They all went home after a great week with a real sense of achievement, the achievement of having delivered – in five days – a very polished performance of Twelfth Night to family and friends.audience
Halfway through the workshop week Victoria and I were asked if we were confident they would really know all those lines by the end of the week. “Of course!” we answered, “They know it’s expected of them”. “But how can you be sure?” Of course we could not be 100% sure, but the time and effort that went into the structure and planning of the week meant that barring unexpected events we were pretty confident.
The planning starts with the script. Pippa had the task of finalising the text during the pre-performance week. We always have to wait until the last minute, as we never know our final cast number until a few days before we start. Pippa’s one hour version of Twelfth Night included all the main elements of the plot in the bards’ original language (no modernising here!) and provided the requisite number of parts of appropriate length for all participants.
Pippa takes some time off from filming  to work on Twelth Night

Pippa takes some time off from filming to work on Twelth Night

Victoria at the same time has to oversee logistics, catering, hospitality and plan for the invasion of The Old Rectory by the young Shakespearians. Break times and meal times have to be well planned as this part of the week is a great opportunity to socialise and to meet new friends – which we believe is as important as the practical drama, movement and voice work. LUNCH ED
The key element of a successful week is attention to detail. We started with Pippa outlining the plot (only one student already knew the story), explaining to the cast that they were going to spend the week telling a tale of mistaken identities, comedic buffoonery and romance, all spoken in Shakespearean tongue. Pippa’s casting plan gave every student a chance to read for a variety of parts. By the end of the first lunchtime the show was cast. Monday afternoon gave us a chance to try out the various areas in which we would stage the action with a run (stagger) through in the garden of the Old Rectory.
On Tuesday with the help of (another) Victoria, our assistant stage manager, we split into groups and had a lively day of sectional rehearsals followed by a run through, giving us an opportunity to see how the show was taking shape. (Well!)
On Wednesday we had a great day with visiting humourist, writer and comedy expert Lee Cornes. Lee worked with the group developing characterisation, movement and comedic timing.
Comedy expert Lee Cornes joins the group

Comedy expert Lee Cornes joins the group

On Thursday for our first dress rehearsal we were joined by Jane Benians who provided invaluable assistance in all areas especially costume and dance. The show was very nearly ready.
By Friday afternoon it was all systems go. A very lively final dress rehearsal and time for some fun and a barbeque supper before the evening performance.
As the cast took their bows, an enthusiastic member of our audience said what a great theatrical experience for the students, something they will remember for many years. Yes it was, but we know it was more that. Our aim is to provide a great ‘life experience’. Prep4 is not a drama school and our workshop week is designed to give the participants much more than just drama training. Our aim for the week is that as well as developing new drama and communication skills, we are building confidence, developing social and problem solving skills, and and creating a sense of self worth alongside respect and consideration for others. Quite an outcome for a week at the Old Rectory.
Enjoying Sally's pre-show barbeque!

Enjoying Sally’s pre-show barbeque!

The Spotlight is on You at Ipswich School

Some of the

Some of the Life Skills students enjoying the workshop

Graham and Victoria enjoyed two terrific days at Ipswich School delivering “The Spotlight is on You” the Prep4 interview skills and goal setting workshop, as part of the Ipswich School’s excellent “Life Skills” programme.

Victoria met with Head, Mr Nicholas Weaver, to discuss future collaboration, including her next book, and we look forward to building the relationship with him and Head of Sixth Form, Mr Louis d’Arcy.