Welcome from the Headmaster
BCPS is an all-action school, well known for its friendly and welcoming atmosphere and its high standard of pastoral care. We prioritise the children’s enjoyment of school, the fulfilling of their differing potential, the provision of a very broad range of opportunities and the building of warm and strong character.
Features of the school include:
- "The quality of pupils' learning, attitudes and behaviour is very good and is a strength of the school… The teaching is characterised by high expectations which often lead to very good levels of achievement and to local or national honours". (Independent Schools Inspectorate 2005)
- One of the strongest sports departments in the region - in 2006/7 we gained county titles in netball, rugby, cricket and tennis. We also excel in swimming, rugby and football
- Exceptional music with two choirs, two selective vocal ensembles, two orchestras, a concert band and various groups for guitars, strings, wind and percussion. This year there are five concerts and three shows
- Many opportunities for dance and drama, including a thriving programme for LAMDA coaching (speech and drama awards)
- Renowned art and DT departments with an impressive track record of success in national competitions
- Around 80 extracurricular clubs/activities at lunchtime and after school with a huge range of trips and house competitions. "Achievement and quality in the activities are outstanding in relation to the ages and aptitudes of the pupils." (ISI 2005)
The prep school follows a broad and balanced curriculum leading to common entrance. There is plenty of sport, music, art, DT and extra curricular clubs to complement the expected academic subjects.
Each child’s progress is carefully monitored and assessed throughout the year. There are two main sets of formal examinations, in the Michaelmas term and summer term. These are supplemented with annual standardised tests.
Examinations are accompanied by written reports in all subjects. Parents’ evenings are held in the Lent term.
There are further shorter assessment periods referred to as interims, which usually take place twice per term. These are reported directly to parents on a cumulative information sheet showing grades for achievement, effort and house points awarded in academic subjects. These house points are awarded for EFFORT.
Children receive certificates to recognise defined totals of house points, i.e. 25, 50, 75 etc. gained in each term. Further commendation certificates are awarded for outstanding pieces of work, or an average effort grade of 1.0 on interims. These are worth 5 house points.
The children are placed in sets according to ability for different subjects in different year groups. There are more set blockings the older the children get. Main movements in sets are made after the Michaelmas and summer examinations, but movements can be made at other times if circumstances dictate.
Year 4 is form-based and set for maths.
Year 5 is form based and set for maths and 2 periods of English.
Year 6 is set for maths, French and English/history/geography/science.
Years 7 and 8 are set, in blocks, for all academic subjects.
All children, in all year groups, sit standardised tests in English, maths, verbal and non-verbal reasoning, spelling and reading, which the school uses to monitor individual progress. The tests take place in the Michaelmas term and are tests of aptitude and potential. There is no preparation required for these tests.
In the summer term, children in year 8 sit the common entrance examinations for entry into the senior school. This is preceded by a trial set of similar examinations in the Lent term. The children are given careful guidance and preparation for these important examinations, which involves a revision programme during each of the Lent and summer half-term holidays.
There are school-based policies on presentation, marking and classroom behaviour with which all staff uphold on a daily basis.
All subjects have schemes of work in a variety of depth and detail. These are available on the school website.
Homework tasks are an essential part of the day’s learning process and will often give children the chance to consolidate and reflect on the day’s events.
The nature of the particular homework set will change from subject to subject and from task to task, but there is a variety of activities to enhance and extend the learning that has taken place during the day.
Typical tasks could include:
Preparing work in draft
Upgrading from draft to finished version
Repetition to consolidate new material
Revision for class tests
Corrections, and so on.
Homework will be set that occasionally requires parental involvement such as learning or research.
The following guidelines are issued for staff and pupils, although clearly, (unless it is a timed piece of work) it can sometimes be difficult setting work that takes every child the exact recommended time to complete. In general, these times should not be exceeded; however, children who are naturally slower, or have work to catch up, may take longer on an occasional basis.
Year 4 15 minutes per night + 15 minutes reading time.
Year 5 30 minutes per night + reading time
Year 6 30 minutes per night
Year 7 60 minutes per night. Each piece of prep should last 30 minutes, except science, where the individual preps should last 20 minutes.
Year 8 60 minutes per night, Monday to Thursday each piece of prep should last 30 minutes, except science, where the individual preps should last 20 minutes.
The weekend is used for extra work as necessary.
Commendations are awarded for an outstanding effort with a piece of work. A commendation is a certificate signed by the headmaster and handed out in assembly.
Reporting and Assessment
Full reports are sent to all parents at the end of the Michaelmas and summer terms.
A parents’ evening is held during the Lent term for each year group, when parents can discuss the progress of their children with staff.
The prep school and the college give out a limited number of scholarships to encourage excellence. We are always very pleased with the prep school children who gain awards, though by their nature, awards are highly selective and few in number. Academic scholarship awards at 13 plus are awarded to the top common entrance exam performers, so no separate scholarship entries are necessary for academic awards. Other 13 plus awards currently available include: art, sports, DT, music, drama and millennium scholarships (for outstanding strength in two or more areas).
It is our policy that the heads of departments or the senior management of the prep school contact the parents of pupils in year 8 who have shown themselves as having a realistic chance of an award, to ascertain whether parents are happy for their children to be entered. We feel that those members of staff, who work most closely with the children, have the most accurate judgement of those pupils who have a realistic chance. The relevant heads of department always give a professional and honest opinion if contacted by parents concerning questions about potential scholarship entry.
For the ‘internal’ 11 plus scholarships, the school recommends those pupils who have a realistic chance of success. In this case, we collate scores over the year in exams and assessments in mathematics, English and verbal reasoning in choosing pupils from year 6 who have a realistic chance of gaining an award, as these are the subjects tested by the senior school. The parents of the pupils chosen are then contacted with the relevant information in advance of the exams.
Parents do, of course, have the right to ask that their child is entered for an award at 13 plus or 11 plus and if asked we will proceed with an entry. However, it is only fair to point out that experience shows that where a candidate has not been selected by senior management or a head of department, then sadly the result usually causes disappointment.
The 11 plus assessments and scholarships are in January each year for external pupils from other schools who enter our year 7. The continuation scholarships for our own pupils generally match these awards and are judged by the same standards.
No new bursaries were given out in the last academic year and the prep school will be following this policy again in the next year.
The school currently has a full roll. Also, a policy of not giving out bursaries helps us keep fee increases below the national average for independent schools, as well as maximizing investment improvements that benefit all pupils.
There is a huge array of clubs and societies on offer to the pupils in the Prep School. These include shooting, canoeing, drama, ICT, cricket, rugby, football, netball, swimming and other sports. There are also many musical activities to become involved in, such as orchestra, wind band and various choirs. Clubs are run most breaktimes and after school. Children are encouraged to take part in some sort of activity and the take up is very high. This has helped to create a very vibrant and lively atmosphere in school throughout the day.