SW19 schools and beyond
SW19 schools and beyond
The Independent School Prep Landscape from Wimbledon – Is there more than meets the eye?
Wimbledon has steadily acquired almost legendary status in recent years, and not just for tennis! When it comes to independent schooling, the presence of pedagogical powerhouses Kings College School and Wimbledon High School has placed SW19 firmly on the educational map for those looking for the most academically high achieving institutions. But with applicants at an all-time high, and competition for places amongst the fiercest in London, let’s remember that most children are average. So what does the rest of the independent School landscape look like from Wimbledon, and is there more than meets the eye?
Whilst geography is everything in the race for places at Wimbledon’s top state primary schools, those looking for independent schooling will be relieved to hear that they can look more than 500m from their home in their quest for the right fit. Wimbledon Village, whilst devoid of state primary schools, is home to pre-prep schools Rowans (owned by Esher/Surbiton based Shrewsbury House School), Wimbledon Common Prep School (known as Squirrels and owned by Kings College), and the girls-only prep school The Study. Those looking for preparation for the 7+ entry to Kings and many other (mainly boys-only) schools, can receive no better in-house preparation than from the pre-preps.
The Study, along with Catholic girls prep schools Ursuline Prep (The Downs, SW20) and Holy Cross Prep (Coombe) completes the overall Wimbledon Girls 11+ prep options. On the boys-only front, Donhead, brother school to Ursuline Prep caters for many of SW19’s Catholic boys (although not exclusively) until age 11 and slightly outside Wimbledon, Rokeby Prep School in Coombe offers a boys-only option through to 13 for those favouring that path. Last but not least, the coeducational path offers, in addition to Rowans, the newly co-ed Willington Prep (town centre) and the only coeducational ‘all-through’ school, Hall School Wimbledon.
Completing the picture are SW19’s alternative model schools: the Norwegian School (Independent Norwegian International School for ages 6-16years old), and, in the beautiful landscape of nearby Morden Hall Park, two forest/outdoor schools: The London Acorn School and the Liberty Woodland School.
With many of these schools requiring selection processes for which early registration is vital, or ballot systems deciding who gets places, Wimbledon parents are increasingly looking slightly outside SW19 for more spacious schools, or those with flexible admissions, and the prevalence of post-Covid home working has enabled many such parents to consider schools requiring a short bus or car journey which was previously impossible due to their commute. Here at Ingle Education, the demand from parents seeking to understand their options just outside Wimbledon, either for Reception entry, for a move in Years 3 or 4 from a State Primary School, or for 11+ entry is soaring. So what is out there?
Whilst short bus journeys to the Coombe pairing of Rokeby and Holy Cross Preps has kept those schools firmly in Wimbledon parents’ minds, looking out to Sutton & the Surrey borough of Elmbridge can also offer a not dissimilar journey time and opens up a wealth of options. Sister school to Wimbledon High, girls-only Sutton High School offers the GDST model of ‘all through’ girls schooling and runs bus services across SW19 and 20. Many brothers of Sutton High Girls look to Homefield Prep for a convenient boys-only prep in the same area with a great academic reputation. Equally, the Surbiton pairing of Surbiton High School and Surbiton High Boys Prep offers the same dynamic just 20 mins drive (or an even shorter train) from Wimbledon.
Surrey’s leafy Elmbridge is home to several coeducational options which, with acres of space which would be unthinkable in Wimbledon, are tempting SW19ers out of their immediate neighbourhood. Feltonfleet in Cobham, Danes Hill in Oxshott and Milbourne Lodge in Esher are all such spacious coeducational prep schools to age 13 offering bus routes to Wimbledon town and/or Village. For those wanting an all through solution, Claremont Fan Court in Esher, Ewell Castle in West Ewell and Notre Dame in Cobham are also seeing an influx from SW London with Claremont and Notre Dame offering bus services across the area.
Most of these schools which offer minibus routes use highly sophisticated tracking systems on their buses, enabling parents to follow their child’s journey and receive alerts when they board or disembark a bus. Typically available from Year 3, some schools allow children to ride from Year 1 or even Reception if accompanied by an older sibling.
Bus travel for the youngest pupils is not every parents cup of tea, and many choose to stay local in the early years, but take the leap of faith down the A3 or A24 when their child is a little older. By the age of 11, however, with even more schools opening up as possibilities due to bus or train links, the majority of Wimbledon’s independently educated secondary school pupils travel outside SW19 for school. From short train rides into or via Clapham Junction, to Tramlink connections to the Croydon schools and buses to Leatherhead, Dulwich, Fulham, Barnes and many more, Wimbledon is a hub not just of excellent independent schooling it seems, but also an accessibility hub for schools far beyond the boundaries of SW London.
For help and advice on plotting the path for your children in Wimbledon and beyond, get in touch at www.ingleeducation.com
Mel Ingle is Founder of Ingle Education, a Consultancy and Advisory Service for parents looking for an unbiased, honest assessment of all potential educational paths for their children. Offering guidance on the UK Education System as a whole, admissions processes and criteria for both state and independent schools at all age groups and a bespoke school search service, Ingle Education is unique in both its breadth and tailored approach.
Mel is a Mum of two children and lives in South West London.