Progression in Prep School & Transition to Senior School

7 to 9 year olds (Shell, Years 3 and 4)

Shell pupils are the youngest members of the Prep School. Many subjects are taught by the class teacher, with the children based in their own classroom. Over the two years in Shell, the pupils learn to become more independent, as well as being introduced to specialist teachers for games, PE, swimming, music, art, drama, RE and ICT.

After Lower Shell, which is three parallel forms, Upper Shell pupils are streamed into two parallel classes and a top stream class. The mathematics in Upper Shell is set into three classes (set one, set two and set three). This gradually prepares the pupils for the changes in Form 1. When pupils transfer into Form 1, each subject is taught by different teachers, with the mathematics being divided into four sets. The Lower Shell pupils are set in three classes (set one, set two and set three) after they have settled into the routines, which is normally the Autumn half term. These sets are not fixed and there will be movement throughout the year as pupils develop and apply their mathematical understanding.

There is a transition evening where parents learn about the expectations and new aspects of Form 1. The pupils attend an induction morning in June, where they experience a ‘taster morning’ of life in Form 1. They will also receive notification of which House they have been placed in (Grimwade, Monk Jones, Newbury or Westfield), as well as form placement and important dates.

Progression to Senior School

"Pupils are extremely well prepared for the next stage of their education. They leave the school ready to meet their next set of challenges as capable, resilient and confident young people." ISI Inspection 2017

Prep School pupils progress to the Senior School at the end of the Upper Third (Year 8).  Given satisfactory academic progress and good behaviour, pupils move to the Senior School automatically.  Transfer examinations at the end of Upper Third (Year 8) provide information for Senior School colleagues to assist with allocating pupils to the appropriate sets.

In October, Upper Third pupils and their parents attend an introductory meeting with the College Head at which Senior School pupils also speak to provide a pupil’s perspective about the next stage of education at Bishop's Stortford College.  Pupils visit day and boarding houses and meet House Masters and Mistresses, Tutors and Heads of Department.

Following the Transfer Examinations in June, places are confirmed and pupils are allocated to appropriate sets and to a House.

The transition from Prep School to Senior School should be an easy one: pupils know their way around the campus and the faces are familiar but there may still be a few things that may cause a wobble in the first few days.

To make things a little clearer and less daunting, we have laid out a few of the key differences below. Further information, for comparison between the Prep and Senior School, is available in the Current Information Booklet.

Pastoral Care and the House System

Pastoral care is a major strength of the College, with the House system at its heart. It is the Housemaster or Housemistress who is chiefly responsible for a child’s general welfare and who, in consultation with parents, will oversee the major decisions relating to the individual pupil’s school life and career development; they are each pupil’s main point of contact.

There are nine Houses in the Senior School; six Day Houses, each in the care of a Housemaster/Housemistress and three Boarding Houses, each in the care of a married couple who are the Houseparents, plus another resident member of staff.

Every pupil has a Tutor and is part of a House-based group of pupils of the same age who meet twice a week. The Tutor is concerned primarily with the academic life of his or her tutees.  During the Fourth Form, the Housemaster/Housemistress is also the Academic Tutor.

Throughout the year a host of competitions, events, games and activities between Houses take place and every pupil is encouraged to get involved. There is something for everyone (sports, art, debating, chess, general knowledge, music etc.) and they allow pupils to become more involved in their House community, develop their skills, forge new friendships and have fun.

Pupils must register at 8.20am in the House. This is followed by Assembly or a House meeting. Lessons begin at 8.55am.

Academic Organisation and Curriculum

There are five sets based on pupil ability in English, Humanities, Mathematics and the Sciences.

All pupils follow a common curriculum consisting of English, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Art, Design & Technology, Geography, History, ICT, Music, Religious Education, Physical Education and Swimming.

In addition, pupils take two modern foreign languages chosen from French, German and Spanish and the decision to continue with Latin is optional. Pupils also pursue a programme of Personal, Social, Health Education and Economics, consisting of a mixture of lectures, seminars and conventional lessons.

Monitoring Your Child's Progress

At all stages progress is carefully monitored by Housemasters, Housemistresses, Tutors, Heads of Department and in Staff Meetings. Two Parents’ Meetings are held in the Fourth Form year and one in each of the Fifth Form years. Each pupil’s progress is assessed twice a term and parents receive two full written reports on each subject twice a year.  Senior School uses a grade system rather than percentage scores and all subjects (except ICT) are examined at the end of each academic year.