Spoilt For Choice

Through-school or stand-alone prep school – the choice is yours

When considering independent education for their children, parents firstly have to decide at what point they wish to enter an independent school. And, for younger children, whether to choose a stand-alone prep school or a ‘through-school’ where prep school children, for the most part, move on to a senior school from Year 9.

Most parents are of course aware of the differences between independent and the maintained sector, however the benefits of a through-school education are often understated.

Through-schooling provides a smooth transition through the important phases in a child’s school life.   It offers children stability and consistency and minimises the disruption of moving schools.

There are significant educational advantages in through-schooling. League tables show that academic attainment is likely to be high in through-schools.  Importantly, it allows teachers and parents to track the child’s progress from the age of 4 -18 with Prep School teachers and Senior School staff working cohesively towards a smooth transition for the child from one school to the other at 12 or 13 years of age.

Senior School teachers are subject specialists and in some independent through-schools may teach across both schools, which benefits younger children greatly.

The move up into Year 9 can prove a little daunting for some children. Whilst some children take this move in their stride, for others, the continuity of ‘moving up’ to the next stage in a school they already call ‘home’, can increase a child’s confidence. Such children will understand how the school runs and help those who have joined from other schools to settle in.

Not many stand-alone Prep Schools offer the same range of extra-curricular activities that a through-school can. Shared campus facilities are generally much more extensive in a through-school and allow younger children access to Senior School facilities such as swimming pools, theatres, sporting equipment and the general outdoor space.

Through-schools offer busy parents a ‘one stop shop’ for their families, not to mention a discount for siblings attending the school at the same time. Many employ a wrap-around care scheme which allows working parents to drop off their child at school before the school day commences and to collect them after supervised prep or activities at the other end of the school day.

The idea of a through-school does not, of course, suit everyone.  Some parents prefer to keep their options open by choosing a stand-alone Prep school that prepares its pupils for Common Entrance, thus the decision about their child’s next step can wait until the family has time to consider which Senior school would best suit their child – not always easy to decide when the child is only seven years old.

Others may find that the smaller, more intimate community offered by a stand-alone prep school is a more comfortable introduction to school life for their particular child.  One of the most important factors for parents in choosing a school is to consider, “Will my child be happy here?”  If they are happy and thriving, then the right decision has been made.

Hurstpierpoint College offers through education from Reception to the end of the Sixth Form years with key entry points at Reception, Year 3, Year 7, Year 9 and Sixth form. Pupils are welcome to join Hurst, subject to the College’s admissions procedures, at any of these points and sometimes in other year groups, provided there is space available (unlikely at the present time) and again subject to testing and a reference from the child’s current school.