Prep School transition tips - Hurstpierpoint College

Prep School transition tips

Lloyd Dannatt, Deputy Head (Academic) at Hurst College, was interviewed by about the transition from Pre-Prep to Prep School

What are the main worries of children at this age?

Making friends – if they are joining a new Prep School they will naturally be worried about making friends, however two weeks in they will feel as though they have always been there. Getting lost – children will have been predominantly based in one classroom in the Pre-Prep and will have moved around the school chaperoned by a vast team of adults. When they join the Prep School in Year 3 they will be allowed to roam freely (within limits) and be responsible for getting themselves to different places such as the Music Room or Drama Studio. Whilst hugely exciting, there is the worry that they will get lost, but rest assured all teachers are forever counting heads and everyone in the school will be looking out for new children to help them if they need directions.

What key differences are they likely to face as they step up to Year 3?

The school day will usually be a little longer, and combined with a little more movement around the school to specialist teaching areas. Children may feel a little more tired to start with, but within a week or so they have usually adjusted very well. The children will start to be more aware of the patterns in the day and will have a timetable to follow with bells starting and ending lessons. Homework will gradually taper up and will start to become an important part of their learning, laying the foundations for increased independent working.

What can parents do in the build up to help their children feel confident and at ease?

If a class list and pupil photos are provided, parents can talk these through with their children so that they recognise some of their classmates when they start. Parents should also try to take up any opportunities for play dates over the summer holidays so that their children can start building friendships. If children are taking up new sports in the Prep School, familiarising them with these over the summer is a really good idea. If there is an opportunity for them to join a sports camp at their new school these are an excellent way to meet others and become a little more familiar with the school buildings.

How can parents help their children on their first day in the Prep School?

Be organised with uniform and any kit lists well in advance – make sure everything is ready and that nothing is missing. The last thing anyone needs is a panic the day before – or worse still the worry that children have been sent in without something they know they need. On arrival, children should be encouraged to go straight in – they will be absolutely fine – and waiting around in the playground, for what will seem like hours, will only worry them and distract their focus on the day ahead. Parents will also feel anxious, so it is a good idea to arrange to meet other parents for coffee 30 minutes after drop off. That way they all have to leave and it is a good opportunity for parents to bond with each other. Parents should ensure they are at school in plenty of time to collect their children at the end of day.

How does Hurst Prep School ease the transition for parents and pupils?

In the summer term before they start, new joiners come in and spend a day in their new Year 3 classroom, with their new Year 3 teacher, together with the internal Year 2 children. This is a great way for them to start meeting other children joining Year 3. The teacher also invites all the parents to come in for a ‘Meet the Teacher’ event – a relaxed opportunity to ask questions and meet other parents. A similar evening event happens again a week into starting Year 3 to give everyone the chance to ask even more questions and meet each other again. Parents are also given a joining pack with lots of useful information such as timings for the school day, lunch menus, names of key people etc.

What sort of ongoing parental support will help children handle the differences in Year 3?

Organisation is key. Helping children to establish routines for packing bags with the correct books, making sure they have their swimming kit on the right day, making sure they have learnt their spellings before the day of the test. It’s very easy to want to organise everything for them, but this is a year for laying foundations for the future, so parents should show them how to check they have everything they need in the bag rather than always checking for them.


Please follow the links below for further information about Hurst College, an independent, co-educational, day and flexi/weekly boarding school for pupils aged 4–18, located just to the north of the village of Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex.

Prep & Pre-Prep
Senior School
Sixth Form
College Campus

Hurst College’s inspection reports and reviews:
ISC Inspection reports
Good Schools Guide