- Specialist Teachers
- Creative Arts
- Physical Education
- Outdoor Learning
- Surrey Wildlife Trust Partnership
The girls are provided with:
- an intellectual challenge and a sense of achievement;
- ways to develop knowledge, understanding and skills in a manner which encourages their confidence and gives satisfaction and enjoyment;
- opportunities to develop their independent thinking and learning skills; skills to acquire knowledge, attitudes and learning which will facilitate further study;
- experiences enabling the formation of worthwhile and satisfying relationships based on respect for themselves and for others;
- the opportunity for enrichment and subject-based support through provision of a range of additional activities including field trips.
- an understanding that learning is a life long skill from which they can derive pleasure and enjoyment.
In addition, we believe that a wide range of extra-curricular opportunities offer girls the chance to develop further many of the skills which enhance their performance in this taught curriculum.
The Prep School curriculum comprises all formal academic subjects in addition to the broader opportunities of extension activities outside the classroom.
Throughout the Pre-Prep department the girls have specialist teachers for Computing, Music, Ballet and PE and there are plenty of opportunities during the year for the girls to celebrate their achievements in these subjects, such as school assemblies, Informal Concerts, Sports Day and the Christmas Nativity.
EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage)
Pre-Prep I (Reception) celebrates the start of school life at St Catherine's. Our main objective during this first year at school is for girls to feel secure, happy and settled. The girls follow the Foundation Stage Curriculum with activities to promote the Prime Areas of Learning which are:
- Communication and Language, Physical Development and Personal, Social and Emotional Development.
- Specific areas include Literacy, Mathematics and Understanding the World, Expressive Arts and Design.
Art, Crafts, Music, Ballet and Drama are developed through the Expressive Arts and Design area of the curriculum.
There is a strong emphasis on having fun whilst learning which gives the girls confidence and encourages independence.
Pre-Prep II and III
These year groups continue to build on the solid foundations laid down in Pre-Prep I. The girls are encouraged during these years to become increasingly independent. The happy, secure and inspiring classrooms in Trinity Court provide the girls with the confidence to tackle new challenges and to develop their emerging skills in reading, writing and maths.
In Pre-Prep III girls start to learn the violin or cello in our string scheme. Ballet, Tap, Modern Dance and Chess are also offered as after school activities.
Girls are also introduced to a small selection of other optional clubs, including gardening and cookery.
Girls from Form 1 to Lower III remain in form-based teaching groups and, from Lower II, are in allocated teaching sets or small groups for Maths and some English lessons. Specialist teachers deliver Art, Computing, Design Technology, Drama, French, Music, Latin and PE. Girls in Lower III are also taught RS by our School Chaplain and Latin by a Senior School Classics teacher.
The Curriculum includes:
We are proud to be a De Bono Thinking School and promote independent thought and creative approaches to teaching and learning.
Our aim is for girls to leave the Prep School as confident, thinking young ladies ready to take advantage of all of the opportunities available in their next phase of education. Girls leave the Prep School to take up Senior School places at a number of excellent schools. We are very proud of their achievements.
2019 Leavers Destinations:
There are many opportunities for the girls to participate in the Creative Arts which are an important part of their education at this age and stage. Ballet is taught as part of the Pre-Prep curriculum and girls have an excellent musical education taught by specialist music teachers from PPI. Dance, drama and music are vibrant within the school and there are regular chances for the girls to perform both informally to their peers and within more formal setting in our outstanding Auditorium.
In Art, girls have the opportunity to work with a variety of different media in our inspirational Art room.
Girls develop their techniques with creativity, experimentation and different kinds of art and design. They are taught to create sketch books to record their observations and improve their art and design practice, including drawing, painting and sculpture using a range of materials. They are also introduced to artists and designers to underpin their thoughts and ideas for their own artwork.
We also run two weekly Art clubs where students have the chance to work in small groups and create a variety of projects in addition to the curriculum.
- Girls in PPI and PPII are taught Ballet as part of their curriculum. The curricular classes take place during the school day and aim to teach basic ballet technique and an awareness of the body and different ways of moving. Through imaginative, themed sessions, exploring fairy tales, classical ballet stories and links to school topics the dance classes will help the girls to harness skills in co-ordination, build their confidence and develop a greater understanding of working with others.
- For students in PPIII upwards ballet, Modern, Tap and Jazz dance classes are offered as an extra curricular activity taking place after school.
Drama is taught both as a discrete subject and as an important part of the English curriculum. As well as being great fun, taking part in drama develops the girls’ confidence, imagination and physical co-ordination, as well as their speaking and listening skills.
Girls have frequent opportunities to speak in front of an audience including assemblies, Harvest and Christmas celebrations and presentations to a group or class. LAMDA classes are offered to the older girls as an extra-curricular activity. Our two major public performances, the Pre-Prep Nativity and the end of LIII musical are always a delight and eagerly awaited by the school community and beyond.
The girls exude confidence, demonstrate great teamwork and perform with a maturity way beyond their years to create the most outstanding productions. We are very fortunate to be able to stage these events in the new, purpose built Anniversary Hall Theatre
Here at St Catherine’s, all girls are encouraged to foster a life-long passion for music, and it is taught as a specialist subject to each class from their very first week to their last. Curriculum lessons involve singing, playing instruments, listening and composing, using a wide variety of resources in our bright and engaging music room. Students can lie back whilst listening to music and look at the vibrant orchestra painted on the ceiling, or they can sit on our rainbow-hued wobble stools. Lessons are interactive, using lots of technology to increase the discourse between pupil and teacher, however we still teach very traditional skills such as the systematic Kodaly techniques for improving pitching and aural skills.
We have four years of instrumental tuition built into the curriculum from Pre-Prep III to Upper II. This is to help pupils find an instrument that they feel passionate and informed about. In Pre-Prep III girls learn a stringed instrument, Form I the recorder (whilst trying out all other woodwind and brass instruments) and Lower II and Upper II girls learn the ukulele.
Instrumentalists have many extra-curricular ensembles to join, including Piano Trios, String Quartets, Jazz Band, Wind Band, String Orchestra, Choirs, Musicianship Clubs and Music Technology clubs.
Performances are available throughout the year in many different settings. Pupils can perform against the stunning backdrop of our Prep School Organ, which takes pride of place in our School Hall, or on our beautiful donated Kawai grand piano which also resides there. We regular perform in the Senior School Auditorium, as young as Pre- Prep I in their Nativity. Concerts outside in the community take us to different schools, Fetes, halls and churches.
Our crown jewel is our new Soundscape Podcast equipment, which is permanently set up in the Music Room for pupils to come and use. We record a monthly podcast in the Music Room which is presented, edited and created by the pupils. This opportunity to access music and speech from behind a microphone is incredibly beneficial for pupils to build up their confidence and also to explore the alternative avenues that studying music offers.
Individual Music Lessons
Individual music lessons are available to girls from Form I upwards upon application. We have over thirty visiting instrumental teachers teaching a broad range of instruments, including piano and singing; the Director of Prep Music is always available to give advice on the taking up of instruments.
Girls in Pre-Prep are given a trial lesson with the Head of the relevant instrumental section to encourage their passion and ascertain their current level. Individual music lessons in Pre-Prep only start after approval is given by the Director of Prep Music and the Head of Pre-Prep.
We have a very busy department in the Prep School. To support our curriculum lessons listed below, we have activities at lunchtime, after school and at weekends. We offer clubs for all abilities and compete locally and nationally in many sports, enjoying great success.
All girls in Pre-Prep have lessons in gymnastics, movement, games, athletics and tennis. The girls learn to work independently, in pairs and small groups.
In PPI basic movement skills are taught with a view to beginning hockey and netball using modified equipment and rules suited to their age. From the summer of PPII, all girls start their swimming programme where we develop water confidence and begin 'stroke technique' in addition to the other activities.
Prep (Years 3-6)
All girls are taught netball, gymnastics, swimming, rounders, tennis, athletics and dance. Each lesson is 35 minutes and lessons are spread throughout the week to build in physical activity to their timetable on most days. The girls work towards improving their basic skills and techniques, gaining a greater understanding of the rules and an appreciation of the tactics involved in the games we play. They learn to work co-operatively and to compete fairly and appropriately against each other. Lessons are carefully differentiated to ensure all girls are working comfortably at their own level, achieving their individual potential.
In addition to this, the girls in Form I (Year 3) do a six week block of health related fitness and KS2 pupils all have the opportunity to take part in an outdoor and adventurous activities day.
The Prep School Library provides a bright, comfortable and cosy place for girls to browse, read and research. The library is generally open from 9:15 am – 2.45pm Monday through Friday during term time and is well stocked with over 8,000 fiction and non-fiction titles, as well as a collection of newspapers and magazines aimed specifically at children. The Library is managed by a librarian, who is supported by an enthusiastic group of parent volunteers, the Bibliocats.
Every form has a regularly scheduled period to visit the Library each week to exchange books, research and work on prep or simply enjoy quiet reading time. In addition the girls are encouraged to visit the Library during morning break and lunch break. All girls are expected to observe the published Library Code of Conduct when visiting the Library.
The Librarian and the Bibliocats, working with members of staff, organise a range of activities which stimulate the girls’ natural interest in stories, help them learn more about their world and support curriculum based topics. These activities include author visits, Librarians' Literary Lectures (found here on the main school library page), storytelling sessions, quizzes, book reviews, lunchtime book clubs and periodic book fairs. Each year group work has different reading challenges that they are encouraged to complete.
Book Week March 2023
This year’s World Book Day fell in in the midst of our Empathy Week celebrations, so we choose the theme of 'Empathy'. Prep School students were asked to seek out characters from literature who are inspiring examples of people that demonstrate empathy.
The thought-provoking theme caused much discussion and interest. We celebrated with our usual fun filled whole school assembly in the auditorium.
12th September 2023
It was wonderful to welcome award winning author, Ross Welford to present the latest of our Librarian Literary Lectures to UII, LIII, U3 and L4. He enthused the girls with an energic talk about his fiction books that are based on science, mystery, fantasy and magic. Everyone was mesmerised by his magic tricks and came away with some great tips to help their creative writing.
Previous presenting Authors:
- Anthony McGowan - March 2023
- Karl Nova - September 2022
- Robin Stevens - October 2019
- Geraldine McCaughrean - June 2019
- Linda Newbery - January 2019
- Katherine Woodfine - June 2018
- Jo Cotterill - September 2017
- Elen Caldecott - September 2016
- Frances Hardinge - January 2016
- Lauren St John - June 2015
- Julia Golding - September 2014
- Theresa Breslin - June 2014
- Michelle Paver - September 2013
- Lauren Child - June 2013
- Marcus Sedgwick - March 2013
Outdoor Learning offers the girls unique opportunities and experiences which cannot be taught within the confines of a classroom. Our girls are given the opportunity to enjoy a broad, progressive range of outdoor learning activities where your daughter has the opportunity to explore the areas she enjoys and nurture her self-belief and confidence.
There are five areas of Outdoor Learning which along with our values underpin the core teaching elements:
- Personal and emotional development
- Organisation, planning and risk management
- Group development
- Learning from nature
- Physical literacy
I liked collecting the materials to make the maracas because it was fun to find lots of interesting materials. I loved hearing all of the different sounds and trying to guess what was inside the different maracas. Clara, PPII
We have been learning about the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages in our Humanities lessons so we pretended to be Celts for an afternoon. We went outside to build our fire using flint and steel. Everyone was successful. Afterwards we roasted marshmallows and drank hot chocolate. Some people even dipped their marshmallows in their hot chocolate! Rose, L2
Throughout Pre-Prep, (Reception - Year 2) the girls are introduced to a variety of Outdoor Learning activities designed to develop their natural curiosity exploring the natural environment and learning from nature.
In the Prep, (Year 3 - Year 6) the girls enjoy a variety of challenging opportunities to further develop their Outdoor Learning skills. Each year group takes part in a number of activities learning a progressive set of Bush Craft skills. The girls also enjoy additional activities such as Wild Art and orienteering designed to develop their creativity and confidence.
Through Outdoor Learning, the girls become equipped with essential life skills which they will need to succeed in our ever-changing world. Most importantly though, they have fun, make memories and build friendships which will last a lifetime.
Click on the images below to read a snapshot of recent activities throughout the Prep School:
Outdoor Learning Lead
"I made a jungle with my friends. It was fun finding things in the woods." Florence
"I found it really interesting how the soil felt and how many shapes I could make in it." Annie
"It was really good fun because we had to work together and I liked creating the maps." Olivia
"I really enjoyed going to Nower Wood and doing the pond dipping because it was really interesting and we caught lots of exciting bugs, including a newt!" Ida
"My stick had lots of 'stumps' on it and it was hard work, but I wanted to keep going as it has been fun to try a new activity." Emilia
"It was really good fun and creative to make outdoor equipment, such as paint brushes, and use materials that we don't have in the classroom." Imogen
"Taking part in outdoor learning cleared my mind and I enjoy being outdoors, it is a nice change from the classroom. I really enjoyed learning how to whittle and making the dough dampers and it has been great to make new friends." Eva
Surrey Wildlife Trust Partnership
St Catherine’s have joined the Surrey Wildlife Trust’s Wilder Schools Project with the aim of increasing biodiversity in the schools grounds and at home to battle the decline in nature in the UK. Since starting, F1 (Year 3) have been leading the biodiversity project by surveying the school grounds and assessing potential gaps to help encourage more wildlife. The girls have raised awareness of the project through creating posters and presenting these in assembly and have also created a plan outlining how they will raise funds to create some of the habitats. So far ‘no mow’ spaces have been created and the ‘blue heart’ competition has been launched while also forming log circles for lessons outside and a place for invertebrates to call home. There are still lots to come, including creating a pond in the Cottage Garden and planting a hedgerow in the Senior School.
Trips and Curriculum Enrichment at St Catherine’s Prep
Trips provide our girls with an opportunity to learn and grow in ways that are not possible in the traditional classroom setting. They can develop perseverance and resilience through working both independently and as part of a team.
Our girls have recently benefited from a variety of day trips, including:
- Butser Ancient Farm, where they experienced what life was like for people in the Iron Age.
- Dell Quay, where they explored the tidal marshes and learned about the local wildlife.
- Hampton Court Palace, where they toured the royal apartments and gardens and learned about life in Tudor times.
- Sayers Croft, where they got hands-on experience with farming and gardening.
From FI (Year 3) upwards, we offer an annual residential trip to all of our girls. These trips start with one night away and gradually increase in length until our girls reach L3 (Year 6) and are away for a week.
Here is an example of the residential trips we offer throughout the Prep school:
- FI (Year 3): One-night bushcraft focused trip to Holmbury St Mary
- LII (Year 4): Two-night Roman themed trip to Hooke Court, Dorset
- UII (Year 5): Three-night outdoor pursuit trip at PGL, Isle of Wight
- LIII (Year 6): One-week language and culture immersion trip to Normandy, France
All trips are included in the school fees. This means that our girls can experience all of the benefits of learning outside the classroom without any additional cost to their families.
Curriculum Enrichment Activities
Our girls have the opportunity to explore a specific topic in more detail through a variety of methods, including independent research, role play, or a day trip. We collaborate with the Senior School and the local community to offer a wide range of enriching experiences.
Recent activities have included:
- Ancient Greek workshop
- Bramley Arts Week
- Bramley History Tour
- Computer Science Week
- Mental Health Week
- Evacuee Day
- Grandparents' Day
- Language Taster Week
- Mock Christening
- Mock Funeral
- Mock Wedding
- National Poetry Day
- Katie Morag Day
- Once Upon A Time Day
- Australia Day
- Victorian Day
- Problem Solving Day
- Tudor Showcase
- French Cafe and Workshop
- World Book Day
- Science workshops with RGS Prep and Tillingbourne School
- Adopt a Chef with RGS Prep
We believe that these trips and activities are an essential part of a well-rounded education and they provide our girls with a valuable opportunity to learn outside of the classroom and to experience new things. They also help them to develop their problem-solving, teamwork, and communication skills in stimulating ways. We are proud to offer these opportunities to all of our girls, and we believe that they are a valuable investment in their future.