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North Bridge House Prep School Review

Part of the North Bridge House family of day schools in London, this prep school for Years 3-8 delivers a well-rounded curriculum that prepares students for entrance exams to some top senior schools in the city.
At a glance
School type
Private
School phase
Primary
Inspection rating
Excellent
Curricula taught
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
GBP 20,500
Annual fees
GBP 20,520–20,520
Price band help
Mid-range
Status
Open
Opening year
1939
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Mr James Stenning
Owner
Cognita
Community
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North Bridge House Prep School
School type
Private
School phase
Primary
Inspection rating
Excellent
Curricula taught
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
GBP 20,500
Annual fees
GBP 20,520–20,520
Price band help
Mid-range
Status
Open
Opening year
1939
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Mr James Stenning
Owner
Cognita
Community
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Updated:
Thursday 30 September, 2021

Part of the North Bridge House family of day schools in London, this prep school for Years 3-8 delivers a well-rounded curriculum that prepares students for entrance exams to some top senior schools in the city.

North Bridge House Prep is a small standalone prep school that offers the breadth and depth of study needed to prepare students for entry to some of London's top selective day schools. Located close to Regent's Park, in a beautiful old convent, the school offers an enriched UK curriculum to both girls and boys from Years 3-8. It's frequently described by parents as a happy school with a friendly, relaxed atmosphere where children feel nurtured and their individual strengths and weaknesses are 'understood'.

The school offers several different pathways to secondary education to its small, close-knit community of around 450 students. While some will take the 11+ or the Consortium exam at the end of Year 6, about a third go on to one of the North Bridge House Senior Schools.

Students can also stay on until the end of Year 8 (an average of 30 every year) when they take the Common Pre-Test exam, the Common Entrance exam or schools’ individual entrance tests for Year 9 entry.

Founded in 1939, NBH Prep moved to its current location in 1987.

The prep school prepares students for entry to several top selective day schools in London including  Channing, City of London, Highgate, Merchant Taylor’s, Mill Hill, North London Collegiate, South Hampstead, St. Paul’s, UCS, and Westminster, as well as its own mixed-ability secondary schools in either Hampstead or Canonbury.

The school belongs to the North Bridge House family of co-ed day schools, which has six north London sites offering an education from two through to 18 years. Hampstead was the first of two senior schools to open in the group, in 1987, and it moved to its current site in 2012. The other NBH senior school, Canonbury, is the newest addition to the North Bridge House group; it opened Years 8-13 in 2014, making it the first independent senior school in Islington and the only Sixth Form in the NBH group. In 2017, it introduced a Year 7 cohort.

NBH is part of the global Cognita education group. While the school offers its own individual ‘brand’ of education (typical of all Cognita schools), there are benefits to being part of an international family of schools. These include students participating in Cognita’s Global Be-Well Day (a day dedicated to student mental health and wellbeing), supporting charitable initiatives such as Solar Buddy and Light Up Learning, and improving their Spanish through online chats with peers in Cognita’s Spanish schools.

Headteacher James Stenning was appointed in 2019, but has worked at the school since 2014. Prior to this, he was Head of Economics at Highgate School where he was also responsible for its co-curricular programme.

Curriculum

As an independent school, NBH Prep has the freedom to offer an enriched version of the English National Curriculum. To help students prepare for both the Common Entrance and the transition to non-selective secondary education, the school focuses on subject specialist teaching from Year 3; timetabled subjects including French, drama and design and technology.

The curriculum also includes PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics); developing key creative, critical thinking and problem-solving skills; and a choice of Latin, Mandarin or Spanish in Years 5-8. Its these aspects of the curriculum that help to develop the whole child – and set NBH apart from many other prep schools.

Music features prominently in the curriculum and after-school. Most students learn an instrument, and there are five choirs, an orchestra and several brass bands, as well as a programme of concerts and productions throughout the school year. 

Compared to the very academically rigorous and selective nature of some neighbouring north London schools, NBH Prep offers a more relaxed learning environment that will certainly suit some students more than others.

Beyond the classroom

It may have a small student community, but this does not restrict the school's extra-curricular activities. There are more than 30 lunchtime and after-school clubs, with activities ranging from street dance to chess and songwriting to architecture.

Although the school does not have the wide open spaces for sport that you will find at a more rural independent school, it uses the facilities on its doorstep (including Regent's Park) for a range of sporting activities .

Campus and facilities

NBH Prep has a wonderful city-centre location, an impressive campus with a combination of modern teaching facilities and some charming architectural reminders of its life as a convent (the chapel ceiling is beautiful). 

Students move between spacious classrooms and two large music rooms, music pods for one-to-one tuition, an indoor gym, science laboratories, library and a contemporary art studio. 

Admission and fees

The main point of entry is  7+ (Year 3), and all students must sit an assessment to "determine their current academic level".

Annual fees are £20,520.

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