Teaching & Learning: Just a little bit longer…


The prep school model is an interesting one, even an unusual one. Often when I meet prospective parents or colleagues from the state sector, with no prior experience of the prep system, they will ask ‘Well, just how does St Peter’s work? What do you mean they do not usually go onto their Senior schools until 13?’

Difficult to explain briefly; because in so many ways it works at 13 years old in exactly the same as at 11 years old when transitioning from primary school and yet at the same time, it is an entirely different thing.

A traditional preparatory school (or, shortened: prep school) in the UK is a selective, fee charging independent primary school that caters primarily for children up to the age of 13. The term “preparatory school” is used as it prepares the children for their future schooling and life. The preparation that our Years 7 & 8 pupils receive here at St Peter’s is a well honed, tailored experience which encompasses an in depth scholarship and next schools process. Because we are entirely ‘independent’ of any senior school, in the truest sense of the word, we are able to advise you and your child about their future schooling based purely on what we already know about your child and their talents.

The St Peter’s Head of Future Schools Advice and liaison is run by the experienced and brilliantly methodical Mrs Tyson.

Mrs Johnston has quickly built good working relationships with all Heads in the area and has been very successful in widening the arena of Senior schools we work with. The pair are the dream team for advice.

In an article written by Nick Campion (30th September 2017 ) entitled: ‘Eleven is too young for secondary school. Children need to be left to be children.’ Nick Campion questions:
‘Is it too much to ask for another couple of years where a child can grow and develop at their own pace, in a smaller community of warmth and safety? Stop asking what they want to be when they grow up, stop obsessing about maturity. Let them learn simply for the pleasure of learning just a little bit longer, let them discover, let them flourish, let them play, let them be happy. Just let them be.’

The article jumped out at me and went some way to explain the benefits of having a Years 7 & 8 in our traditional prep school model. I think it was the line about pupils learning ‘… simply for the pleasure of learning’. All our newsletter articles and pupil photos show this ‘pleasure in learning’ in action, I think.

We must be doing something right – here are some quotes from our current Years 7 & 8 pupils:

“The small classes means you cannot be overlooked (or hide)! You kind of grow into being brave with your work and ideas because you are totally safe to try ANYTHING.”

“The work is really challenging in Years 7 & 8 – you can have much more freedom with your own work and how you present it. It’s all fun, interesting and relevant. (Well, most of it)!”

“It is really good to follow the leadership programme – it is brilliant fun – still being with your friends is a brilliant way to complete your time at St Peter’s – you really change over Years 7 & 8. Find yourself, I suppose.”

“The teachers help you understand exactly what the Senior schools expect in their own testing processes – they relax you and show you that you can do anything if you prepare well.”

“Monday scholarship sessions start really early in term and you think – really? Already? But the time just goes so quickly and it has been great having no rush at the end. It keeps you calm throughout all of the next schools stuff”

“I love my Years 7 & 8 log books and cross keys work – it’s like a full CV of YOU!”

L Ball, Deputy Head of Teaching & Learning

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