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Rose Hill School
Rose Hill School
Rose Hill School
Rose Hill School
Rose Hill School Tunbridge Wells, Kent Visit
Rose Hill School
Tunbridge Wells
265 pupils, ages 3-13

Rose Hill School

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Our View of Rose Hill School

Delightfully small class sizes, more than 70 envy-inducing extracurricular clubs and a cohesive pastoral care scheme that includes informal drop-in sessions and an annual Wellness Week make this standalone Tunbridge Wells co-ed prep a serious Kent contender.

Where is Rose Hill School?

Tucked away on a residential street on the fringes of leafy Tunbridge Wells, light-filled, fresh and modern Rose Hill Prep School is ideally placed for Tunbridge Wells commuters, along with its strong coterie from the local area, many of whom choose to walk or cycle to school. Those who drive have an easy time finding parking and there are two minibus routes as well, one circulating the outer villages and the other conveniently scooping up pupils from Crowborough to the south, and Sevenoaks, just to the north.


Head Emma Neville has been a real hit with parents since she arrived from Caterham Prep School in 2017. During that time, she’s masterminded a much-needed shake-up of both the curriculum and more holistic objectives, and her tenure has seen a real growth in diversity as well as more pupils staying on beyond Year 6, with Years 7 and 8 now full. Perhaps her most influential move was to pull together a stellar team to assist her in this mission: deputy head Philippa Lang (marked by us as one to watch) has been hugely impressive and is now taking up her own headship in 2024. Ms Neville has promoted former head of pastoral care, Imogen Scarbrough, to the newly created role of assistant head pastoral and is currently recruiting for two more assistant heads of academic and operation. This new senior leadership team structure feels like another smart move by Ms Neville, who tells us she is going nowhere: ‘This is my only headship.’


Children are invited to attend an informal taster day, where they spend time at the school and with their peers to ensure it’s the right place for them. Due to the school’s size and its limited SEND resources, they are unable to cater to a large number of pupils who require additional support. The school will carry out informal assessments to ensure the school is right for the child’s level of learning needs – they currently only have a handful of pupils in school with an EHCP and a few others needing classroom support.

The first year of entry is kindergarten for those aged three and above (later than most schools). The school holds ‘Rosebuds’ sessions, where tiny tots and their families can enjoy the nursery toys and space for free. The school cites this as a great way to introduce parents to the school and successfully secure early-years children.

While Rose Hill School is remarkably affordable compared to its more expensive neighbours, bursaries are still available, as are awards for Years 7 and 8.

Academics and senior school destinations

The EYFS and pre-prep is located within its own bright and modern block on the main school site, and a recent refurb of the pre-prep has brought in an entirely neutral palette which feels wonderfully calm. It’s best practice, Ms Neville tells us, allowing the teaching itself to bring the excitement. Both follow a wonderfully creative curriculum which continues until Year 4, where a theme informs all classes during that term, for example Africa becomes the focus for humanities, phonics, geography and so on. The teachers then put together a fantastic A4 scrapbook featuring all the children's work around this topic to show off to their parents.

From early years, the school follows the COMPASS curriculum, which sees pupils taken off timetable six days a year for a FOCUS day when they do a deep dive into a particular subject. Our most recent visit coincided with one of these FOCUS days, and we were utterly blown away by the activities: Year 3s were studying magnetism, making magnetic slime in the science lab; Year 4s were exploring Judaism and had built a sukkah in the woods, a temporary hut constructed for the week-long Jewish festival of Sukkot; Year 5s were in the woods, too, making charcoal from scratch to be used in art the following week; Year 6s were focusing on Brazil and the effect of inequality; and Years 7 and 8 were taking part in a UN debating day, tackling the issue of the global water crisis.

This kind of innovation, replacing ‘chalk-and-talk learning’ with hands-on, practical education, is really setting Rose Hill School apart and while it’s not traditionally known for its academic rigour, the school is very much on the rise, with around half of pupils taking the 11+ (with a bumper 92 per cent pass rate) and filtering into the excellent grammar schools Kent is renowned for. What’s more, the refreshingly modern approach to learning (perhaps surprising for one of the UK’s oldest prep schools) has seen a whole host of other creative programmes and visitor-led activities that prepare children for later life, not just their exams. While Common Entrance exams cover science, maths, English, Latin and French; humanities are taught on a more project-led basis. Year 5 engage in an enterprise project, Year 6 in a philanthropy project, as well as obtaining a life skills diploma; Year 7 complete a global issues project; and Year 8 take on an extended project, achieving their Level 1 Foundation Project Qualification (the first step to an EPQ).

Adding to this 360-degree approach to learning, Year 7 and 8 take part in weekly enrichment afternoons, which feature a full range of external visitors, from tech engineers teaching coding to theatre producers holding drama workshops. During autumn, the whole school goes ‘off timetable’ for STEAM week to study a fascinating topic, such as robotics. French day is also popular with pupils, which features a French café with children waiting on one another, dressed in tricolore colours.

The upper years (6 to 8) adopt more of a secondary school model, moving rooms for each lesson with specialist teachers for each. Pupils are placed into sets for English and maths from Year 3 (though there have been whispers that this may be axed).

Around half of Year 6 leave at the end of the year for one of Kent’s highly competitive, high-achieving grammar schools. The subsequent decision to halve Year 7 and 8 fees has resulted in a big uptake, and the compact year groups allow for healthy friendships, sufficient teacher-pupil time and attention for these children to blossom and figure out their next step within the independent sector. This tends to be a real mix, typically a few to Sevenoaks or Tonbridge, but a well-trodden path seems to be Kent College Pembury, Mayfield, Bede’s, Hurst and Battle Abbey. Many head off with scholarships; 2023’s leavers bagged 13 – among them IT, skiing and equestrian – to 22 different schools, including Worth School and Ardingly College.

It’s worth noting Rose Hill School’s future schools evening, a hugely popular and successful annual event which sees around 23 visiting schools occupying a stand and speaking to families. Parents, including those from external schools, from Year 3 upwards mingle with each other and suss out the best next steps for their children, when they’re not listening to a talk by various guest speakers – James Priory of Tonbridge, Ceri Jones of Caterham and Jesse Elzinga of Sevenoaks are all recent examples.

Co-curricular at Rose Hill School

Co-curricular is noteworthy for this 15-acre, relatively little school, all based in the creative wing just off the quad, which is surrounded by a warren of playgrounds, playing fields, and even a woodland classroom (a smart cabin-like structure buried in the woods which is used by all children). Pupils swim every week in the school’s 20-metre pool – also used for lifeguarding, water polo and even the pirate scene in a recent school play. Gymnastics, badminton and volleyball take place in an enormous sports hall, but it's the roller disco club that gives Rose Hill School its edge.

There is a hockey Astro and a couple of rugby pitches where pupils train for the IAPS Small School group. Along with the usual run of rugby, football and cricket for boys then hockey, netball and cricket for girls (with athletics populating the summer months), the school boasts a nine-hole golf course. Because the school follows IAPS rules, fixtures aren’t mixed, but girls’ football is on the rise and boys and girls play in mixed rounders and cricket teams in clubs. They have also introduced a unisex sports kit.

D&T is offered to pupils from Year 3 upwards. Rose Hill School's theatre is first-rate, with retractable tiered seating useful for creating ample rehearsal space and classes, but also for getting children accustomed to performing in front of large audiences. Year 5s stage an annual production with Years 3 and 4 supporting, and the upper school also put on a show – the most recent was Macbeth which saw pupils singing Queen songs with the school bands accompanying them.

Rose Hill Prep School pupils have a vast array of musical instruments to choose from – during orchestral week, staff show the children how all the instruments work and then they can figure out which one appeals to them. The combination of more than 120 individual music lessons each week plus orchestra, choirs, string groups, steel bands, composition club and theory extension all work to stretch and develop pupils’ musical skills. A spacious art studio displays creative work from Year 3 and above, including amazing self-portraits painted by Year 7. And being a ceramist as well as a head teacher, Ms Neville runs a pottery club, just one of 75 superbly varied activities, from Lego to go-kart racing (Year 5s double up as mechanics, then Year 7 and 8 learn to drive F24 go-karts around the track, including Goodwood’s and Top Gear’s!). These much sought-after clubs run alongside Rainbows, Brownies, Cubs and Scouts which take place on site, in honour of former pupil Baden-Powell.

Sustainability has become a real focus over the last couple of years and there is now an eco-committee that organises events such as ‘the great big swap’ where everything from fancy dress costumes and ski wear to bikes and blazers are swapped. The pupil-led committee is also driving the kitchen to be more mindful about food waste and single-use plastic. Parents are involved too via a parent advisory group, so it feels like a very equitable endeavour between pupils, parents and the school.

School community

Pastoral care is exemplary at Rose Hill Prep School, perhaps due to the school’s diminutive size, but undoubtedly the good work of Ms Neville, who has put pupils’ wellbeing centre stage. The school’s Wellness Week takes place every May and, from nursery to Year 8, children are awarded five keys on their ‘keyring of integrity’ (confidence, resilience, getting along, persistence and organisation). This seems to work a treat, with pupils working hard to attain their keys and hanging them on their bags with pride. Curiously, sanctions or punishments have been scrapped for the simple request to ask children to reflect on their actions which, for a small school, seems to work. A rather lovely feature of Rose Hill School's pastoral care is the ‘Active Listeners’ initiative, which involves a handful of staff the children know they can talk to about everything and anything – or simply taking the school’s two ‘wellness dogs’, Maisie and Frank, for a walk and talk. Maisie stays with Mrs Scarbrough when she’s in her office, acting as something of a magnet for pupils who might need extra pastoral care. She also leads a staff inset day every term ‘teaching our teachers how to be more emotionally intelligent’. There are also mindfulness classes, which are run by the school nurse, draw-and-talk sessions and a covered area in the woods for each class which pupils go to whatever the weather.

One of Rose Hill Prep School’s defining features is its inclusion of parents within school life. This ranges from morning parent PT sessions to top-notch communication between current families, such as a parent forum which meets termly and is overseen by the head. Various questions from parents gathered by class reps are taken to this panel and discussed at great length, with formal notes and responses fed back to families. This works brilliantly both for those quiet niggles which rarely rise to the surface but, over time, can fester if not addressed, but also for new ideas and recommendations for the pupils and the school.

And finally....

With the school receiving the highest ‘excellent’ ranking in its latest ISI report, there’s nothing not to love about this small, local prep where pupils, staff and parents are all part of one nurturing community. We were struck by how happy it feels, with two school dogs only adding to the real sense of a Rose Hill School family.


Line of girls in front of hockey goal on green astroturf pitch
circle of boys with smiley faces with blue sky and clouds above
Row of boys in grey blazers and black trousers by green glass wall
Row of children in pool wearing swimming caps and goggles
Girls in maroon jumpers and white shirts with hand puppets by red and white checked curtains
Head of Rose Hill school
  • Senior school destinations

    Senior school destinations

    Last year’s leavers went to the following schools: Bethany School, Tonbridge School, Bede’s School, Kent College, Lingfield College, Battle Abbey, Mayfield School, The Skinners' School, Judd, Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar, Tunbridge Wells Boys' Grammar and Tonbridge Grammar School

  • Fees and bursaries

    Day fees per term

    Year 1£4,585
    Year 2£4,585
    Year 3£6,165
    Year 4£6,165
    Year 5£6,165
    Year 6£6,165
    Year 7£3,035
    Year 8 £3,035

    Bursary contact:
    Head of Admissions Samantha Chowdury
  • SEND

    This school currently delivers the following interventions to pupils in class and outside class to support their learning, health and/or physical needs:
    SEND provision is offered to pupils requiring intervention that is additional to or different from the activities normally available to pupils at Rose Hill School. This provision may be long term because they have a Specific Learning Difficulty or Need e.g. Dyslexia or Dyspraxia or short term because they require ‘booster’ activities to close the gap between their attainments and those of their peers.

    The school aligns to the SEND Code of Practice: 0 to 25 years (2015) recommendations following an Assess, Plan, Do, Review (APDR) model of practice. Their support is based on a colour coded 3 Waves model of intervention; Wave 1; in class support (Green), Wave 2; small group support (Yellow) and Wave 3; 1 to 1 support (Red).

    Those children with an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) receive one to one support in accordance with their recommendations; some children are supported across the curriculum, some are supported within small group interventions and some receive support from outside agencies such as Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists or Cognitive Behavioural Therapists.

    The school's mission statement is to provide quality all round education for all pupils by removing barriers and enabling everyone to reach their true potential within a secure environment based on Christian principals. Their pupils are, therefore, encouraged throughout their time at Rose Hill to meet new challenges with confidence.

    They have a strong pastoral system which responds to the needs of every individual. They also strive to develop strong partnerships with all of pupils’ parents/guardians by communicating regularly on both social and academic progress made.

    Their pupils are very much at the heart of any additional support they may need and this includes helping to create their Individual Learning Plans whenever possible.

    Their SEND department is very much a part of the whole school. They have a Learning Support Teacher in the Early Years Department, the PrePrep Department and our SENCO is based in the Prep Department.

    Their PrePrep has a designated Learning Skills teaching room and is only a few steps away from the Prep school where the other Learning Skills room is based. All teachers within the SEND department have access to all interventions, teaching resources and specialist equipment. The SEND team work closely together to provide the best support possible for all of their SEND pupils, meeting regularly and providing INSETs for the whole school.

    This school currently provides the following support for pupils' mental health needs
    The first point of contact every day for pupils is their Form Tutor or Class Teacher in PrePrep. All teaching staff are supported by the pastoral team through regular guidance and in-service training, ensuring they feel confident and properly equipped to proactively handle ongoing issues.

    The school has two drop-in sessions every week where pupils can discuss any concerns that are causing them anxiety with a member of the pastoral team. They help them learn how to resolve situations for themselves and encourage them to focus on what is going well in their week which encourages a positive mindset. Form Tutors encourage their pupils to regularly set positive targets, both an academic as well as a pastoral one. If a pupil needs further support to think positively, they are invited to create their own ‘Key to happiness’ book and note down things that have gone well. When pupils review their week, they then can focus on the positive things that have recently happened.

    When pupils continue to have on-going concerns, they are partnered with an ‘active listener’. This is a member of staff who the pupil feels comfortable to talk with. They meet once a week to discuss any issues that may be troubling them, and to agree on potential resolutions for different scenarios. Pupils can often be seen walking either of the school dogs, Frank or Maisie, around the school site with their active listener in tow. Frank and Maisie, who both attend school every day, are a great source of comfort to many of pupils’ wellbeing.

    The school has a number of additional support strategies to help pupil’s mental health:

    ‘Draw and Talk’ therapy sessions; a twelve-week program allowing pupils to talk about their thoughts while they are drawing or painting.

    The school counsellor visits the school every week and meets with any pupil whose needs exceed the school’s internal level of support.

    Throughout the school they run Mindfulness sessions. These are successfully led by two fully trained members of staff and provide another tool for pupils to use as a strategy for combatting stressful periods in their lives.
    The school runs focus weeks throughout the year to concentrate on connecting with others, and to promote good wellbeing. These include, STEAM, Fair Trade Fortnight, Orchestral Week and a focused Wellness Week, as well as the house competitions in music, art or the spoken word. The Wellness Week activities this year were made available for parents, staff and pupils and ranged from yoga and singing to nutritional advice and keeping safe online.

    They have a pupil-led school council and an anti-bullying committee that both meet termly to talk about any changes that need to be made around the school. This gives pupils an element of control over their own routines and surroundings.

    Co-ordinator: Jane Morgan
  • Transport links

    School Transport
    School daily bus network

    Public Transport
    Nearest mainline train station: Tunbridge Wells
    Journey time to London by train: 50 minutes
    Nearest international airport: Gatwick (18 miles)

  • Parents tell us

    'We chose the school after looking at a few different schools and found Rose Hill to be the kindest place and with amazing facilities. I knew our child would be happy there - which in turn will make her achieve more.

    The school were amazing with the admissions process. Sam in the office was on hand at every step of the way, Clare helped me so much with organising the uniform and making us feel welcome and the entire team (and community) were incredibly welcoming and friendly.

    We think Mrs Neville is excellent. When choosing a school it was our time with her that solidified our choice. She is aware and on top of everything while being very approachable and understanding. The perfect head and we really think she’s fab.

    Mrs Scarborough’s rainbows are an absolute highlight for our child. Mrs Izzard was an exceptional teacher for her last year and she’s thriving now with Mrs Springer and her team in year 1. She also really enjoys French because of Madame Colette’s kindness and fun environment. There are many more amazing staff that are really helping our child to thrive.

    I feel very involved as a parent. I’ve always been informed when she’s had to go the the nurse or if anything happens. And I definitely have a good idea of the things she’s learning.

    I feel that the children at Rose Hill are treated wonderfully. They are cared for and any problems seem to be dealt with with kindness - head on.

    The level of education is exceptional. My 5 year old is learning so so much. Her reading, maths and writing are so strong. Her understanding of sounds and numbers is amazing and I know she’ll be set for life with the education she’s receiving.

    The community of Rose Hill is very strong. The PA are fab and the parents are all friendly and fun. There are frequent parent meet ups and constant birthday parties. I’ve felt part of the community from the very first day we arrived.

    It honestly has lived up to my expectations. It’s a wonderful school. I find as a parent there’s a lot going on all the time. It’s busy. So you need to be organised and write things down - it’s so easy to forget something. So get involved. Have fun. But as soon as you get some info - pop it in your calendar - because there’s a lot going on. Which is all for the benefit of the kids. So totally worth it!

    We’re really happy we chose Rose Hill. We’re actually moving soon and I wouldn’t even think of moving her. I’ll happily travel every day for this wonderful school. My child is happy and I am very pleased we found Rose Hill!'

    'We bought into the new Head’s ethos and plan for the school. It seemed a happy, nurturing environment that viewed each child as individual. Also the wonderful grounds and wood, great facilities and broad curriculum appealed.

    The admissions process was very easy. We moved from an international school and it was a straightforward process.

    The Head had a clear plan for the school which she has achieved in her 6 year tenure. She hires excellent staff and has created a wonderful ethos. The new curriculum is inspiring and her handling of online learning during the pandemic and leadership was excellent.

    Mrs Moore is an incredible Art teacher who inspires all, not just the keen artists. Mrs Harrod has transformed music at the school and there is now a thriving orchestra, steel band, multiple choirs and many children learn instruments.

    There is a weekly newsletter and regular parental feedback forums to discuss issues or suggest improvements.

    Any issues are dealt with swiftly and there are clear channels for children to voice any concerns. There is a huge focus on wellbeing and mental health and the school dogs Frank and Maisy are deployed to comfort, reassure and bring happiness!

    One of our children has already moved on and is thriving at their next school. My youngest, although sad to leave at the end of the year, is ready for her next chapter.

    There is a thriving PA who organise amazing events like quizzes, run and ramble, wine tasting, discos, pumpkin competitions, summer and Christmas fairs etc. There are regular drop-in parent breakfasts and a ball every 2 years.

    Although in catchment for grammars it also prepares children for independent schools. I advise new parents to tap into the school’s knowledge of potential future schools as they have the inside track and will know where your child will thrive.

    Rose Hill is a wonderful school with a focus on the individual child where everyone is valued. There are children with mental and physical challenges but all are embraced and this gives the school a unique ethos. We will miss it when we leave!'

  • FAQs

    What is the history of Rose Hill School?
    Established in 1832 by Thomas Allfree on London Road, Tunbridge Wells, Rose Hill School embodies a legacy spanning nearly two centuries. As one of the country's oldest preparatory schools, Rose Hill not only responded to the era's educational needs but stands as a resilient survivor, a testament to its enduring spirit and historical significance.

    Which notable alumni went to Rose Hill School?
    One of the most notable early pupils at Rose Hill was Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scout movement. His lifelong connection to the school played a pivotal role in cultivating his initial scouting ideals. The school's enduring ties to the Scout movement are evident, notably reflected in one of its houses named in honour of Baden-Powell.

School Updates

  • Wellness Week: Nurturing Mind and Soul

    Rose Hill School proudly celebrated Wellness Week with the theme "Mind and Soul." This enriching week was filled with activities and inspiring sessions designed to promote mental and physical well-being among our pupils, parents, and staff.
    Wellness Week: Nurturing Mind and Soul
  • Rose Hill School Welcomes Royal Tunbridge Wells Symphony Orchestra for Inspiring Music Education Event

    Rose Hill School Welcomes Royal Tunbridge Wells Symphony Orchestra for Inspiring Music  Education Event
  • Rose Hill School Choir Captivates Audiences and Creates Lasting Memories on Belgium Tour

    In a harmonious journey of music, history, and sweet indulgence, the Rose Hill School Choir embarked on a memorable tour to Belgium during half-term.
    Rose Hill School Choir Captivates Audiences and Creates Lasting Memories on Belgium Tour
  • Artificial Intelligence Ignites Enthusiasm at Rose Hill

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) took centre stage at Rose Hill during their recent STEAM week, sparking intriguing discussions and fostering a deeper understanding of this transformative technology among pupils.
    Artificial Intelligence Ignites Enthusiasm at Rose Hill
  • Science Week at Rose Hill School Embraces Sustainability and Conservation

    Rose Hill proudly hosted its annual Science Week with a focus on sustainability and conservation. This year's event proved to be a remarkable success, thanks to the valuable contributions of parental guest speakers who generously volunteered their time and expertise.
    Science Week at Rose Hill School Embraces Sustainability and Conservation
  • Wellness Week at Rose Hill School

    Pupils at Rose Hill have come to the end of their Wellness Week packed full of activities which culminated in the Coronation Big Lunch on Friday.
    Wellness Week at Rose Hill School
  • Baden-Powell’s birthday!

    Robert Baden-Powell would have turned 166 on 22 February this year and Rose Hill School pupils celebrate his birthday every year.
    Baden-Powell’s birthday!
  • WATCH: Rose Hill School: How to choose a prep school

    WATCH: Rose Hill School: How to choose a prep school
  • WATCH: Head of Pre-Prep at Rose Hill

    WATCH: Head of Pre-Prep at Rose Hill
  • WATCH: Rose Hill Project

    WATCH: Rose Hill Project
  • WATCH: Philippa Lang - Rose Hill Curriculum

    WATCH: Philippa Lang - Rose Hill Curriculum
  • WATCH: Pastoral care at Rose Hill

    WATCH: Pastoral care at Rose Hill
  • WATCH: Rose Hill's head: Emma Neville

    WATCH: Rose Hill's head: Emma Neville
  • WATCH: Rose Hill trailer

    WATCH: Rose Hill trailer
  • See Rose Hill in our Town and Country Preps Guide

    From bucolic country preps to schools on the edge of buzzy market towns or slap bang in the centre of a city, there are a myriad of prep school options up and down the UK and within a daily minibus-ride of the Big Smoke. Use our guide to help with your search.
    See Rose Hill in our Town and Country Preps Guide


Coniston Avenue, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN4 9SY

01892 525591


ISI Report


Term Dates

Open Days

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

Open Day
11 October 2024

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