A Prep school like Holmwood specialises in preparing children for senior schools and is committed to its 13+ tradition. Our expectations for all the children are high, and for the top two years, the desired academic and personal development of these pupils is unique and significantly different from the experience similarly aged children will have as part of a vast cohort of pupils at the bottom end of a large secondary school. The stretch and challenge nature of Years 7 & 8, with the further development of higher order thinking skills, amongst a raft of ever-increasing expectations on pupil engagement, independence and leadership, ensure that the pupils staying on in the senior years make an active contribution towards the school, acting as role models for the younger children and becoming really ready for senior school.
Our teachers are subject specialists, committed and passionate about educating pupils of this age and stage of development, thus not distracted by the priorities of GCSE and A Level for which senior schools understandably seek recognition. Years 7 & 8 are a major priority for a school like Holmwood (and provide excellent preparation for GCSE choices) where, in a senior school, they might be less of a key focus.
Prep schools, by their very definition, prepare children for senior school, so why move your child part way through this tried and tested preparation process? If your child is happy, challenged or supported academically and well-settled into prep school life, why rock their boat before you have to? The opportunity to mature for two years at the upper end of the Prep school gives your child time, space and security to explore the subjects he or she really loves, at a time of physical, mental and emotional changes, without the upheaval of a new and different school environment.
In my experience, rarely do senior school Heads encourage a child to leave their prep school at age 11, even if they have an intake of children at both 11+ and 13+. Unless there are compelling reasons for a move at age 11, most senior schools recognise the importance, richness and value of Years 7 and 8 in a prep school, often citing that they would be unable to match it. Their 11+ intakes often exist mainly for children who are joining them from state primary schools, expats returning home, international families wishing to access UK education from overseas, or to cater for their own prep school pupils. Many senior Heads often discourage parents from moving at 11 if staying at prep until 13 is an option. They trust and value highly the job their feeder prep schools do to prepare children for senior school during Years 7 and 8, for all the reasons already outlined, enabling them to grow into confident young people.