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The prep is its own world and, as you descend the slope to its entrance, between the playing field and the tennis court, a gentleness and palpable sense of fun envelops you. Classrooms busy, not over-orderly and relaxed – we wanted to look at the displays, all of which seemed interesting and not as predictable as they so often are. We liked the alternatives to ‘said’ and loved the paper collages showing variations on the Arcimboldo fruity…

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What the school says...

At Bancroft's Prep we aim to provide children with the best possible academic education, and to help them reach their full potential, whilst also ensuring that they are happy and well rounded individuals. We offer children a rich and diverse range of experiences; to help them find areas where they can excel or simply have fun; to encourage their natural curiosity; to make sure they enjoy their school life.

The happiness of all the children in our care is fundamental to our approach. We are very proud of our excellent academic results. We are also proud that these are achieved alongside our children's personal and social development.

At Bancrofts Prep, we focus ion positive behaviour and rewards. Our headline 3 School Rules reinforce our ethos: everyone has the right to be happy; respect other people and their property; use your common sense.

We believe it is our role to bring out the very best in our children, both academically and in terms of their emotional intelligence. We want to help prepare them for life in the world outside where the ability to form positive relationships and to lead a happy life is as important as the ability to read or reckon. We want our children to have fun while they learn; in this way, we believe they will derive a lifelong love of learning.
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What the parents say...

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What The Good Schools Guide says


Since September 2012, Mr Joe Layburn MA, previously acting head. MA in German literature from University College London, followed by a 15-year career as investigative journalist and TV reporter, primarily for Channel 4. Retrained as a teacher and joined Bancroft's Prep in 2004. Author of a trilogy of children's books. Married with three sons; two of them were educated at Bancroft's from prep onwards and one at a special needs school. Keen on running, cycling and West Ham United.


At 7+ - over-subscribed by about three to one. Testing in English - reading and writing - and maths for year 3 entry takes place on beanbags. Children seen (and offered doughnuts) in small groups with head and deputy - it's 'as informal and low key as possible'. Around 70-75 places offered - Bancroft's will be first choice for most applicants.


Vast majority - around 90 per cent - to senior school; a few to local grammars, including Woodford County High, Ilford County High and The Latymer. Others to join siblings or take up a scholarship elsewhere.

Our view

Two conjoined, inviting-looking, modern red-brick buildings at the lower right hand side of the main school playing fields – two-storeyed and with big windows. From the main school they appear small and modest; the main school, viewed from the prep, looks imposing and a little awe-inspiring, but the prep children spend time in the main school, so that ‘It’s a bit scary as it’s so big and the students are so big, but we had a meeting with the head so we know much more about it now and I’m not really scared any more'. Quite! And senior pupils trot over to visit their junior siblings in break too. However, the prep is its own world and, as you descend the slope to its entrance, between the playing field and the tennis court, a gentleness and palpable sense of fun envelops you.

The prep has splendid new rooms which have greatly enhanced its overall space and provision. New science, drama, music and DT rooms, a good-sized hall with flexible seating – lots of IT and new laptops. Around 23 children in a class, but the rooms are big and airy enough not to feel crowded - we did not feel the need to open windows, as one so often does. The library, recently refurbished, is well-stocked and a good mix of fact and fiction. Outside space good and super all-weather surface for littlies with monster chess set and apparatus - not surprisingly, 'Everyone loves coming out here’.

Classrooms busy, not over-orderly and relaxed – we wanted to look at the displays, all of which seemed interesting and not as predictable as they so often are. We liked the alternatives to ‘said’ and loved the paper collages showing variations on the Arcimboldo fruity face and the glittery, sparkly, firework ones. We also approved some of the interesting work in progress, especially the lesson on moulds – ‘We had to throw them away as they were beginning to smell,’ was a rueful observation. Year 6 has critical thinking lessons – ‘to expand our minds, to think out of the box, to widen our imagination,’ we were told, earnestly. We were impressed by the sensible ‘traffic light’ system whereby pupils assess their grasp of what they have learnt and where they need help. All entrants assessed for SpLD at 7 and SENCo-led help laid on where needed - mostly mild dyslexia.

Exuberant sports, music and drama and lots of inspiring extracurricular stuff. Outgoing, relaxed and confident children from a vast range of local backgrounds, as you’d expect.

A true preparatory school in that what goes on here is sound, sensible and confidence-building for what is to follow. But is not just preparatory for senior school - four happy years here are a solid foundation for life. Apply early - and cross your fingers.

Special Education Needs

We screen all our pupils with the help of our Head of Learning Support which helps to further inform our teaching on any significant issues. We also have support staff who give individual and group help to children who need particular help or at the other end of the spectrum stretching. 09-09

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
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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