Pupils at Prior Park Prep School can stay with us until Year 8, when they turn 13. Given that the usual age of transfer to secondary is 11, this may seem unusual to some parents. However, we have continued as a 3-13 school because we know that our pupils experience enormous benefits from those extra two years.
Children between the ages of 11 and 13 will have started or be on the edge of starting puberty. This is a critical moment in a child’s development and one which will shape their progress into adolescence. During this phase, boys and girls are beginning to look outward, beyond family to other social groups, friendships and relationships. They are forming a sense of self that is distinct from their family identity. It’s a time of enormous upheaval and it comes with an increasing awareness of their social context, their responsibilities and rights. They become conscious of their place and value. With this in mind, the overriding question for any parent is: how can I secure the best possible learning environment for my child?
I value all the one-to-one teaching I get at Prior Park.Year 8 Pupil
Academically speaking, research shows that prep schools do well at helping children to develop their formal thinking skills between 10-13. Comparisons with children that move to senior school at 11 show prep school children perform better in tests of thinking skills at the same stage. We know that formal thinking skills start to rise at age 10 and the research seems to indicate that the extra couple of years in the senior part of prep school helps their development.
There is also some evidence of regression in the cognitive development of children who move to a new school at age 11. This might be because they are coping with a new environment and new peers at a time when they should be experiencing a stable, familiar environment with high expectations.
Making the choice to stay at Prior Park Prep for Years 7 and 8 means experiencing the continued care and support of a familiar community of teachers, peers and families. While pre- and early adolescence can be a worrying and confusing time for many children, being in an environment where a child feels known, understood and cared for makes all the difference to their ability to learn and succeed. Years 7 and 8 become a time to consolidate and move on to a more challenging period at the top end of the school. For our pupils this means the opportunity to lead their sports teams, to excel musically and in the arts and to develop their leadership and collaborative skills. They will know the feeling of younger children looking up to them as senior pupils and will experience the responsibility that comes with that. We encourage our students to represent the school values in their behaviour, good manners and achievements. They can also seek out formal leadership roles: Head Girl, Head Boy and Lead Chorister, for instance.
But even as they are encouraged and challenged to achieve and excel, that same pastoral system, with its familiar tutors and caring support, will launch them into further success at senior school and beyond.
Of course the decision to stay for Years 7 and 8 is a personal one for families and we encourage you to make the choice that works for you. However, we invite you to visit Prior Park Prep to speak to our Year 7 and 8 pupils - you’ll be impressed. Talk to their families and you’ll hear stories about growing confidence and academic excellence. But most importantly, you will hear stories about happy children.
It has been a privilege for my child to attend Prior Park. We will always be grateful for the school's nurturing environment and excellent education standards.Parent