Merchant Taylors’ Prep is a small happy, friendly school with success at preparing students for the move to senior school at 13+, several with scholarships.
Prior to 2015, it was known as Northwood Prep until it merged with Merchant Taylors’ School to make it an all-through school for boys aged three-18 years; the Prep school is located on a separate campus five minutes’ drive away in Rickmansworth. Both schools are part of the Merchant Taylors’ family of nine schools across the UK.
While the majority of students go onto Merchant Taylors’ School, located in the same county, small numbers accept places to other independent senior schools including St Albans, John Lyon, Haberdashers’ Aske’s, Eton and Westminster. Several students are awarded scholarships each year for either academic excellence or music and sporting talent.
Merchant Taylors’ School is a very popular all-boys’ school, with a reputation for high-quality teaching, an extensive range of extra-curricular activities, its very own watersports centre, and strong leadership. Located just outside London (just 30 minutes from central London on the Metropolitan line), MTS is a country school on an incredible 280 acres. Part of its appeal is almost certainly being able to study on a campus of lakes and countryside while being a short commute from the capital city.
Headteacher Dr Karen McNerney first joined the school (when it was Northwood Prep) n 2001, and was appointed Head in 2015.
In the Pre-Prep, (Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 2), boys are taught by a class teacher with subject specialists for French, PE, music and IT. As they move through the Prep school (Years 3-8), they are introduced to an even broader curriculum that includes Latin and Greek.
In Years 7 and 8 the focus is very much on preparing students for 13+ entrance and scholarship exams to a number of different independent schools. Languages taught include French from Nursery to Year 8 and there’s a foundation course in German and Spanish in Year 8. The school also uses the progressive (and highly regarded) Singapore Maths curriculum and its Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract sequence, which focuses on problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
The school says: “It is vital that we dig deep and build firm foundations in the formative years so that we can progress higher when the pupils are older.”
Other strengths of Merchant Taylors’ Prep School include its small class sizes, individual attention and pastoral care.
Boys play in inter-house and inter-school matches in a range of team sports, which is great preparation for more competitive sport at MTS and other senior schools. Sports facilities include playing fields and a purpose-built sports hall.
The main sports here are rugby, hockey, football, cross country, cricket, tennis and athletics. Highlights on the sporting calendar include a Prep School Hockey Tour to Bath and an annual ski trip to Italy.
Merchant Taylors’ Prep has its own purpose-built, 200-seat theatre, which was opened in 2008, and its drama programme is run by an ex-professional theatre director who previously worked for such companies as the Royal Shakespeare Company. Music is also thriving here and several students have won prestigious music scholarships to Merchant Taylors’ School, Harrow School, John Lyon School and Aldenham School.
There are many opportunities to perform – four choirs, four instrumental ensembles and an orchestra. The music department also works closely with the Merchant Taylors’ School to hold joint concerts and events.
There’s a full extra-curricular programme here, and boys are encouraged participate in a wide range of activities including chess, choir, art, IT, games, dance and life skills.
The school has a charming campus covering 15 acres, with purpose-built early years and primary facilities housed in converted Grade II listed farm buildings or in new developments such as the Pre-Prep and Sports Hall.
There are three key points of entry, 3+, 4+ and 7+, and all applicants sit an assessment.
Annual fees are £12,462 in Pre-Prep (Nursery), £17,310 in Pre-Prep (Reception to Year 2), and £18,168 in Prep (Years 3 to 8).
Good for: MTS is a happy and friendly school with a strong academic focus that can prepare your son for entry to either MTS Senior School or another leading independent senior school. It is most suited to students who are inquisitive, hardworking, and ready to be challenged. Its purpose-built facilities for science, PE, design and IT, music and the performing arts mean that the school is well-equipped to offer a high level of specialist teaching from the very early years of your child's education.
Not for: It's an all-boys school, so will not suit families looking for a co-ed education, and there are no boarding options in any year group. Some students may find the curriculum too rigorous, and boys should expect to apply themselves and work hard while getting involved with several activities beyond the classroom (including many outdoor pursuits).
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