Upper Prep

I feel honoured to be a part of Upper Prep. I love how nice my teachers are and the food is amazing. Having the best people that teach us … I am really grateful.

Year 6 Pupil

Our daughter is absolutely loving school – so much so, that she complained that it was a weekend day today not a school day! We are really delighted that she is so happy. Thank you to all the staff.

New Year 7 Parent

Upper Prep marks the transition from a mainly form-based cross-curricular work to set-based specialist work. We develop pupils’ independent learning whilst increasing their levels of responsibility.

Heads of Department lead the subjects with a clear pathway to GCSE, an emphasis on enjoyment and delivery of skills and knowledge that are required. Links between subjects are encouraged and transferable skills are identified.

We have dedicated Year 6 Form Tutors to ease the transition between primary and secondary. Tutors remain with their groups throughout Years 7&8 providing pupils with pastoral and academic support. Form time is used for discussion, reading, and mindfulness as well as building positive relationships with staff and peers. This time helps build pupils’ social skills and awareness.

In the summer term, Year 6 pupils sit the Ballard Speaking Board (BSB); enhancing their leadership skills and confidence. Many pupils go into become Prefects and House Captains in Year 8 as well as mentors to pupils lower down the School.

School days are fast-paced and rich with learning experiences with many extra-curricular opportunities too. Our experience shows that immersion in these activities contributes to academic progress at this stage. Additionally, day and residential trips provide further enhancement.

A wide range of scholarships are available for exceptional pupils in Year 8 for entry into Year 9 across a range of disciplines.

Come and join our ‘excellent & outstanding’ School.

Upper Prep pupils at Ballard have fantastic STEM opportunities and facilities available to them because of their access to our specialist teachers and equipment.

Pupils in Upper Prep also have some amazing opportunities to tackle STEM projects both in and out of school. Our Year 6 pupils take part in the CREST discovery programme – investigating the science of cycling and external events have included UK Big Bang in Birmingham and the Solent Teen Tech.

They also have a number of extra-curricular STEM clubs from which to choose.

Design & Technology



Design and Technology in Upper Prep is all about increasing the complexity of the projects and introducing new techniques.

Pupil look at developing their problem-solving skills and develop independent learning skills that they apply through their projects. At this stage pupils look at the impact of design upon the world around them.


ICT & Computing


Computer Science in Years 6 to 8 at Ballard School lays the foundations for the pupils to use IT independently, as well as developing the problem-solving and thinking skills necessary as they progress through their education and on to work.

All the key aspects such as word-processing, spreadsheets and databases are covered, as well as internet safety. In addition, coding sessions enable a different skill set to be developed, including computational thinking and problem-solving.

Many pupils take advantage of after-school clubs to stretch their learning and take their interests further.




Our teachers use schemes of work designed by the world-renowned Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching.

These resources have been developed with the primary aim of raising the standards of Mathematics teaching and learning in the UK and have many strengths, including fantastic worksheet, text book and interactive web-based resources.

Pupils are also encouraged to take part in the prestigious UK Maths Challenge provided by the United Kingdom Mathematics Trust (UKMT).



In Year 6 pupils remain in forms and study the ‘Science Bug’ scheme of work. This is designed to spark the imagination and curiosity of pupils by providing them with fun, interactive and educational programmes that instil a clear understanding of what Science is and how it affects their world.

They also take part in the national ‘CREST Discovery Awards’, where pupils collaborate on a STEM project in self-managed groups, record and reflect on their work before presenting their findings.
In Years 7 and 8 the pupils follow the ‘Activate’ scheme of work and they have access to online materials and textbooks on the ‘Kerboodle’ website. Pupils have three lessons a week which have an emphasis on practical work.

Whether it is exploring different types of energy using wind-up toys and a pendulum or making their own sparklers, our pupils love participating and gaining confidence alongside learning.

The integrated Science course lays important foundations for study at GCSE level and develops key skills; during Year 8, they take their CREST Bronze Award, which provides a real-life experience of ‘being a specialist’. This award allows pupils to experience the project process, improving their enquiry, problem-solving and communication skills, which are important tools for all aspects of life, not just Science.

Food Preparation & Nutrition

Pupils will plan, prepare and cook activities, which cover aspects such as safety, hygiene and working procedures in the classroom. Practical lessons cover the making of bread, fruit salad, cookies, muffins and pizza and high fibre dishes.

In Year 8, pupils have an introduction to the four different methods of cake-making. They use research from various sources to help in the selection of ingredients. They use sensory evaluation and gain an understanding of social, moral, ethical and sustainable issues.

Practical lessons include the making of fairy cakes, rock buns, swiss roll, gingerbread, decorations and marbelling techniques.

Upper Prep has access to all our specialist Arts staff, equipment and facilities. Productions alternate each year between musicals (e.g. Aladdin Junior) and plays (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).

All Ballard pupils in Year 8 take the English Speaking Board exams and routinely pass with flying colours – many with Distinction. They also each have an interview with the Headmaster, helping hone their life skills.

Our Arts scholars are encouraged to perform regularly at weekly recitals and in our Performing Arts Scholars Evening. New scholarships are considered in Year 8 in preparation for entry into Year 9. There are opportunities across all our disciplines: Art, Dance, Drama, Music or the Performing Arts.


Art in Upper Prep is thematic using different disciplines across a number of projects. These become more complex and new techniques are introduced, pushing our pupils to explore and create.

Year 6 created mixed-media fish. Using real fish as their models they were able to study the colours and textures using touch as well as sight. They used real cloth for their tablecloth project, which involved printing, blending, glitter, building up different layers; so they had to think ahead. Clay work continues to be important with Year 6 creating a wonderful array of colourful sea monsters.

Year 7 created stunning silk banners of jungle animals and birds as well as acrylic paintings where technique was key to a life-like image. Formal observation drawing of brightly-coloured, wooden toucans and parrots reinforce learning on how to draw and shade tonally.

Year 8 learnt how to draw their own self-portrait and had a workshop with a graphic artist who showed them how to create their own cartoon characters. They also created large clay vases inspired by Klimt, Chagall and Andrea Pratt as well as creating wire Picasso faces and canvas painting using acrylics.


All pupils receive half a term of Dance teaching in their PE programme. This continues to develop their skills and knowledge in performance, composition and appreciation.

Pupils work with each other around a theme and develop key skills such as; communication, teamwork, problem solving and self-improvement. Pupils develop self-confidence and self-esteem and an ability to respond creatively to challenge throughout the dance lessons.

We also run a through-School dance production for pupils in Years 1-11 in alternate years, where everyone is welcome to participate and perform. The last production ‘Eureka’ was a fantastic experience and performance for all involved based on ‘Eureka-moments’ throughout history.

Our established Visions Junior Dance Company, which is open to those who wish to develop their Dance skills further, perform in a number of opportunities within School and the wider community throughout the year.

This is open to Year 6-8 through audition or invitation.


All pupils in Upper Prep follow a Drama programme based on National Curriculum strategies.

At Ballard, we believe that Drama is a key subject and that the skills taught in Drama, such as creativity, confidence, concentration and co-operation, are assets in all subjects and in all areas of life.

Drama at Ballard is also fun and a firm favourite with many of our students. Upper Prep put on a superb performance of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory last year.

We know that Drama promotes self-esteem, social skills and communication skills, it also stimulates the imagination and allows pupils to explore issues and experiences in a safe and supportive environment.

All pupils will have developed many of the skills needed to take Drama at GCSE, if they wish to choose this option.


Upper Prep pupils at Ballard receive weekly curriculum Music lessons from our specialist teachers in our well-equipped Music building and specialist Music Technology Suite.

Pupils study a modular curriculum including composer focus, composition skills, musical notation and a range of fun, practical activities.

Pupils at this stage of the School begin to develop composition skills including song writing in our specialist music technology suite on industry standard software and have the opportunity to record their work.

They benefit from a range of ensemble opportunities across the School providing the chance to work alongside older musicians to stretch and challenge them. These include varied choirs and vocal groups, a harp ensemble, handbells and numerous instrumental ensembles.

Regular trips and performance opportunities including concerts and musical productions further enhance their musical experiences.

This is where we hone the skills previously learnt and can offer a higher level of competition and challenge. However, we can also provide a wider range of options and activities in this age group, thus giving individual opportunities for development as well as the core sports.

Ballard focuses on invasion, net and individual sports to encourage a high-level of performance whilst trying to reduce common mistakes often seen on the sports’ field. We have had many successes in tournaments and against much larger schools with this approach.

Within Ballard we have staff who have competed at a national level at sport and coach men’s and women’s teams to regional success. The guidance that is provided as mentors is invaluable to the key lessons that our pupils need to learn to compete at the highest level in and out of School. Many pupils at this stage go on to represent their county in a variety of sports including: athletics, triathlon, hockey, swimming, netball, rugby and football.

There are many extra-curricular sports’ opportunities available to pupils in order that they can develop their skills further.

Upper Prep pupils have a fantastic array of opportunities. Leadership qualities and confidence are built upon with our pupils achieving remarkable results in their English Speaking Board examinations. Whether it is dramatising gothic horror in the school basement or asking a sensitive question of a Holocaust survivor, our pupils are provided with the skills to live Ballard Life to the full.

Prefects develop teamwork skills and confidence with specific training sessions and team building. Ballard pupils have the opportunity to enter a challenging Dragons Den competition taking on the role of young entrepreneurs with relish. An array of trips stimulates our pupils’ minds: Harry Potter World, Normandy, Bude, and the Isle of Wight to name just a few. Combined with all the extra-curricular opportunities there is plenty to keep them busy.


In these crucial years, Ballard’s English department focus on continuity and progress, creativity and enjoyment, whilst introducing the skills needed for IGCSE. Drama activities and trips are integrated into the curriculum.

Reading for pleasure is encouraged through allocated reading time and participation in Read for My School and World Book Day.

Pupils participate in ESB (English Speaking Board) exams to gain confidence in public speaking, gaining incredible results. Topics are wide-ranging and classrooms could be laden with scuba diving kit, models and much loved pets. An unprecedented number of Distinctions were awarded and Ballard was again complimented on the excellent preparation of the pupils and the imaginative presentations delivered.

Year 6 completed a delicious cross-curricular project combining DT, Food Tech and English as they created their own chocolate, designed the packaging and advertised the finished product. Chocolate definitely has a way of bringing departments together!

Our Year 7 have had a very creative year as they discovered more about their literary heritage. The year started with an introduction to Gothic Horror and offered huge potential for language development and they had a fantastic visit to Harry Potter World to complement the genre perfectly.

A recent project on Shakespeare produced an incredibly high standard of work and creative ideas; pupils baked for Shakespeare, dressed in period costume, made board games and models of The Globe Theatre as well as researching biographical and contextual detail.

Pupils loved the Canterbury Tales and embraced the art of storytelling with real enthusiasm, culminating in stories told round the camp fire in Ballard’s woods.

It is usual for Year 8 to enter the BBC 500 Words competition honing their precision of language skills and meeting the strict word limit. They also take part in our very own ‘Dragons’ Den’ and their professional approach to product development and creative marketing is outstanding.


Hands-on Geography continues with Year 6 studying weather and climate, including micro-climates and climate change. A trip to ‘The Living Rainforest’ allows pupils to gain first-hand experience of the humidity, flora and fauna of a micro-climate.

Whilst studying Africa we look at Human, as well as Physical, Geography. We made footballs out of plastic bags as many African children do and tested them at break time. This was held on ‘World Plastic Bag Free Day’, one of our links to the Eco-Ambassadors club at School.

A field trip to collect land-use data in New Milton helps Year 7 in their settlement studies. For our river topic, we undertake data collection in a local river.


Years 6 – 8 study History from the Norman Conquest to the Hanoverians. By the time they are ready to move to the Senior School they will have a good understanding of key events in this period.

Different learning styles are explored and they will begin to learn to analyse sources and how to write both narrative and analytical essays. Again creativity is encouraged and pupils input rewarded.

We also go on a variety of History trips which have included Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and Corfe Castle.

Our Year 8 Trips Week has a historical focus and recent trips have included Stratford, Warwick Castle and Bath.

Modern Foreign Languages

French and Spanish continue into the Spring Term of Year 7, where pupils will chose a language pathway to ensure that they have sufficient time to develop a deeper understanding of their chosen language.

Pupils continue to progress as confident language learners and are able to put their French language skills to the test during a 4-day visit to Normandy at the end of Year 8. In Year 8, pupils will be given the opportunity to trial German in the Summer Term.



Religious Studies


A closer examination of other world faiths becomes a key part of the RS syllabus. The philosophy of religion and a wider understanding of the nature of God are explored.

Healthy debates and group discussions are key to learning. At this stage, the questions the pupils ask are often more important than the answers they produce.

Again, the pupils’ curiosity, imagination, creativity and tolerance towards others are key principles.