We are evolving our academic and holistic provision at Sherborne Prep, by partnering with the Pre-Senior Baccalaureate (PSB).
Teaching insights and research have taught us that children need a curriculum which places as much value on core learning skills as it does on the acquisition of knowledge. This means that children need to not only learn how to pass exams but to also develop character traits which enable them to be good communicators, mentally flexible and resilient – attributes which will help them to thrive in life academically, socially and professionally. The PSB provides a framework to support us in developing, in our pupils, these vital skills that they will need in their future lives.
The PSB is a natural fit for Sherborne Prep as its approach and aims are so aligned with our Sherborne Prep ethos. Partnering with PSB allows us to further advance our approach to skills development in learning and explicitly show our pupils the importance of this, alongside knowledge acquisition. Ultimately, Sherborne Prep pupils will leave our school with a toolbox full of skills rather than just a briefcase of grades.
The 2022 Times Education Commission, one of the broadest inquiries into education ever held in Britain, concluded that a necessary change to our education system should be -
A more rounded curriculum for the 21st century that engages young people and empowers teachers, based on knowledge, skills and character.
At Sherborne Prep, we have always been passionate about preparing our children for the future and have been convinced at the importance of a well-rounded education. We have been seeking a framework to enable us to deliver this in a consistent way, across all year groups and subjects with clear targets and a measure of success. The PSB offers us an external, verified way of recognising the authenticity of what we are delivering.
The PSB is an assessment model that has, at its heart, the development of the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values required for children to succeed and flourish in an ever-changing world. Children are encouraged, recognised and celebrated in their achievements, and are directly prepared for the next step of their educational journey.
- Is a framework that our current, robust curriculum can sit within.
- Bridges the skills gap, previously lacking in a content-based curriculum.
- Encourages implicit skills and characteristics to be made more explicit.
- Enables a more holistic approach.
- Has six core skills incorporated into teaching, feedback and reports; Leadership, Collaboration, Independence, Thinking & Learning, Reviewing & Improving, and Communicating.
- Maintain our high academic standards through a knowledge-rich curriculum,
- Prepare our children well for their secondary education and beyond into their working lives,
- Explicitly teach and develop the key skills pupils need to be lifelong learners ,
- Retain the best of the Common Entrance and National Curriculums, but adapt where appropriate (as we have already done in the Humanities),
- Gain access to a network of 50+ other PSB schools.
The PSB has a flexible and adaptable assessment model which is recognised by senior schools and allows us to move away from the rigid Common Entrance exam.
It will allow your child to leave Sherborne Prep with a cumulative, externally recognised and verified certificate of achievement across all of School life. A combination of exams, end of topic tests, projects, presentations and continual in-class teacher assessment will contribute to your child’s portfolio and grading which will be on a 10-point scale, from emerging to exceptional.
A key part of the PSB is an independent project undertaken by pupils in Year 8.
Children are coached through the process by their tutor and their research can be presented in a variety of formats. This project is highly valued by senior schools as it develops independence, critical thinking and self-regulated learning. Current PSB schools report that the PSPQ is a highlight of their school calendar.
Why is Sherborne Prep moving away from Common Entrance (CE)?
The rise of pre-testing now determines the vast majority of senior school entry decisions and, in most cases, children are offered a place to their senior school in Year 6 or 7, which essentially renders the CE exams an irrelevant part of the process. We want to move away from the restricted methods of content-driven, rote-learning which is required by some of the CE exams. We have seen the benefits of moving away from CE, as we did with the humanities ten years ago. We will take the best elements of CE and build on these with a more holistic and rounded approach, without compromising on academic rigour and the challenge needed to stretch our pupils so they are ready to fly in Year 9
What do Senior Schools think about the PSB?
We have consulted all senior schools to which Sherborne Prep pupils have moved to over the past 10 years. All schools have endorsed, in fact welcomed, this move on our part. Please see a selection of endorsements below. They are behind our plans to implement PSB, with many commenting on this much-needed approach to education.
Will there be any changes to the scholarship programme?
No. Preparation for scholarship will remain unchanged. However, established PSB schools report that the grounding and breadth of thinking introduced will ensure that pupils are even better prepared for their scholarship exams and interviews.
So, what is really changing?
In summary, pupils will be developing their thinking skills rather than remembering skills. Success in CE relies to a great extent on the simple acquisition of knowledge. Children will be immersed in a programme which delivers the acquisition of knowledge AND the acquisition of skills AND the application of knowledge. Pupils will leave Sherborne Prep at the end of Year 8 with a certified certificate of achievement that is recognised by senior schools as an indication of their academic and skill-based attainment.
“We are delighted that Sherborne Prep is embracing the Pre-Senior Baccalaureate. The PSB represents an important step in the evolution of the Prep’s academic programme and will play a central role in ensuring that all the boys and girls benefit from an engaging, challenging and wide-ranging intellectual training that encourages them to think for themselves, work in collaboration and demonstrate leadership qualities. The PSB will help them develop the practical skills and habits of mind that are the foundation of a successful academic education alongside the Prep’s outstanding pastoral and co-curricular provision.”
Dominic Luckett, Headmaster Sherborne School
“Sherborne Girls fully supports Sherborne Prep School’s decision to enhance their curriculum by adopting a programme focusing on skill development alongside knowledge acquisition. This approach aligns positively with our own curriculum in Years 7 to 9, enabling pupils to focus on academic exploration, investigation and instilling a love of learning. Encouraging curiosity, collaboration, communication and confidence, the PSB offers the potential for an innovative academic education. Sherborne Girls looks forward to continued academic and co-curricular collaboration.”
Louise Orton, Senior Deputy Head Sherborne Girls
“Canford and Sherborne Prep have a long standing, well established relationship which we value highly. Sherborne Prep’s decision to move away from Common Entrance to the Pre-Senior Baccalaureate is a choice being made in a number of school. Our primary desire is that pupils join us who have progressed academically and intellectually to the standards we require in their former schools, have shown positive character traits of hard work, resilience and self-motivation. As a result, they will arrive at Canford excited, curious and passionate to learn more. We have every expectation that the plans Sherborne Prep has in place for its new curriculum will provide this.”
Ben Vessey, Headmaster Canford School
“The cross-curricular, inter-disciplinary approach of the PSB is one we are an advocate of and that we implement through our senior school at Bryanston. I am confident that the PSB will serve you and your pupils well, allowing them to develop as well-rounded, articulate, and confident problem solvers. The PSB has a well-deserved reputation for developing curiosity and independence, both of learning and thought.”
"I am more than happy to support Sherborne Prep boys and girls applying to King’s Bruton via the PSB. I am sure that this will give them an excellent education and preparation for senior school."
Ian Wilsmhurst, Headmaster King’s Bruton
“Sophie Langdale, Director of Admissions, is delighted to support those Prep Schools moving from CE to PSB and so I'm just writing to confirm that Radley is very happy with this arrangement and wholly supports you in it.”
“Senior schools like Marlborough are increasingly interested in the whole process of the balance between teaching and learning. This suits modern global syllabuses and the Pre-Senior Baccalaureate is broad in its scope thereby leading to the prospect of a truly balanced education.”
“We see this programme as a very positive step forward in Prep School education.”
“We have supported the PSB from its early days of inception; we wholeheartedly agree with the mission statement of developing a lifelong love of learning. This has to be at the heart of what we are all trying to achieve whether in the Prep or Senior school arena. A greater focus on skills and developing the qualities and characteristics of a strong learner has to be the way forward and as such, we feel that the PSB provides an excellent opportunity for schools to develop an exciting but rigorous academic programme that will enrich the pupils’ experience at the crucial formative stage.”
"Excellent news and I have every confidence that you will continue to do a brilliant job in preparing your pupils for the next phase of their educational journey. I am sure the transition will require a lot of hard work and some adjustments for your team. I hope it all goes smoothly, but I have no doubt it will be a good decision in the long run."
"The PSB prepares young children thoroughly in the more ‘transferable’ skills which play an increasingly important role in how senior schools assess their pupils. It creates the foundation for a love of learning and for the core educational skills that are so integral to their needs for the future."
“Balancing academic rigour with the development of core skills sound excellent and I wish everyone at Sherborne the best with the journey ahead.”