Longer teaching day helps prep pupils

28th May 1999 at 01:00
PREP -SCHOOL pupils spend at least 100 hours longer in the classroom each year than their counterparts in state schools, even though their terms are a week shorter, according to a new survey.

Headteachers from the Incorporated Association of Preparatory Schools, say the longer teaching day and greater use of specialist teaching are key factors in the success of their schools.

The teaching day in most prep schools is an hour longer than the minimum recommended in state primaries, the survey found. Many prep schools start the teaching day at 8.30am and do not finish until 5pm or 6pm and many also have school on Saturday morning. This enables them to fit in a generous amount of sport and still cover a broad curriculum.

The longer enables two-income professional parents to dispense with childcare.

The report, All Round Excellence, reveals the extent of specialist teaching in prep schools, where day fees average pound;1,900 a term. In Year 4, more than half the lessons are taught by specialists, rising to nearly 90 per cent by Year 6.

Some subjects - notably classics, modern languages and music - continue to flourish in independent schools while languishing in the state sector.

Two-thirds of prep schools still teach Latin and one in six cling to Greek. More than half of the children in the schools responding to the survey are currently being taught at least one musical instrument and, of these, four out of five receive individual tuition.

Prep schools also offer a wide range of sports with a significant emphasis on team games.

The specialist teaching and sports opportunities seem to attract the male teachers that state primary schools have such difficulty recruiting. Forty per cent of all prep-school teachers are male and the proportion is much higher in the senior years.

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