Many children join Gresham’s in Year 7 and enjoy two years at our Prep School before progressing to the next stage of their education at age 13.
During those two years, they will be fully prepared for their move to Gresham’s Senior School or another school of their choice.
Children who join Gresham’s in Year 7 do so for a number of reasons. Some pupils join because they have just moved to the area while others join from local Primary Schools and independent Prep Schools (which educate up to and including Year 6). For children coming to Gresham’s from further afield Year 7 is an ideal point to start boarding.
There are many advantages to joining Gresham’s at this stage rather than progressing directly to an 11-18 senior school.
A bridge between Junior and Senior education
Often parents are comforted by the knowledge that their child will not have to move directly to a large school where the pupil numbers and wide gap in ages can be daunting for an 11 year old. Instead, they will join a school with a maximum of 240 pupils all aged between 7 and 13 years. This allows the children to mature and grow in confidence and be fully prepared for their move to Senior School.
Parents queue up to praise this relaxed and happy school where ‘childhood still seems to last the right length of time’.
Small classes and specialist teachers
There are normally between 55 and 60 pupils divided into four classes in both Year 7 and Year 8. Pupils benefit from small class sizes (average size 14) and specialist subject teaching. They are taught in ability groups (sets) in most subjects and are therefore able to make progress at the rate suitable to their ability or previous education. They also benefit from being taught Science as three separate subjects – Biology, Chemistry and Physics – in preparation for the curriculum at the Senior School. They follow an unusually broad curriculum in which there is substantial time allowed for Art, Design Technology, Music and Drama. Sport or P.E takes place on 5 days a week.
Transfer to the Senior School
Children who join Gresham’s Prep in Year 7 normally move on to our Senior School. We have our own Year 7 to Year 9 curriculum which bridges the gap between the two schools and which aims to empower children to become effective, independent and curious learners. Academic and pastoral information on each pupil is shared between the two schools on a regular basis; this allows a very smooth transition from Year 8 to Year 9. Children who move on to other schools are fully prepared for the relevant entrance exams.
An extended school day
For day pupils, the school day starts at 8.20am and ends at 5.10pm (except on a Wednesday and Saturday when it ends at 4.00pm). In addition, our after-school Activities Programme runs most nights until 6.50pm. Many working families find the timings of our extended school day very convenient. Prep (homework) is done within the school day and children are not expected to do large amounts of work at home after a long school day.
Around a quarter of our pupils board in one of two attractive and intimate boarding houses – Crossways for girls and Kenwyn for boys. The boarding element of the school means that, in addition to full boarding, we can offer flexi-boarding for up to three nights a week to day pupils. As well as being helpful for busy parents, this allows children to develop independence and self-discipline in a small and supportive environment.
Saturday school enables the breadth of the curriculum to be maintained and for us to run a comprehensive programme of sports fixtures in which all children are involved. Every third weekend is a ‘home weekend’ when school finishes at 4.00pm on Friday.
In Year 7 we run leadership and service training for all pupils. In Year 8 there are a wide range of responsibilities available. These range from Head Boy and Head Girl, to House Captains, Dorm Captains, Choir Captains, Prefects and House Prefects. Those who join in Year 7 regularly take on such roles. Being part of the top year in the school and having the chance to take on leadership roles leads to increased confidence and a sense of social responsibility.
The Gresham’s community
Although the Prep has its own distinct site and facilities, some activities take place at the Senior School helping pupils and parents experience and familiarise themselves with the bigger site before children make the move. Areas of the Senior School site that are used regularly include the large sports facilities (Astroturf Hockey pitches, Swimming Pool and Sports Hall), the Chapel and the Auden Theatre.
We are very aware that joining a new school can be a worrying prospect. Every new pupil is given a guide whose job it is to make sure that the new child gets to the right place at the right time over the first few weeks of term. Staff are supportive and approachable and make it a priority to ensure that those who are new to the school settle in as quickly as possible.
Scholarships and means tested bursaries are available to those entering Gresham’s in Year 7.