Preparing for the Future
future schools, 2011-21
Some senior schools require prospective pupils to sit a pre-test, usually in Years 6 or 7, either as part of a full prospective cohort on a set day each year, or on an individual ad hoc basis. These pre-tests are designed to assess the suitability of each candidate for the kind of education offered in each senior school. Senior schools are quite clear that it is considered detrimental if candidates are over-tutored for these tests because it could lead to a pupil entering a school at which they later find it difficult to cope. This could have a fundamental effect upon boys' progress and wellbeing in their teenage years.
Thus, preparing pupils for these tests is a careful professional balance. At NCS we believe in making sure our boys are familiar and comfortable with the kinds of assessment present in pre-tests. We ensure that the boys are prepared first and foremost in the sense that they are familiar with the kinds of challenges they will face. As they progress through the School, the boys practise verbal and non-verbal reasoning tests as well specific past papers as part of their normal English and Mathematics curriculum. As pre-tests approach, preps become focused more immediately on their demands. Pupils will also have opportunities for practice interviews with senior members of staff.
pre-SEnior baccalaureate (PSB)
In Years 7 and 8, NCS boys work towards the Pre-Senior Baccalaureate (PSB). The PSB has academic rigour at its core, with final Year 8 exams (in English, Maths, Science, French, History, Geography, RSP, Latin, Coding and optional Greek) set and marked in-house, with standards moderated where necessary by our senior schools and annual meetings with other PSB schools. In Music, Art and DT, the boys' work is assessed, where appropriate, through classwork, coursework or portfolio. The curriculum content embraces the fundamental elements of the National Curriculum and the best parts of alternative curricula like Common Entrance, while providing NCS teachers and pupils with the flexibility to innovate and develop creative, engaging and forward-looking curriculum content.
The PSB is centred on a skills grid, which encourages NCS boys to think about their personal development in a number of different areas, both inside and outside the classroom. It promotes vital skills in independent learning, the appropriate use of ICT, critical thinking, communication, collaboration and leadership. The PSB centres on a Record of Achievement (RoA) that is updated throughout Years 7 and 8, on which all areas of school life are represented. This RoA enables pupils’ grades and achievements, across the whole curriculum, to be kept on file, and shared at any time with their future schools. The RoA also tracks standardised scores, additional achievements, and pupils’ developments in a variety of different skills that are frequently monitored by the boys themselves and their form tutors. Boys in the Year 8 scholarship form (8S) also complete the PSB, with their scholarship exam grades contributing to the final grades on their RoA, alongside summer assessments in subjects not taken in the scholarship exams.
The senior schools to which NCS sends pupils are very enthusiastic about NCS boys completing the PSB, as we provide them with pupils who have experienced a rigorous, adventurous and creative curriculum. Through the RoA, they also receive a comprehensive and rounded picture of their future pupils. A small number of senior schools, while recognising the value of the PSB, for parity with other prep schools wish to maintain their own Year 8 assessment in core subjects such as English and Maths. Under the PSB the main subjects still follow the core subject content assessed in these separate papers. NCS boys are fully prepared on a case-by-case basis for any assessment that may come up.