Upper Prep

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Teaching combines challenging questions with frequent use of praise and encouragement to promote independent thinking successfully and enable strong attitudes towards learning. ISI Report, January 2015

In Prep 3 (seven to eight year olds), Prep 4 (eight to nine year olds) and Prep 5 (nine to ten year olds), there are still two parallel classes, but maximum class size now moves to twenty-two.

Prep 6 (ten to eleven year olds) is the final year in the Prep School and this sees the introduction of an additional class. Throughout the Upper Prep, boys are increasingly encouraged to recognise their progress and begin to develop more independent ways of working. Motivation and enthusiasm are therefore maintained, as are the strong home-school links and clear lines of communication.

Our aim, through a process of structured phases, is that, by the time the children leave us, they have acquired the essence of a desire to learn, as well as the beginnings of the means to become independent students. As the boys move up through the Prep School, there is an appropriate increase in the amount of formal work. We feel that boys are able to accept a degree of responsibility for their own learning, and the discipline of simple time management. They are encouraged to read regularly and widely in their free time. Home learning is regularly set for children in the Prep School. The amount set increases gradually as they mature, but it is not intended that home learning should prevent them from pursuing other interests outside school or, indeed, enjoying family life.

All boys are born with an adventurous spirit – we all learn and grow by trying new things. For children to really thrive at school, it is essential that they learn in an environment, which encourages adventure, presents new challenges as positive opportunities and supports them with kindness, allowing them to overcome any obstacle. At St Columba’s, we do exactly this. A strong, nurturing ethos underpins a challenging, adventurous curriculum, which has the boys buzzing with excitement long after they have arrived home from school.

Whether it is investigating weights and measures in the outdoor area, using coding to design computer games, learning about life cycles by watching chickens hatch, our teaching staff will always look for the most memorable and exciting way of developing knowledge and understanding in pupils.

The school’s spirit of adventure really comes alive on school trips, when pupils sleep out under the stars, learn how to cook dinner on a camp fire, jump in cold waters, search for fossils on beaches, kayak across lakes and sleep for what seems like days on their return! These are memories that will last them a lifetime and help to turn them into strong, confident, resilient boys, who take challenges in their stride and deal coolly and calmly with difficulties.