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Our Pre-Prep

Our Pre-Prep curriculum


Starting school is exciting! Little boys join us on their first day, ready to explore the world and discover its wonders.

These first steps into 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.

Our experienced Reception teacher, specially trained in EYFS, and a full-time teaching assistant 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 of the boys in the Pre-Prep spend time outside each day, in a combination of playtime and outdoor learning. The boys in Reception have access to their own garden throughout their whole day, where they can look after the veggie plot,  make delicious 'food' in the mud kitchen, play with water and sand, build houses with over-sized bricks - it's a busy day! At break, they play with the rest of the Pre-Prep in one of our two spacious playgrounds. 

Children within the EYFS are active learners and they have many opportunities to explore and investigate. They are enthusiastic and happy learners who are supported to make strong progress, whatever their needs.‚Äč ISI Inspection

Through example and encouragement, the boys learn how to take turns, to share and to work together.  


In Years 1 and 2, the curriculum and routines reflect the emerging maturity and independence of the boys - but learning through play remains a key element. Cross-curricular learning encourages lateral-thinking and the use of wider knowledge. A history lesson studying transport, space or electricity may draw upon science, English and geography, for example; an English lesson may use historical figures as its focus for creative writing. Teaching is built around topic-based activities that enthuse 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.  



Talking is a vital skill when you are learning how to read and write, so you can be sure to find lots of conversation when you visit our Pre-Prep. Role-play and drama are used to tease ideas and story plans from the boys as they develop their creative writing skills and grow as independent writers. Using the Read, Write, Inc scheme of learning, the boys make swift and steady progress, and it is a joy to see their excitement as they discover their new skills. 

Inspiration for creative output is often sought outdoors. ‘Poem and story making’ is a hugely popular and important Forest School activity.

The Pre-Prep reading scheme is of our own creation, devised specifically to draw boys into the magic of books, and reading. Titles are carefully selected and a wide range of styles presented, including many non-fiction works which often capture a boy's interest more readily than fiction. Discussion is an essential part of learning to read, and we encourage our emerging readers to use predictive and reasoning skills while chatting about the pictures and storylines in their books.


French begins in Reception by being integrated into the daily routine, for example taking the register in French or reading a story in French, and progresses to a 30-minute lesson each week for boys in Year 2. A French immersion day each year introduces the boys to the delights of French food, culture and wider use of the language. Extension work is arranged for any native French speakers.


In the Pre-Prep, the bountiful resources on our doorstep are used extensively as the boys focus initially on their local environment, establishing an awareness of where we live in this world through first-hand observation.  Orienteering skills are introduced as the boys learn to create and interpret maps.


The boys study people and events of the past, ranging from the immediacy of their own grandparents to historical figures as diverse as Lord Nelson, Guy Fawkes, Neil Armstrong and Thomas Edison. Questioning and research are actively encouraged and topics are deliberately boy oriented: the study of castles, the history of transport, pirates, ships, and the American Indians are immediately popular and easily accessible. Lessons are very visual and supported wherever possible with a field trip. In this way, the boys begin to grasp the concept of chronology and to discern the similarities and differences between ways of life in the past.


Teaching makes full use of explorative learning and scientific investigation. Our Forest School and emphasis on outdoor learning are especially key in helping the boys to develop a sensory awareness of the natural world around them, of its processes and phenomena.

Ellipse 14

Plan, Do, Review

  • 1
    Take charge of deciding what sort of cargo ship he will make
  • 2
    Carry out the research necessary to design the ship
  • 3
    Create the design
  • 4
    Build the ship and sail it on our river!
  • 5
    Assess how well it sailed and how closely it resembled the original design
  • 6
    Consider any improvements for a future design

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.