Banstead Prep School, Banstead
Banstead Prep is a brand new co-ed independent day school formed after the merger of Greenacre School, Bramley School and Priory Prep schools at the end of the 2017 academic year. It’s a prep school for boys and girls aged 2-11 on the site of the former Greenacre School in Banstead owned by the United Learning group which among others also has Guildford High School and Reigate’s Dunottar School in its stable of independents.
Banstead Prep is not a huge school numbers-wise – around 230 students in total – but there’s room to grow. Class sizes are a maximum of 20 in the Prep and 18 in the Pre-prep, although the reality is that most are between 14 and 16. Greenacre was a through-school for girls aged 3-18, and the site is pretty big. Currently it’s a two-form entry, but the plan is to take that to three-form, although the emphasis is on slow organic growth.
Kids come from the local Banstead area travelling from as far as Kingswood, Chipstead, Epsom, Sutton and Purley. The school has slightly more boys than girls at the moment, due to legacy of the merger, but some year groups are more evenly mixed and nursery and reception intakes are expected to have a good balance of girls and boys.
Wowsers! Let’s talk about the facilities because they’re an impressive lot. The merger of three schools means it’s had the pick of the best of everything – teachers included – so Banstead Prep has some pretty cracking facilities as well as plenty of space. There’s big focus on sports and a sport-for-all philosophy, and as such the sporting facilities are amazing: there’s an on-site swimming pool and an indoor sports hall, as well as a full-sized all-weather astroturf pitch used for hockey and football, netball and tennis courts and grassed football and rugby fields. The school also has access to Banstead Cricket Ground for the school’s cricket fixtures, and backs onto woodlands which is where Forest School takes place.
As the school formerly held a senior school, Banstead Prep has inherited some impressive classroom space, including an drama studio, a separate dance studio and music rooms with an amazingly impressive range of instruments. There are also fully kitted out food tech rooms and science labs and a wonderful art studio. On a practical note, there’s plenty of storage so the already larger-than-usual classrooms are pretty much clutter free.
The strong emphasis on sport for all means that all children are exposed to a wide range of sports. All children from Reception upwards have a swimming lesson every week, as well as a Games lesson and a PE lesson. Plus an entire afternoon is given over to sports fixtures each week from Year 3 upwards.
The school is non-selective, and there’s a strong belief that children should be exposed to a wide range of subjects – and this is reflected in the curriculum. The children in Pre-Prep (Reception to Year 2) are given specialist teaching in Music, Dance, Drama, Swimming, PE, French, Food Technology and Forest School.
Year 3 is something of a transitional year where children continue to be supported by form teachers and receive additional specialist teaching, and from Year 4 to Year 6 all classes are specialist taught, with streaming in English and Maths.
The 2018 Year 6 cohort – a small group of just 22 students – achieved an impressive offer of 51 selective senior school places between them, and seven scholarship offers for academics, sport, art or music. The highest number of offers came from Epsom College, Caterham School, Reigate Grammar, St John’s at Leatherhead, Dunottar in Reigate and Ewell Castle. Other schools include Whitgift and Trinity, Kingswood House, Sutton High School and Croydon High School.
With a new school comes a new headteacher – and I was very impressed with Vicky Ellis. She started her working life as an accountant, moving into teaching 15 years ago. Since then she’s worked across both the independent and state sectors, most recently at Redcliffe School in Chelsea and Guildford High School.
She’s an early years specialist, and is passionate about the value of Early Years and primary education, believing strongly in creating a happy and secure environment for children to learn in, and making learning practical and with a purpose so children can make sense of it.
The school has a dedicated Learning Support Department offers one-to-one emotional and educational support for students who may need it, as well as group programmes. Additional support is also provided in classrooms by teaching assistants, and there’s a gifted and talented programme in place which is aimed at helping children who are pursuing scholarships.
The nursery, for children aged from 2-years-old, is in a separate building – a former house – on the same site, although it’s very much part of the school. The house creates a homely environment for the children – very much like a home from home – and has its own play area. The nursery children have access to all the facilities of the big school.
WRAP AROUND CARE
The school day starts at 8.30am for all students, and the end of day is staggered depending which year you are with Reception ending at 3.15pm, Years 1 and 2 ending at 3.30pm and Years 3-6 finishing at 4pm. There’s a sibling club, so that parents with children spanning the different years can come at 4pm.
The school also offers a Breakfast club from 7.30am and after-school care until 6pm. Holiday clubs are also offered, and there are plans to extend these further.
There’s also a strong co-curricular club offering a vast choice of clubs including fencing, cookery, animation club, chess, badminton, cricket, Lego club, gardening club, music among others.
Reception to Year 2 is £3,322 a term and Year 3 to Year 6 is £4,234 per term. There is an additional cost for breakfast and after-school club, as well as the holiday clubs. Nursery fees depend on age and the number of sessions, but the termly charge for five full days for the two year olds is £3,275 and £2,421 for 3 and 4 year olds. A limited number of bursary awards are available to pupils entering the school at Year 3.
WORD ON THE GROUND
Whilst things have now moved on, as you’d expect, some parents with children at Greenacre School, Bramley School and Priory Prep schools were upset when they were told of the closures, and United Learning came under a bit of flack at the time. But, parents are now happy with Banstead Prep for it’s happy, welcoming and approachable atmosphere. They’re also attracted by the buzz and energy about the school.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Families looking for an all-round education for their children and first class facilities.
Not for: If you want a school with a long history, this isn’t the school for you.
Don’t take our word for it: Go see for yourself: there’s an Open Morning on Thurs 7 June.
Banstead Preparatory School, Sutton Lane, Banstead, Surrey, SM7 3RA. Tel: 01737 363600. bansteadprep.com