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Newton Prep is an oasis in an unpromising urban landscape which the head advises is ‘rapidly evolving’... Whole school marked Climate Strike day (older pupils decamped to the all-weather pitch and used their bodies to create a model of the earth) and an annual school sleep-out raises money for the homeless. Outside (in a presumably unintentional nod to Bladerunner) an elevated train snakes round the ample all-weather pitch 

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What the school says...

Newton Prep is a vibrant school which offers a challenging education for inquisitive children who are eager to engage fully with the world in which they are growing up. Our aim is to inspire children to be adventurous and committed in their learning. We provide balance and breadth in all aspects of a child's education: intellectual, aesthetic, physical, moral and spiritual. Newton Prep encourages initiative, individuality, independence, creativity and enquiry. The school promotes responsible behaviour and respect for others in a happy, safe and caring environment. ...Read more

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What The Good Schools Guide says

Headmistress

Since 2013, Alison Fleming, BA, MA Ed; PGCE (50s). Tall, elegant, and previously head of Dulwich Junior School, Mrs Fleming manages 127 staff and 640 pupils across a three-acre site and ‘loves it’. A theology graduate from Nottingham University, she has two grown up sons, a city trader and theatre producer respectively, and a husband who is a chemical engineer. Determinedly hands-on, over lunch we enjoyed watching her go mano a mano to successfully unravel a skirmish between three highly articulate year 3 girls.

Has overseen the creation and implementation of the ‘Newton Diploma’, a programme for years 7 and 8, in which the humanities are taught thematically and include – buzzword alert - citizenship and community. History, geography, and TPR (theology, philosophy and religion) are combined in a thematic approach. The diploma gives pupils a progressive cross-curricular introduction to senior schoolwork, replacing Common Entrance preparation in those subjects. English, maths, modern foreign languages, Latin and science are still taught in traditional Common Entrance format. After consulting with senior schools, the head pushed the ‘go’ button on the diploma; her instincts seem to be bang on as a growing number of high-profile school are dropping the requirement for all candidates to take CE. Her aim is to educate in the ‘broadest and fullest sense of the word’ so children are ‘happy with who they are’.

Under her watch, the already exceptional arts offer has flourished with the strengthening of music department with a new director of music and the addition of new music rooms. She is particularly proud of the number of both boys and girls singing regularly in one of the choirs.

Parents are very positive about the changes, appreciating her as a ‘people’s person’ while maintaining the school’s high academic standard and adding to the exceptional facilities. Mrs Fleming is not afraid of engaging in political debate in the public arena, and has featured in the media speaking on equal opportunities, and the benefits to society overall of being able to offer paid-for education.

Entrance

Although oversubscribed (three or four applicants for every place), head recommends parents stay in touch ‘if they really want us’. Admission to nursery by ‘playdate’ to evaluate language and social development, and then a gentle review when going into reception. Admission from year 3 and above is by competitive testing. The catchment area is wide: families come Battersea, Clapham, the Oval and Kennington, as well as crossing the river from Kensington, Pimlico and Westminster.

Exit

At 11+ and 13+. School does not prepare for 7+ or 8+ (head says ‘we don’t want them doing practice papers at age six’). Destinations: an ‘eclectic’ combination of London day schools, including Westminster, City of London, JAGS, Wimbledon High, Dulwich, Godolphin & Latymer, Putney High, St Paul’s, Hampton, King's College Wimbledon, Whitgift, the Harrodian and Trinity, and boarding schools, eg Wellington, Eton, Benenden, Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Charterhouse, Harrow, Brighton College and Wycombe Abbey. Leavers in 2020 gained 25 scholarships and awards, 16 of which were for academic achievement.

Our view

Newton Prep is an oasis in an unpromising urban landscape which the head advises is ‘rapidly evolving’. Once past the gates, Nine Elms fades and the charm of the school takes over. A beautifully designed extension to an Edwardian building provides the sort of space and facilities many other London schools can only dream of. Performance arts are well supported with a 300-seat auditorium and a 120-seat recital hall (with a recording studio), there is a fantastically well-equipped art department and a newly refurbished music area with a music technology studio that offers spectacular views of the city. Over 300 students play an instrument.

The science labs are striking - laid out as half lecture theatre and half laboratory space. Add to these facilities two gyms, a double height sports hall, and three sprung floor dance studios, an impressive library and equally impressive dining hall. Outside (in a presumably unintentional nod to Bladerunner) an elevated train snakes round the ample all-weather pitch. There’s also a large playground just for the youngest pupils and a ‘garden’ area that is popular with students. All in all, we thought there was just the whisper of an American campus about the place - school is certainly popular with international families.

The school is structured in what the head describes as a ‘diamond’ shape with two classes at nursery (either half or full days), four classes up to year 6, dropping to two or three classes again after the 11+. London day schools lure in particular the girls away at 11+. Head is ‘thrilled’ to have the biggest year 7 and 8 cohort in the school’s history in 2019 with just under 50 out of the 80-strong year group staying on; ‘I feel that year 7s and 8s sometimes get a bit lost in senior schools, and this time helps them really enjoy precious childhood years.’

Children are mature, articulate and well-informed about current affairs – all credit to the Newton Diploma. Whole school marked Climate Strike day (older pupils decamped to the all-weather pitch and used their bodies to create a model of the earth) and an annual school sleep-out raises money for the homeless. Other fundraising activities deliver considerable sums for charities and the bursary fund. The school also participates in the Model United Nations.

Many of the teachers are young, and there is a sense of them being engaged with the students. Emphasis is given to pastoral care, with a full-time well-being coordinator who helps children deal with exam pressures and works with friendship groups. There is SEN support for those with an ‘uneven’ educational profile and booster sessions and booster groups which accommodate children with mild, specific learning differences such as dyslexia. From wildlife and Minecraft clubs, to cricket, animation, football, fencing, drama and ‘crafternoon’, children can select from 90 after-school clubs.

The head is reassuringly down-to-earth; ‘these are lucky children and they need to be aware of it,’ she says, and she walks the talk on this. As well as providing bursaries, the school opens its facilities for nearby state schools for term-time events such as author visits and debates. School also hosts enrichment days during the holidays in sports, music and science, staffed by Newton Prep teachers.

Families are not uniformly ‘old money’, says the head but want what one parent described as a modern British education with ‘values, tradition and stability’. We heard that there is ‘no type’ of parent at the school, the demographic includes a high proportion of working parents in professions such as financial services, business and medicine, as well as a significant cohort of international families. Parents also spoke approvingly of how the school nurtures the different ‘personalities’ of siblings. While walking to school is a big factor for many here (the school has a Green Travel Plan), the catchment area is wide, and children also come in by bus and train.

Money matters

There are currently 15 bursaries for Newton Prep.

The last word

Newton Prep offers a huge range of opportunities for its pupils to enjoy the best of what art, music, games and superb teaching have to offer, while demonstrating that they will need to engage with some very tricky future issues. This ethos can make the school feel a bit ‘right on’ but it certainly won’t do its pupils any harm.

Special Education Needs

The aim of the Resource Unit is to enable all children in its care to reach their full potential, to build their confidence and to equip them with strategies to allow them to make the greatest possible progress in their studies at school. The Resource Unit at Newton Prep is staffed by three specialist teachers, all of whom have training in teaching children with special educational needs. It is headed by the SEN and High Ability Co-ordinator, whose role is to provide the vital communication between all those involved in meeting children’s needs: teachers, parents and specialist practitioners. Up until Year 2, children are given extra support in small groups, normally within the classroom. Many younger children will only require a term or two of support until their development catches up with their peers. From Year 2 onwards those children who are felt to need specialist input normally receive it on a one-to one-basis. Support is generally offered without charge. If a child requires intensive support, for which a charge would normally be made, parents will be consulted beforehand. The Resource Unit can call on the input of a wide range of specialist intervention such as speech and language therapy, paediatric physiotherapy and occupational therapy. This professional input will be charged directly to the parents by the practitioner but can take place in school, minimising disruption to the school day.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
Dyscalculia
Dysgraphia
Dyslexia
Dyspraxia
English as an additional language (EAL)
Genetic
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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