36 Upper Mall, Hammersmith, London W6 9TA
Profile: Latymer Prep is a co-educational school that forms the preparatory department of Latymer Upper School in Ravenscourt Park, London’s top performing secondary school. Boys and girls attend Latymer Prep from age 7 to 11, at which point they generally transfer to Latymer Upper School. Housed in a beautiful mansion overlooking Thames river on the Latymer grounds, Latymer Prep, has enviable access to the new sports facilities at Latymer School, complete with a six-lane swimming pool and a brand new sports hall.
The curriculum balances the best of traditional education (strong emphasis on reading and mental maths, science, philosophy, geography and history, Roald Dahl in Year 3, Shakespeare in Year 6) with innovative elements (all children study Mandarin and Spanish as well as computing). It is wonderful to visit a highly academic London prep school where children are completely unfazed by the 11+ process. “We do the exam but it would be very rare for anyone not to pass, it only happens in one out of 50 cases”, explained one Year 6 boy.
Apart from enviable facilities and very bright children, Latymer Prep’s greatest asset used to be its inspiring Head Mr Dorrian, who has taught at Latymer School since 30 years and lead the prep school since 16 years while continuing to teach English and English Literature at the Upper School. Mr Dorrian retired in summer 2017, and Mrs Andrea Rutterford (previously Deputy Head at Devonshire House School in Hampstead) has since taken over the headship.
A wide variety of clubs is on offer, including Karate, Chess, Zumba, Drama, Film Studies. Most children take private instrumental lessons at the school. They are also offered one term of free instrumental tuition in a less usual instrument (for example, the trombone). Sports lessons are co-educational, which means girls play rugby with the boys and boys are on the netball court with the girls, to the surprise of their competitors during fixtures.
Admissions: Latymer Prep is highly selective and the main entry point is 7+, when 40 children are admitted out of about 250-300 candidates. Registered candidates sit an exam in Maths, English and verbal reasoning in the first round. Reading age is assessed as an indicator of “the richness of a child’s language experience since birth” (according to Mr Dorrian), and the school looks for candidates who have a reading age at least 18 months (ideally 2 years) ahead of their chronological age. The children write a short story based on pictures and complete a 45min Maths exam that tests mental maths and problem-solving skills covered in Key Stage 1. According to my daughter who took the 7+ here in January 2018, there were about 50 pages of reasoning to work through in one part of the exam (she may have exaggerated slightly). About 60-70 children are invited back for a second round, during which they take part in a variety of lessons (science, sport) to observe their attitude to learning and risk taking as well as their listening skills. You can find further packs of 7+ practice papers here.
Exit Results: All children are generally expected to proceed on to Latymer Upper School and a great majority of them do. This offers parents a peace of mind regarding their child’s education following preparatory school. Some children opt to go to boarding school and some girls may switch to a single sex senior school in the area, but generally Latymer Prep is a strong feeder for Latymer Upper School.