Skip to main content
  • Royal High Prep School Bath
    Cranwell House
    Weston Park East
    BA1 2UZ
  • Head: Mrs Claire Lilley
  • T 01225 422931
  • E [email protected]
  • W
  • A mainstream independent school for girls aged from 3 to 11 with a linked senior school
  • Boarding: No
  • Local authority: Bath and North East Somerset
  • Pupils: 141
  • Religion: Non-denominational
  • Fees: £11,694 - £12,321 pa
  • Open days: Private visits encouraged at any time, by appointment.
  • Review: View The Good Schools Guide Review
  • Linked schools: Royal High School Bath

What says..

A stunning foursquare Victorian mansion – still known as Cranwell House, the alliteration is handy for the Cranwell curriculum, the prep school’s own creation, thematic in nature, child-centred and based on the work of Reggio Emilia. Girls have the same games offering (including rugby) as their older sisters, though they might have to hop in a minibus to the senior school to take part. Some choose the school in the belief that a single-sex environment means better behaviour: the head’s view is that by the age of five or six, children notice gender difference and girls start to find boys…


Read review »

What the school says...

The Prep School is a happy and bright community where our girls can flourish and grow. We understand the importance of 'getting it right' and from those very early days of Nursery right through to Year 6 when your daughter is getting ready for the challenges of Senior School. Our school is fully committed to providing your daughter with the very best opportunities. Set in stunning grounds close to Bath city centre with well-equipped facilities we provide a wealth of learning experiences which include weekly French in Nursery-Year 3, Spanish in Year 4, German in Year 5 and Mandarin in Year 6, Ballet, Music, Drama and Sport all taught by specialist teachers. Visitors often comment on the warmth, fun and sense of purpose that permeates our school. We believe that happy children love to learn and our supportive pastoral care, along with close home/school links, ensures that all the girls are nurtured as we guide them through the first years of their education. 10% discount off full boarding fees for service families. ...Read more

Do you know this school?

The schools we choose, and what we say about them, are founded on parents’ views. If you know this school, please share your views with us.

Please login to post a comment.


International Baccalaureate: diploma - the diploma is the familiar A-level equivalent.

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

Head of Prep School

Since 2019 Ms Claire Lilley, previously head of Sidcot Junior. Brought up and schooled in Kent, Ms Lilley has a BEd in music from Cambridge and still plays the sax in a soul band. Almost her whole career until now has been at Sidcot, but she found the same holistic approach to learning at the Royal High Prep: ‘Get the pastoral foundations right and the academics will sort themselves,’ she asserts. That modus operandi, the beautiful site and a growing conviction of the value of girls-only education were enough to tempt her to Bath, where parents and girls just love her. ‘Energetic, positive, deeply pragmatic and practical – but no walkover,’ parents told us approvingly. Clearly Ms Lilley’s efforts in establishing good relations with parents have paid off, but the achievement she is most proud of in her short time at the helm is to abolish the entrance exam to the senior school. Tall, blonde, warm and hilarious, Ms Lilley does not shrink from dressing up as a lobster or angry Christmas elf when the occasion demands it – by her own admission, performing arts are her passion. She has a daughter in the senior school.


From age three into the nursery, where the littlest girls will spend a year before joining reception at 4+, but let us be clear that it’s truly pre-school and not day care from babyhood onward. Significantly, it operates all year round, however. To be accepted into reception and at any other entry point, girls will spend ‘an invigorating taster day’ in the class they would join and be assessed in English and maths, plus interview with Ms Lilley and CAT tests. Three open mornings per year held on weekdays enable interested families to see the nursery and prep school in action. Many join in years 4, 5 and 6 ready to cruise seamlessly into the senior school but quite rightly the prep will not take anyone for whom that would be the wrong destination.


Transfer to the senior school in year 7 is now assured; any doubtful runners will have been identified long before year 6. Occasionally girls leave for another of the Bath independents or state secondaries, but ‘my daughter will not contemplate going anywhere else,’ a mother of a girl in year 6 told us.

Our view

A stunning foursquare Victorian mansion built of golden stone on the lower slopes of Bath provides an idyllic setting for the prep school, a short drive down fiendishly narrow lanes from the senior school. Still known as Cranwell House, the alliteration is handy for the Cranwell curriculum, the prep school’s own creation, thematic in nature, child-centred and based on the work of Reggio Emilia. Helpful booklets outlining the term’s theme (eg ‘Transport’ for tinies and ‘Keep calm and carry on’ for older girls) and what will be covered in each subject are given to parents, and include possibly the most helpful homework guide for older girls we have ever seen. ‘But I prioritise process over outcomes,’ Ms Lilley assured us, though she has revamped the reporting and tracking systems.

Lessons we saw seemed rigorous and traditional but definitely not dull – a maths class was doing a test, cunningly billed as puzzles, while in English, girls were doing spellings where the number and difficulty of words was discreetly differentiated according to ability. The standard of handwriting generally was exemplary. The littler girls dancing out the story of Goldilocks in their pink tutus stole our hearts, however. We loved the light, bright classrooms with plenty on the walls and the calm sophisticated colour scheme of dove grey throughout, with cameos above every door. Modern languages double up with art in the same room but it seems a happy enough union: French is taught from nursery onwards and we were pleased to see a Mandarin class taught by a native speaker. Latin in year 6. Gorgeous library too: reading is massive here, with older girls encouraged to expand their choices from the year 6 top 50. The nursery curriculum is a blend of play and more formal learning including phonics, number work and French, but they and all the other girls spend masses of time outside taking full advantage of eleven glorious acres of grounds, complete with a newly built Celtic roundhouse, outdoor learning area for science lessons and the ubiquitous forest school plus two playgrounds. The outdoor theatre, pizza oven and kiln are used under supervision, and certainly the pond where a handful of little ones were exploring life below the murky waters with nets. Umpteen pairs of wellies are stacked by every outside door. We gained the faint impression that science was not given the same priority as English, maths and languages, though older girls make good use of the senior school facilities which may include its science labs and there is significant traffic between the sites: on the day of our visit, a couple of year 6 girls were attending a sustainability club meeting there.

Parents seem happy with the academic offering: ‘It’s good for kids who thrive on doing well academically,’ one mother told us, adding that all her daughters were doing well, ‘when one was coasting and the other was falling behind at their previous school’. Praise too came in for the teachers who are, we were told, on to any weaker areas such as spelling and maths.

Learning support is staffed by one full-timer and provision is reckoned to be pretty inclusive, blurring into the excellent pastoral care the school provides: ‘They tried everything with a troubled child, including an EHCP,’ one father confided. School can cater for mild SpLD, ASD and AD(H)D and diagnosis is sensitively handled. Parents love the fact that classes are small and that every girl is known to all the staff, including Ms Lilley. We heard more than a few tales of girls who had fled other schools to come to RHS Prep and been welcomed in: ‘My anxious youngest walks in as though she owns the joint!’ one mother laughed. ‘Make sure your daughters have time to play and relax,’ school exhorts parents – can we hear that more often please? Some choose the school in the belief that a single-sex environment means better behaviour: the head’s view is that by the age of five or six, children notice gender difference and girls start to find boys different and irritating. We liked the fact that ‘best friends’ are discouraged and classes mixed up periodically, but had some sympathy with the girls who want ball games at break: ‘If there were boys there, that definitely wouldn’t happen!’ said one indignant parent.

Music has its own beautiful, light, well-stocked room (24 new ukuleles have just arrived, courtesy of the parents’ association) and specialist teaching happens from nursery onwards; further up the school, girls have three performing arts lessons per week taking in drama and dance too (ballet is taught by a specialist). The dining hall doubles as a performance space (and sports hall) within school for highlights such as Year 4 Entertains… but advantage is taken of Bath’s Theatre Royal, where nursery girls put on their nativity in the intimate and less formal setting of its Egg Theatre; recently, four older girls, who also belong to an external dance school, tapped the boards in Aladdin on the main stage. School is proud of its Inspire programme, where girls of all ages get together to collaborate in joint endeavours, such as coding and navigation. The discovery room provides a vibrant setting for this, though its principal purpose is for science and cooking – and a superb test kitchen it is too.

Sport benefits from the expertise and facilities of the senior school, but the prep school has its own hard court, painted with lines for different games, plus the all-purpose space used for lunch, assemblies and performing arts which doubles (quadruples?) up as a sports hall with gym equipment. Girls have the same offering (including rugby) as their older sisters, though they might have to hop in a minibus to the senior school to take part. Fixtures and festivals are laid on from year 3. Small numbers mean picking top teams is harder, but the A teams are full of girls who have tried their hardest, one satisfied mother told us.

Some after-school clubs on offer but not as many as other schools, parents tell us; oversubscription is fairly handled. More information on the website would be useful. The site is open from 7.30am to 6pm including a breakfast club and after-school snack (chargeable and needs to be pre-booked). A few grumbles about the food: not enough of it on occasion, not enough choice and nothing hot after school - a bit drear on winter afternoons.

Families of RHS Prep girls consist of ‘quite a lot of normal people and working parents,’ one such told us, adding that the financial sacrifice was worth it. Prep school girls can travel on the network of buses the school lays on from surrounding areas, though they have to wait till the senior school day finishes. The girls we met bowled us over with their enthusiasm and pride in their lovely school, our year 6 guides clearly bossing it. Relations between oldest and youngest were a joy to witness: ‘What sold it to me was a reception child rushing up to give our year 6 tour guide a hug,’ one long-established father told us. That generosity of spirit extends to charity work too, with events like cake sales for causes close to their hearts. Communcation to parents could be better though, we heard, with too much reliance on information coming through unofficial WhatsApp groups rather than school.

Money matters

Like the whole GDST offering, fees are reasonable and transparent; nursery charges by the session. Fee discount of 20 per cent kicks in at the third daughter across both schools but lasts even after the older ones have left. Costs of clubs and trips are made clear before parents sign their daughters up. No financial assistance is available for this age group.

The last word

A school which begets huge affection from those who attend it, pay for it or teach at it. A miniature Eden where little girls can stay little for longer, and an understated preparation for the greater demands of the big sister school up the hill. In the view of one parent: ‘I can’t fault it’.

Special Education Needs

As a selective, independent school we provide support for a very few students who are neurodiverse and have learning differences such as dyslexia. We offer a palette of provision for learning support at four levels: Level 1 - We provide learning profiles for every student with a learning difficulty to assist class/subject teachers. Level 2 – In addition to differentiated learning in class, some students can receive support from the class teaching assistant to help them and other students access the material in class and remain focused. Level 3 –Certain students are invited to group sessions with a qualified member of the learning support department to work on improving their learning skills. And optional level: Level 4- Individual specialist support alongside the previous levels can be offered by arrangement to allow enhanced support. Parents will pay for this additional tuition. Support time is often timetabled outside of the core curriculum to cause minimum disruption to the student's academic day. We always value regular contact with parents believing that working in partnership is the foundation of student progress and success. The learning support department provides support for your child to help them improve confidence, independence with learning and develop life long study habits to reach their potential.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder 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 Y
VI - Visual Impairment

Subscribe for instant access to in-depth reviews:

☑ 30,000 Independent, state and special schools in our parent-friendly interactive directory
☑ Instant access to in-depth UK school reviews
☑ Honest, opinionated and fearless independent reviews of over 1,000 schools
☑ Independent tutor company reviews

Try before you buy - The Charter School Southwark

Buy Now

GSG Blog >

The Good Schools Guide newsletter

Educational insight in your inbox. Sign up for our popular newsletters.