Lord Wandsworth Leaderboard

What's The Difference In A Prep School?

Published by The Oratory Prep School on Monday 27th of March 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 The Oratory Prep School, we educate children from ages 2-13 and our Little Oaks Nursery and Kindergarten is where the journey begins.


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. We believe that the key to successful learning starts with developing strong oracy, comprehension and written expression from a very early age. Our pupils are immersed in a thematic curriculum that is literature rich and centred around building core transferable skills that equip them in developing key knowledge and an understanding of the world around them, whilst being meaningful and relevant to their everyday 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 The Oratory Prep School, we are privileged to have specialist teachers for Swimming, PE, Forest School, Music, and Dance. Find out more about our #UnlockCommunity series, showcasing our members of staff, via our social media channels.


Extra-Curricular Opportunities


The educational experience at preparatory schools is enriched by the wide range of extra-curricular opportunities available to pupils. At our school we offer a variety of opportunities including:


Action-packed Activity Programmes ranging from Fencing to Cookery alongside a diverse Saturday Enrichment Programme offering clubs, group activities and preparation for senior schools (from Year 5 upwards).
High calibre sports coaching and outstanding facilities including a learner pool, a 25 metre heated indoor swimming pool, full size 3G pitch, 4 tennis courts and multiple pitches.
Outstanding Performing Arts through LAMDA from Year 1, instrument and vocal tuition and musical and drama productions.
A reputable Scholarship Programme and dynamic Leadership Programme, offering Head Boy/Girl and Prefect roles, help secure consistently high grades and impressive scholarship awards to some of the country’s top senior schools.
An exciting range of trips, both local, national and international with residential trips for pupils from Year 5 upwards.
Discover how we #UnlockExperiences for our Year 7 and 8 pupils by clicking 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.


The best way to see how your child will benefit from an education at The Oratory Prep School is to visit us. We would be delighted to welcome you into school for a tour and meeting with our headteacher. To book a personalised tour of the school, please contact our Registrar, Hannah Thomas, via h.thomas@oratoryprep.co.uk

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