Years 7 & 8
We recognise the choices that parents have as their children head towards age 11. Whilst we are always sad to lose a handful of children at the end of Year 6, as a school, we always provide supportive and positive references for children to reinforce their parents’ applications. Most senior schools who operate entrance tests either for 11+ entry or 13+, always state that the tests are designed in such a way as not to require special preparation but are based on generic material where children of that age will be able to demonstrate their ability. As I always say at Speech Day, whenever they leave Holmwood, our pupils will always be Holmwoodians.
For many years we have recognised the importance of the top two years of Prep school. These years afford our children a unique opportunity to develop in a safe and secure environment at a time in their lives when crucial changes are taking place; physically, emotionally, socially and academically. The Learning to Learn philosophy at Holmwood becomes even stronger in these senior years in Prep school; developing your child’s need to be resilient, creative, adaptable and self-reliant.
Pupils are supported by an excellent pastoral care team who know and recognise the changes taking place as a result of many years’ experience. The results of this well-planned and ever-develop-
ing programme are confident and senior-school-ready students; equipped and primed for the next steps. Years 7 & 8 offer a bridge from primary to secondary in a known and trusted environment. Of course, the vast majority of children in the UK move on to senior school at 11; of course, the vast majority of children are at state schools which are forced to stop at Year 6 and do not have the opportunity to continue to nurture through Years 7 & 8. However, the independent sector has always offered an alternative route recognising that a later transition can be hugely beneficial in terms of confidence, self-esteem, maturity and ultimately success.
Academically, the Prep school route presents an unparalleled offer. In small class sizes with known, experienced specialist subject teachers, the stretch and challenge aspect of Years 7 and 8 in our school is incomparable with those years in a senior school. As opposed to being the ‘babies’ in a senior school, we view our 7s and 8s more like sixth-formers in a senior school. In terms of the level of work and academic rigour, the programme of study in our Year 7 and 8 stretches children beyond the level normally expected in those years.
The opportunities for leadership, teamwork, responsibility and role modelling are so important. At an age when confidence is beginning to mature, rather than be at the bottom of a 7 year pile, they are very much the shining lights at the top of their Prep school with leadership and other opportunities and experiences which they would otherwise be waiting until the Upper 6th to take on. The younger children look up to them, they start to feel that buzz of maturity and they enter their senior schools ready to learn, ready to deal with the range of ages and to take on the very different challenge of GCSEs.
Prep schools like Holmwood House will never compete successfully with senior schools in the area of facilities. Every senior school you visit will be bigger than Holmwood, will have more and shinier facilities, and will offer things we cannot ever hope to offer. What we do offer is beyond these concrete and physical things; more to do with the development of ethos and culture, independence, ownership, integrity and character.
Looking ahead to next year, the development of the shape of the day in light of the decision to cease Saturday school, gives us the opportunity to further enhance the experience for our senior pupils including:
• The development of the prep programme to incorporate supervised, mentored sessions as well as independent study;
• DT will be re-introduced into the curriculum and specialist DT scholarship support sessions will be available for those interested;
• A Learning to Lead programme in Years 7 & 8 will be incorporated into Learning to Learn in preparation for taking on and developing leadership within roles of responsibility
• The role of the Prefect is being developed to include Prefect training and additional leadership opportunities.
We look forward to working with your child through these important developmental years.
• Small class sizes - allowing individualised attention and support
• Friendly, known and nurturing environment
• Opportunities for leadership and responsibility
• Enhanced responsibility for learning through, amongst other things,
use of mobile technology throughout the curriculum
• Flexible boarding opportunities
• Excellent scholarship success to a wide range of senior schools - in
recent years nearly 50% of pupils were awarded academic, music,
sport, art and all-rounder scholarships at 13
• Preparation for moving to senior school at the same time as the
• majority of their year group
• Experiencing being at the top of a school is great preparation for
• Increased responsibility for their learning through the Learning Log
aspect of the Holmwood House Certificate
• Small tutor group; individual pastoral attention
• Success at senior school; many examples of Holmwood children
rising to top positions in their senior schools; prefects, Heads of
House, Head of School, etc
• Well-structured academic programme which is placed somewhat
higher than that in a senior school
• Some amazing trips and events experienced as part of a small cohort
• Your child will be known; really known.