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Nash House and Little Stream (both recently rebuilt; all classrooms opening onto the garden and outdoor retractable roof – light and airy with lots of space) are set away from the main school in interconnecting buildings. Lots of computers and interactive stuff – Mr David a fan, but school has been well stocked for years. Food praised by all with some quite adventurous choices – pigeon pie, monkfish wrapped in prosciutto – and proper puddings still on the menu. Children encouraged to try new foods - not British, you may feel...


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What The Good Schools Guide says


Since September 2010, Mr Paul David BEd (40s). Married, with two children at the school. Grew up in Cornwall and read maths and education at St Luke’s, Exeter University, where he played rugby. Started his career at the City of London Freemen’s School, where he taught maths and games, was head of cricket and became a housemaster aged 28. Moved on to Colet Court, where he spent four years as deputy head and taught rugby across all ages and maths to the senior boys at St Paul’s School. He then spent eight years as headmaster of Eaton Square School, a mixed ability London prep.

Energetic and dapper, and requires his surroundings to be dapper too - everywhere is immaculate with not a weed or piece of litter in sight (pounces on any he spots). Spiders with any sense of self-preservation have long since picked up their webs and gone elsewhere. Lots of fresh paint on the walls and vases of flowers all over the place. A very visible presence around the school, attends assemblies at Nash House and Little Stream each week and teaches maths and games in Upper School.

Came into the school after a period of disorganisation had rather unsettled parents. Tightened everything up from manners and pastoral care to redesigning the uniform. Each class now has a weekly greeter who will welcome any visitors and engage them in conversation - head very keen that children should know how to talk to adults and look them in the eye. Parents delighted, teachers too, as far as we can judge (they clearly were made to feel part of the process). Children seem at ease with him. This editor was struck, above all, by how this big, beautiful but soulless school had at long last a feeling of character and style about it.

Not everybody's cup of tea – the Guide and Mr David never hit it off in his previous incarnation – but appears perfectly suited to Dulwich Prep, and vice versa.


Priority for siblings, but otherwise on a first come, first served basis. Non-competitive assessment tests from age 7+ – very rare for a child to fail but school doesn’t want to take someone who can’t cope. Intakes in nursery, reception, years 3 and 5 (and in between, if space). Another intake in year 7, when some children leave for the grammar schools and others come from local primary schools to prepare for Cranbrook entrance at 13+.


The raison d'être for many for going to Dulwich Prep is to get into Cranbrook at 13, and about half do just that. Fifteen per cent leave for the grammars at 11 – the school takes a positive attitude and is happy to help, but this is not grammar school country (the good ones are quite distant). Otherwise the most popular schools are Tonbridge, Benenden, Sutton Valence, Sevenoaks and Bethany, with a few going further afield to, eg, Charterhouse, Bedales and Winchester. Good selection of academic, art, music, sports and drama scholarships, particularly to Sutton Valance.

Our view

Established as a war evacuation camp for Dulwich College Preparatory School (now Dulwich Prep London) in the orchard of the then headmaster's father-in-law's land at Coursehorn, and allowed to survive as an independent, unconnected entity when the war was over. Set in 50 acres of grounds, it has a campus-like feel.

The school is divided into three self-contained sections: Nash House (3-5 year olds), Little Stream (5-9 year olds) and Upper School (9-13 year olds). Children from the age of 6 are split into four Tribes: Chippeways, Deerfeet, Mohicans and Ojibwas – lots of inter-tribe competitions and activities.

Nash House and Little Stream (both recently rebuilt; all classrooms opening onto the garden and outdoor retractable roof – light and airy with lots of space) are set away from the main school in interconnecting buildings. Lots of computers and interactive stuff – Mr David a fan, but school has been well stocked for years. Own swimming pool. Superb library, IT and facilities generally in Upper School.

Structured but relaxed atmosphere in Little Stream with lots of theme days. Children are awarded brightly coloured ribbons for good work. Great emphasis on building children’s social confidence and they are encouraged to stand up in front of an audience on a regular basis, whether it be relating their news in assembly, taking part in form plays or participating in class ‘showing times’. Structured mornings and child initiated afternoons; children spend as much time as possible outside. Outings, talks and workshop days a major part of the curriculum, particularly in history and geography. Specialist teachers for PE, French, science (taught in a lab) and music.

Gets more serious in upper school. Children setted (where possible) for academic subjects, apart from a separate scholarship form in the final year. Average class size 18, maximum 20. Latin for all from year 6 and about 50 per cent take it at common entrance. Authors visit every term, also library competitions and twice yearly book fairs. Educational outings a major feature of school life.

Learning support for maths and English offered as part of the package – either in class, withdrawn in small groups or one-to-one, or as instruction for parents in how to help at home. ‘Special needs department on hand to give extra help where necessary.’ What this all amounts to is unstinting and unshaming help for (about 20 per cent of) children to get into Cranbrook etc.

Music strong - fab Little Stream music suite decorated with semiquavers; all learn the recorder from year 2 (we feel a wave of sympathy for tortured parents whenever we read this, but violins would be worse) and can learn other instruments from year 3. All children can read music by the time they leave Little Stream; Upper School has a music director and three full-time music specialists. All children have two or three class music lessons a week, and almost all learn an instrument with one of the 19 peripatetic teachers. Lots of extracurricular groups including an orchestra, two wind bands, six choirs, a jazz band, pop groups plus a number of smaller chamber groups. Music tours in Italy, Germany, Holland, Paris and Austria.

Separate Stream House art room with an artist in residence – very creative team – with children’s artwork everywhere (ditto Upper School). Art clubs after school, plus extra tuition for those taking art scholarships (usually wins a couple of these each year). When we visited the children were designing beautiful play houses which were going to be made up in India (no crumbling shelves for those parents). Art room open every lunchtime – jewellery to Scalextric model making. Jewellery making so popular that an evening class was laid on for the parents.

Upper School drama timetabled, with clubs and ESB exams for the enthusiasts. Wonderful John Leakey Hall.

Good sports facilities – well-equipped sports hall for upper school. Large outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts/all weather hockey pitches, eight-lane athletics track etc. Strong tradition of cross-country running for boys and girls. All the usual sports with teams in most: as many children as possible are included – up to four teams per year group and the school tries to have regular inter-school or ‘tribe’ fixtures. Opportunities to have trials and play for Kent teams.

Parent friendly. Nursery is very flexible and children can build up attendance sessions during the year. Parents welcome at any time to come in and see how their children are learning, and in particular to the Friday morning assembly, when the headmaster celebrates children’s achievements and offers coffee afterwards. Even homework clubs and drop in clinics for parents.

Very strong pastoral care and children encouraged to be aware of each others’ feelings and friendships issues. They can enter their own and each other’s acts of kindness on the good deeds chart. Older pupils choose a member of staff to keep an eye on their academic progress and general well-being. No prefects or head boy or girl, but every year 8 pupil is a ‘senior’ with a specific area of responsibility.

Food praised by all with some quite adventurous choices – pigeon pie, monkfish wrapped in prosciutto – and proper puddings still on the menu. Children encouraged to try new foods - not British, you may feel.

Flexi boarding popular, with boys at The Lodge and girls at The Manor. School very accommodating (when they have room) if parents need to go away for a few days or on holiday. School day for boarders ends at the same time as for day children, and the boarding houses are very much ‘homes from home’.

Most children live within about 15 miles of the school. No Saturday school, but optional Saturday morning academic clinics three or four mornings each term for pupils in year 8 preparing for exams. Lots of parents new to independent education, but great loyalty amongst old boys and girls (Old Coursehornians, after the original house on the site) and many children in the school are second or third generation.

Big. Superb facilities. Produces confident children who are happy and do well, and particularly suits those who are up front, determined and capable – quite a competitive environment. School has high expectations of everyone, but gives them a huge breadth of opportunity to succeed.

Special Education Needs


Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
English as an additional language (EAL)
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class
HI - Hearing Impairment
Hospital School
Mental health
MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty
MSI - Multi-Sensory Impairment
Natspec Specialist Colleges
Not Applicable
OTH - Other Difficulty/Disability
Other SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
PD - Physical Disability
PMLD - Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulty
SEMH - Social, Emotional and Mental Health
SLCN - Speech, Language and Communication
SLD - Severe Learning Difficulty
Special facilities for Visually Impaired
SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
VI - Visual Impairment

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