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Hale Preparatory School, established in September 1980, is a completely independent, co-educational school for children from the age of 4 to 11. The school has five broad aims.
The school is accredited by the Independent Schools Joint Council and is subject to regular inspections. The most recent inspection was in the summer of 2014. The overall summary of the report reads,
“Hale Prep is a very successful school. Throughout, the teaching is excellent and the pupils’ industrious approach to their studies is reflected in their rapid progress and substantial academic achievement at all levels. Indeed, in some cases, levels of progress and achievement are exceptional. The pupils reach high standards of personal fulfilment and participate enthusiastically in a wide range of extra-curricular activities. The quality of the pupils’ personal development is excellent, reflecting the school’s highly effective emphasis on their welfare, safeguarding and wellbeing.”
In recent years, the school was considered the Prep School of the Year by the Sunday Times and was referred to in two studies presented to the Department of Education. First, on “Best Practice in the Independent Sector” and secondly as one of five examples of successful private schools.
One of the aims of the school is to develop each child to his or her fullest potential. This can only be achieved in a situation that emphasises a disciplined approach to school work. Teaching is carried out in a formal, traditional manner but one which also incorporates modern teaching aids. Homework is set every night.
The curriculum of the school is designed to create well-rounded children. Thus, whilst 50% of the curriculum is devoted to the core subjects of maths, English and science, all children have weekly lessons in drama, music, dance, art and design, information technology, history, geography, French, Spanish, ethics, physical education/games and Latin in year 6. Additionally, the school offers a range of extra-curricular activities including a dance club, theatre club, fencing, chess, sewing, gardening, choir, orchestra, a range of sports, outdoor pursuit holidays and continental ski trips.
Academic success is measured by examination performance. This is a fact of educational life, whatever the merits and de-merits of such a system of evaluation. Children must, therefore, from an early age be gradually introduced to examinations. It is emphasised that the criteria for judging a child’s examination results is not simply the examination mark, but also the teachers’ comments which serve to advise parents as to whether the mark measures up to a child’s innate ability and potential.
Until 2008, the school entered its pupils for the national curriculum tests at the age of 7 (Key Stage 1) and at the age of 11 (Key Stage 2). Whilst, as an independent school, there was no statutory requirement to do so, the school deemed it to be a useful guide, both to parents and the school. Increasingly, over recent years, this has not proved to be the case. Notwithstanding the fact that the school was always in the top 20 schools nationally, and on the majority of occasions the highest placed non-selective prep school, it was decided to cease entering pupils since the original objective of doing so was no longer being achieved.
Pupils’ progress is now monitored on an annual basis by Durham University Education Department. Already this has proved to be a useful additional guide, both to the school and parents.
The moral, intellectual and social development of children is the joint responsibility of parents and school. Both share the common goal of fostering the child’s development and it is essential that there should be the fullest possible cooperation and communication between school and parents.
The formal channels provided by the school include written reports and parent-teacher evenings, but the formal channels can, on occasion, prove inadequate since problems and queries can occur at any time. Consequently, the headmaster and each member of staff are always happy to see parents. By telephoning the school, appointments will be arranged usually on the same day. The school considers it to be of crucial importance for parents to have the confidence to approach the school immediately a problem or query presents itself.
Children enter the infants in the September following their fourth birthday. There are three classes in the infants – reception, year one and year two. Each infant class has a form teacher. The form teacher is assisted in a number of ways; deployment of a teaching assistant, a qualified teacher assists with the reading programme, specialist teachers assist in science, ICT, French, drama, dance, music, humanities and games.
The maximum number in each infant class is 24. In the majority of lessons, a support teacher is available to assist both low and high achievers.
Throughout the three years in the infants, children read one-to-one to a teacher every day.
The last report concluded
“The staff work exceptionally well together to ensure that all children are engaged and well-motivated. They have extremely high expectations of the children who respond enthusiastically to all that is asked of them. A good range of resources enables a challenging and interesting curriculum to be taught. Passionate about their work with the children, staff constantly evaluate the curriculum and their contribution to the children’s learning.”
There are four years in the juniors – years three, four, five and six. They are taught in groups of average size of 17. There is no streaming and each group is taught by the same teachers, covering exactly the same curriculum and set the same homework.
Throughout the juniors the children are taught by teachers specialising in one subject, on occasion two subjects.
The school places great emphasis on the individual and provides considerable small group and one-to-one teaching to those children experiencing problems or who have been absent through illness.
Education after Hale Preparatory School
The school’s curriculum is such that all the children are equipped to tackle the full range of examinations at eleven plus. The majority of pupils opt for the two local Altrincham Grammar Schools and the independent grammar schools in Greater Manchester.
The school has a thriving association. Fund-raising activities are organised and the proceeds have added substantially to the school’s facilities. The main impact, however, of the association and its major contribution to the school has been in the organisation of social events which have enabled parents and teachers to meet in an informal atmosphere.
School lunches are compulsory and hot lunches are prepared on the premises. A choice of meals is offered, including a salad bar. Weekly menus are made available for parental perusal.
Fees can be paid termly or alternatively by twelve monthly banker’s order. There is a 12% reduction for the second and subsequent children in the same family.
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