ISI Report 2023 Caterham Prep

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ISI Report 2023

From the Headmaster Caterham Prep was inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate in late November as part of a programme of regular routine inspections required by the Department for Education. An inspection is an important opportunity for a school to demonstrate excellence and to reflect on future development plans. The process is quite rightly rigorous and detailed and relies on extensive interviews with pupils and staff, lesson observations, work scrutiny and questionnaires to ensure that what a school says it does is what the pupils experience, and to ensure that pupils are benefitting from the best possible educational input from the school. We would like to thank you and your children for your time, care and honesty in providing feedback to the inspection team. We were inspected under a new framework which came into operation in September. The new inspection reports no longer contain a single word judgement about a school, although inspectors can identify areas of significant strength in the provision of a school. We are absolutely delighted to share with you the report we have received from the ISI inspectors which confirms not only that Caterham Prep meets and exceeds the statutory Independent School standards but also identifies the many strengths of the school. We are also delighted that Caterham Prep received a Key Area of Strength from the inspectors, one of the first schools to gain this accolade. Key Areas of Strength are not awarded to every school during an inspection, and in fact are the exception rather than the rule. They identify where a school goes above and beyond in a particular area of academic provision, care or aspect of school life and its award must go through five layers of filtering before confirmation. Caterham Prep’s Key Area of Strength has been identified as an outstanding provision of digital learning both within and beyond the curriculum. It is right that we celebrate and share the positive findings from our inspection as a school community. That said, our focus is always on continuous improvement, and we shall not be diluted in this drive. Our first ambition remains to provide an outstanding education that provides the best possible preparation for senior school and a happy and successful life beyond, and that Caterham Prep remains the leading prep school in the area. Our thanks to the whole team here at Caterham Prep for their hard work and support, and to all of our families for making our school and community a very special place for children to grow up in. We can be incredibly proud of the journey the school has been on across the last few years, and our place in the national conversation on so many aspects of education, not least digital and innovation. We can all be proud of the affirmation of our school identified in this ISI inspection report. With best wishes

Ben Purkiss Headmaster

Under the new ISI inspection framework, inspectors are permitted to identify key areas of significant strength in a school. Under this new framework it has been rare for these areas of strength to be identified in schools with the bar set incredibly high. In their November 2023 Inspection of Caterham Prep, our pupils’ knowledge, understanding and application of technological skills was identified as a significant area of strength.

Pupils’ knowledge, understanding and application of technological skills are a significant strength of the school. This is the result of decisions made by leaders to focus on and resource this area. The quality of pupils’ digital work is extremely high. The highly effective and adaptive use of technology is woven throughout the entire curriculum. Technological skills, including coding and the use of artificial intelligence, are taught through the technology curriculum, which provides pupils with skills for life beyond school that are applied across all areas of learning and prepare them for life beyond school. Read the full ISI Inspection here

Pupils achieve well at all stages. The school quickly identifies pupils who need additional support and effective individual plans are in place to support their learning. Pupils, including those who have SEND and those in the early years, make good progress from their starting points. Teachers know pupils’ academic strengths, and planning is often well matched to their abilities. Teachers implement technology creatively, and pupils of all ages and aptitudes including those with special educational needs (SEND), clearly enjoy the many opportunities they are given to use their technological skills in a wide variety of lessons and in their independent work. Leaders have thought carefully about what to introduce when and so pupils are extremely confident in using technology and their skills are well developed for their age. Pupils are happy in school due to the positive relationships they have with their teachers and the consistent approach leaders take to promote the school values. The school prioritises wellbeing and considers carefully how best to help pupils develop the skills and attributes they need to transfer successfully to senior school. Read the full ISI Inspection here

Leaders focus on continuing to evaluate and improve all areas of pupils’ school experience. There have been a number of innovations in recent years which are being embedded, for example an ambitious curriculum which enables pupils to develop learning skills and to apply them across subjects. There is a clear link between the pastoral care provided for pupils and the active promotion of wellbeing through the taught curriculum. Effective systems are in place to monitor pupils’ wellbeing and to provide support.

Children’s language skills in the early years are secure because they have many opportunities to talk to each other and their teachers model a rich vocabulary.

Pupils of all abilities experience and benefit from an ambitious and innovative curriculum which meets their needs and stimulates them to explore their interests. The effective use of technology is woven through the entire curriculum. Technology is implemented creatively through teaching which encourages pupils to work independently and develop their own ideas in many lessons.

Leaders’ evaluation of teaching and learning has led to the introduction of the ‘global curriculum’ which aims to stretch and extend pupils’ knowledge and skills by linking their learning across subjects, including humanities, creative and performing arts. As a result, pupils think deeply, connect their knowledge and understanding and develop research, technological and presentation skills. Pupils develop mathematical skills because well-sequenced teaching encourages them to test out ideas and use their knowledge to solve mathematical problems.

The curriculum in the early years is planned well for the ages and needs of children, including who have SEND, and as a result, they make swift progress through the carefully planned teaching of phonics and writing skills. The curriculum provides opportunities for children to learn outside the classroom and this means that they are curious and explore with great interest the world around them.

Read the full ISI Inspection here

School leaders encourage pupils to appreciate and value differences in people. Pupils say that they can be themselves at school and they welcome the opportunities they are given to share their individual beliefs and values within school life. Leaders promote empathy, initiative, independence and resilience through the school values displayed throughout the school, which are affirmed in everyday school life. Pupils put these into practice thus developing their moral understanding and mutual respect.

A pastoral structure is in place to nuture pupils. There are supportive relationships between pupils and teachers. Pupils’ wellbeing is actively promoted through the taught curriculum as well as through form time and assemblies when pupils are encourage to reflects on issues affecting their lives. Pupils develop the skills they need to navigate the transition to senior school successfully and to be confident in themselves through the many opportunities they have to take on responsibilities and to participate in school life Leaders encourage pupils to reflect on the impact of their actions and there is an embedded culture of restorative action in behaviour expectations, which pupils appreciate because there is the opportunity to put things right.

Read the full ISI Inspection here

Leaders in the early years encourage children to talk about their emotions and to successfully manage their behaviour. They are actively encouraged to show kindness to each other and to build positive friendships. Pupils learn together well and play together creatively because of the positive culture created by staff.

Read the full ISI Inspection here

Pupils are respectful and treat each other well. They understand who to talk to if problems arise. They show a clear moral understanding of right and wrong. Pupils are encouarged by leaders to become ‘courageous reporters’ and as a result they learn to look after themselves and each other well.

There is a diverse range of extra-curricular opportunities for pupils, which they enjoy. Sports teams are open to pupils of all abilities and aptitudes and pupils enjoy the opportunity to participate. Pupils benefit from a wide range of outdoor learning and recreation facilities on site, which are well used and support their physical and aesthetic skills. Pupils excel in a wide range of activities as a result of the wealth of opportunities available to them

Read the full ISI Inspection here


Leaders actively encourage a culture of inclusion and pupils show respect for different groups of people in the school and beyond. Pupils care about their school and the people in it. Older pupils value the opportunities they have to serve the school community as monitors and they take this responsibility seriously. Leaders continuously affirm pupils’ efforts and achievements through positive praise and through the awards system. Consequently, pupils acclaim the successes of others, as well as aiming to succeed themselves. Read the full ISI Inspection here

Pupils show a healthy and informed understanding of the world around them, caring significantly for each other alongside those less fortunate than themselves. The school actively promotes a values-driven curriculum in which pupils accept responsibility for their behaviour and respect others. Through the global curriculum and other opportunities leaders support the growth of pupils’ social and cultural knowledge and understanding, which is well-developed.

EAST SURREY LEARNING PARTNERSHIP Caterham works closely with a network of eight primary schools who are part of our East Surrey Learning Partnership. The East Surrey Learning Partnership is a partnership of independent and maintained schools working together to support ambition and achievement for all. Through this partnership we work together to support children’s Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 learning outcomes, focusing on English, Maths and Science. We do this through staff and pupil volunteering, sharing best practise and providing extension activities and workshops. We also share resources, and, with the support of Giving Day donations, we were delighted to open a Resource Library this year. The library provides a hub for training and the lending out of specialised learning equipment such as robotics equipment. Alongside the loan of equipment, the Resource Library offers workshops and skills-based sessions for teachers in our primary school network.

Fizzy Maths Activity Packs High attainers from ESLP Primaries have been completing the Fizzy Maths Packs, and then attending a maths seminar at Caterham School. Please use the link for example material – why not have a go!

ESLP Science Classes from local primaries attend science sessions at Caterham School, delivered by Caterham staff and assisted by Caterham sixth formers. The classes attend on a four week cycle. The aim is to increase openness to science, and empower pupils through increased confidence, using resources accessible in the Caterham science department. The sessions address National Curriculum science targets around measuring, recording and presenting data whilst using the apparatus confidently and accurately.

ESLP Reading Groups Our Sixth Form and teachers have embarked on a significant partnership with local primary schools, contributing to the ‘catch up’ agenda, enriching the curriculum, and learning as they go. Teams of sixth formers have lead reading lessons and reading groups, having gained some experience in our own Prep School, and with ongoing training and reflection.

Saturday Plus is our programme to support children receiving Pupil Premium in primary schools to access academically selective independent and statemaintained grammar schools across Surrey, Kent and South London. Saturday Plus, runs on weekends throughout the year and is now well into its second year. Caterham’s Saturday Plus programme extends beyond academic tutoring and interview preparation to provide mentoring, problem solving and digital skills for the children taking part. The weekend sessions include maths and English lessons with additional sessions covering robotics, Latin, creative arts performance, outdoor learning and sport. Saturday Plus participants are provided with transport to and from the sessions, all equipment and textbooks required in addition to being hosted for lunches. The pupils also have access to Atom Learning, a normally paid for platform that children can use at home for 11+ exam preparation. Saturday Plus is about supporting the aspirations of children whether they are headed to selective statemaintained grammar schools or independent schools. Our aim is to mirror the level of academic extension and interview support that children gain at preparatory schools for those receiving Pupil Premium. The support is focused across a range of primary schools and we have worked closely with primary school heads to build the programme and recruit participants. We also want to break down any perceived barriers that might exist so pupils and their families can approach admissions processes for any school with confidence and familiarity. The pupils’ progress through Saturday Plus scheme is monitored by ImpactED to ensure that they are making academic gains from the extension sessions in addition to supporting their application to academically selective senior schools.

Read the full ISI Inspection here

Caterham Prep Harestone Valley Road Caterham Surrey CR3 6YB 01883 342097

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