Questions you must ask your future school

Selecting a school for your child is one of the biggest decisions you will make as a parent, and joining Reception is such a key and exciting time for you and your child.  Here is some guidance on how to make that decision.

What is the School’s ethos – how does it feel?

To me, this is the most important part of the decision.  As a family, you will spend a significant proportion of the next 7-9 years in this environment and with the people there.  Do the values promoted by the school fit your family goals and priorities? 

At Hatherop Castle we pride ourselves on our family feel and community spirit.  We have 8 core values including Happiness, Teamwork, Encouragement and Respect which all promote this ethos.  Happy children learn:  this is most definitely the principle on which the Pre-Prep (Reception to Year 2) is based. 

The settling in period is vital, encouraging positive and supportive relationships between pupils, families and between home and school ensures that we are all ready to learn and be the best that we can be.  Our developments in this area in particular have led us to be shortlisted for the ‘Pre-Prep of the Year’ in the TES Independent School Awards.

Academic Standards – How do we teach and promote academic excellence?

Before visiting a school, it is important that you have an idea of what you want academically for your child.  Will they need support or a challenge? Do you have a Senior School destination already in mind?  As a non-selective school, we are extremely proud of the achievements of our pupils.  In the formative years of the Pre-Prep, our children develop rapidly and we have a history of results putting us consistently above the national average.  All children are assessed (informally) at the end of their Reception year – this is a statutory requirement of the EYFS and our children do exceedingly well.  In particular, Hatherop Castle children show particular strengths in their physical, personal and emotional development and with their communication, giving a solid foundation for developing through the school. 

Moving on through the Pre-Prep, the Adventure of learning (another of our key values) continues with our Creative Curriculum approach.  This allows the children to develop key skills for the future without the added pressure of preparing for SATs.  Children are encouraged to Persevere when they face a challenge and find ways to solve problems both socially and with their learning.  A large part of the Pre-Prep is helping the children to do this independently, using the resources available to them.   Throughout the Nursery and Pre-Prep, children benefit from the input of specialist staff in Sport, Music and Modern Foreign Languages giving the children a breadth of Opportunity (another value) that continues throughout their time at Hatherop Castle.  At the end of their time with us, children are ready for the challenges of senior school and last year all our children gained entry to their first-choice school.

Pastoral Care – How will we care for your child?

Relationships are key to the happiness and development of a child.  The rapport between the parent and the teacher is as fundamental as that of the teacher and child.  At Hatherop Castle there are numerous opportunities to develop this with the teachers.  There are regular parents’ evenings and written reports, giving you a complete picture of how your child is doing.  We operate an open-door approach where you can chat informally with the teacher at drop off or collection and you can always ask for a more formal appointment or communicate small details via email.  Communication is actively encouraged and is the best way to support your child.

Throughout Pre-Prep, the children are still learning the boundaries of appropriate behaviour and how to interact with each other.  We have a strong PSHE curriculum and make use of our class time to work on this aspect of development.  We encourage the children to be Honest at all times, admitting and rectifying mistakes (both behaviourally and academically) as part of the learning process. 

Starting Reception is a key stage of education and it is important that the transition is handled effectively.  We prepare our Nursery children for that step in a very gradual and natural way so that it does not feel like a ‘big step’ for them.  They are already familiar with the staff, environment and opportunities available in Reception before they start which allows them to settle and flourish quickly in the September term.  It is definitely worth considering joining the Nursery here for the Summer term, even just on a part time basis in order to develop those connections as soon as possible.

What is the Next Step?

Once you have decided that Hatherop Castle is potentially the perfect school for you, come and visit us to see for yourself why we were shortlisted for ‘Pre-Prep of the year’!

We have formal Open Morning opportunities – our next Open Week is Monday 10th – Friday 14th May. To find out more information, please click on the link below.

Equally as important is visiting the school on a weekday for a tour, a chance to meet the Headmaster and ask any questions you may have.  If you would like to book in for an Open Morning visit or a bespoke tour, details can be found here We look forward to welcoming you to The Stableyard soon!