Prep School Curriculum | Portsmouth High School


The Prep School, affectionately known as Dovercourt, has developed its own innovative and challenging Explorer Curriculum which incorporates core skills alongside specialist subjects at all levels.

Girls in Pre-Prep and Pre-School use creative themes to explore traditional subjects and develop high level skills in reading, mathematics and across all subjects.

Our communication and language curriculum in the early years has a progressive phonics programme and French is taught from Pre-School. Right from the start we build firm foundations in mathematics to enable girls to progress confidently in their mathematical understanding. Digital literacy starts from an early age and girls develop skills in computing and technology.

From Year 3 the curriculum is subject-based with specialist teaching in English, mathematics, science, computing, PE, music and languages, including Latin and Mandarin in Year 6. Learning outdoors is introduced from the start to accelerate and enrich learning. This is developed through our Forest and Beach School sessions but is incorporated in all areas. A resilience programme is an integral part of the curriculum. Our approach creates rounded and confident learners and supports a seamless transition to the Senior School.

Cultural, spiritual and moral development is at the heart of the education at Portsmouth High Prep School. We recognise and value each of our girls as individuals – and they go on to achieve so much more than they ever thought possible.

Performing arts

Music has a high profile at Portsmouth High Prep School, where it is taught by our own Director of Music.

We aim to encourage a love of music through participation and performance which is key to building self-confidence and developing presentation skills. All of our girls sing with enthusiasm and this is always a focus of our assemblies and drama performances.

For enthusiastic musicians the school hosts a chamber choir, an orchestra and a string ensemble. Many girls have instrumental lessons either outside of school or from our peripatetic staff that provide individual extra-curricular lessons in voice, piano, violin, brass, cello, clarinet, flute and a variety of other instruments.

Drama is a highly regarded element of the curriculum at Portsmouth High Prep School and is designed to give as many girls as possible the opportunity to participate and develop skills in performing arts. Each class, inclusive of Pre-School, produces a performance every term during their celebration assembly, helping to build public speaking and presenting confidence in front of an audience.

There are also set piece performances from girls throughout the school, such as the Year 5 and 6 presentation of St Tabitha’s to the Rescue which took place in the summer term last year. Years 3 to 6 are taught by an English and drama specialist.


At Portsmouth High Prep School sport is an integral part of the curriculum.

Physical activity sessions are scheduled throughout the week for each year group, as well as a games afternoon for Years 3 to 6. It is not only good for health, but also helps to develop an appreciation of team work, fair play and builds self-confidence. We believe in developing a positive attitude towards exercise; games are played with a healthy, competitive spirit and an emphasis on enjoyment and opportunity. The curriculum is broad and balanced, with individual activities such as tennis, gymnastics and swimming held in high regard.

Fixtures against other schools, both from our own area and from further afield, are an important aspect of the school. We give as many girls as possible an opportunity to represent the school and also send teams to Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) competitions such as netball, cross-country and rounders. ‘Sport for all’ is encouraged and our House competitions, including athletics, gymnastics, netball, hockey and rounders, are thoroughly enjoyed by all of the girls.

In ICT, coding and programming are introduced in Reception, as is French, while Latin and Mandarin teaching begins in Year 6.

– ISI  Report 2015