My Favourites

My Favourites

Save your favourites with a single click and you’ll never forget a brilliant Muddy recommendation.

THINGS TO DO. ARTS. EAT. TRAVEL. FASHION. BEAUTY. KIDS. HOME

Get the inside line on what’s unique, special and new near you, straight to your inbox across 28 counties

School Review logo

Warwick Prep School, Warwick

Muddy says: A vibrant, high-achieving and extremely sought-after day school for boys aged 3 - 7 and girls aged 3 - 11, on the spacious 55-acre Warwick School campus with a new forest school.

WHAT? WHERE?

This very popular and frequently over-subscribed independent Prep with fantastic ISI reports (excellent across the board) is set in a modern purpose-built red-brick building located on the Myton Road campus it shares with Warwick School and King’s High, as part of Warwick Independent Schools Foundation. A new bigger reception area was remodelled as part of the Project One Campus development.

The Foundation’s girls secondary school (and winner of the ISA Senior School of the Year 2021 award) King’s High, moved from its former historic town centre home three years ago to join the campus in a new architecturally-applauded state-of-the-art school.

For the Prep, the surrounding space was sympathetically designed within an enhanced pedestrian-friendly campus, linked green spaces and courtyards, and brand new outdoor playground areas for nursery, reception and the upper school years. There’s also a delightful new Forest School for Early Years.

Warwick Prep benefited from a new state-of-the-art high-tech Music School, practice rooms and performance spaces shared with King’s High.

It’s a fairly big school with four-form entry having recently increasing to just under 500 children aged three to 11, but, as one parent told me, ‘Warwick Prep makes big feel small.’ Class sizes are kept to between 20 – 24 throughout the school. Founded on Christian principles, the school welcomes pupils of “all faiths and none” embracing diversity and equal opportunities for all.

FACILITIES

The grounds are a big wow – large and lovely, with 55-acres of playing fields on their doorstep, Astro turf for games and a 25m indoor swimming pool, a five minutes’ walk away – children can go swimming every year until Year 6 and continue to use the facilities throughout the Foundation. There’s an impressive sports provision including cross country and athletics.

The Bridge House Theatre is another brilliant shared facility for staging school productions as well as seeing touring shows and stunning Warwick Hall, a huge £10 million regional concert hall, which often plays host to Orchestra of the Swan, which Warwick Prep has a partnership with.

Music is a big deal here. The school shares a brand new multi-million music hall with Kings High which includes 2 huge performance spaces, 12 practice rooms and 2 classrooms. Every child in Year 1 joins the Strings Project – a hugely successful musical programme where pupils learn to play a string instrument together and perform in front of parents. They then have the option of continuing in Year 3 to take up brass and woodwind which has around 80 per cent uptake. Warwick Prep has an orchestra and three choirs: Squirrels (in Year 2), Junior Choir (Years 3 and 4) and Senior Choir (Years 5 and 6). 

Warwick Hall

Headline facilities include a large colourful art-filled purpose-built nursery with multiple learning spaces and a secure garden with new outdoor playground, new nursery garden and Forest School. There’s a very proactive PTA who help fundraise and have been “absolutely brilliant” in funding the new playground spaces across school, the Head enthuses.

New playground

Outdoors, in the new Forest School the children have weekly sessions and have been thrilled to climb over logs, discover hidden paths, fill their buckets with soil in the digging patch, paint with mud and get very messy! 

I-Spy a snail

Highlights have been making rain gauges, windsocks, whittling sticks and making flower seed bombs for Mother’s Day, as well as cooking popcorn in the fire pit. Set in the Foundation Principal’s garden, it’s a little green oasis at the centre of the school campus, in a secure environment.

The school library was extended in the summer of 2018 and there’s a large buzzy, sociable dining hall with well-equipped school kitchens. Sports facilities include a 55 acres of playing fields (shared on campus), astro turf for games, full-size modern indoor hall and a hall/gym, where pupils were having a yoga class during my school tour.

Specialist classrooms include two science laboratory classrooms, a spacious Art Studio/D&T workshop and air-conditioned IT suite.

Design & Technology workshop

ACADEMIC RESULTS

Excellent (read the ISI Report here.) Boys progress to Warwick Junior School in Year 3; while girls stay on and move up to the selective girls’ senior, King’s High, Warwick in Year 7.

A big USP is that staff here are very good at getting to know individual children and letting them know the sky is the limit. Pupils are encouraged to Aspire, Achieve, Enjoy, and to be the best that they can be. They’re given lots of creative opportunities to discover their hidden talents, developing a wonderful confidence and a strong sense of what the head calls “their steely core”. Thus, allowing pupils to become confident decision-makers at senior school.

A broad and stimulating curriculum sees pupils from Year 3 to Year 6 studying History, Geography, R.E., French. Computing, Art, Design Technology, PE, Games. Swimming and PSHE, in addition to English, Maths and Science, so there’s a great deal of specialist teaching. Pupils in Year 3 and 4 enjoy curriculum swimming lessons and drama each for half of the year; while Year 5 girls are taught Reasoning in preparation for entrance exams. Feedback from King’s is that the level of girls’ work across a breadth of subjects is excellent.

High quality and varied creative artwork across the school years is particularly striking. The specialist Head of Art moderates A level and GCSE exams is often inspired by work she sees. Every project is different – she has amazing ideas across seven groups of children. There’s also an Artist-in-Residence every year.

The school has a raft of Specialist subject teachers and shares Artistic Director of Music and Director of Sport with King’s High. There are lots of creative ways supporting the children’s learning and collaboration with Warwick Junior School.  On the day I visited Year 6 boys from Warwick Junior School were reading their own Mr Men stories to children in Year 2. How to Train Your Dragon author Cressida Cowell and War Horse creator Michael Morpurgo have previously held talks for girls and boys across the Foundation.

The school has busy, purposeful atmosphere, with Fair Rules Jigsaw pieces dotted around the building, and staff are very consistent on behaviour. But you can see fun and enjoyment are important too. There have been plenty of opportunities to dress-up from World Book Day to Year 3’s Egyptian Day where the girls got to make papyrus and wrote in hieroglyphics.

WHAT ELSE?

An excellent joint Creative Arts programme with King’s High includes lots of joint music recitals where they can share performances with parents. The Upper School girls and boys at Warwick Junior School get to work together in debating competitions and on curriculum workshops.

Activities outside of the classroom change termly and range from Harp Club to Handbells; Maypole Dancing to Mini Morris dancing, Story Club, Sewing and Code Club. Hockey, Netball, Gymnastics, Cross Country Running, Ballet and Rugby tots are just a few of the sporting activities. There’s an annual Year 6 production in June. Famous alumni include Game of Thrones actress Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark).

Previous educational day trips have included: Warwick Arts Centre, Compton Verney, the National Space Centre, Leicester, Warwick Castle, the British Motor Museum and Thinktank Science Museum, Birmingham. Prior to the national lockdowns all older girls were encouraged on three residential trips including a Naturesbase Camp in Wales, a chateau in Northern France and Cranedale Centre in North Yorkshire, a scientific field studies base.

SKILLS FOR LIFE, STEMILLIONS & GIRLS’ LEADERSHIP

The Skills for Life programme looking at skills children will need for the future workplace.  Half the jobs our children will do haven’t been created yet, points out the Head. The school’s recruited a team of 10 Digital Leaders from Year 5 and 6 as pupil ambassadors for online safety.

There’s a lovely mix of the traditional and modern, at this forward-thinking Prep. Leadership opportunities have been increased with girls and boys having their own voice within the school on the School Council, Eco Committee and Food Council – with recent school council decisions leading to improvements to the playground, new equipment and renaming rooms. They have also spearheaded the development of a dedicated counselling room which is currently being created and will be a calming space for pupils.

The school has a long history of House Competitions with 4 houses named after the families who lived at Warwick Castle – Dudley, Greville, Rich and Beaumont. Girls can be House Captains and Play Leaders. Children embark on charity fundraising through their Houses and work closely with the local Food Bank, raising a sense of social responsibility. There’s also compulsory volunteer sessions for girls in Year 9 – when I visit some of the pupils are lending a hand in the nursery and at a nearby adult learning centre.

In 2018 older girls talked directly to astronauts on the International Space Station as part of a Foundation-wide project. Dedicated staff go above and beyond with new ideas and opportunities, including Stemillions, a joint STEM club with girls from King’s High where they’ve recently been learning about the work of the late architect, Dame Zaha Hadid. Inspiring stuff!

Aspiring journos also get the chance to edit Warwick Prep’s own lively magazine.

PASTORAL CARE

Strong. The Head manages an Open-Door policy for parents, as she thinks it’s important the school needs to be aware of any worries they may have. There’s a wellbeing counsellor onsite along with a play therapy counsellor, as the Head says life can be bumpy and we can’t always be lawnmower parents – so wants to stay one step ahead of our children smoothing their path and making sure nothing gets in the way.

There are also programs to manage anxiety, worry monsters to talk to, Mindfulness and Mind over Matter yoga clubs and a parent library with information about parenting.

THE HEAD

A Warwick University Music and Education graduate, Hellen Dodsworth was Deputy and then joint Head at Coten End Primary School in Warwick for 13 years prior to joining the Prep in 2016. Warm, welcoming and super-efficient, she has a lovely rapport with her pupils. Enthusiastic and highly aspirational for her pupils she says a school only gets one chance to make it the best experience they can for broadening children’s horizons. So, their aim is to instigate a love of learning in an exciting way. The school has adopted a culture where everyone strives for excellence, but it’s also supportive and responsive. Hellen loves working with children and feels very lucky – she never gets that ‘not wanting to get up in the morning feeling’! Hellen’s next plans include looking at how to improve the (already impressive) pastoral care.

EARLY YEARS

Young children here can start in Nursery in the September after they turn three. There are four Nursery and Reception classes, limited to a strict maximum of 20 children, and broadly balanced between boys and girls, so they can be given plenty of one-to-one time, creating independent learners. Demand for places is expected to remain high and early registration is therefore advised. The Acorn Room offers nurture-based activities for younger children who are perhaps finding the transition to full-time education difficult.

WRAP-AROUND CARE

This is available 7.45am – 5.45pm. After school care, 3.50pm (and 3.30pm in nursery) – 5.45pm, is an additional £8.30 per session, with late collection up to 4.25pm, £3. Post Club supervision and tea is £4.05. There’s no charge for before school supervision from 7.45am. Warwick School also runs a selection of holiday activity schemes, open to pupils from the age of 4 to 12 years on the Myton Road campus.

QUIRKS

A Ukulele club caught my eye among the list of 45 co-curricular activities – what a brilliant photo with all the colourful ukuleles! Pupils have also adopted a Seahorse through The Seahorse Trust.

Warwick Prep is often locally referred to as ‘Squirrels’, as are its pupils – their mascot is Cyril the Squirrel. This dates back to the original school emblem, first introduced in 1944 when it was founded, of a squirrel gathering acorns from an oak tree – a symbol of a young child gathering knowledge. In 1994 the badge was updated to include a Portcullis, linking the historic castle town of Warwick and the other two schools in the Foundation. 

FEES

Fees are in line with other local prep schools. Full-time Nursery places (Mon-Fri 8.30am-3.30pm) are £2,933 per term, but it’s possible to choose a variety of morning, lunchtime and afternoon sessions, from £310 per session per term.

Reception, Years 1 and 2 fees start at £3,546 per term, £4,094 for Middle School (Years 3 – 4) and £4,347 for Upper School (Years 5 – 6), inclusive of mid-morning fruit. Lunch is compulsory (£215 per term). After school care, music tuition (from nursery up), residential and educational visits and extra-curricular activities are optional extras.

WORD ON THE GROUND

Praise and more praise. Early Years parents really like the detailed daily feedback; while parents higher up the school say how their children’s confidence has grown since they first started. Parents praise the level of care and attention to detail. Parents and pupils agree it’s rather a special school and an exciting time. The boys and girls I met during the day seemed very happy and well balanced. The proximity of the senior school and its facilities means the prep punches above its weight in many areas. 

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: Part of the appeal for children is knowing they are part of something bigger and they’ll will be progressing to King’s High or Warwick School. It’s hard to know a girl or boy who wouldn’t love it here. It has the acreage and facilities of a top country school. It’s academic but the style of teaching plus the excellent music, art, drama and sport provision, as well as extra-curricular activities mean the kids have a blast.

Not for:  It’s a big, busy four-form entry prep with lots going on, which may not suit every child. But staff do work really hard to adapt and provide flexibility to support all pupils and their families.

To find out more about Warwick Prep’s entrance assessments for Years 3+ and Years 5+, please get in touch with their admissions team on 01926 494 545 or admissions@warwickprep.com.

Bridge Field, Banbury Road, Warwick, CV34 6PL, Tel: 01926 491545, warwickprep 

Tell us what you think

Your email address will not be published.

* Required
* Required

Little Black Book

The Little Black Book

Our A-Z of the grooviest local businesses to help make your life easier

View the businesses
Reader Treats Just For You!