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Cranleigh Preparatory School
Cranleigh Preparatory School
Cranleigh Preparatory School
Cranleigh Preparatory School
Cranleigh Preparatory School Cranleigh, Surrey Visit
Cranleigh Preparatory School
341 pupils, ages 7-13
Day and Boarding

Cranleigh Preparatory School

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Our View

A country prep an hour’s drive from Wimbledon that has 40 acres for pupils to run free in and an all-round education delivered with a relaxed, but focused attitude – it’s no wonder more London parents are eschewing the fevered competition in the capital for Cranleigh Prep. The senior school across the road offers up its sports facilities, collaborates on music performances and is the next step for 80 per cent of leavers, offering them a reassuring continuity in their education.


Just south of Guildford and outside of the quintessential market town of Cranleigh, the prep school enjoys fabulous views of both the Surrey Hills and the South Downs from its spacious campus with its mix of venerable (the school opened its doors in 1913) and modern facilities. In 2017, the eco-friendly, timber Townsend Building opened – with a striking undulating roof and light-filled classrooms that overlook the cricket pitches. Pupils travel in from nearby towns and villages – Guildford is a 20-minute drive, Horsham 30 minutes – and there’s a weekly bus service from Wimbledon Common for boarders.


The very experienced Neil Brooks joined Cranleigh in 2018 having previously been principal of Fulham Prep Schools and head of Cothill House. He takes a holistic approach to education – qualities such as kindness, tolerance and responsibility are all part of his rounded philosophy. Mr Brooks is honest, confident and open about what Cranleigh has to offer: ie, it’s not a hothouse where pupils cram for exams. He has a strong relationship with the senior school and they work together to ensure children who move up are helped to transition smoothly. He’s keen to broaden pupil diversity and to this effect is expanding the school’s bursary and foundation provision.


Pupils join in Year 3 and ahead of this are invited to a taster event either in the summer term of Year 1 or Michaelmas term of Year 2. Current reports are requested and they sit a maths paper and English comprehension and creative writing. There’s a lot of fun weaved in too, though, with activities including bushcraft, indoor climbing, astronaut training and archery.

The school is very popular and often oversubscribed, with more and more pupils joining into a variety of year groups. For Year 7 entry, children must sit the ISEB Pre-Test at their current prep in Year 6 and then attend an assessment day in January. Pupils applying with a view to continuing on to the senior school are assessed by Cranleigh Senior too and only offered a place if both schools are in agreement. They’ll have an interview, take part in a discussion group, do a creative writing paper and enjoy some fun, team-building activities.

There’s an 11+ scholarship offered in music and at 13+ there are academic and a range of other scholarships available.

Academics and senior school destinations

Impressively, pupils have specialist teachers from Year 5 and are pulling up seats in the science labs in their first week. The labs are in the fantastic Townsend Building, which also houses D&T, food tech and art rooms. The school stages an annual Townsend Prize which sees children across the whole school running their own projects on a certain theme. Cross-subject working also happens on ‘curriculum collapse’ day when all departments focus on one topic, such as space or film, with amazingly creative results.

There is some light streaming for maths and spelling from Year 3, and all the children learn French from Year 3. Latin is introduced in Year 6 and Spanish in Year 7. The higher years broadly follow the Common Entrance, but the school is constantly reviewing the relevance of the curriculum to the wider world and adjusting accordingly. Pupils do CE for maths, science, French, Latin and English, but the school has put together its own programme for humanities.

Discussions about senior school start in Year 5. Mr Brooks speaks with parents about aspirations and a lot of care is taken to ensure that if a child wants to stay on for the senior school that it is the right fit for them. There’s only a guarantee of a place if the pupil started in Year 7 at which time they were also assessed by the senior school. Some 80 per cent of children do go up though; others go to top boarding schools, such as Tonbridge, Wellington and Charterhouse.


All the pupils have timetabled sport three times a week and the key sports are hockey, netball, rugby, cricket and football. They have swimming lessons all year round, making use of the senior school’s pool. Alternate Saturday matches start in Year 5, with about 50 teams fielded each week so all the children get involved, playing against Aldro, Windlesham House and Hurst, among others. Cranleigh also puts forward teams for the IAPS competitions. More unusual sports include Eton fives, riding, sailing and golf – the senior school has a nine-hole course.

Music is a big part of school life, with prep and senior music departments managed as one by 11 staff. More than 50 peripatetic teachers come on site and pretty much every pupil plays an instrument. Reading music is taught in class, alongside performing, composing and theory. Choirs, orchestras and ensembles mean everyone enjoys music beyond the classroom. Drama is also part of the core curriculum – from nativity plays in the lower years to all-singing, all-dancing musical productions as children move up the years. The Year 8s can audition for the annual production and is always a very impressive performance, from the acting down to the costumes and lighting. Many of the pupils take a weekly LAMDA lesson.

Art and D&T are also outstanding, and there’s definitely a spirit of innovation at the school with the upper years learning coding and programming – and how to hack into Minecraft. From Year 5, pupils are let loose in an incredible tech kitchen that looks like a set of Masterchef. Nothing is off the menu – from treacle tart to sushi – and there is a Masterchef-style competition for Year 8s after CE exams.

Children are definitely kept happily busy at Cranleigh. Other clubs include Lego, brain games and stone masonry.


Around 20 per cent of pupils board, with weekly and flexi (minimum two nights) on offer from Year 3. The boarding house is across two floors in the main building, one for the boys and one for the girls. They were renovated in 2021 and are clean and homely with pin boards and bunk beds, smart TVs and comfy sofas. A shared common room, called The Hub, has a pool table, air hockey and table tennis tables. There’s also a kitchen where the children can make themselves an evening snack. The three live-in houseparents ensure excellent pastoral care.

School community

A pastoral leadership team ensures all the pupils’ wellbeing is looked after, with form tutors working with the deputy head of pastoral, matrons and the chaplain. SEND support is given in the classroom wherever possible, but there is a recently renovated attic devoted to learning support where children can come and go.

There’s a strong community feel to the school, with many of the families living locally and getting actively involved in school events, attending chapel and organising fundraisers.

And finally....

This is a school that feels refreshingly unpretentious, just like its pupils. Happy in its own skin, it provides a rich education in and out of the classroom without feeling the need to shout about it from the rafters. And the result is grounded children achieving their best without stress.

Gallery See All

  • Scholarships for senior schools


    Academic6Tonbridge (1), Cranleigh (4), RGS Guildford (1)
    Sport8 Charterhouse (1), Worth (1), Cranleigh (7)
    Art1 Cranleigh (1)
    OtherExhibitions (10) Charterhouse (2 Academic, 1 Music), Cranleigh (3 Academic, 2 Art, 2 Music)

  • Fees and bursaries

    Day fees per term

    Year 1-
    Year 2-
    Year 3£5,775
    Year 4£5,775
    Year 5£7,495
    Year 6£7,495
    Year 7£7,495
    Year 8 £7,495
    Boarding fees per term

    Year 1-
    Year 2-
    Year 3 -
    Year 4 £9,050
    Year 5 £9,050
    Year 6£9,050
    Year 7£9,050
    Year 8 £9,050

    Bursary contact:
  • Transport links

    School Transport
    School bus service to/from London

    Public Transport
    Nearest mainline train station: Guildford
    Journey time to London by train: 35 minutes
    Nearest international airport: London Gatwick (24 miles)

School Updates

  • See Cranleigh Prep in our All-through Schools Guide.

    See Cranleigh Prep in our All-through Schools Guide.
  • Awesome Book Awards 2022 Winner

    Congratulations to children's author, Jack Meggitt-Phillips, who has won the Awesome Book Awards 2022 for his novel, The Beast and the Bethany. His Award was announced via a special online event today.
    Awesome Book Awards 2022 Winner
  • WATCH: 10 Questions with Neil Brooks, headmaster of Cranleigh Prep School

    WATCH: 10 Questions with Neil Brooks, headmaster of Cranleigh Prep School
  • IAPS U12 National Plate Runners-Up

    IAPS U12 National Plate Runners-Up
  • See Cranleigh Prep in our Country Preps Focus

    Find your perfect country prep school. Whether you're contemplating a move for your entire family or want to explore the education options within a daily minibus-ride of the capital, we can help.
    See Cranleigh Prep in our Country Preps Focus

Cranleigh Preparatory School is
linked with:


Horseshoe Lane, Cranleigh, Surrey GU6 8QH

01483 542058


ISI Report


Term Dates

Open Days

Open days and how to visit View Open Days Register for open Day

Open Day
25 February 2023
Open Day
10 June 2023

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