Arnold House School

1 Loudoun Road, London NW8 0LH

Profile: Established in St John’s Wood in 1905, Arnold House is a traditional boys’ preparatory school that is known for academic excellence and stellar exit results. It is not just about academic excellence however, and the school is known for good pastoral care and a wide range of opportunities for personal development. It has particular strengths in music, where 100 pupils successfully passed Associated Board examinations with one in eight gaining distinctions and over a third gaining merits. A small number of boys were selected to sing in the New London Children’s Choir, with others playing instruments with the London Schools’ Symphony Orchestra. It is also very strong in sports such as football and cricket. North London mums tell me that the ultimate dream of many North London parents is to have their son at Arnold House and their daughter at South Hampstead High School.

At the same time, some parents comment that the school is definitely best suited to those boys who seem to be on track to enter the most competitive London secondary schools, while potentially not doing the best to make sure boys of all abilities thrive equally.

Admissions: Unusually, Arnold House does not have a Reception class but admits boys one year later aged 5+ straight into Year 1. It is a highly oversubscribed school that does favour boys whose fathers attended the school. Beyond this, the emphasis is on academic potential and entry is selective. Arnold House admits two classes of 18-19 boys each year. Although many North London parents go to great lengths to get their sons into this school (selecting the “right” nursery, networking, even hiring tutors), the school does mainly look for natural ability paired with parents who are involved in their child’s education and have high aspirations. I just heard of a boy who attended an average state nursery and whose parents were completely unaware of the 5+ assessment format, and the boy was offered a place in the first round.

The entry process is as follows:

– All registered parents are invited to visit the School on one of three Open Evenings held in April/May, roughly two and a half years prior to the September entry date e.g. April/May 2015 for entry in September 2017.

  • Parents wishing to proceed with their application following an Open Evening visit, have the opportunity of meeting the Headmaster for a twenty minute interview to discuss their educational aspirations and to find out more about Arnold House
  • Each boy is then invited to the School for a brief and informal one-to-one assessment lasting between 10 and 15 minutes.  The School will request a confidential reference from a boy’s nursery school prior to the assessment day.
  • Information collated from the interview, the boy’s assessment and confidential nursery school report provide the basis on which an offer is made.  Offers are made approximately fifteen months before the proposed September entry date, e.g. June 2014 for entry in September 2015.

Due to the popularity of the school, early registration before your son’s 2nd birthday is highly recommended.

Importantly, the school currently offers four bursaries of up to 100% of school fees for boys in Year 5, 6 and 7. It is aiming to expand this bursary scheme over the next year, enabling more able boys to benefit from its outstanding education regardless of their parents’ means.

Exit Results: 
Exit results for Arnold House are outstanding, making it one of the most successful among London preparatory schools. The largest share of pupils (about 15% each) get into St. Paul’s and Westminster, with another 20% going on to other leading North London day schools, such as Highgate, City of London and University College School. A large share of boys continue on at leading boarding schools, with a particular high share moving to Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Winchester and Marlborough. Full results from 2005 – 2015 can be found here. In 2015, 5 boys went to City of London, 5 to St Paul’s, 5 to UCS and 4 to Eton.

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