Great pre-prep schools are popping up across London - from Wimbledon to Kensington and Belgravia, reveals Tessa Waugh.

Eaton House, Belgravia SW1

020-7924 6000

Pre-prep for boys aged 4-8
200 pupils

‘We
have quite high expectations of our children,’ says headmistress Lucy
Watts. ‘We teach them to win with grace and lose with dignity-but we do
like to win!’ The school doesn’t test on entry, but pupils generally go
on to London day schools such as Westminster and Sussex House.

According
to parent Will Jodrell, strong leadership and excellent teaching help
the place steer a straight path through the tur bulent waters of London
schooling. ‘They manage to be very appealing despite some incredibly
pushy parents and a lot of pressure to get to the right schools.
Although central London is becoming increasingly inter- national, Eaton
House remains a unique pocket of England.’

The Rowans, Wimbledon SW20
020-8946 8220

Co-ed nursery and pre-prep for 3-8 year olds
About 130 pupils

Pupils might be forgiven for thinking they’re in the country because lessons take place in a private house with a large garden and a tennis court. Headmistress Suzie Win- grove comments: ‘Children feel comfortable and secure here very quickly’-she and her staff work at creating an environment where pupils are not afraid to make mistakes. They play a wide range of sports; French is taught from reception and there are oppor- tunities to try fencing, Zumba, drama, and arts and crafts. Many pupils go on to King’s College junior school, also in Wimbledon, as well as local independent prep schools.

Hawkesdown House School, Kensington W8
020-7727 9090

Pre-prep for boys aged 3-8
143 pupils

Boys invariably go on to the most academically orientated schools in London. ‘The basics are put in place very thoroughly,’ says headmistress Claire Bourne, ‘but they also get a breadth of education, such as music, drama, fencing, judo, chess and all those extras that are so important. If a boy isn’t outstanding at maths, he’ll find some- thing else he’s good at.’

Mrs Bourne was delighted when a visiting headmaster from a rural prep observed that the school had an atmosphere of freedom and nurturing more commonly found at country schools. Much emphasis is placed on manners, respect and supporting each other.

* See the best pre-prep schools outside of London

* See the best schools in the UK