Prep Academics | Somerset College
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Somerset College Preparatory School is a member of the Cambridge International Primary Programme. Our school provides an educational environment where children are academically stimulated and challenged, heard and motivated to learn and grow. We strive for excellence in our offering and nurture a culture of diligence, active learning, collaboration, academic rhythm, routine and rigour. We follow the Cambridge Primary Curriculum for English, Mathematics and Science and use a bespoke curriculum in our other subjects. English is our language of instruction. The development of the whole child is important. 

Assessments are done both formally and informally with our focus in the lower grades being on continuous assessment. The Grade 6 and 7 children write exams as part of their preparation for Senior School. International Benchmarking forms an important part of our offering as we aim to maintain excellence in our academic offering. Our Grade 6 students write the Cambridge Checkpoint Tests and our Grade 3,5 and 7 students write the IEB International Benchmarking Tests. 

We are a Google School, making use of all the Google Apps as part of our hybrid curriculum. Devices are integrated into our teaching and learning and form part of our daily lessons in Grades 4-7. All Senior Preparatory children bring a device to school. The Chromebook is compulsory for all children from Grade 4 as of 2024.


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The Life Skills curriculum is divided into three main parts, namely:-

  • Life Orientation (personal and social well-being)
  • Physical Education (physical development and the knowledge of movement and safety)
  • Bible Education

The children are encouraged to focus on four main values throughout the year, namely DIGNITY, CREATIVITY, ASPIRATION AND CONTRIBUTION. Assemblies and lessons focus on one particular value each term. Children are encouraged to discuss these values in class discussions and to ‘live’ these values in their everyday life.

The development of self-confidence, independence, individuality, emotional intelligence and the ability to embrace change and make the right choices is encouraged throughout the grades and is an ongoing process. The contribution of each child is valued and acknowledged.

The curriculum exposes the children to safety education, sexual education, entrepreneurship, leadership opportunities, outdoor activities, philosophy, physical fitness and well-being and teaches the children how to lead a healthy and caring lifestyle. Life skills aims to teach the students goal setting and prepares them for future planning.

Our journey in exploring and learning the isiXhosa Language and the culture in which it is embedded, starts informally in Grade 3. The focus at this stage is to encourage the children to develop an awareness of, and an appreciation for, the unique qualities of the language through games, songs, poetry and African folklore. The emphasis is on developing a love of the language and on experimenting with all the sounds that are unique to the language in an interactive and play orientated environment.

The children are exposed to the written language from Grade 4 onwards, by which stage the sounds of the language have started to “click” in and the children are ready to make the connections between the written and the spoken language. The children are challenged to recognise and predict patterns in the language from an early age and encouraged to appreciate the poetically rich and naturally musical nature of the language. This opens up many opportunities to teach in collaboration with other subjects and learning areas such as Music, Drama, Information Technology and Life Orientation.

Most of our lessons happen outside of the classroom. This allows for more practical and meaningful interaction between the children and offers them the freedom to work in smaller groups and experiment with the sounds of the language in a less formal environment. Great emphasis is placed on encouraging the children to put into practice all they are learning through active engagement in class activities.

At Somerset College, Afrikaans is a compulsory First Additional Language offered from grade 1 to 12. In grade 8 the children are awarded the choice of taking isiXhosa as a First Additional language.

In grade 1 the focus of the Afrikaans curriculum is on developing the children’s ability to understand and speak Afrikaans. In Grades 2 and 3 learners start to build literacy on this oral foundation. They also apply the skills they have already learned in their home language.

From grade 4 – 6 the children continue to strengthen their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. In grade 7 the children enter the Senior Phase and should be reasonably proficient in Afrikaans with regard to both interpersonal and cognitive academic skills.

At Somerset College we focus on developing the following skills in Afrikaans:

  • Listening and Speaking
  • Reading and Viewing
  • Writing and Presenting
  • Language Structures and Conventions

We follow the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) as prescribed by the Department of Basic Education.

The Cambridge Primary English curriculum is presented in five content areas or ‘strands’. The framework promotes an enquiry-based approach to learning to develop thinking skills and encourage intellectual engagement. The five strands are:

  • Phonics, spelling and vocabulary
  • Grammar and punctuation
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking and listening

The curriculum aims to enable students to communicate confidently and effectively and to develop critical skills in order to respond to a range of information, media and texts with enjoyment and understanding.

Students who follow this framework will develop a first-language competency in English based on a curriculum designed to be successful in any culture and to promote cross-cultural understanding. The Cambridge Primary English curriculum framework provides a solid foundation on which the later stages of education can be built.

Mathematics follows an integrated Cambridge and CAPS curriculum with our focus being on growing a love for Mathematics amongst our students. We incorporate practical activities using manipulatives in our teaching as well as Maths games to develop good thinking skills. We try and form a positive approach towards learning Mathematics as this leads to success. The students are encouraged to think critically and should not be afraid to solve problems.

Our aim in the Preparatory School is to form good building blocks and to fully equip our children to cope with the mathematical challenges they face as they progress in education.

We work under four strands which all contain a problem solving element.

  • Number
  • Measurement
  • Geometry
  • Data Handling

The Science Department at Somerset College Preparatory School aims to ignite an interest and passion for the Sciences in students during their primary education years. The Cambridge Primary Science Curriculum is followed and content covered falls under the following strands:-

  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology

We aim to develop students’ critical thinking skills through enquiry-based activities, both in the classroom as well as outdoors. The vineyards, river, and dam on the College premises offer a multitude of opportunities for outdoor learning – from plant and animal studies, to the study of rock and soil types.

Inside the classroom, learning activities vary from hands-on, practical learning, to activities designed to allow learners to apply their knowledge in different ways. With an interactive smartboard, well- stocked chemistry laboratory, as well as many different learning support materials and educational games, students are encouraged to have fun and take part in practical learning as much as possible.

With a strong background in Science, different learning opportunities will become available to students as they move from preparatory level, into high school. We aim to guide and prepare students for high school, so that those who develop an interest in engineering, science, and medicine may have a solid foundation to pursue their interests and passions.

Social Science as a subject is comprised of the subjects History and Geography and is the study of people and their past. The decisions that were made and how these have influenced life today. It is the study of the Earth and the way humans live on Earth, their relationships and their interactions in society.

At Somerset College, the CAPS curriculum is used as a guideline, integrating the various topics into our other subjects. Social Science is also integrated into computer and multimedia lessons. Projects are done in the library where students are taught various research skills using different media. It is a subject which encourages analytical thought and informed discussion (not only in the classroom, but in the home too). Through the vehicle of their studies, children are encouraged to think independently. Social Science seeks to equip students with the tools they need to make moral and ethical decisions about the civic issues, as well as environmental issues, that affect them and their families.

At Somerset College Preparatory, Information Technology (IT) is used to support and enrich our teaching.

We live in a world where knowledge is easily accessible; our challenge is to educate our students to interpret this information. We provide the opportunity for learners to become competent and confident users of ICT through the integration of technology in the classrooms.  The children begin Computer lessons in Grade R, and have access to a modern IT Lab with 28 laptops and a bank of 30 iPads. These iPads are kept up to date with hundreds of educational apps and are available for curriculum specific use in the classrooms.

We are a Google Apps for Education school and use this platform to provide a unique and modern teaching and learning environment. The students have the ability to work from any device, at home or at school, as well as share and collaborate using Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and more. Somerset College holds licenses and membership for many of the top productivity and educational packages including Purple Mash and Mathletics.

Children born into today’s fast-paced technological age are used to information being readily accessible to them, both through computer programmes and the Internet. As such, it is essential that Somerset College remains on the cutting edge of Information Technology.

The ESTEAM programme was introduced into our timetable in place of Social Science at the start of 2019.  We aim to create an excellent, innovative and impactful addition to the traditional curriculum. The object of the ESTEAM curriculum is to future-proof our students through a focus on the areas that will impact their lives the most. We aim to do this through the use of innovative technology, teaching and learning strategies, linear and non-linear problem solving, and the fostering of interpersonal and teamwork skills. 

This wholly cross-curricular approach encourages students to make connections and see patterns in seemingly unrelated areas. This, as well as giving a real-world focus to learning, creates impact and aids deep learning and meaningful comprehension. Through the use of individual and group-oriented projects, we aim to develop individuals who contribute positively to their environment, work well with diverse groups, think critically, creatively and with empathy, adapt quickly to uncertainty and change, and can manage conflict healthily and productively. 

ESTEAM education aims to equip teachers with new teaching strategies supported by innovative and relevant technologies and bolstered by training and upskilling as a regular part of staff development. We aim to create a community of active life-long learners who are mutually caring, reflective, accountable, and innovative, and who collaborate to teach and learn to the best of their ability.

Philosophy is essentially a way of thinking, reasoning, and making sense of people’s opinions and counterarguments. It is about asking important questions and trying to justify answers. It is about asking questions that lead to further investigation that helps one make sense of the world around them.
Teaching ‘Philosophy for Children’ at Somerset College has become a requirement in the curriculum. Introducing these skills from a very young age creates a climate in which independent thinking becomes the norm.  
Higher-level thinking is stimulated by exposing the children to a certain stimulus, for example, a video clip, picture book, painting, or phrase. Children are allowed to formulate their questions about the stimulus. The group is allowed to voice their opinions individually about the question that has been chosen to discuss in an inquiry. Conversations stimulate ideas and ideas, in turn, could create new ideas and enquiries.