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Whilst unashamedly academic, parents felt children emerge ‘unscathed’ from the 11+ process and the pupils we met were relaxed and sparkly of eye. Standard suite of pastoral pillars: school council, a house system, worry monsters and a friendship bench in the playground - all bolstered with teachers’ genuine knowledge of each child and a side order of fun. There is an annual Founders Day, universally acknowledged by pupils as...

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What The Good Schools Guide says


Since 2021, Jane Bond, previously deputy head at Rokeby (where she spent 13 years). Degree in natural science from Kent; PGCE from Greenwich; masters in leadership and management from Kingston. Began career as a secondary science teacher in the state sector. No lifelong ambitions to teach: ‘I like children and it just metamorphosised,’ she says. Ducked out for six years to enjoy a brief flirtation with the central London property market before realising ‘schools are much livelier, more invigorating environments than offices’.

A pragmatic, practical and progressive head, she has added ‘prep’ on to the school name (it is a bit confusing calling a primary school a college), updated the website and recruited a marketing officer, as well as introducing wraparound care, opening up the nursery full-time and delivering in hot lunches (school hasn’t the capacity for on-site kitchens). All designed to ‘make it easy for parents to be a parent here’. Runs year 5 philosophy sessions - and according to one, ‘is really good at stretching our minds’.

Describes herself as honest, but kind - a do-er who simply ‘gets on’. We find her straightforward with no airs and graces. While her office may be at the ‘top of the turret’, it’s functional, not fancy, in décor and her feet are firmly on the ground. Vacuous charm is not her style at all. ‘Seems very nice,’ say parents; one adds, ‘she does put the child first’.

We get the feeling that staff feel newly empowered under her headship. ‘We are allowed to be autonomous and experts in our subjects which is like a breath of fresh air,’ says one. ‘I love what she’s done,’ another adds. She in turn says she has ‘complete faith’ in her ‘competent and confident staff’.

Married with two teenagers, she lives locally and likes ‘a good autobiography’.


Names down from birth should guarantee a place in the nursery of this ‘non-selective at the start’ school. Priority is given to siblings of current pupils and children of former pupils. Majority of nursery cohort go through to reception where there are a few more spaces available. Two form entry with classes capped at 20. Occasional places further up the school are harder to come by and secure - academic standards are high.


Exit at 11 to some of the top London and Surrey day schools. Hampton, Godolphin and Latymer, Ibstock Place School, St Paul’s, Lady Eleanor Holles, Kingston Grammar and Latymer Upper among recent destinations. An abundance of scholarships every year – the majority academic.

Our view

Just a stone’s throw from Kew Gardens, Kew College Prep sits opposite a large state primary in a narrow residential one-way street. We imagine drop off and pick up must present all manner of fun and games, but with some of the best academic results in an area abundant in preps to choose from, a stressful school run is a ‘minor inconvenience,’ according to parents.

The academic journey here begins ‘largely through play’ in the bright cosy nursery where our charmingly unscripted year 6 guides reminisce about ‘the days when school was just about fun’. From reception, critical thinking is introduced through weekly ‘sticky questions’ that pose dilemmas such as, ‘If you find treasure, is it yours?’ and a ‘weekly think’ challenge involving a magnified image for pupils to identify. Fostering a love for reading is at the heart of the early years ethos and, as such, the school library sits proudly and centrally within the school site. Little ones are sat enthralled listening to a story being told with bucket loads of enthusiasm as we pass by.

Further up the school we see a focused but fun lesson on character motivation centred around Iron Man, and at lunchtime a teacher is transforming her class into an intergalactic delight for the start of a new topic about Space. Seats are draped with fairy lights to imitate a rocket, while stars and planets hanging from the ceiling. Trays of space dust and glow-in-the-dark alien life forms are on tables and space age music rings out in the darkened room.

The jewel in the crown at Kew College Prep is the school’s ‘unique’ 11+ programme which begins in year 5 and sees texts like Dracula and The Great Gatsby studied, a maths syllabus stretching the most able up to year 9 levels and specialist reasoning courses. Learning is pacey and deep with problem solving and discussion underpinning the approach. Pupils self and peer assess work - ‘some are stronger markers than teachers,’ school says. When we visit, year 6 are doing ‘Tuesday testing’. School says they get results through ‘hard work and dedication, not by magic or hothousing’. Expect homework to build to around an hour each night.

Impressive learning support teacher and two assistants support over 40 pupils with mild to moderate needs. She tells how the department helped one pupil with severe dyslexia and dyspraxia achieve the highest CAT scores in their year by time they left.

Alongside the academics, year 6s enjoy positions of responsibility across the school. Entrepreneurial courses, life skills and organisational tips help prepare them for senior school. There's also mindfulness and a wellbeing afternoon each term to relieve the ‘inevitable anxieties’. The annual year 6 trip to France is a highlight and parents praise the ‘bushcraft bonding’ session which runs before the 11+ process starts.

Specialist teachers all through for French, science, ICT, art, music - and for dance, there's even a well-known ex-Hot Gossip dancer. Music strong, with all pupils taught to read music and sign up to instrumental lessons from year 1. Almost a third of the school population have piano lessons and most learn some instrument or other. There are three choirs, plus a popular Pitch Perfect acapella group. Composers' club (‘music theory without them realising’) is well attended. School says ‘drama is a big part of everything we do,’ but there is no dedicated drama teacher. School says this doesn’t mean they don’t take drama seriously, however, and a maths teacher (who has a drama degree) and the effervescent music teacher join forces to create the Christmas, summer and end of year 6 ‘spectacular productions’.

Sport not particularly a forte, though physical activity is built into most days - and twice a week pupils are bussed to nearby sports fields for games. They also use the more spacious facilities at the state school opposite and years 3 to 6 have lessons at the local swimming pool. School has recently joined ISA for competitive fixtures.

While unashamedly academic, parents feel children emerge ‘unscathed’ from the 11+ process and the pupils we met were relaxed and sparkly of eye. Standard suite of pastoral pillars: school council, a house system, worry monsters and a friendship bench in the playground - all bolstered with teachers’ genuine knowledge of each child and a side order of fun. There is an annual Founders' Day (universally acknowledged by pupils as ‘best day ever - 'no work, just loads of fun’) regular school trips, young enterprise courses for year 6s, and a dedicated art day every year (which has produced some of the charming and impressive displays across the school). There’s a good mix of clubs available for all age groups, including sewing, yoga, chess, fencing and origami. Wraparound care now also available.

School is snug, sitting over two big Victorian houses which children are ferried between via a back alley (in silence ‘so as not to disturb the neighbours’). There’s also a newer bigger building called the Octagon, where half of reception and all year 1 and 2 are based. In the middle of the site is a small playground, which ‘is the biggest drawback of the school and not as big as anyone would like, but the children don’t seem to mind,’ according to one mother. There is a climbing frame, the school points out. Classrooms too are compact (though light and bright), staircases and corridors tighter still - but communal spaces like the library, music room and halls are more generous in dimensions, as are the specialist art, science, ICT and DT classrooms. Space doesn’t allow for school kitchens (‘It’s on the wish list,’ says head) so children bring in packed lunches or sign up for a healthy hot meal delivered into school, which according to one parent ‘is not too bad actually’.

Parents are ‘discerning’ and academically ambitious but also grounded. A mix of dual and single income families, mainly professional. Active PTA and lots of coffee mornings and nights out if you want it. Many parents and pupils stay in touch with each other long after their time at the school finishes.

Money matters

Many parents cite the low(ish) fees as one of the main reasons for choosing the school.

The last word

Kew College Prep manages to maintain a village school feel and strong sense of community while delivering a thorough, quality education. It prepares children with all they need to enter some of London and Surrey’s most aspirational senior schools with academic prowess, social confidence and a generous sprinkle of humility and warmth.

Special Education Needs

Our qualified SENCo assesses any child referred by the class teacher and will then advise the teachers how best to help the child using multi-sensory strategies and prepare the Individual Education Plan. The IEP's are in place to help the child achieve their full potential and strengthen their confidence.

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
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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