With a combination of fantastic facilities for a central London school, a nurturing environment and strong academic outcomes (highlighted by a long list of scholarships and 11-plus places every year), this is a top choice for a prep school.
The school is divided between the Nursery, Lower School (Reception to Year 2) and Upper School (Years 3-8).
Typical of a small prep, there’s a close-knit community with a warm and nurturing environment that many families of young children will be looking for.
As a standalone prep school, Newton Prep can offer advantages that an all-through school often cannot – it has the vibe of a small village school, teachers can know every student by name, and the school is designed and equipped only for primary-aged children. It is also solely focused on preparing children for places at the UK’s leading senior schools, and its forward-thinking curriculum can certainly equip your child with the skills they need to get there.
Newton Prep is academically selective so it is best-suited to children who are bright and hard-working; it’s achieving results more through teaching within a happy learning environment than hot-housing though. There’s a refreshingly relaxed vibe across the school, where students wear the same comfortable (and practical) uniform they’ve been wearing since the school was founded in 1991. There’s no boaters and blazers here! Take a look at the school’s magazine, Gravity, and you’ll instantly pick up on the fun, outgoing and creative energy of this school.
Houses are named after brands of apple, not saints or famous historical alumni, which is a refreshingly different. When the school describes itself as “unashamedly ambitious” this refers as much to students’ academic grades as it does to achieving their potential in sport and the arts.
Children in the Nursery and Lower school benefit from having access to the facilities and specialist teaching of a much larger school. They are taught music, French, PE and ballet by specialist staff from Nursery; from Year 3 students have science lessons in the science lab (most schools will be teaching this within the classroom); and from Year 5 onwards, humanities subjects are taught by specialist teachers.
It’s all delivered in a well-equipped school with some impressive facilities, including an all-weather pitch, not one but three sports halls, three science labs, 300-seat auditorium, music rooms and music technology suite, and 125-seat recital hall.
The school is the first to admit that facilities do not themselves make a good school, but they can certainly help to enrich a broad and balanced curriculum. And for a city centre school, Newton Prep has a surprising amount of wide open outdoor spaces and range of facilities. It all means that students do not have to be bused off for sports lessons, and benefit from the number and type of specialist classrooms that you’d expect from a senior school.
Class sizes are fairly small (around 20 students); there are four classes per year group, which does mean the school may feel larger than many surrounding preps. This does have its advantages though; the school can offer a wider range of extra-curricular activities, there will be a large group of peers for friendships, and the school will be able to field more teams for competitive sport (although your child may then have less chance of getting selected).
From Year 5, students are prepared for senior school choices and taught to familiarise themselves with the 11-plus/13-plus exam formats. Most students (particularly girls) move to senior school for Year 7 after taking the 11-plus, but the school is seeing increasing numbers of children staying on in Years 7 and 8.
In 2022, however, children moved on to over 45 different schools, a combination of London day schools and UK-wide day and boarding schools. These include top senior schools such as Harrow, Dulwich College, Eton, Brighton College, City of London School and Bede’s.
For those students who stay at Newton Prep for Years 7-8, they get to study for the school’s own Newton Prep Diploma. This cross-curricular programme combines the humanities subjects (geography, history and religious studies) with art and drama – and is one of the school’s standout strengths.
During these key two years, students get the clear benefits of cross-curricular learning. Highlights have included a Year 8 field trip to Cumbria, a ‘School Election’ and a Climate Change Conference where children and their mentors tried to come to terms with an extremely complex real-world problem.
The school prides itself on having a strong arts department. There are specialist staff teaching music all the way through from two-year-olds in Kindergarten to Year 6, over a third of children in the school participate in a weekly choir rehearsal and more than 200 children learn an instrument. Now an annual tradition, the school records 24 Days of Christmas, an advent-calendar style celebration of the students’ singing and musical performances.
Whether on stage in the 300-seat auditorium performing in the school’s production of Annie, taking a drama lesson in the school’s rehearsal studio, or firing a ceramic pot in the school’s own kiln, students are presented with plenty of opportunity to showcase their creative abilities. Regular events such as the Newton Film Night N-Oscars, Newton’s Got Talent, Prep School Musician of the Year competition, musical recitals and concerts help to bring the school community together and give every child confidence to perform on a public stage.
If your child is into sport, all the traditional sports (cricket, netball, hockey, football), as well as athletics, gymnastics, basketball and fitness, are on the PE and games curriculum. There’s also a choice of teacher-led and externally run paid-for clubs and other extra-curricular activities as varied as fencing, animation, judo, mindfulness and board games.
Newton Prep is academically selective so all students need to sit an academic assessment for places in Reception onwards. The school says:
“The pitch and pace of our curriculum are ambitious, so we need to be sure that the children we offer places to will thrive and not struggle. The assessments are not designed to be intimidating but are rather a process by which we can make a judgement about their suitability for our school.”
The key points of entry are Nursery and Reception, although places may be available in other year groups, and the school does not operate a ‘first come, first served’ admissions policy.
School fees are competitive.
Annual fees are £11,340 for Nursery, £20,940 for Lower School, and £23,940 for Upper School.
Good for: Newton has fantastic facilities for a central London school; combine this with a nurturing environment and strong academic outcomes (highlighted by a long list of scholarships and 11-plus places every year) and you have a top choice for a prep school. If you want your child to be happy while achieving academically – and still enjoying those precious childhood years – then Newton may be the perfect fit.
Not for: This is an academically selective school so your child will need to ready and able to keep up with a rigorous curriculum. While it does have plenty of outdoor space, this cannot compensate for the open fields of a country school if you are looking for a rural prep school.
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