It is always bittersweet when we bid farewell to our Upper Sixth leavers each year. This year was no exception, as we watched our Upper Sixth celebrate their final days at St John’s, we waved them off whilst fondly reminiscing on their inaugural first year in Lower School.

Many of the Upper Sixth who leave the School this summer, joined as the first cohort of Lower School when it opened on 6 September 2016, which made them the youngest pupils at St John’s since the School was founded in 1851. With blazers down to their knees and backpacks as big as them, they were quick to charm staff with their cheeky senses of humour and excitable energy.

To mark their seven years as part of the St John’s community, we welcomed pupils and their families to attend a celebratory Lower School Pioneers afternoon tea in March before their study leave began. It was fantastic to hear pupils share their favourite memories of their time in Lower School, and to recognise their pride in being an important part of St John’s history.

We were overjoyed to welcome back a number of original staff as part of the celebrations, including the first Lower School Matron, who was a fantastic support to everybody during the first years of Lower School.

When asking pupils their favourite memories of Lower School, the most common answer, and the most important thing they remember were the biscuits that Matron gave us at the end of the day. As we entered the Senior School house system, we found familiarity in that, like in Lower School, Matron is still the person who chases us to move our stinking games kit and to clear out our lockers.

Daisy, School Captain 2022-23

In the last seven years we have seen the Lower School grow even more, and the original ethos of embracing opportunity and being kind to one another is still as relevant today as it was when the Lower School first opened. The Lower School pupils in Upper Sixth are everything we hoped, and encouraged them to be, and we are incredibly proud of them as they go out into the world with high hopes for their bright futures.

Richard Harvey, Head of Lower School

It's really great to be able to celebrate and remember our time as the first Lower School cohort. We wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on how historic this group of people is and enjoy looking back at some photos and sharing memories. For us both, going from the very youngest in the school to leading the pupil body this year has been very special, and the rest of the school community have enjoyed watching our year group grow and mature.

Jacob, School Captain 2022-23

We hope that our Lower School Pioneers will always be rightly proud of their heritage as the inaugural cohort who were bold, brave and big-hearted throughout their seven years at St John’s, paving the way for many future generations.