As of September 2023, St Andrew’s has adopted the Pre-Senior Baccalaureate (the PSB).
It is a framework which will redress the balance of skills and knowledge, with an additional onus on the former; a framework which will reduce the pressure children feel from one final summative ‘high-stress, low-stakes’ exam in the June of Year 8; and a framework that recognises and celebrates the children’s progress and achievement in all areas of school life, and not just across a narrow range of academic subjects.
The PSB is an assessment framework which has at its core the development of knowledge, as well as key skills which are required for later life.
As well as still rigorously assessing the children’s knowledge, the PSB will ensure the implicit teaching of the following six core skills:
Reviewing and improving
Leadership and Service
Thinking and learning
The subject matter for the PSB is based on much of the content of the current Common Entrance syllabus, but it is much, much more than just a terminal assessment; we see it as enhancing the children’s all-round education, and providing a framework which will help them develop their thinking skills, rather than their remembering skills.
We believe this additional focus on key skills will mean the children are even better prepared and equipped to flourish in their secondary schools, and the competitive world beyond.
Pupils still need to get used to assessment and face reasonable pressure. If we don’t allow the children to experience this, we are not preparing them properly for the challenges which lie ahead.
However, the PSB offers so much more.
The PSB takes a more holistic approach to a child’s education; as well as assessing the academic subjects, the likes of art, drama, ICT, music, and sport all feed in to an externally recognised certificate that is passed on to their senior schools.
It allows us to adopt a more flexible approach to assessment, from projects to presentations, formal exams to end-of-topic tests, and all done across Years 7 & 8; this reduces the pressure on those final years, and will result in a deeper education that is more rewarding for the children.
Moving to the PSB does not mean that we compromise on academic rigour and the challenge of stretching our children. On the contrary, pupils will gain the knowledge set out in the curriculum, alongside the key learning skills.
In summary, we will take the best elements of Common Entrance but have in place a more rewarding learning journey for children and a more exciting teaching prospect for teachers.
A flexible combination of exams, end of topic tests, projects, presentations and continual in-class teacher assessment will contribute to the children’s final portfolio in Years 7 & 8.
A key part of the PSB is an independent project undertaken in the Summer term of Year 8. Children are coached through the process by their in-School PSB tutor. This project is highly valued by senior schools because it showcases pupils’ developing independence, critical thinking and self-regulated learning.
At the end of their time at St Andrew’s, pupils will receive a certificate of achievement which covers all areas of school life. They will leave with a toolbox full of skills, rather than just a briefcase of grades.
No. Preparation for scholarship will remain unchanged. However, both established PSB prep schools, as well as the testimonies of senior schools, report that the grounding and breadth of thinking introduced by this programme will ensure that pupils are even better prepared for their scholarship exams.
For any schools who still ask for CE to be sat in the core subjects of English, maths and science, (currently only Eton and Harrow), we will prepare children thoroughly for these exams, but within a much more interesting and engaging framework.
Far from this being at a disadvantage, any child this concerns will also further develop the skills they need to thrive in their next schools and beyond.
Adopting the PSB is an exciting and positive step forward in our curriculum development.
Does this mean that St Andrew’s is going to feel different? Not at all. The school’s values will not change and nor will our key aim – to prepare children for secondary school and the competitive world beyond. Academic challenge is not going to be lost; learning is not going to be compromised; and our desire to keep your children stretched but not stressed remains at the forefront of all we do.
‘We believe that the PSB provides a highly effective platform for success at Abingdon. A number of our feeder schools have already implemented the PSB and the students joining us have been well prepared for the challenges of our fast-paced and ambitious curriculum. We wish St Andrew's all the best as they implement the PSB and look forward to welcoming St Andrew's pupils to Abingdon in the future.’
Mike Windsor, Head,
‘Bradfield College has admitted pupils from PSB schools for a number of years and has seen them thrive in their subsequent education. The PSB’s emphasis on developing learning skills and habits across and beyond the curriculum is very well-suited to the needs of a generation confronted by a fast-changing world beyond school. We are excited by this move for St Andrew’s boys and girls.’
Chris Stevens, Head,
‘I think this is a very exciting step for St Andrew’s to take and fully endorse it. The PSB allows schools to provide a broad and stimulating education within a rigorous framework, which equips pupils with the skills and confidence necessary for their senior school education. They are encouraged to think independently and develop a strong work ethic.’
Emma McKendrick, Head,
‘I am confident that this popular framework will offer St Andrew’s pupils the skills and opportunities they will need and which they will enjoy, preparing them fully for entry into schools such as Marlborough, and for life beyond.’
Louise Moelwyn-Hughes, Head, Marlborough
‘Every year a sizeable number of Wellington College new students join us having studied the PSB. The girls and boys are immediately engaged in the classroom and have all the skills required to excel. The PSB is an exciting framework that will set the students up at St Andrew’s so well for the learning in a vibrant senior school.’
Ed Venables, Head of Admissions, Wellington
‘We welcome the decision to introduce the PSB at St Andrew's. It provides an excellent framework to unify the curriculum across a range of subjects. It helps pupils feel a sense of direction and purpose through Years 7 and 8, & it rightly recognises the value which co-curricular activities such as music, drama and sport add to pupils' development.’
Thomas Garnier, Head,
‘I am delighted to hear that St Andrew’s is adopting this progressive and future-focused curriculum which I am sure will set up the boys and girls not only for the transition to senior school, but also for their onward journey through education, the ever-changing world of work and their future lives.’
Head, Queen Anne’s
Radley College entirely supports St Andrew’s approach to the curriculum and move to the PSB. It is important for schools to have the freedom to design their own schemes of work and the mixture of assessment types will both prepare pupils well for their senior schools and, equally importantly, provide them with a dynamic and varied learning experience. We already have a number of pupils who join us from PSB schools and arrive well prepared for the next steps of their learning journey.
Sophie Langdale, Head of Admissions, Radley
With this new development at St Andrew’s, pupils will be exceptionally well prepared for study at senior school and beyond. With the PSB, there is a strong emphasis on independent thinking, ongoing assessment, self-reflection, collaboration, communication and creativity, all of which are vital skills for university study and the world of work.
Alastair Chirnside, Warden,
‘It is wonderful to see St Andrew's joining the ever-growing number of prep schools that follow the PSB. This framework’s focus on skills and developing the qualities and characteristics for life-long thinking and learning very much resonates with us.’
Tyrone Howe, Head,
This assessment framework completed across Years 7 and 8 combines a focus on knowledge, with that of the key skills which are required in later life.
The PSB, which has been adopted by over 50 prep schools, will result in the children not only learning how to pass exams, but also developing the key character traits which enable them to be mentally flexible, resilient and good communicators – all attributes which will help them to thrive academically and socially and, in due course, professionally.
As well as being an exciting prospect for teachers, we believe it will further instil in the children a love of learning and it will further enhance the education the boys and girls receive at St Andrew’s.
Read more about the PSB below as well.