Prep School

What is a “prep school”?

The term “prep school” is short for “preparatory school”.  It is so named as it is the integral phase to any child’s education where they are prepared for success both in their coming school years but too as they move into the world of work and beyond.

How is this part of a child’s education different to other stages?

I believe the prep school years to be the most fun for any pupil, probably because it was indeed this period of my education which I enjoyed the most!  There are no external examinations at the end of Year 8 (unless pupils wish to return to the UK where they will have sit Common Entrance or Common Scholarship examinations), pupils are given positions of responsibility such as being a Prep School prefect, a huge number of extra-curricular activities are available to them from the performing arts to sports to academia and “preppies” at Harrow are treated like young adults, being taught amongst their Senior School peers, walking from lesson to lesson where they are taught by subject-specialist teachers. The class teacher is no more and pupils thrive with the extra responsibility and freedom of walking around their new environment and spending their break and lunchtimes in their house room.

What will my child study at Harrow Prep?

In the classroom at Harrow Prep, we are incredibly proud that all pupils from Years 5 to 8 have separate subject-specialist teachers.  All pupils study the core subjects of English, Mandarin, Maths and Science and in addition study Spanish, Geography, History, ICT, Art, Performing Arts, Physical Education and Communitas.  Communitas is Harrow Shanghai’s unique course for all preppies where pupils learn about forging strong friendships, and relationships, healthy living, caring for the environment and current affairs (to name but a few).  In short, Communitas covers all the little things that do not get spoken about in the other eleven subjects taught in the Prep School.  The aims of our highly-varied and engaging curriculum are to foster a love of independent learning, connect and develop different subjects in tandem, relate learning to our 21st-century world and promote the skills required to achieve very high academic standards in the Senior School, Sixth Form and beyond.

An example of a lower prep pupil timetable is below:

And an example of an upper prep timetable is below:

Some of the themes covered in the Prep School curriculum include:





Informed Risk Taking



and, of course, Leadership

Leadership and the Wider Life of Prep Pupils

The Prep School years are designed to prepare pupils for life in the Senior School and Sixth Form. The academic programme is part of that preparation, as are other aspects of life in the Prep School.

  • Leadership – often in schools, pupils have to wait until they are in Years 12 and 13 before they are given significant leadership roles. In the Prep School, pupils have the opportunity to develop the practical skills of leadership in roles, such as prefects and as part of the Student Council.
  • Leadership and Service – in the Harrow Shanghai extra-curricular programme (which runs at lunchtime and from 3pm to 4.20pm), Prep School pupils are able to apply the leadership attributes of school in their life outside the classroom. While participating in a variety of sports, artistic performances, hobbies and clubs, community service and expeditions, pupils develop leadership and team skills which mean they can and do make a positive difference to the lives of others both within the school and in the community beyond. This year’s activities include Manga, Robotics, Choir, World Scholar’s Cup, Debate, Swim Squad training, Basketball, Badminton, Football, Netball, Student Council and Chinese Board Games.
  • Houses – each Prep School pupil is a member of one of Harrow Shanghai’s four Houses. Each pupil is part of a tutor group within their house and therefore has not only their housemaster but also their tutor to which to turn whenever they need or wish.  The house is your child’s family whilst at Harrow and each house has its own personality.  Throughout the year, the four houses come together to battle for inter-house victory in competitions such as Badminton, Football, Volleyball, Raft Building, Spelling, Debating and Mastermind.

Click here to read about Lachlan, one of our Prep School Junior Prefects who kept a diary for one week describing all that he does here at Harrow.

Communitas Role Models