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Notting Hill Prep School
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Notting Hill Prep School Notting Hill, London Visit
school
Notting Hill Prep School
Notting Hill
360 pupils, ages 4-13
Mixed
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Notting Hill Prep School

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Our view

There’s a unique approach at this forward-thinking London prep where pupils’ minds are nurtured by the principles of Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats, and dancing, yoga and mindfulness are all part of the school day. A school where, head Sarah Knollys says, ‘marvellous mistakes’ are celebrated, a protective veil is thrown over childhood, with academics and emotional intelligence blossoming in the intimate and relaxed environment.

Where?

With the Hammersmith & City line running directly behind it and the Westway above its newest building, there’s no denying the school’s urban setting, but it brings nature in wherever it can – the sloped train line has been made into a woodland feature complete with resident hens, and rooftop beehives supply the school’s very own honey.

There are three sites: the original Victorian building housing Reception to Year 2; the Jane Cameron Building opposite, named for its visionary founding head; and a super newbuild reserved for the oldest years, the interior of which looks like something out of the Design Museum. Notting Hill Prep (NHP) is wonderfully soundproofed with a state-of-the-art air-filtration system so the school is its own little oasis in the heart of the metropolis. Locals tend to come and go on foot or scooter; drivers face a trickier time thanks to scarce parking, but Lancaster Gate Tube station is only a short walk away.

Head

Mrs Knollys joined the school in 2019 from girls’ prep Glendower following Mrs Cameron’s retirement; prior to this, Mrs Knollys was herself a founding head of Maple Walk School in north-west London. We're big fans: she is a real straight talker, highly ambitious and prioritises having a go above success. A proper powerhouse, she picked up the baton of leading a Thinking School (NHP became a practitioner in 2014 and is recognised by Exeter University’s Cognitive Development Unit) seamlessly and is passionate about how a metacognitive approach helps pupils understand how their brains work and develops creative thinking.

Admissions

To get in, it’s worth making a mad dash from the labour ward. Entry is via ballot 16 months before proposed entry, and if you don’t scoop a golden ticket, the waiting list is ordered according to how soon after birth the child was registered. Siblings are automatically offered a place if there is one available – families always come first – and together with children from Acorn Nursery (which Mrs Cameron also founded), they make up 50 per cent of the intake. Other nursery feeders include Strawberry Fields, Grand West, Miss Daisy’s and Pangbourne. The school attempts an even split of girls and boys in each year group and before prospective pupils start in September, they come in with their parents for a Teddy Bear’s picnic in June.

Academics and senior school destinations

Underpinning the curriculum are De Bono’s thinking hats: blue for organisation and planning; green for creative thinking; red for feelings and instincts; yellow, benefits and values; black, risk assessment; and white for information gathering. These metacognitive tools encourage problem solving and critical thinking, and together with the school’s four values of wonder, challenge, self-knowledge and community, you get a refreshing and forward-thinking way of teaching.

From Reception, pupils learn philosophy, French, art and sport, all taught by specialist teachers. Poetry is strong and Year 8s do an ISEB Project Qualification. SEN provision is excellent with the learning support team working in small groups or individually; this is a school where ‘dyslexia is celebrated’, says Nicki Marani, one of the founding staff members who works in learning support.

For a non-selective school with no streaming apart from in maths, the value-added is laudable and top public schools such as Wellington and Winchester have fed back how impressive they find NHP pupils. Other boarding options include Brighton College and Bradfield (a current favourite with leavers), while Latymer Upper, Godolphin and South Hampstead are among popular day-school destinations. The ballot entry system attracts an eclectic mix of talent and needs, making the spread of exit schools all the more noteworthy.

Co-curricular

Nearby Westway Sports & Fitness Centre, Linford Christie Stadium and Holland Park are all used for sport, which is timetabled for four hours every week, with after-school sports clubs also run by the specialist teachers. Expect lots of fixtures against local schools too. The school assembly hall is used for indoor activities such as badminton, which is huge – a hangover from NHP’s earliest days when it was the only sport it could offer.

Creativity is championed through endless opportunities to perform, whether it’s singing in low-key assemblies, acting in the legendary nativity play or rocking out at prestigious venues like St John’s Smith Square. Music and drama are part of the school’s lifeblood – there are an impressive four choirs, which perform at charity events and national competitions. Drama continues the singing theme with musical productions staged by Year 3s and Year 6s every year.

Children are given free rein in the vast art room, and after-school clubs help develop passions in everything from debating to needlecraft. There are residential trips for Years 4 to 8, including the annual ski trip in February half-term, and the Adventure Society takes pupils on exciting expeditions such as hill walking in the Glens or camping in Northumberland.  

School community

Pastoral care is at the heart of the school – we spotted one poster that read ‘There is no greater wisdom than kindness’ – and the sense of community is heart-warming and stretches beyond the school gates. In the words of one Year 8 pupil, NHP ‘feels like a big family… with a kind and loving atmosphere’.

NHP has strong ties with local charities including RISE Kids and the Nucleo music project, and partnerships with six state schools in the area. Rules are kept to a minimum, but manners are key (a Mrs Cameron legacy that Mrs Knollys is keeping at the forefront). Wellbeing and mental health are taken seriously: pupils can join mindfulness classes, participate in lunchtime yoga sessions and chat to the school counsellor at breaktime about friendship and tweenage issues – all designed to help nip any problems in the bud.

Most families live in Notting Hill, Kensington, Holland Park and Queen’s Park, which helps foster the villagey, community vibe – and despite the affluent (and supremely well-connected) catchment area, this is a discreet sort of place, with no tiger mums in sight – you won’t hear much name-dropping. It has been called a bit of a celeb pit in the past, but in truth parents are far more interested in their children’s lives and the school itself. There’s a real air of giving back; with the names of families who have donated to the bursary fund engraved into a wall of the Jane Cameron Building, and plenty of parent-led charity fundraisers.

And finally...

This gentle and progressive prep certainly isn’t like any other on the pressured London scene – and it’s no wonder an increasing number of pupils are joining from high-achieving schools. Success is a much more holistic affair here, and as head Mrs Knollys says, ‘Success and happiness don’t need to be mutually exclusive.’

Gallery

  • Senior school destinations

    Senior school destinations

    11+ Latymer Upper -3, Francis Holland SW1 -3, Maida Vale School -3, Holland Park -2, St Paul's Girls', Godolphin & Latymer, ASL, Arts Ed, Woldingham, Francis Holland NW1, Queen's Gate, Queen Anne's Caversham, Wycombe Abbey. 13+ : Bradfield -4, Rugby -2, Eton, Westminster, Marlborough, Bedales, St Edward's, Wellington, Ampleforth, Harrodian -3, Francis Holland SW1 -2, Kew House, Mill Hill, Putney High, UCS,

  • Fees and bursaries

    Day fees per term

    Nursery-
    Reception£8,189
    Year 1£8,189
    Year 2£8,189
    Year 3£8,189
    Year 4£8,189
    Year 5£8,189
    Year 6£8,189
    Year 7£8,189
    Year 8 £8,189




    Bursaries
    While the school has no ‘in house’ bursarial support scheme, there are a limited number of supported places available through The Notting Hill Preparatory School Bursary Foundation, an independent charity that supports two local children from disadvantaged backgrounds who show academic promise. These awards cover fees as well as the cost of trips, enrichment, activities and incidentals.

    The Foundation also offers one Jane Cameron Bursary each year to a local child entering Year 4 who shows outstanding promise in the creative arts.

    Bursary contact:
    Registrar Suzanne Shaheen
    admissions@nottinghillprep.com
  • SEND

    This school currently supports the following kinds of learning needs, health needs and physical disabilities:
    The school caters for various SEN provisions which are looked at on an individual case by case basis.



  • Transport links


    Public Transport
    Nearest London tube station: Ladbroke Grove


School Updates

  • See Notting Hill Prep in our London Prep Schools Guide

    See Notting Hill Prep in our London Prep Schools Guide

Notting Hill Prep School is
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Essentials

Address
95 Lancaster Road, Notting Hill, London W11 1QQ

Contact
admin@nottinghillprep.com
020 7221 0727

Website
nottinghillprep.com/

ISI Report

Fees

Term Dates


Open Days

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



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