The aims of the UCS Pre-Prep mirror the ethos of the entire Foundation: intellectual curiosity and independence of mind are nurtured, and self-discovery and self-expression are fostered, as our well-qualified staff support our children in developing their academic and personal qualities.

Learning takes place through a variety of carefully planned activities including formal teaching and structured indoor and outdoor play. We ensure that pupils get the focused attention they require through a combination of high staff-to-pupil ratio and Specialist Teachers for Art, Drama, Dance, Music, PE and French. It is a teaching approach that unites high expectations with encouragement, imagination and fun.

At the Pre-Prep we encourage the development of learning and character traits through our Learning Characters. These five characters embody the traits that develop of resilience, intellectual curiosity and collaboration. They are deeply embedded into the way teaching takes place on a day to day basis and play a vital role in developing the social and personal development of our young pupils. The Independent Schools Inspectorate acknowledged the success of this initiative and reported that “pupils are consistently encouraged not to fear making a mistake but see this as a positive step to improvement.

“Teachers congratulate them on their skills as being Mistakosaurus who takes risks in learning or Tryatops who won’t give up, referring to the dinosaur learning characters adopted successfully by the school to facilitate pupils’ understanding of useful learning traits.”

Creative curriculum

Our curriculum covers the seven Early Years Foundation Stage areas of learning; meanwhile, our Key Stage One study programme centres on a creative curriculum that blends both Arts and Sciences to make it as broad, balanced and suitably enhanced as possible. Pre-Prep pupils tend to be highly motivated, eager learners who relish any challenge to extend their thinking.

A caring environment

Teaching Assistants dovetail with Class Teachers and Specialist Teachers to create a kind and caring environment that is conducive to learning. We are always confident that whatever their starting points when arriving here, the boys will make rapid progress across the curriculum.

Expanded curriculum

From age four, Pre-Prep pupils follow the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum which, in our bespoke and expanded format, emphasises Numeracy, Communication, Language and Literacy, Knowledge and Understanding of the World, Creative Development, Physical Development, and Social, Emotional and Personal Development.

By Key Stage One, the boys follow the National Curriculum subjects with daily Literacy and Numeracy lessons. Science and Humanities are taught both discretely and as part of the creative curriculum through topics and themes or Literature. Moreover, our pupils enjoy sessions in our specially designed Creative Arts and Sciences Studio such as Art and Design, Food Technology, and Science, which includes planting and growing in our greenhouse and garden.


Flexible and cooperative

While the children are organised in class groups, there remains a high degree of cooperative teaching and, where appropriate, flexible groups are formed for the teaching of Literacy and Numeracy.

Specialist staff teach all aspects of Physical Education and Recreation (including swimming), Music, Drama, Art and DT. Our pupils also benefit from outdoor learning sessions at the Senior School allotment and forest school which develop multiple skills including emotional, social and academic resilience.

By Year 2, the curriculum exceeds the national expectations for Key Stage One. Most boys will achieve Level 3 in Literacy and Numeracy, which is seen as one of the benchmarks for subsequent transfer to academically selective schools.

The Pre-Prep has Challenge Award status

In 2023 the Pre-Prep was awarded the NACE (National Association for Able Children in Education) Challenge Award. This externally awarded accreditation provides recognition of the Pre-Prep’s school-wide high-quality provision for more able learners within a context of challenge for all.