Frequently asked questions PSB

Q. Why is CCS moving away from CE?

A. The rise of pre-testing in Year 6 and Year 7 now determines the vast majority of Senior School entry decisions, and essentially renders CE irrelevant in the process. It also begs an important question about what the curriculum focus should be for our children in Years 7 and 8. 

Q. How will the PSB benefit my child in Year 7 and 8?  

A. The PSB will provide your children with a flexible, broad, creative and purposeful educational experience. It will give your children a better and more relevant education for the evolving workplace. And it will also make them more attractive to Senior Schools.  

In most cases, children are now offered a place to their senior schools in Year 6 or Year 7.  In Year 8 they have to sit a limited range of tests to finalise their place, but they do not have to sit the Common Entrance exams in order to secure their place. This has meant that at a key stage in a child’s development, both academic and social, we are no longer hindered by having to coach the children purely to pass an exam.   Rather, as your child enters Year 7, we are able to develop the curriculum, and look deeper into certain areas to ensure that their intellectual curiosity is fully sparked, that they remain open-minded and optimistic without cynicism.  

Our excellent, expert teachers, who know your children really well, will now be better able to tailor the pace, content and variety of learning to their individual needs, rather than being restricted by the content-driven, rote-learning required by some of the Common Entrance courses. Children will spend more time developing their independent learning and collaboration skills under the auspices of a broad, differentiated and knowledge rich curriculum. Academic rigour and challenge will not be diminished.  

The end of year exams will still ensure pupils leave Castle Court ready for the examination challenges of Senior School. However, the new curriculum allows more time to cover a broad range of subjects and their associated skills in greater depth. We want to develop a more robust platform for future learning, purpose and fulfilment: this is an opportunity to move away from memorising and back to learning.  

Q. Have you already discussed this with Senior Schools? Have they confirmed that they will accept PSB?  

A. Yes. Please refer to the Senior School Views section towards the beginning of the Pathway for a selection of feedback from senior school heads. Every school is happy with the changes that we are making. 

Q. What are other schools doing?  

A. The PSB is a consortium of a growing number of Prep Schools nationwide. Some Prep Schools have been following the PSB curriculum for a long time while others have decided to create their own schemes of work.   Others are continuing with CE.  

Q. Will there be any changes to the scholarship programme?  

A. No.  Preparation for scholarship will remain as it is.  However, the grounding and breadth of thinking introduced from Year 7 will ensure that, if anything, pupils are even better prepared for their scholarship exams and interviews. Over the last three years children at Castle Court have won 14 academic scholarships to Canford, more than any other prep school in the country. In addition, they have been awarded a further 53 scholarships including an Election to Winchester (regarded as one of the toughest scholarship tests in the country), five academic scholarships to Talbot Heath, two to Bournemouth Collegiate and one to Millfield.  We are proud of this level of academic rigour and see PSB as a key move to ensure that our pupils continue with this level of success. 

Q. Will there be any changes to Learning Support?  

A. The development of the tutor programme will allow us the time to spend more time focusing on the individual needs of our children.  

Q. What do these changes look like?  

A. In short, your children will be developing their thinking skills rather than their remembering skills. Success in CE relies to a greater degree on the simple acquisition of knowledge. Over the two years children will be immersed in a programme which delivers the acquisition of knowledge AND the acquisition of skills AND the application of knowledge. 

Q. What about Character Education?  

A. We will continue to teach subject specific knowledge and skills but we will also bolster and integrate the importance of our 7Cs and core learning skills across all learning environments and subjects.  These key values are the foundations of all learning in school, work and life; they underpin our attitude to learning, our concentration and focus; our desire to learn and our attainment, achievement and future opportunities and success.  

Q. How does assessment work? 

A. The PSB is a flexible and adaptable assessment model recognised by all senior schools that will allow your child to leave CCS with a cumulative externally recognised and verified certificate of achievement across all aspects of school life. Teachers will be able to track achievement in subject- specific skills, transferable skills and character virtues alongside knowledge-based content. A combination of end of year exams, projects, presentations and in-class teacher assessment will contribute toward each child’s individual portfolio and grading. This means that the senior schools will have more information on your child when they transition, ensuring that they are supported more effectively and appropriately from the start.