Overview of East London Prep Schools

Northeast London neighbourhoods such as Islington, Hackney and the Docklands have become increasingly popular with young families in recent years, and from the amount of emails I receive asking advice about primary schools in the area, it seems like schools have not been able to keep up with the demand. The Gatehouse School previously featured among our school visits is so oversubscribed some parents can’t even get a place if they register their 6 month old. Other popular prep schools are Charterhouse Square School and the Lyceum, but like many Central London schools, they tend to offer very little outdoor space. St Paul’s Cathedral School is very popular as well, but registration is ideally recommended before a child’s first birthday (at birth is best).

A little relief has been provided by the opening of the Faraday School in the Docklands as part of the New Model School group (I have mentioned the school in the list of most affordable Central London private schools). A slightly more alternative choice is the Dallington School in Islington,where pupils don’t wear a school uniform and call teachers by the first name. It is strong in the arts and pastoral care and popular with liberal families. Even further on the alternative spectrum is the Gower School which has a very popular Montessori nursery school, while word on the street seems to be that the main school does very well for some children but not so well for others.

Particularly in the borough of Islington, you can also find many highly rated state primary schools if you manage to live within shrinking catchment areas. The community primaries William Tyndale, Canonbury and Thornhill all perform highly and seem to get excellent parent reviews. If you happen to be working in Canary Wharf, don’t forget you could live in North London neighbourhoods St John’s Wood or Hampstead and commute via the modern Jubilee Line.

What do parents do when they can’t get a place at oversubscribed state primaries or prep schools or they are looking for a school with better facilities and outdoor space? One school that is already popular with East London families following the 11+ and increasing in popularity during the primary years due to its bus service to London boroughs of Docklands, Hackney, Islington and East Ham is the Forest School, located on the edge of Epping Forest in north east London. Its beautiful campus is built around the School’s original Georgian and Victorian buildings and is surrounded by green space.

Forest is one of the few diamond structure schools in the country. This means that whilst both boys and girls are admitted to the School, they are taught in single-sex classes at key stages of their education (a model you can also find at the Garden House School in Chelsea). 1,290 pupils are in the Preparatory School, Girls’ School or Boys’ School. Classes are small; 16 pupils in the Pre-Prep and from Year 3 this rises to 22 in the Prep years. From the age of four pupils are taught in co-educational classes, and then at the age of seven they move into single-sex classes (until they are united again in the coeducational Sixth Form).

Sarah Kerr-Dineen, Warden of Forest School, explains: “We believe that our combination of single-sex and mixed educational opportunities gives our pupils the best of all worlds. Forest School is three schools in one – within each, the Form and House system means that pupils are looked after in small units of care. Life is not a single-sex environment, however, and a child’s social development involves learning to form relationships with a wide range of people. ”

Opportunities beyond the curriculum are numerous and diverse: Every pupil in the Prep School will learn a musical instrument for at least a year and providing pupils with opportunities to perform in public is an important aspect of building confidence. Throughout the year there are concerts, chapel services, class assemblies and drama productions involving as many pupils as possible.

18 thoughts on “Overview of East London Prep Schools”

  1. I would also really appreciate feedback on Lyceum now they are in their new building with new head… Also other options in the city or commutable from Hackney… Thanks so much for all the info on this site!

  2. Hi I am looking for a nursery in East London, (we are based in Limehouse, but happy to travel a little) for our 1 year old. I’m really struggling to find a place for April. If anybody has any recommendations, please do drop me a message. Many Thanks

  3. Could you provide your feedback on Lyceum School specifically? Although the article mentions it, I would love to know more.

  4. hi there, Im looking for pre school private around east London areas, Amalinda, Southern wood, Quigney its for my son who is 3years old.

  5. Hi, Snaresbrook prep school is considered very good. Any thoughts? Also are there any other nurseries in close proximity I should look at? Thanks

  6. Rosemary Works school in Hackney is fantastic. It takes a very rounded approach to the children’s education and nurtures them to achieving their best. I’d say the children almost don’t realise they are working hard and their results are consistently high. They now have a year 5/6 and are this year preparing that year for their moves to some of the great secondary schools like Forest. I would highly recommend this school. For some reason it doesn’t feature in the article for East London schools.

  7. Hello – do you have any more information on Faraday School? I’m specifically looking for information on the secondary schools that children from Faraday typically attend? Many thanks.

  8. Looking for a private prep school for boys in the NE London area. Any recommendations (academically strong feeder school preferred). Thanks.

    1. the current Head is moving to a prep school in Cambridge in the summer and they are currently looking for a new Head to start in Sep 2016, so stay tuned…

    1. I never visited it but I did have friends who had kids there who were very happy there and achieved great results, at least in the early years. I can’t comment on the Upper School.

  9. We are urgently looking for a place for our daughter, age 6, in Richmond or nearby areas as we are not happy with the state school we have been offered. We are 4 th in the waiting list for where we would like her to go but in the meantime would like to place her in private school.
    Do you have any idea of schools in Richmond that may have availability for a year?


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