Children start full-time education in the September after their fourth birthday. Many progress from our flourishing Nursery Department, with others joining us from local Nursery Schools and Playgroups. Vacancies do become available from time to time for older children and enquiries from parents can quickly establish the present position in any particular age group.
There are three year groups in the Pre-Prep Department, and we have no more than 20 pupils in each class. Every class has a fully qualified teacher and, in addition, there are two Teacher’s Assistants in the Department. We have a Learning Support Co-ordinator and Learning Support assistants who help small groups or individual children to overcome learning difficulties.
With small classes teachers can provide a positive and stimulating learning environment, helping pupils to develop as individuals and also providing a happy, secure base. We believe that learning - especially for the younger pupils - should be fun!
There is a strong emphasis on reading within the Pre-Prep Department. Most children read fluently and have reading ages well in advance of their chronological age by the time they move into the Prep Department. The principles of the National Literacy Strategy are followed. An early start is made with creative writing. Children practise the grammatical and spelling skills needed to become confident, capable writers who are able to produce coherent prose in the later stages of their education. Checklists of literacy skills are kept for each pupil, and children’s progress can be followed throughout the Department.
In numeracy, we emphasise practical and investigative work. A well-established mathematics scheme is followed and supplemented by other high quality resources. The department is extremely well resourced with practical apparatus and games in order to promote a sound grasp of numerical concepts. The regular use of assessment ensures progress is monitored thoroughly.
A cross-curricular, topic approach to general subjects is followed in the early years, allowing the flexibility to develop interest in geography, history, and science. Video and television resources are utilised and every class has a computer that is used to complement work across the curriculum. Children from Year 1 upwards use the ICT suite to learn the subject as well as to support their class work. Educational visits are made throughout the year to places of interest relevant to class studies and many visitors come into school to talk to pupils about a wide variety of topics.
Physical Education plays an important part in the life of the School and its value is demonstrated by the fact that throughout the department, a qualified PE teacher teaches PE. Our structured PE syllabus aims to develop agility, balance and strength leading on to basic skills in Football, Rounders, Netball, Cricket and Athletics. We have full use of the school’s PE facilities, including gym, playground and ample field space for outdoor activities. Swimming lessons also take place for various year groups.
Music, art, and design and technology form an integral part of the curriculum in Pre-Prep. Throughout the department children are taught musical skills and how to play a variety of percussion instruments. Songs and rhythms that help younger children to learn are incorporated into lessons. A music specialist teaches all pupils. Art involves using a wide variety of media such as clay, paint, pencils, crayons and collage work. Children throughout the department undertake work in design and technology, where suitable materials are utilised to develop children’s problem-solving skills. In these areas, our aim is to help children develop an appreciation of their own creative skills and those visible in the world around them.
Each class has a timetabled “Circle Time” in which children are encouraged to discuss matters of concern to the class or individuals, in a calm and respectful atmosphere. The class teacher carefully monitors each child’s progress and regular contact with parents is encouraged. There is a formal written report each year, two Parent Consultation Evenings, plus a ‘celebration of work’ when children show their parents the work that they have produced during the year.
Pupils in the Pre-Prep Department wear a smart, yet practical uniform. There is an opportunity to buy ‘nearly new’ items of uniform in the sales organised by the Parent’s Association. An appealing and nutritious hot lunch, with a vegetarian alternative is provided for all pupils. Staff and children sit together for lunch, thus providing an important opportunity for social training, with emphasis on table manners and behaviour.