Preparatory (‘prep’) schools are private schools that are equivalent to the primary and middle schools of the state education sector, usually catering for children aged two to 13 years old. They are different from mainstream schools and not normally required to follow a national curriculum. Prep schools used to be small exclusive schools designed to prepare boys aged 8 to 13 for boarding school. Nowadays they have grown and diversified, and many have become co-educational.
What about the curriculum at a prep school?
Prep schools provide a high standard of education that is usually based on a national curriculum but that goes far beyond it. They aim to balance traditional values with modern developments in teaching and learning. They are no longer a bastion of old-fashioned uniforms, strict discipline and classical academic focus.
How do prep schools differ from state schools?
They have small class sizes, a focus on pastoral care and lots of extra-curricular activities. They often focus on the arts, music, speech and drama, and sports. Prep school students often develop strong public speaking and performance skills. Prep schools traditionally give children a broad education where they have a lot of fun along with their studies.
The aim is to extend childhood, and pupils’ social skills and emotional well-being are nurtured for longer. So, after studying at an international preschool, Bangkok children are better equipped for a smoother transition into other educational institutions, the workplace, and life in general. Prep schools place a strong emphasis on developing character, and soft skills such as creativity, teamwork, empathy, resilience and honesty. They also focus on people skills and on developing pupils’ communication skills with an emphasis on courtesy and respect.
How do prep schools differ from each other?
Prep schools vary hugely because they are independent, and some have links with specific public schools. Certain prep schools are part of educational groups which are highly academic and serve as ‘feeder schools’ to high-achieving senior schools. Other prep schools are independent and focus more on building the confidence of children of all abilities and aim to help parents decide on the most appropriate senior school or university for their child.
What are the real benefits of a prep school education?
There are several reasons why parents may choose prep schools over state schools to provide an educational foundation for their children. Academically, attending an independent school appears to add the equivalent of two extra years of schooling to a child’s education by the age of 16. This is especially reflected in the earlier years of a child’s education.
Class sizes are lower than in state schools, so children receive more individual attention and are taught by more specialist teachers. Prep schools are smaller than their equivalent in the public sector, so no child can get lost in the crowd. The facilities are usually excellent, and include good sporting amenities and often, large grounds. However, most parents choose to send their children to prep schools because of the high-quality educational programme they offer and the life skills they nurture.