Unsure which is the best prep school for your child? Read our list of our favourite prep schools in London to better understand what the top schools have on offer.
Bute House is led by Mrs Helen Lowe, a real crowd pleaser with parents, who has been at the helm since 2012. She presides over an atmosphere of fun exploration, which can sometimes be absent from prep schools with equivalent academic success. The girls go on to all the best schools in London, but really enjoy their childhood at Bute House. Entry at 4 is strictly by ballot and 22 girls are given a place from around 400 applicants each year. Entry points in other years are academically assessed. The school is next to St Paul’s Girls’ school but sadly, the Bute girls take the St Paul’s exam on the same terms as all other applicants.
Hornsby House has an excellent reputation in South London and boasts envy-inducing leavers’ destinations, especially given that no academic selection is in place at entry. The Head has built deep relationships with popular Independent Schools in the area, for example, the Deputy Head of Alleyn’s School is also one of the Hornsby Governors.
The school is known for its hardcore 11+ preparation. Year 5 and 6 children (and their parents!) undergo a grilling regime that is not for the faint-hearted. Competitive sport is a strength, and the school tends to win bags of sport and drama scholarships each year. Hornsby’s site is small and despite everything the school can do to optimise it, there’s no getting around that it is cramped.
A recent newcomer on the block (founded in 1981) Eaton Square Prep School in leafy Belgravia is now part of the Dukes Education Group. This now means that pupils can stay to age 18 as they can move seamlessly on to Eaton Square Senior School in Mayfair (over 50% of recent cohorts have done this). The prep school is a beautiful site with a kind, calm atmosphere. The Head, Patricia Wyatt is a heavy-weight educator and has improved the school’s academic standards no end. The school now boasts a credible list of leavers destinations and multiple academic, music and drama scholarships. This is even more impressive as the school is overtly nonselective and has a good reputation for supporting children with additional needs. The school has a full-time SENCO on board who caters for many children’s additional educational needs and is highly thought of by the parent community.
Newton Prep is a large school, with over 600 pupils and a well-located site near the Thames, that families both North and South of the river can access. Pupils can stay until age 11 or 13 and the school boasts impressive leavers’ destinations at both exit points. Newton Prep is a big busy site, with a buzzy atmosphere and a large playground. Very shy or anxious children may feel a bit lost. The facilities are second to none, with four all-weather pitches, three sports halls, two dance studios, a new lower-school library and a 300-seater auditorium. Parents are smart London families with ambitions for their children and this school tends to step up to the plate and deliver.
The Thomas’s London Day Schools Group is the most successful prep school group in London. With not only the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s children in attendance at their Battersea site and their own ski school in Wurzeralm, Austria, they also have a beautiful new Senior School opening September 2021 that prep school families can move seamlessly on to.
The group is still run by the Thomas family and their particular ethos is noticeable throughout their prep schools, where the school motto and number one school rule is to ‘be kind’. Thomas’s schools suit bright, confident children who like to take advantage of all the facilities and fun on offer. The Thomas family are currently at the forefront of a campaign to rethink school assessments and would like to do away with GCSEs in preference for a more modern form of assessing children’s skills and abilities. One to bear in mind if your child hates exams!
Broomwood is a bit of a marmite school, with many supporters and detractors in the Wandsworth area and more myths than most created around the school and its parent cohort. Are parents allowed to wear jeans for pick up, etc? Why are little boys still wearing Victorian knickerbockers to school? The school has a distinct educational ethos, which differs from other prep schools in the area but is brilliant for families looking for the best of traditional British education (including church) and entry in the best Public schools. The lower school is particularly well thought of for its pastoral care and breadth of its educational offering. Steer clear if you are aiming for 11+ entry into competitive London Day Schools as it’s not really Broomwood’s bag, but dive in if you are looking for a school with good relationships with prestigious boarding schools. Mrs Jenkinson, Wandsworth National Treasure, is retiring at the end of this academic year, but well thought of internal candidates have been promoted and are raring to start. The Broomwood Group of schools also opened a Senior School in Balham this year, meaning children can now stay until 16, a popular move with parents hoping to dodge the trauma of London 11+.