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Our Pre-Prep

Our Pre-Prep

Starting school is exciting! Little boys join us on their first day, ready to explore the world and discover its wonders. These first steps in to school life are so important, and our Reception class is deliberately small to ensure a gentle transition from home or nursery to full time education.

Six great reasons why parents choose to send their sons to The Pilgrims' School:

  1. Recognised as a school that is 'Great for Pastoral Care' in The Week's Independent Schools Guide, being curious, confident and caring is at the heart of everything we do, from Reception to Year 8. 
  2. Learning at Pilgrims' is rich in curiosity and enquiry. We teach a creative curriculum within the context of inspiring topic areas. Boys write and read with teachers every day. Maths is taught in a multisensory way using a variety of materials with an emphasis on real-world problem-solving. 
  3. Boys develop true confidence as they are nurtured and taught in small classes by Key Stage 1 teachers, Early Years Foundation Stage teachers and subject specialists in Forest School, French, Music, PE and Swimming. 
  4. Learning happens both in and outdoors in our unique and ancient setting in the heart of Winchester. Outdoors includes our Pre-Prep playground, riverside gardens and school playing fields, with additional access to the Bishop's Palace Garden and Winchester College water meadows for exploration during Forest School. 
  5. We celebrate the boys' achievements, whilst looking for and praising positive behaviour. 
  6. Wrap around care is provided by our own Pre-Prep staff. We offer daily Breakfast, After School and Supper Clubs. 

There is something so wonderful and special about teaching the youngest pupils, their ‘light bulb’ moments, curiosity and thirst for learning are magical.

Watch our Pre-Prep film

This one-minute video is a lovely introduction to our welcoming Pre-Prep.

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Our Pre-Prep curriculum


Our experienced Early Years teachers and full time teaching assistants, take great care to help your son feel at home, and they set aside lots of time at the start and end of each day to let you know how well he is doing.  In no time at all, your son will be settled in, making friends and growing in confidence with each passing day. 

Following the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum, we place a strong emphasis on learning through play, with a particular focus on outdoor learning - we are a recognised Forest School with an accredited Forest School Leader.

All boys in our Reception Class have access to their own garden throughout the day. Stimulating and challenging resources are set out to allow the boys endless opportunities for decision-making and problem-solving. Our timetable also allows opportunities to play in the Pre-Prep garden with the older Year 1 and 2 boys.


Pupils in the Early Years Foundation Setting achieve extremely well in meeting the expected learning goals well in advance of their entry to Year 1.

ISI Inspection Report, February 2023

Year 1 and Year 2

In Years 1 and 2, the curriculum and routines reflect the emerging maturity and independence of the boys. Cross-curricular learning encourages lateral-thinking and the use of wider knowledge. A history lesson studying transport, space or electricity may cover scientific or geographical content. An English lesson may use historical figures as its focus for creative writing. Teaching is built around topic-based contexts for learning, that enthuse our boys – dinosaurs, pirates, space and castles are always popular themes! 

Numeracy and literacy are stand-alone, core subjects and are taught in small groups tailored carefully to the needs and abilities of each boy. 

IT sessions ensure that the boys are comfortable with technology and familiar with the IT suite. Interactive whiteboards, iPads and desktop computers are used in all areas of our teaching.

The Pre-Prep is an integral part of The Pilgrims' School, and there is no further entry assessment required for Pilgrims’ boys to continue to Year 3 of the Prep. The Pre-Prep curriculum is firmly aligned with that of Year 3 and each boy's progress is closely monitored by the Head of the Pre-Prep and the Head of the Junior Years, ensuring the best preparation for transition to Year 3.  

Find out about the core subjects in Pre-Prep.

An Untypical School Day…

No two days are ever quite the same in the busy Pre-Prep. Chicks hatching from eggs in the incubator, a Lego workshop challenge, a day building sandcastles on the beach, a tea party for grandparents, or a performance of the Pre-Prep musical - there is always something a little bit different and exciting happening.

      Our Location

      We are blessed with a truly idyllic location. Just an hour south of London by direct train, with easy access to all the major travel hubs, and yet we are surrounded by the stunning countryside of the South Downs National Park. The school is tucked away between Winchester Cathedral and Winchester College, within the secure and secluded Cathedral Close. Moments from our front door is the heart of the historic city of Winchester, or step through our back gate to find water meadows, countryside, and the South Downs Way.