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What’s different in a prep school?

Posted: 14th February 2023

Many of us will be familiar with the term Preparatory school, but what exactly is a prep school and how do children benefit?

What is a prep school?

Traditionally, Preparatory or ‘prep’ schools are independent schools that educate children from the age of 8-13. At Elmhurst we educate children from ages 3-11. 

The term preparatory is used as it describes how the schools prepare children effectively for the next step of their education at senior schools, where they will usually complete GCSEs and A-Levels.

The Curriculum

Unlike mainstream primary schools, Preparatory schools are not restricted to following the national curriculum. This independence gives prep schools the freedom and flexibility to deliver a curriculum that not only aligns with their vision and ethos, but can also be tailored to the needs of individual children. Children are not subjected to the ‘one size fits all’ approach. 

As members of The Independent Association of Prep Schools,  we are required to deliver a broad curriculum. Instilling a love of learning, developing curious learners with a determination to discover and a brave approach that avoids the constraints a fear of failure can create is what we hope to achieve in our classrooms.

The curriculum up to Y6 aims to marry together the strengths of the revised National Curriculum in the Primary Years with the entrance requirements of the selective senior schools to which pupils apply and the next phase of their education alongside the aims and ethos of the school. Moreover, the curriculum is balanced and broadly based, and strongly promotes the spiritual, moral, social, cultural, mental and physical development of our pupils.Each term an Integrated Curriculum Plan Overview is shared with parents, providing insight into the planned journey for the term and creating opportunities for supporting learning at home. Library books and classroom displays also support the thematic learning and every term boys will enjoy at least one enrichment opportunity to add to their experiences.

Class Sizes

Prep schools tend to boast smaller class sizes. Children benefit from more individual time and attention from teachers who can better assess a child’s progress and tailor their learning accordingly. Teachers can also build an in-depth understanding of each child and know the strengths, weaknesses, and needs of each pupil. 

Smaller class sizes also enable children to build better relationships with their teachers and classmates, which encourages better class cohesion and less disruption.

Specialist Teachers

Rather than being taught all subjects by a single generalist teacher, many children attending a preparatory school will enjoy some lessons led by subject specialist teachers. These teachers have substantial expertise and enthusiasm for their respective curriculum area and can best support pupils of all abilities to reach their potential.

At Elmhurst we are privileged to have specialist teachers in the performing arts (Music, Drama) Art, French, PE and Computing.  

Extracurricular Opportunities

The educational experience at preparatory schools is enriched by the wide range of extracurricular opportunities available to pupils. All boys in the school are able to choose from enrichment activities, the majority of which take place after school. New clubs are regularly added and parents and pupils are encouraged to make suggestions as to additions they would like to see in the programme. Recently Taekwondo, Skateboarding and Yoga joined the club offer, alongside regular favourites such as Chess Club, Badminton and Orchestra. 

The lower school pupils play an active role on school council, often working in pairs on behalf of their classes to make sure their voice is heard by those charged with school development. Micro-geeks are nurtured at Elmhurst from a young age as this eponymous on site after school club is fed by learners who benefit from specialist teaching from their first days with us. Using lego mindstorms robotics the development of skills leads some boys to success at design and technology scholarships at senior school.

A list of all our Extracurricular activities can be found here. 

A wide range of activities and initiatives is a key advantage because it provides children with a more well rounded education and broadened perspective. Pupils are able to discover and nurture new skills and interests whilst building confidence, responsibility and valuable soft skills. They also develop strong friendships, have fun and improve their wellbeing.

Categories: Blog
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