Skip to main content

What says..

The key aim across the school’s curriculum is to drive a broader educational experience beyond the textbooks. A recent Pole to Pole day for all pupils pulled together themes across sustainability, geography and history. The sports hall was turned into the Arctic, with a large bell tent and projected image of the Endurance. Boarding arrangements are extremely flexible with little notice required – parents can book...

Read review »

What the school says...

At Sherborne Prep School we aim to meet the needs of each child as an individual and they are supported not only by the enthusiastic and committed staff but also by each other as a community and family. There is a real warmth and vitality about the School and visitors always comment on the happy children. When you visit you will see confident enquiring children, happy to be learning about the world around them. They will be keen to speak to you and show you what they are doing. You will also see for yourself the variety and excellence of our staff.

We provide a wide range of opportunities on the academic, creative and sporting front whilst allowing children to be children. Consistently, all our pupils are successful at reaching the Senior Schools of their choice and leave feeling delight in their many achievements.

Such things are admirable, but we aim to proivde more. We believe that education should convey a real sense of meaning and purpose and grow open and enquiring minds. We value imagination, individualism and variety and we want our young people to fulfill their talents wherever they lie.
...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.

What The Good Schools Guide says


Since January 2023, Annie Gent BA Med. Was SENDCo at Wellow House prep in Newark before joining Sherborne Prep in 2007 as head of girls’ games and year 3 teacher. Worked her way up through assistant head, then deputy head pastoral and finally acting head a term before taking the helm. ‘I haven’t been able to leave,’ she quips.

With previous head having left after just 12 months in post – and a recent merger between Sherborne Prep and Sherborne School – there has been a period of upheaval for the school. To top it all, a number of the senior leadership team have left. All for justifiable reasons (promotions to headships, moves overseas etc), but still. No wonder the head sees that ‘steadying the ship’ as a priority in the short term. But she says she’s delighted with the team she now has and sees herself as ‘at the start of something exciting’. Also top of her in-tray is looking at ‘life beyond the classroom’ and ‘broadening pupils’ experiences’ – hence the appointment of a new deputy head co-curricular to focus on adventure, community and leadership.

Describes herself as ‘living and breathing pastoral care’, and her warm and empathetic nature shines through. Says the school ‘needs a head whose heart is with the children’, and the children give a five-star rating for this. ‘Amazing’, ‘brilliant’ and ‘so kind’ were universal comments, along with appreciation for the cake and hot chocolate afternoons she shares with them.

Lives with her husband, a housemaster at Sherborne Girls, together with their daughter, son, and family dog. In the little spare time she has, she loves being with her ‘whopping big extended family’, reading, and being out in the open. One day she hopes to get over the 20,000 word impasse on the novel she started some time ago.


Prospective pupils are invited for a tour of the school with a year 8 pupil. Following registration, they then attend one or two taster days, with an overnight stay if boarding is being considered. No formal assessment for the younger years, gentle CATS testing for years 6 and up. One-form entry for pre-prep, but school gradually expands, with years 3 and 7 the most popular entry points.


Unsurprisingly, given its proximity and now merged status, the majority (around 70 per cent) go to Sherborne School (all boys) or Sherborne Girls. Other popular options include King’s Bruton, King’s Taunton, Bryanston and Clayesmore. A few to Canford and one or two a year to Radley, Winchester, Millfield and Marlborough. In 2023, 22 scholarships. A few pupils go to local state schools like The Gryphon.

Our view

The school is situated in the heart of the picture-perfect historic market town of Sherborne. It sits opposite Sherborne senior school, allowing extensive use of the latter’s facilities – even more so since the schools’ recent merger. Driving and parking, both in and around school, can be busy (particularly at half term and exeat, we are told), but a one-way system around the car park helps. The school day runs until 6pm Monday to Friday, including extracurricular activities and wraparound care for the younger years. There are optional Saturday morning activities, taken up by most.

A relatively small and non-selective prep, the school holds its own on the academic front, as evidenced by the impressive number of scholarships it achieves. But there is no hothouse vibe. Pupils look engaged and interested in lessons, with no hint of stress despite our visit coinciding with senior school scholarship exams. A year 6 maths group were warming up with a race down ski runs (columns of sums) of varying degrees of difficulty. No wipeouts to report. Year 8s were having a more measured discussion in RE on whether war can ever be just. Lessons with form tutors up to year 5 (except DT, art, music, ICT and sport), with more specialist teaching for the senior years. Scholarship classes in year 8. Parents state that teachers ‘genuinely care’ and ‘go over and above’ for the children, helping bring subjects to life. Pupils agree. We heard: ‘They make it really fun’ but ‘they push you’. One pupil had been particularly impressed by efforts a teacher had made in the holidays: ‘If a teacher works hard for you, it encourages you to work hard for them.’

The key aim across the school’s curriculum is to drive a broader educational experience beyond the textbooks. A recent Pole to Pole day for all pupils pulled together themes across sustainability, geography and history. The sports hall was turned into the Arctic, with a large bell tent and projected image of the Endurance. Children dressed as explorers, and following a talk from Arctic explorer Pen Hadrow, pulled sleds (throwing in a bit of PE) and wrote last diary entries. Off-timetable days are planned for each term, with the next two set to focus on music and science respectively. Common Entrance has been dropped in favour of Pre-Senior Baccalaureate, themed around a personal project in year 8, which chimes with the emphasis on broader experience.

Sport features prominently, with notable successes including a sporting achievement award in recognition of an innovative personalised exercise programme to develop every child’s movement, balance and stability. An AstroTurf, tennis and netball pitches are amply supplemented by access to the extensive facilities at the senior school across the road – to include a new sports centre in September 2023. Our guides told us earnestly that ‘it is a privilege and an honour’ to play on the Upper, the senior school’s first team rugby and cricket pitch. Hockey, rugby, cricket, netball, football dominate while less mainstream offerings include sailing and orienteering. Co-ed sport is embraced and the mixed team football club is increasingly popular. Accolades include IAPS national hockey finalists, and U13 girls’ county cricket representation, but there are teams and fixtures for everyone.

Lots of choirs and ensembles on offer in the music department – including rock and samba – and plenty of opportunities to showcase achievement. Alongside termly concerts, a handful perform to a group of parents each week. Pupils encouraged to try their hand at different instruments, one parent amazed that their child has so far worked their way through the trumpet, trombone and tuba (where next, contrabassoon?) A joint orchestra with the senior school is another example of the benefits of the latter’s proximity.

The highlight of the drama calendar is the Play in a Week, in which each year group takes a week off timetable to learn, rehearse and perform an entire play. Oliver! featured among the most recent productions. The week is much anticipated by pupils and parents alike, but with otherwise just one 30-minute drama lesson a week, there are a few calls from pupils for more allocation of time here (school points out that there are also two evenings of drama enrichment on offer).

The library provides a pleasant and peaceful environment for reading, with views across to the Abbey, and toadstool seats. A competition to be a word millionaire encourages further reading, as no doubt, does the prize of a special lunch. Not that the school needs to look elsewhere for tasty fare. We enjoyed a delicious halloumi and mushroom enchilada on our visit. More actively, there is plenty of co-curricular, with every year group enjoying trips, ranging from day trips to be Romans for year 3, to residential trips to Belgium for year 8. After school enrichment and non-compulsory Saturday morning activities range from Lego and board games, through the usual sport and music, to communications and media, and adventure and ecology. Options such as Mandarin and Latin also available, and school says some children choose an exclusively academic route, which, if it is the case, seems at odds with the broader experience ethos.

Art is hugely popular, and the art room is in constant use. The pupils we saw had been tasked with creating seascapes, with the freedom to interpret the exercise as they chose. The walls are adorned with pupils’ individual efforts, some collaborative works too. The studio plays host to a lunchtime wellbeing club (open to anyone seeking a calming environment) and an art investigators’ club (for those wanting to delve deeper into the history of art). Each summer the sports hall is turned into an art gallery with every child’s artwork displayed, alongside contributions from parents who have attended the art classes and are brave enough to display their efforts.

Nursery and pre-prep are housed in two separate single-storey buildings, with their own play area and fruit and veg beds. The children were delightful on our visit, itching to show off their classroom with a tour that incorporated the sink and teacher’s chair. Lots of happy smiley faces, but no doubt that lessons are being learned. The corridors display collections of each child’s work, under the banner ‘Look how far we have come’. A year 1 pupil could recall that Neil Armstrong landed on the moon in 1969.

Numbers requiring learning support are creeping up post-Covid, here as everywhere. Dependent on needs, children can be monitored in class with one of four learning assistants or receive one-to-one support in the learning support hub. Latin and occasionally French can be dropped to make way for additional academic support, particularly in maths and English. A visiting speech and language therapist is an additional source of social and emotional support. School can support pupils with dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, mild ADHD and autism. No facility for moderate to severe needs.

Given head’s passion, pastoral care sits front and centre of the school. Leading by example, pupils comment that she ‘always has time for you’. Academic and pastoral staff meet regularly to share information, while informal chats happen frequently. Alongside form tutors, children can choose any member of staff, whether one of the catering staff, office team or another teacher, as a trusted person to turn to if having a wobble. Year 7 become pupil listeners, people who can offer a younger friendly ear to those in need. ‘No-one came up to me because nothing really bad happens,’ reported one redundant listener. Parents cannot fault pastoral provision, one noting that her son ‘needed nurturing when he joined but has flourished’, others that it is a ‘happy, inclusive place’.

Pupils belong to one of four houses: Romans, Normans, Trojans and Greeks. House loyalty is strong, and rivalry between each ‘is very intense’. Points for the house can be won throughout the year and the intensity goes up a notch for the house music competition and sports day. Each house has a banner and chant and parades around the paddock before the games begin – behaviour their chosen ancestors would heartily condone.

Head boy and girl appointed by staff, and each form has a school council rep. All year 8 pupils become ambassadors in specific areas, running tasks such as setting up table tennis leagues or reading to pre-prep. Pupils we met, from a range of year groups, seemed to go further still, acting as ambassadors for the whole school. They are a charming group – confident, polite and respectful of each other (we noted apologies when a speaker was interrupted).

Community is important. The parent body is ‘incredibly friendly and welcoming’, and organises coffee mornings, charity events and socials. Parents are frequently invited into school, starting with Books at Breakfast to hear a story or poetry recital over croissant. They can even come in for Saturday morning art class. The ‘grandparents’ and special family members’ day’ involves tours, cream teas, and recitals. ‘Immediately we were enfolded as a family into a wonderful warm duvet,’ said one parent. Some feel school comms could be improved, and that some of the classrooms could be updated, but feedback was otherwise positive. Majority of families are dual income and live locally, within a 25-mile radius.


Boarding arrangements are extremely flexible with little notice required – parents can book on the day. The small number of full boarders (10 on our visit) are joined by flexi boarders staying anywhere from one to four nights, to weekly. The boarding house is in the heart of the school, with bedrooms sleeping up to six split over two floors (each single sex, although different year groups may share). Full boarders are mixed in with flexi which, while increasing camaraderie during the week, must feel a little quiet come Saturday night. Rooms are airy, if fairly functional. Although pupils are free to decorate the space around their bed, seemingly most don’t. After dinner activities such as cooking, art, dance, board games run every night bar Wednesday. Trips are arranged every Sunday, eg laser tag and bowling. From year 3, every year group is invited to stay one night a year so that all pupils have experienced boarding before progressing to senior school. It’s a night looked forward to by all, although it has been switched from Saturday to Friday night, to try and make it feel more boarding school, less sleepover. All parents praise the boarding for being so well managed.

Money matters

Means-tested bursaries, taken up by five to 10 per cent. Military discount of 10 per cent. Scholarships and awards for academic, sport music, art and drama can attract up to 10 per cent discount.

The last word

A lovely, down-to-earth prep school with no pretensions. Without beating the drum, it quietly ticks all the boxes academically, pastorally, and on co-curricular, benefiting from its association with Sherborne senior.

Special Education Needs

Sherborne Prep prides itself in catering for individual children regardless of academic ability. We cater for a wide range of learning needs including Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia, ADHD, Asperger's and Speech and Language difficulties. Children entering Sherborne Prep are not routinely screened for SEN but those who come with an SEN background or assessments are picked up automatically. If a child does appear to be struggling, they are assessed and appropriate support allocated. Support is offered, depending on need, in the form of individual, or group lessons with specialist teachers. There are also assistants in classes up to Year 6 to support those children who are having difficulty and to extend gifted and talented children. Where appropriate, some SEN children are also withdrawn from Latin, to have extra support lessons in Maths and English. A successful Occupational Therapy club operates to help children with Dyspraxic tendencies.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
Dyscalculia Y
Dysgraphia Y
Dyslexia Y
Dyspraxia Y
English as an additional language (EAL) Y
Genetic Y
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class
HI - Hearing Impairment Y
Hospital School
Mental health Y
MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty Y
MSI - Multi-Sensory Impairment Y
Natspec Specialist Colleges
OTH - Other Difficulty/Disability Y
Other SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty Y
PD - Physical Disability Y
PMLD - Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulty
SEMH - Social, Emotional and Mental Health
SLCN - Speech, Language and Communication Y
SLD - Severe Learning Difficulty
Special facilities for Visually Impaired
SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty Y
VI - Visual Impairment Y

Leavers' destinations

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.