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 ages 8-13. At Wandsworth Preparatory School, we educate children from ages 4-11.
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.
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. We aim to create a learning environment where children are prepared for examination success and develop a life-long love of learning. Children who can work and think independently, are motivated, creative and confident with the skills to solve problems, collaborate and communicate effectively will be best placed to succeed at senior schools and in life.
Prep schools tend to boast smaller class sizes. Children benefit from the 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 each pupil's strengths, weaknesses, and needs.
Smaller class sizes also enable children to build better relationships with their teachers and classmates, encouraging better class cohesion and less disruption.
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 areas and can best support pupils of all abilities to reach their potential.
Katie Brown, Wandsworth Prep’s Enrichment Coordinator and Forest School Lead, is one of Wandsworth Prep’s many specialist teacher's comments on the importance of Forest School:
“It’s great to have Forest School at Wandsworth Prep year-round. Forest school is a great way of getting children out of the classroom and building skills they wouldn’t otherwise be able to build in the curriculum, such as risk management, applying problem-solving skills to different contexts and fostering a love of learning and appreciation of the environment.”
Carla Ritchie, Head of Lower School at Wandsworth Prep, comments on the Early Years team, “We have an innovative and creative team who respond to the diverse needs of the learners in our classrooms. We have a broad range of newly qualified and experienced teachers and teaching assistants.”
Carla, who has been working at Wandsworth Prep since 2017, goes on to explain how our unique setting at Wandsworth Prep provides our pupils with more significant opportunities to succeed: “We have a unique set-up in the Early Years department, in that learning is play-based and about exploration, allowing for flexibility to follow the needs of children through a spontaneous learning environment. Our teachers are skilled in adapting, questioning and challenging each child throughout the day.”
The wide range of extracurricular opportunities available to pupils enriches the educational experience at preparatory schools. Katie Brown further comments, “We have such a vast range of academic and sporting clubs available here, both taught and led by outside and inside providers, enriching the children's learning with educational experiences.
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 well-being.
One of the best ways to see how your child will benefit from a Wandsworth Prep School education is to visit us. We would be delighted to welcome you into school for a private tour and meeting with our Head, Laura Nike; contact us at 0208 870 4133 or email firstname.lastname@example.org