I am a huge advocate of the 13+ model and feel it necessary, more than ever, to sing from the roof tops of the incredible opportunities open to a senior prep school child.
The argument I would like to share is that our children in Years 7 & 8 are in a very privileged position, benefitting enormously from being at the top of the teaching and learning pyramid. The opportunity to be a big fish in a small pond will never be afforded to them in quite the same way again, leaving the final two years in a Prep School as surely the best two years of their life in an educational establishment.
Children are given responsibilities, having the chance to demonstrate leadership qualities and becoming role models to younger children. Older prep children enjoy and benefit from the symbiotic relationship with younger prep children who look up to them, with respect, admiration and aspiration. The way older children employ kindness and empathy has a material effect on this, reminding them of their own experiences as one of the younger ones and guiding them as they develop a firm blueprint of how to behave to fellow humans. This innate responsibility and maturity is without doubt what the senior schools shout about when our pupils move on to them.
Children who stay on at their Prep School until 13 are ready to move on to a new and bigger environment. They have discovered their interests and talents in all spheres, they are more equipped to move on to face the challenges of a Senior School environment. Children at 13 are more confident in making new friendships as they are more secure in themselves due to the responsibilities and self-assurance they have been given in the senior years at Prep School level.
We are rightly more aware of mental health than ever before. Years 7 & 8 is the age at which brain adolescence really begins and is without doubt a time of much worry and stress. Whilst your child is happy and understood, surrounded by people who know them really well and by the rich variety of opportunities on offer at Prep School, they are in the very best environment to develop their social-emotional skills and to prepare themselves for senior school life.
Joff Powis – Head of Vinehall School