Group of students, some sittings and others standing

Senior school transition part 2 – ensuring girls are ready for senior school

16th December 2019

Group of students, some sittings and others standing

The first article in this series looked at how Bowdon Preparatory School (BPS) works with parents on the transition to secondary school. This article looks at the support available for the girls.

As well as helping parents make the right decisions, BPS also works hard to prepare their pupils for the variety of assessments they could face:

● BPS teachers introduce problem-solving in the Pre-Prep complemented by formal reasoning lessons from Year 3
● Mock examinations are held in school to monitor progress and to provide more information for staff and parents
● In Year 5, there is an opportunity for girls to practise exam-style questions in early morning sessions for quiet, independent study.
● During the summer break between Years 5 and 6, BPS offers a teacher-led summer school for further exam practice and feedback.
● BPS conducts mock interviews with girls who are applying to independent schools. Pupils are given questions to practise with their parents ahead of the interview and following it are given written and oral feedback and the opportunity to refine their techniques. The school stresses that doing well in an interview isn’t about learning answers, but instead, having a list of interesting things to talk about confidently. To support this, BPS offer a wide range of extra-curricular clubs, as well as encouraging girls to keep up with the latest news stories – for example in citizenship sessions and in form periods.

Throughout the senior school transition process, good mental health is important. The school, for example, encourages parents not to overload their daughters with past papers or excessive preparation. Additionally, teachers are extremely careful about the language they use. Mrs Walsh points out, ‘we never talk about ‘passing’ or ‘failing’ an exam. Instead, we use the phrase “achieving the score required”. BPS also encourages girls to take courage from other stressful experiences they may have been through – whether singing in front of 250 people in a school production or taking part in a National sporting final.

Education for life, not for exams!

The school is keen to emphasise that a girl’s time at preparatory school needs to be much more than preparation for passing an exam or an interview. They need to have fulfilled their wider potential, see learning as something for life and be able to cope with the challenges of moving onto a new school.

To help with this, BPS develops independence and confidence from an early age – with open-ended tasks and projects in areas such as design and technology and geography, residential trips from Year 3, opportunities to express creativity through music, sport, drama, art the Go Explore Outdoor School, and the chance to take on positions of responsibility such as Class Ambassadors. The school motto emphasises ‘perseverance’ as one of the three attributes of a BPS pupil (alongside belief’ and success’!)

Finally, girls are prepared for the practical demands of secondary school. They are used to organising their time to complete homework; to moving from classroom to classroom for different subjects with specialist teachers and adapting to different teachers with different ways of teaching and different personalities. As BPS teaches beyond the national curriculum, girls do not feel under undue academic pressure at the start of Y7. We encourage our leavers to use this as an opportunity to join clubs and make new friends at their new schools.

The photograph at the top of this article shows former pupils who are now at Alderley Edge School for Girls and The Queen’s School with Y5 and Y6 pupils at BPS

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