The National Curriculum of England and Wales is prescribed by the UK Government and is mandatory for all government maintained schools in England and Wales. It consists of three core subjects (English, Maths and Science), plus eight foundation subjects (History, Geography, Art and Design, Foreign Language, Computing, Design and Technology, Music and Physical Education) with a detailed syllabus including learning objectives for each subject. There is also a requirement for all schools to teach Religious Education and to have classes to support Personal, Social, Health education (PSHE).

Do prep schools have to follow the National Curriculum?

Private schools are not bound to follow the National Curriculum but in general they choose to, supplementing it with other areas of study as they see fit. In general, independent prep schools will teach the National Curriculum at an accelerated rate, aided by smaller classes, specialist teachers and facilties and a longer teaching day. Moreover, private prep schools generally offer double the amount of curriculum time for music and modern languages than state schools, and considerably more sport and drama. The other big difference from state schools is prep schools’ emphasis on ‘developing character’ and ‘soft skills’ such as creativity, teamwork, empathy, resilience and honesty. Prep schools usually focus hard on ‘people skills’ and on children’s ability to communicate effectively and show courtesy and respect.  

Where can my child do the PYP? 

Very few schools in the UK offer completely different curriculums. A very small number of schools offer the IB Primary Years Programme and even fewer that offer programmes from other countries; see our page on International schools for more details.

Preparing for senior school

When choosing a prep school for your child, a really important consideration is how well that school will prepare them for entry to senior school and the exams they will need to take, whether that is the ISEB pre-test and Common Entrance or entrance exams to specific senior schools.

Find the right prep school for your child

Some prep schools have a carefully planned scholarship stream which prepares children for scholarship entrance exams to elite senior schools. Others have extensive experience in securing art or sport scholarships. Contact us for further information on finding the right school for your child: telephone +44 (0)1622 813870, or complete an enquiry form.


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