Pre-Prep School

Our aim in the Pre-Prep (Primary School) is to ensure that every child reaches his or her potential through developing a love of learning that goes beyond what is taught in the classroom.

The Pre-Prep School (Primary School) forms part of the Lower School at Harrow Shanghai and spans Years 1 to 4. We build on the excellent foundation pupils receive in the Early Years, harnessing the children’s curiosity, creativity and individuality, and adding depth and breadth in order to develop pupils who love learning and always rise to a challenge.

We share many characteristics with the rest of the school, believing in the same motto, Educational Excellence for Life and Leadership, and belonging to the same four Harrow Shanghai Houses: Churchill, Byron, Shaftesbury and Rothschild. We also follow the same timetable with each day starting at 8am, finishing at 4pm (3pm on Fridays) and comprising six lessons. These shared structures throughout the whole school ensure a sense of unity and allow us to benefit from cross-phase collaboration and support.

Learning Environment

The Pre-Prep School at Harrow Shanghai hosts a variety of age-appropriate facilities, which support the curriculum in a number of ways. Preparation for the world of the future is at the forefront of everything we do at Harrow Shanghai and digital literacy is therefore of the utmost importance. With this in mind, each classroom has its own interactive technology, as well as individual laptops and iPads available as required.

As well as the excellent resources available in the classrooms, there is also a Lower School computing suite dedicated solely to our younger pupils, a fully-equipped music room and a well-stocked art studio, as well as numerous multi-purpose spaces for collaborative project work. Furthermore, Lower School pupils frequently access the same marvellous facilities and spaces as the Upper School. They swim in our magnificent swimming pool, perform in a state-of-the-art drama studio and even occasionally carry out experiments in our Upper School science labs!


We follow the British National Curriculum in the Harrow Shanghai Pre-Prep, which sets our children up well for success in the Upper School, when they move on to GCSEs and A Levels. We follow a cross-curricular approach which means that all learning where possible is linked meaningfully to a half-termly topic.

The table below shows an overview of these topics.

Every class in the Pre-Prep School is taught primarily by their class teacher, who is always a native English speaker. However, each class also benefits from specialist instruction in the following subject areas: Mandarin, computing, physical education (PE), swimming and music. Pupils in Years 3 and 4 also enjoy a weekly drama lesson taught by a specialist teacher.

Core Subjects

English, maths and Mandarin are considered core subjects. For this reason, pupils in the Pre-Prep have a daily lesson in maths and English. They also have a daily reading lesson, which differs from the English lesson in its specific focus on word reading or reading comprehension skills, depending on the age and ability of the pupil. Mandarin is taught four times a week.

We use the White Rose framework for the teaching of maths. It is one of the most successful and popular programmes used in the UK and is a fully comprehensive approach to the National Curriculum, covering all necessary content, whilst focusing heavily on developing reasoning and problem-solving alongside fluency.

For the teaching of early reading, we follow the Read Write Inc. programme. This phonics programme runs from Reception to Year 2 and teaches children to read accurately and fluently with good comprehension. They learn to form each letter, spell correctly, and compose their ideas step-by-step. Once children can confidently read words, we further develop their reading comprehension through skills-based reading lessons following the Destination Reader approach from the UK.

Leadership and Service

We have many leadership opportunities in the Pre-Prep so that children as young as five are learning how to grow up and fulfil our school vision of Leadership for a Better World. In our section of the school, we have two Lower School Head Students in Year 4, four house captains – also in Y4 – and twelve school council representatives as there is one in every class! Student leaders are appointed through a variety of means, depending on the nature of the role: some through written application and formal interview; some through nomination and election; and some through merit-based selection.

Leadership and service is built into everything we do here at school and all our pupils develop skills and experiences in this area, whether they are a student leader or not. Once a week, every pupil in the Pre-Prep School takes an after-school Leadership and Service activity which changes half-termly and forms part of a comprehensive programme overseen by our Lower School Leadership and Service coordinator.