A pint-sized village nursery and pre-prep which specialises in teaching children aged 2 to 7. There's a strong sense of community, and children do well.
GLENESK NURSERY AND PRE-PREP, EAST HORSLEY
Glenesk Nursery and Pre-prep is an independent co-ed pre school for children aged 2 to 7. It’s in the pretty village of East Horsley between Guildford and Leatherhead and besides local children, attracts pupils from families relocating from London to Surrey’s commuter belt. Children come from a radius of 8-10 miles around the school, an area that takes in Woking, Dorking, Cobham, Guildford, Shere, Leatherhead, and of course the smaller villages in between.
It’s a small school with just over 100 pupils in total, which includes about 30 children in the nursery, and this, combined with the village location and an active parents’ group, creates a strong sense of family and community. Entry is non-selective, yet academically the school punches well above its weight.
The school prides itself on its unique ability to focus on learning that is geared directly at the early years and tailored to suit children specifically aged from 2 to 7 years. There’s a lot of emphasis on helping families and children find their next schools – and the school has an excellent reputation for preparing children for entry to some of the best selective schools in Surrey and beyond.
The school is part of the Cognita family, and in recent years has seen heavy investment that’s resulted in a re-design of the playground, refurbishment and additions to the school buildings as well as new learning resources like books. The school was originally two neighbouring houses.
For a school of this size, there’s an impressive array of facilities including an indoor heated swimming pool, an indoor sports hall which doubles as the lunch hall, a music room, a design technology studio, and a dedicated after school club room.
There’s a strong focus on outdoor learning, and as such the playground is pretty impressive with a new large combine harvester climbing structure at its centre. There’s also a small astro sports field, raised garden beds, a chicken run aptly named Cluckingham Palace (which is home to six bantams), a hedgehog house, a guinea pig pen, mud kitchen and a bicycle shed with more than 20 different bicycles for the children to ride.
Children start in the nursery when they turn two and attend anything from the minimum of two sessions a week up to full time. The nursery has its own playground, which then flows out to the main school playground which they also make good use of. There’s also a settling-in area in the nursery, for the newbies, which is a lovely and gentle way for them to start. The teacher / pupil ratio here is 4 to 1.
Children move on from nursery to rising reception, and while it’s more about learning through play and exploration at this age – with some teacher led activities – there are specialist teachers for swimming, gymnastics, yoga and forest school, and the children also do themed sessions such as cooking.
In reception, like the nursery and rising reception, the school follows the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum, with an emphasis on topic based learning. Every classroom is set up with a creative area, a challenge area and a reading area – designed to encourage independent learning. Equal importance is placed on literacy as it maths, as well as personal, social and emotional development. The school has spent thousands of pounds on new books for the children in the past few years developing a literacy programme that takes them on a lateral as well as linear journey in their reading progress.
Communication with parents is key too, and Glenesk uses Tapestry an online journal to record each child’s achievements and to share them with the families which is done almost daily.
In years 1 and 2, children continue their learning journey and begin preparing for the move to their next school with support in helping to identify the best school for each child, entrance exam preparation and assisting with applications for scholarships. In year 2, children are given leadership roles at the school, such as house captains, librarians, music monitors, and lunch helpers which helps to grow their confidence, independence and sense of responsibility. Specialists subjects are taught for swimming, French, design technology, music and dance, drama, ballet, swimming and yoga.
There’s excellent learning support here, both individually and within the classroom. A specialist SEN coordinator works closely with class teachers and the senior leadership team to make sure the students are getting what they need.
Mrs Bradley is hot on nutrition for children, and as such there’s a low- or no-sugar school lunch menu – which means that chocolate brownies are sweetened with pumpkin instead of sugar. I doubt the children even realise!
Children at Glenesk excel academically, which is unsurprising given the small class sizes and individual attention each child receives. At the end of reception 88 per cent of Glenesk pupils are working at national expected or exceeding level, and 20 per cent are higher than the county average.
When they leave Glenesk, many move on to scholarship places at Surrey prep schools at schools such as Lanesborough Prep, Cranmore, Guildford High School, Tormead, Feltonfleet, City of London Freeman’s, St Catherine’s Bramley, Hoe Bridge School, Cranleigh Prep and Downsend School.
Sarah Bradley has been at the school for three and a half years and in that time has really made her mark – with the school’s recent renovations entirely down to her. Glenesk is her fourth headship having come from Pennthorpe Prep in Horsham where she was head of the junior school via Belmont Pre-prep and Downsend Pre-prep at Epsom. Her expertise is clearly in early learning – although she ran her own holiday adventure company for 20 years as well. Glenesk seems to seep out of her pores and she fizzes with pride as she shows me around. She’s warm and friendly and clearly well-liked by both staff and pupils – many of whom greet her with a hug (the pupils that is!).
WRAP AROUND CARE
An Early Birds club operates from 7.45am and there’s a Stay and Play club after school which runs until 6pm and includes supper. Children also participate in a wide range of extra curricular clubs including judo, sewing, ballet, drama and dance. There’s also year-round holiday club provision
Nursery and rising reception fees are from £858 a term for one full day up to £3952 for five full days. Reception is £3886 and years 1 and 2 is £4392 a term. The cost for the Early Birds club is £100 a term or £3 a session ad hoc, and for Stay and Play it’s between £2.50 and £10 a session depending how long you stay.
WORD ON THE GROUND
Parents love the nurturing and stimulating environment at Glenesk and the individual attention each child receives to achieve the great academic results.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Families who want to start their children’s educational journey in a small and nurturing environment. There’s a strong focus on outdoor learning, so outdoor and adventurous types will fit in well. And parents looking for excellent wrap-around care and holiday care will also be happy with the offering.
Not for: If you’re looking for an all-through school, Glenesk isn’t for you.
Dare to disagree? Don’t take our word for it, visit yourself! There’s a general Open Day on Thurs 27 Feb at 9.30am and the Assessment Day for Reception 2020 entry is on Fri 6 March.
Glenesk Nursery and Pre-prep, Ockham Road North, East Horsley, Surrey, KT24 6NS. 01483 282329