Step up to pre-prep: Jo Webbern in The Guide to Independent Schools
In a recent article in The Guide to Independent Schools, Dunannie head Jo Webbern discusses pre-prep schooling and its benefits, and offers parents advice on how to choose the right school for their child.
Pre-prep is for pupils aged three to seven or eight, and Jo considers this to be the most important stage of schooling. If the education is right at this point, she says, much of the important preparation for the child’s subsequent education is covered.
Schools that offer provision for the whole educational span (three-18 years) will tend to design their pre-prep to what is to follow it – at least to some extent. Accordingly, a senior school that is attractive can also make the pre-prep worth a look. Jo says: “Opting for the school’s pre-prep can make entry to the more senior schools easier – not only because you are already in the loop, but also because the ethos and curriculum is likely to be of the same order.”
By way of example, Bedales is devoted to the development of independent, confident young people with a love of learning, and so during the nursery years Dunnanie encourages children to take responsibility in small ways - for putting on their own wellingtons, or looking after a book bag. Says Jo: “We want them to begin the process of acquiring independence of mind – not least, as a key part of their more senior education.” Similarly, many Bedales students are comfortable with pursuing imaginative combinations of qualification subjects. Accordingly, provision at Dunannie exposes children to diverse and perhaps unusual educational opportunities that lie beyond the prescriptions of the formal curriculum.
Of course, says Jo, not all parents will have their eyes on progression through a single educational establishment for their child. In that case, it remains a matter of ensuring that the provision of the pre-prep will prepare children for whatever their next step may be.