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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 with forty rolling acres for pupils to run free, and an all-round education delivered with a relaxed, but focused attitude – it’s no wonder more London parents are eschewing the capital’s fevered competition for Cranleigh Prep. 

The Prep has strong links with Cranleigh Senior across the road, with shared sports facilities, and collaborative music performances. The senior school is the next step for 85 per cent of Prep school leavers, making Cranleigh a great option for parents searching for a school that will deliver a reassuring continuity throughout their child’s 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. Plans are afoot to create a daily bus network for local and day pupils.


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 too.

Sadly for Cranleigh, Mr Brooks is set to retire in December 2024. He'll be replaced by Will Newman, the current head of Sedbergh Prep School, who will be joined in Surrey by his wife Liz (a fellow teacher) and their two children.


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. Most importantly, the admissions process is designed so as not to compare children who come to the school as candidates from wildly different educational backgrounds – instead, it focuses on searching for each child’s potential and teachability.

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 whole curriculum is currently in the process of being overhauled, with even closer collaboration with the senior school and ambitions to do away with CE entirely in the pipeline.

Discussions about senior school start in Year 5. While there is no guaranteed place at the senior school for prep pupils (this is only a given for Year 7 entry pupils, who will have sat the ISEB in Year 6 and will have been assessed for senior entry at that time), current Cranleigh Prep school pupils are exempt from sitting the ISEB if they wish to move on up, which helps them avoid stressful senior-school entrance exams. Instead, an individual approach is taken between the head, senior leadership team and parents to ensure the child is the right fit to progress onwards – and most pupils do. A huge 85 per cent of the prep school cohort heads to Cranleigh’s Senior School, with others leaving for 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. A hugely sporty reputation precedes it but sport here is for everyone. Children are encouraged to ‘play well, but with humility’ and other co-curricular pursuits are considered equally as important.

 Music is a big part of school life, with prep and senior music departments managed as one by 11 staff. The music department has recently been decorated, becoming a vibrant, colourful space that is not only informative – walls are covered with biographies of and quotes from key composers – but inspirational. More than 50 peripatetic teachers come on site and pretty much every pupil plays an instrument with guitar and drums (there’s a handy sound-proof practice room) the most popular instruments for individual lessons. 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, with extraordinarily life-like self self-portraits of last year’s leavers on proud display, and there’s definitely a spirit of innovation at the school with the upper years learning coding and programming. From Year 5, pupils are let loose in an incredible tech kitchen which wouldn’t look out of place on a TV cooking competition. Nothing is off the menu – from treacle tart to sushi – and there is a Masterchef-style competition for Year 8s after CE exams. DT and Food Tech are taught in rotation, so every child has the chance to try their hand at both.

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, and with no full or international boarders, the school is closed on Saturday nights. 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. Flexi boarders have their own bed, and those boarding on the same nights share a dorm so no one is left to sleep alone. 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. The SEND department now operates from within the main academic block, so as not to single out children who are visiting the department for help. Red post-boxes, dotted around the campus and known as ‘let me know’ boxes, are provided so children can post their worries or concerns. Children are encouraged to speak up to any staff member, meaning their pastoral care is not just limited to their tutor. Every member of staff is approachable, friendly, and willing to listen to each child.

All pupils, whether day or boarding, are put in one of four houses, and the school has myriad ways for them to earn house points and engage in friendly competition. When it comes to totting up house points, it’s easy to spot which house is in the lead, with that winning house’s flag flown from the flagpole.

Year 8s give back and build on their leadership skills by reading to younger years and serving snacks daily in the dining room. Small gestures like these build on themselves and create the real sense of family and togetherness which runs throughout the school. This extends to the school’s wider community, with many families living locally and actively involved in school events, attending chapel and organising fundraisers.

And finally....

Like its senior school, Cranleigh Prep is refreshingly unpretentious. Happy in its own skin, it focuses on providing a rich education both in and out of the classroom. The result? Grounded, stress-free children, on track to achieve their best.

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£6,065
    Year 4£6,065
    Year 5£7,870
    Year 6£7,870
    Year 7£7,870
    Year 8 £7,870
    Boarding fees per term

    Year 1-
    Year 2-
    Year 3 -
    Year 4 -
    Year 5 £9,505
    Year 6£9,505
    Year 7£9,505
    Year 8 £9,505


    Cranleigh Prep offers a number of scholarships at 11+, including Academic, Music and Sport. Scholarships attract a fee remission and may be supplemented by means tested top-up bursaries.

    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

  • Cranleigh Prep School announces new Head

    The Governing Body has announced Will Newman, current Head of Sedbergh Prep School, to be the next Head of Cranleigh Prep School.
    Cranleigh Prep School announces new Head
  • 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 Morning
21 February 2024
Open Morning
11 May 2024

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