Durlston Court - Preparatory School


Take a look at our school curriculum at Durlston Court.

Art and Ceramics

The light and spacious art and ceramic studios are inspirational environments in which children explore their creativity across a range of themes, using a variety of techniques and specialist equipment. With our own printing press and on-site kiln, there are limitless possibilities. Children can often be seen taking their art lessons outdoors; from sculpting and sketching in The Den (our Forest School), to collaborative collages being created in the Art Courtyard.  Creativity flows and confidence grows!

Head of Art, Susan Taylor and Assistant Jane White are passionate about their field and have strong connections with local galleries, working artists and senior schools. They regularly arrange workshops and exhibitions to enhance, explore and showcase Durlston talent. The annual Durlston exhibition, where every child from Kindergarten to Year 8 has their work beautifully displayed, is certainly an event not to be missed.


Our extensive facilities reflect a commitment to fully preparing children for life in the digital world.  In addition to a fully networked IT suite, we have an extensive bank of Chromebook laptops for use from Pre-Prep right through to the Senior years.  From Year 5, every child is allocated their own Chromebook, which is theirs to keep for the duration of their time at Durlston. This greatly enhances learning across the entire curriculum.

We have created our own computing curriculum which draws on the National Curriculum objectives and allows children to make full use of all the facilities on offer. As well as being a stand-alone subject, computing is integrated into all that we do.  From Kindergarten through to Year 8, we focus on children becoming autonomous, confident users whilst understanding the importance of safe and responsible usage.

Design and Technology

Our purpose-built Design and Technology Centre is a fully equipped facility where there are always exciting and innovative projects underway. Some recent examples have included stunning batik cushions created using sewing machines, and colourful cyber pets involving micro-controllers, soldering, coding and laser cutting.  We also have a Durlston Greenpower Car which is built, refined and raced by a team of young mechanics and designers.

Critical thinking is a key element of the design process and our children enjoy planning and refining their ideas. A focus on problem solving and creativity, alongside the latest technology, helps to develop the lively, enquiring minds needed to fully access the opportunities of the 21st century.


The study of English helps pupils to cultivate some of the most important life skills – discussion, debate, reading, acting, describing, telling stories – skills that are just as important now as they were in Shakespeare’s time. 

In Pre-Prep, the development of communication and language underpins all that we do.  Daily phonics and literacy lessons are lively and engaging and we make a commitment to read with each child, individually, every day.  Such key emphasis on this important life skill enables children to make rapid progress in reading, and more importantly sees them develop a genuine passion for books.

In Years 3 to 8, English and English literature are taught as a unified course.  Reading, writing, speaking and listening extend, complement and develop each other in the studies of literature and the search for personal expression. Engendering a love of literature is the aim at the heart of the subject, whilst giving children the ability to communicate confidently, clearly, sensitively and intelligently in their writing and their speech is of equal benefit.

Pupils have excellent communication skills and are exceptionally articulate - ISI 2017

Drama is an important part of life at Durlston Court and children develop their confidence through the many opportunities to present and perform to an audience, including our impressive productions and performances throughout the school year.


We seek to stimulate curiosity about the world around us, to understand how the past has influenced us and to raise awareness of environmental issues, seeking future contributions to sustainable development.

In Geography, regular fieldwork enables the children to develop a real understanding of physical and human landscapes.  Additional challenges and house competitions such as Lego Flags and The Atlas Challenge Quiz help to further secure their knowledge.

Through our study of History, we actively encourage the acquisition and application of higher order language skills and often use drama to explore opinions and re-enact key events.

Theology, Philosophy and Religion, covering a range of different faiths and philosophies, are taught formally within the classroom and also as part of daily life at school and through Chapel Services.

Modern Foreign Languages

Our aim is simply to develop a love of languages amongst the children.  French and Spanish are taught predominantly orally, giving lots of opportunity for active engagement and to develop confidence.  French is taught from Year 1 and Spanish is then incorporated at Year 6. As children progress through the school they extend their topic-based language and grammar, building an excellent foundation for further study. In order to further enhance language skills, Year 7 and 8 children enjoy a week residential visit to France where all of their activities are conducted in French - a true immersion in the language and culture!


Our aim is that children should enjoy mathematics. Enjoyment comes from mastery and confidence and we aim to develop pupils who will leave Durlston Court as confident and enthusiastic mathematicians, well-prepared to take on the challenges of the subject at their senior school and beyond.

We have high expectations of every child, regardless of ability.  Our team of inspirational and dedicated class teachers work alongside subject specialists to ensure that the basic concepts of mathematics are thoroughly understood.  We use manipulatives and real life examples with focused repetition and reinforcement. Mental methods are emphasised from the early years onwards with regular opportunities for pupils to develop the different skills involved in both mental and written calculation and reasoning.

Our traditional approach is complemented by our use of technology, open-ended investigations and practical activities which bring mathematics to life and aid understanding. Our small class sizes ensure that we can offer support and challenge to every individual. In addition to regular classroom extension, children are able to measure themselves against the highest standards around the country, with impressive results, in initiatives such as the National Primary Maths Challenge (Years 5 & 6) and the UK Mathematical Trust’s Junior Maths Challenge (Year 7 & 8).


Children are introduced to a full range of musical instruments, genres and to the theory of music from an early age. We find that this early introduction helps to develop their listening and concentration skills as well as instilling a love and appreciation of music.

Weekly class lessons include composing, improvising and music technology. A full range of topics are covered from classical and jazz to pop, rock and music from other cultures. We also offer access to a range of music technology, including a set of Yamaha multi-tracking keyboards, Sibelius notation software and sequencers such as Soundtrap, which children can also access at home via Google Classroom. We are able to offer units of work such as composing for film, the products of which have been put forward for some pupil’s Trinity Arts Award Bronze qualifications in Year 8.

Performance is a key element of music at Durlston and all children are given regular opportunities to practise and perform. The music calendar is full of termly concerts and opportunities to grow in confidence as they delight family and community audiences.  

With a dedicated Music School including practice rooms, pupils can take part in individual music lessons delivered by our talented team of dedicated peripatetic teachers. Pupils have the option of taking individual lessons on over twenty different instruments, as well as in singing; we also offer tuition in music theory. They can experience fantastic group music-making, participating in our many ensembles including several choirs, the Orchestra, the Jazz Band, and other groups that rehearse and perform each term.


We are committed to making science a stimulating and exciting subject for all children.  From Pre-Prep through to Year 8, lessons are full of practical and hands-on experiences, where the children are encouraged to predict, explore, investigate and evaluate for themselves.

Our purpose-built science laboratory is a well-resourced facility, stimulating a positive and enquiring attitude. The rich and diverse curriculum covers key aspects of biology, chemistry and physics and children are encouraged to explore challenging concepts from a young age.  

Curiosity, open-mindedness, critical reflection, co-operation and perseverance are all key to scientific success. These characteristics are carefully developed throughout a child's educational journey at Durlston.  From Kindergarten's nature walks to investigating shadows in the playground and testing chemical reactions in the laboratory in the Senior years, we aim to inspire curiosity, to promote deep thinking and therefore to develop understanding. This approach also helps to prepare Years 7 and 8 in their work towards the Common Entrance 13+ and provides a strong foundation for further study. 


Durlston has a well-established and impressive sporting reputation. Daily sports coaching, P.E lessons and regular opportunities to compete in sporting fixtures help to instil team spirit and confidence. In addition to our games teachers we have a team of fully qualified, specialist coaches who support and enhance our curriculum and co-curricular opportunities including rugby skills, tennis academy and performance cricket groups.

A separate Physical Education programme operates within the curriculum, teaching gymnastics, basketball, swimming, cross-country running, dance, and health related fitness.

The extensive on-site sports facilities are used regularly for Games and P.E lessons, clubs, matches, tournaments and galas.

Learning Development Centre

Durlston Court is an inclusive community where every child is valued and helped to achieve their full potential.    

Our dedicated Learning Development area, known as the Lighthouse, supports children with a wide range of needs to help them learn more effectively.  Additional support may take the form of one to one assistance or small booster groups, focusing on literacy, mathematics, memory and social communication.  We are also experienced at supporting children with English as an Additional Language (EAL).    

Our latest ISI inspection report reflected that; ‘pupils of all abilities including those with SEND, make very good progress. Pupils with EAL make very good progress not only in their acquisition of English but also in their academic performance.’

As part of the support that we can offer, we have two fully qualified ELSAs (Emotional Literacy Support Assistants), one of whom is also a FEIPS practioner (Framework of Enhanced Individual Pastoral Support). This means that our support extends well beyond the academic to truly care for the 'whole' child.

The Lighthouse team work closely with our experienced teachers and Learning Support Assistants to offer tailored support to children. We also have close links with Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Educational Psychologists as well as the Hampshire Educational Psychology Service.  

A close partnership with parents is at the heart of everything we do. We promote regular and open dialogue where we can discuss progress, provide advice and celebrate achievement.

Durlston Court - Preparatory School