• What is a Pre-Prep School?
  • How and when do I apply?
  • Choosing the right school for your child
  • Academic
  • Assessment
  • Fees
  • School Life
  • SEN for Pre-Prep

What is a Pre-Prep School?

Pre-prep schools are private schools for children aged three or four. They prepare children to move to a prep school at age seven or eight (usually school Year 3 or Year 4). Many pre-preps are seamlessly linked with prep schools with a guaranteed transition between them, therefore providing ‘all-through’ schooling from age four to thirteen.

How and when do I apply?

The main point of entry to pre-prep is at 4+ for Reception. Some schools require that you register for 4+ entry as soon as the child is born or within the first year of birth. Others require you to register just a year before entry.

Many pre-preps are non-selective, but where schools are very over-subscribed, such as in London, they may hold assessments in order to narrow down the registration list for the Reception class. These assessments will last for 30 to 40 minutes and are very different from 7+ or 11+, they are not something parents could or should prepare for. Children are assessed for their overall development, including social interaction, play and speech.

The more academic pre-preps might also look for:

  • Your child’s ability to write their own name
  • Whether they can count from one to 10 and beyond
  • Understanding quantities
  • Sorting and matching activities
  • Doing a simple jigsaw
  • The ability to draw themselves or possibly a family member
  • Phonic awareness and use of vocabulary

Choosing the right school for your child

Think about the sort of Pre-Prep you want. Do you want to avoid the stress of the 7+? This is the raison d’etre of the more competitive London preps and the pressure can start as early as Year 1. If you choose a linked Prep and Pre-Prep you can avoid this stage altogether. Or you might want to choose a non-selective standalone pre-prep that means you can move your child at 7+ without the attendant pressure.

Think about where your child is heading.

  • What senior schools are you aiming for?
  • Do the schools you are considering have relationships with these schools?
  • Do you want single-sex or co-ed?

Think about practical issues such as class size, teacher numbers, sport and music facilities and proximity to your own home.

Visit the schools. Get a feel for them. Do the children look happy, relaxed, engaged? How do the adults interact with their pupils?


As pre-preps are independent schools, they don’t have to follow the National Curriculum but many preps and pre-preps will broadly follow the curriculum in main subjects such as Maths, English and French. Pre-preps and preps tend to have greater subject breadth than the state sector – think Mandarin from Year 1, cooking and gardening, and more subject specialist teachers.


Many pre-preps are fairly informal but the more competitive schools are all about the 7+ and will start formal education very young, with preparation and papers from Year 1 onwards.


The fees for Pre-Preps can vary greatly, one could be looking a paying less than £3,000 per term to as much as £7,500 a term.

School Life

Many pre-preps have a uniform. Forest School – where some of the lessons are held outside is becoming increasingly popular and sport at pre-preps can be excellent with children taking part in physical activities daily. Children can often choose between a packed lunch or a healthy cooked lunch at school.

SEN for Pre Prep

If you have a child with Special Educational Needs, find out what support your chosen pre-prep offers. Many prep and pre-prep schools now have a SENCO – a specialist SEN co-ordinator. There are also more specialists SEN schools than ever before, both boarding and day.