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Parents queue up to praise this relaxed and happy school where 'childhood still seems to last the right length of time'. One parent thought, 'My son came out of his shell here, he became a different boy'. A number of families have both Norfolk and London bases, but choose Gresham’s for its 'less pressured atmosphere.' The performing arts, particularly music and drama, have status, and are very well taught within the curriculum and as extra activities ('one of the reasons we chose the school'). Everyone…

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What the school says...

Gresham's Prep School is a very special place. We cater for around 236 pupils, about a quarter of whom are boarders. We offer a broad, forward-looking curriculum, a vast range of extra-curricular activities and outstanding pastoral care and support. In 2016, the School was awarded ‘excellent’ in all nine categories following an inspection by ISI Inspectorate. ‘Excellent’ is the ISI descriptor for the Ofsted term ‘outstanding’.

Above all, we offer the space and care for your child to develop; their happiness and progress is an absolute priority. We want every child to feel encouraged, confident and at home. That way they can develop strong roots that will help them grow into happy, well balanced and responsible adults. We also value the individual and want all our pupils to be proud of themselves, their abilities and their individuality. In addition, we make sure that children have plenty of time to be children and that play, fun and laughter feature strongly. Above all this is a happy, kind, busy and inclusive school; please come and visit us and experience it for yourself.
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Other features

All-through school (for example 3-18 years). - An all-through school covers junior and senior education. It may start at 3 or 4, or later, and continue through to 16 or 18. Some all-through schools set exams at 11 or 13 that pupils must pass to move on.




What The Good Schools Guide says


Since November 2018, Cathy Braithwaite BA(Ed) from Exeter, previously deputy head here. Taught in Staffordshire, Norfolk and Northern Ireland and was head of maths and director of teaching and learning at St Francis School in Wiltshire for 10 years before joining Gresham's. She is married to Ollie and they have two sons and a black labrador, Isla.

Head of nursery and pre-prep since 2016 is Sarah Hollingsworth (30s), previously director of pastoral care at Oswestry School. She has had various early years and KS1 roles and is a trained ISI inspector.


At all ages and stages from 3 (nursery and pre-prep), 7 and 11 in the prep school, although they will try to accommodate when possible at other times. Some year groups fill quickly, so first come, first served. Accepts a fairly wide spectrum of ability, but admission is not a foregone conclusion. Informal assessment in the early forms, the same plus maths, English and verbal and non-verbal reasoning tests at 11. Pupils from the state sector often join for years 7 and 8 in preparation for the senior school.


Great majority go through the school to year 8 and move up to the seniors. All take the ‘exit’ exam, those not likely to make the grade are warned in good time. Those wishing to go elsewhere at 13, and there are a few most years, are prepared individually for the entrance exams for eg Oundle, Royal Hospital and Millfield. Others have recently accepted places at Repton, Culford and Norwich.

Our view

On its own site, though only a brisk walk from the senior school, on the edge of Holt, north Norfolk’s stylish market town. Uses certain senior school facilities such as sports pitches, swimming pool and theatre, but in the main it operates autonomously. Parents queue up to praise this relaxed and happy school where 'childhood still seems to last the right length of time'. One parent thought, 'My son came out of his shell here, he became a different boy.' A number of families have both Norfolk and London bases, but choose Gresham’s for its 'less pressured atmosphere' over the more hothoused approaches in the Capital.

Common entrance teaching recently abandoned so greater flexibility in the curriculum. Excellent languages with the focus on fun and communication in the early years. French from year 6 with Spanish and Latin options from year 7. Other languages (eg German, Mandarin) can usually be accommodated on request. Science taught in designated labs, sometimes using the more sophisticated facilities of the senior school. There is mixed-ability teaching up until year 4, then setting in most subjects, though 'these are flexible and pupils move up and down', with differentiated targets.

Educational support well resourced, with five specially trained staff (two full-time) who are also class teachers. Caters for mild difficulties such as dyslexia and Asperger’s, and emotional problems such as low self-esteem. About a quarter of pupils receive help, either in one-to-one tuition, small groups, or support in the classroom. Brilliant library, bursting with delectable titles, displays, opportunities to enter competitions and with an enthusiastic, full-time librarian. Open all day long (boarders can use it in the evening for project work), the atmosphere is quiet: 'we don’t insist on a deathly silence, but purposeful reading does need peace and quiet.'

The performing arts, particularly music and drama, are very well taught both within the curriculum and as extra activities ('one of the reasons we chose the school'). Everyone sings in a choir in the lower forms, with auditions higher up for the senior and chapel choirs (runners up in the national Barnardo's Contest recently). Over two-thirds of pupils learn an instrument, some at the top grades, and there are many bands, ensemble groups and orchestras with frequent performances. Dance is on the curriculum in the lower forms and an extra activity later on. Drama is timetabled throughout the school; some larger productions are staged in the senior school Auden Theatre. Art and design have their own rather eye-catching building, with spectacular displays of pupils’ work (including designs on backs of chairs) and every inducement for creativity. 'We do textiles, mosaics, woodwork, mess generally.' Loads of sport, all the usual team games with lots of fixtures, and though 'we understand not everyone is mad keen, but it’s also important to have to keep going with something you wouldn’t necessarily choose'. Shooting and kayaking available in years 7 and 8.

Mostly new buildings of one or two storeys set in the midst of extensive grounds, adventure play areas and piazzas; 'pupils have to play in sight of the gazebo'. OWLS is the new outdoor learning school with open-sided wooden classroom, spaces for campfires and an outdoor theatre, plus climbing tower, zipwire, obstacle and rope courses in the woods.

Careful attention paid to well-being and happiness. As well as the usual offers of counselling well displayed, there is a worry box to post in 'anything they want to discuss, however small it may seem'. Staff keep a weather eye, particularly in changing room areas, which are always supervised. In the un-canteeny dining room, pupils are helped to make good food choices, picking from colour-coded categories: green (vegetables), red (protein) and yellow (carbs). Early supper ('children are all starving by 5:30pm') which day pupils often stay for if doing activities, and cereal/toast and hot drinks in the houses before bed.


Separate boys' and girls' houses, each for 40 or 50 children, in bedrooms of two to four. Exceptionally attractive and home-like decoration (strong Cath Kidston influence) and furnishings. Photographs of children enjoying themselves on every wall, bunting, posters; a mock-up of Giles Gilbert-Scott’s classic telephone box houses the real telephone – no mobiles during the day or after bedtime. Houseparents and matrons always around, and pupils return to house at break and lunch.

The last word

This is a happy, well-run prep that benefits from its connection to the senior school, but is definitely separate. Would suit most types but is not specially geared to prepare for common entrance or other highly competitive school entrance exams.

Special Education Needs

A well resourced department with four qualified members of staff, operating from an excellent Learning Support Centre. Pupils who receive learning support vary from those with mild dyslexic and organisational problems to those with more severe problems with reading and writing. We cater for some children with other conditions on a case by case basis.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
Dyslexia Y
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
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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