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Pre - Prep

Reception, Years 1 & 2

An NCS education begins in the Pre-Prep where boys join a class of sixteen boys. Led by nurturing form tutors and with an immediate sense of camaraderie, they are gently introduced to the structures and routines of learning, as well as the interdependence of every aspect of school life. 


Numeracy and literacy skills are developed alongside specialist teaching in Music, Art, Computing, French and Games. As the boys grow more confident, home-based tasks such as reading and spellings are introduced, and lunchtime or after-school activities are offered.

Beyond the classroom, the boys’ understanding of their wider community and environment is expanded through 'Wild Learning' in our garden, games fixtures with local schools, and outings to the many places of interest in Oxford and beyond. Drama productions and concerts introduce the boys to performing to parents and friends, and keen singers interested in joining New College Choir audition in Year 2.

As part of the NCS ethos of nurturing individual talents, all boys are encouraged to be supportive of their peers and to celebrate their own and others’ achievements. Personal, Social, Health, Citizenship and Economic Education (PSHCEE) follows the Family Links programme, focusing on emotional literacy and health, moral and social responsibility, self-esteem and empathy, behaviour and relationship skills. Pre-Prep boys’ efforts inside and outside school are recognized with entries in the Excellence Book, on the WOW board, and in presentations during assemblies and our weekly chapel service in New College.

Years 3 & 4

Continuing on into the Prep School in Year 3, the boys don full school uniform for the first time, and they graduate to moving around the school to different lessons. More Science lessons are taken in the specialist lab, and we add further specialist teaching in Maths, DT, and the Humanities, while a careful and graduated timetable of prep (homework) begins.

Pupils are encouraged to reflect on their learning as they formulate learning targets with their form tutors. Gentle end-of-year assessments are introduced so boys begin to become familiar with the experience and practices of academic assessment. The activities programme in the Prep School expands to offer a full week of optional artistic, academic, and sporting activities at lunchtime and after school. The boys also enjoy short residential trips to nearby centres.

A joint Year 3 & 4 operetta is performed towards the end of the year, and the regular junior concerts give the boys opportunities to perform instrumental and vocal pieces. Probationer choristers continue building on their training in music theory and become increasingly involved in Choir rehearsals in New College Chapel. More time is spent on Field as football, rugby, and cricket skills are developed, and hockey is added in Hilary term, using the University astroturfs. Boys regularly compete with local teams and in house matches across all sports.

The Family Links programme continues and boys’ achievements are celebrated in the Headmaster’s Newsletter, the school website, assemblies, and merit cards and housepoints.

Years 5 & 6

In Years 5 & 6, boys have specialist teaching in all subjects, and Classics is introduced. Preparations for senior schools begin with 13+ pre-tests in Year 6, with the introduction of more formal assessment practices.

The lively programme of lunchtime and after-school activities continues. Optional Saturday morning music school begins, and choristers are fully inducted into New College Choir, moving to a full schedule of rehearsals, recording and touring. 

Years 5 and 6 exercise their growing language skills in a joint French play, and the boys continue to explore further afield, with a summer residential trip to France. As boys enter Year 6, they take part in senior music concerts and look forward to their induction into the senior part of the school.

Years 7 & 8

The culmination of boys’ time at NCS, in Years 7 and 8, is marked by high-order specialist teaching alongside many opportunities to pursue a variety of activities outside the classroom. The start of Year 7 includes final preparation for the remainder of 13+ pre-tests to senior schools, while exams in Year 8 are tailored towards academic scholarships at senior schools, or a wide variety of assessments in the Prep School Baccalaureate (PSB) exams. There is a specialist scholarship class for those boys preparing for academic scholarships to their senior schools, while Classical Greek is also introduced as an optional subject.

In Years 7 and 8 the curriculum broadens to take into account the academic rigour, freedom and skills development offered by the Prep School Baccalaureate. The boys are encouraged to reflect on and develop their skills in: thinking and learning, independence, collaboration, reviewing and improving, communication and leadership. Indeed, many leadership opportunities are on offer, including election to the prefecture. The boys also get the opportunity to take on an independent learning project through the fortnightly Special Subject. The curriculum has an international focus, with many topics addressing the role of Britain in the world over the centuries to the present day. PSHCEE lessons are tailored to suit the needs of young teenagers, and they include some early guidance on possible future careers.

All boys in Years 7 and 8 take part in a Shakespeare play in the extraordinary setting of New College Chapel. There are also opportunities for boys to prepare for Art, Music, Drama, Sports and All-Rounder scholarships to their senior schools. Music scholarship preparation includes regular senior concerts, a specialist masterclass, and a scholars’ concert in the Holywell Music Room. Collaborative musical, drama and social events take place with local girls' schools and there is an adventurous outward-bound trip in Year 7 and a sun-soaked cultural trip to Sicily in Year 8.

The final weeks of Year 8 are punctuated by a series of leavers’ social events, including: the leavers’ dinner, a farewell cricket match, a leavers’ concert in the University Church, a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream in New College Cloisters, and of course the last Sports Day and Prizegiving. The boys then head on to their chosen senior schools contented, confident and fully-prepared for what lies ahead.