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The importance of choosing the right prep school for your child cannot be understated. That is why we have compiled a list of the top prep schools in London, giving you an understanding of what the best schools have to offer. And thus, which one will best suit your child when preparing for the 7 plus.
Bute House is a prep school for girls in Hammersmith. The hugely popular Mrs Helen Lowe will be succeeded by Ms Sian Bradshaw in September 2021 after serving as Headmistress for 9 years.
Known for its atmosphere of fun Bute House encourages creative exploration, which can sometimes be missing from similarly academically successful prep schools. Girls are known to go on to the best London schools. With St Paul’s Girls’ School on its doorstep, it is no surprise that 32% of Bute girls end up there – despite having the same entrance requirements as everyone else. Entry at 4 plus is strictly by ballot – 22 girls are offered a place from around 400 applicants each year. Entry points in other years are academically selective.
Overall, the school is known for a non-competitive, supportive learning ethos where girls thoroughly enjoy their time there.
Hornsby House is a co-educational prep school between Balham and Wandsworth Common. The excellent reputation of Hornsby is only reinforced by the spectacular leavers’ destinations, which are made even more impressive given that there is no academic selection in place at entry. Since joining in 2012, the Headmaster Edward Rees, has built deep relationships with popular local private schools, for example, one of the Hornsby House Governors is the Deputy Head of Alleyn’s School.
Hornsby House achieves a great balance between academic and pastoral progress for its children, however, it has also garnered a reputation for its intense 11 plus preparation. In Year 5 and 6 both students and parents undergo a strict regime to prepare for the entrance exams at the most competitive schools. Sport is also an area of pride at Hornsby – so it is no surprise its students tend to be awarded many sports and drama scholarships at senior schools each year. It is worth noting that the school site is small, and while Hornsby does everything it can to optimise, it can feel cramped.
The Thomas’s London Day Schools Group is the most successful prep school group in London. The four co-educational prep schools in Battersea, Kensington, Fulham and Clapham are notoriously popular due to their kind ethos and academic success. Thomas’s will be opening their own Senior School in September 2021 so that prep school attendees are able to move seamlessly through their education without having to face tough entrance exams. Thomas’s has earned its prestigious reputation, boasting a ski school in Austria and attendees including the children of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s.
The group is family run, and their ethos is palpable as you enter the schools, where the motto and number one rule is to “be kind”. The Thomas’s family are at the forefront of a campaign to reimagine academic assessments, including GCSEs, in favour of a more modern assessment style. (Something to consider if your child is exam-averse). Bright, confident and curious children who will take advantage of all the facilities on offer with enthusiasm will suit Thomas’s schools.
Newton Preparatory School is a co-educational school well situated near the Thames in Battersea. Home to over 600 students, Newton prep boasts a large site to which very few London prep schools can compare. Pupils can stay on from nursery to 13, however many leave at 11 to take up places at top independent schools including JAGS, Dulwich, KCS and Emanuel.
The school is known for its buzzy atmosphere, space and extra-curricular excellence. Facilities are state of the art, offering a new sports hall, four all-weather pitches, a music hall, a big adventure playground, and three dance studios. The large cohort may be intimidating if your child is particularly anxious or shy. However, if your child is keen on lots of room, excellent facilities, sports and an all-around sense of enthusiasm, nowhere will match up with Newton Prep.
Westminster Under is a boy’s school for children ages 7-13. As it is attached to Westminster School, it is no surprise it is the top feeder school for Westminster. Over 80% of boys will go on to study at Westminster School, with the rest attending other prestigious boarding (and a handful of London day) schools. Westminster Under is a small, high-powered school in the heart of London, known for its academic and sporting success.
Catherine Jefferson has taken over as Master, preceded by her strong reputation and infectious excitement to join Westminster Under. Sport is hugely popular, with boys playing competitively as part of the curriculum and a wide range of after school clubs including judo, fencing and swimming. Entrance to Westminster Under is fiercely competitive, with only the brightest and most confident boys being offered a place.
One of the newer additions to our top recommendations (founded in 1981), yet they have continued to impress. Eaton Square is a mixed school in leafy Belgravia with four pre-prep locations. The school is also now a member of the Dukes Education Group. Offering an all-through education, pupils can stay to age 18, moving seamlessly from prep school to Eaton Square Senior School in Mayfair (a path that over 50% of recent years have followed).
The prep school is known for its calm, welcoming atmosphere located on a beautiful site. The hugely popular Head, Patricia Wyatt, has improved the school’s academic standard to no end, resulting in an impressive list of leavers destinations littered with academic, music and drama scholarship offers. This is even more impressive due to Eaton’s overtly non-selective application process. It has an excellent reputation for supporting children with additional needs, in addition to a full-time SENCO on-premises.
A co-educational prep school for children ages 4-8 nestled between Wandsworth and Clapham Common. Pupils are then welcomed to stay with Broomwood, with boys attending Northcote Lodge (ages 8-13), and girls going to Broomwood Hall Upper (ages 8-13). Students can then move up to Northwood Senior in Balham, the co-educational upper school for children ages 11-16. This is a popular choice for parents aiming to avoid the stress of an 11+ campaign.
Broomwood Hall is known for its impressive pastoral care and high academic standard. This school has a distinct educational ethos, setting it apart from other local prep schools. It is a popular choice for families searching for a brilliant, traditional British education – including Church of England. Broomwood Hall is non-selective, which only makes the leavers’ destinations all the more impressive. Broomwood is known for helping children secure places at prestigious boarding schools and (albeit less so) academic London independent day schools. However, its reputation is largely built around the kindness and politeness that is instilled during children’s time at Broomwood.
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