Should you like assistance guiding you through the British School system (both state and private), Magus Education can help you. After doing it for years through NW8-mums, I set up Magus Education together with three other amazing women all of whom are mothers. We offer workshops and individual consultations. We also work with corporate clients. If you would like to know more, please have a look at our website and should you need any help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some General Thoughts and Tips
Please note that NW8-mums has no affiliation with any nursery or school. NW8-mums are not to be held responsible should you not be happy with anything listed here. Things change quickly and although I do my utmost to keep track of everything, I am not a superhuman.
Many people in St John’s Wood, including my husband and I, didn’t grow up in the UK. To most of us foreigners, the education system is confusing and many are not sure how it works, what to do, when to do it and even where to look. My husband and I certainly belonged to this group, but we were lucky enough to have quite a few friends whose children had already started school, and we had lots of help and advice from them.
The process can be quite confusing both if you are a foreigner (regardless of how long you have been in the country), but also if you come from here and went to your local primary school. London is very much its own bubble when it comes to education.
If you are new to the UK, remember children start reception during the year they turn four, and the cut off day between school years is 1 September. So, if your child was born 31 August, they will be the youngest in the year, and if were they born on 1 September, they will be the oldest. My daughter was born in April and started reception at the age of 4+. I hope that makes sense.
I could write a book about this and there is a lot more to it all, but hopefully this is a start. I have gone through the process myself with my daughter who is now well into the system, and we are currently going through it again with our son.
There are way too many schools to mention here, however, if you have any specific questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me on Karin@maguseducation.com.
ParentVille asked me to write about the schools’ process and here is my article.
As a first step: look into and decide if you want to/can go through the private, state school or a combination route. Please note that private school fees can be astronomical. If you opt for the private system, it is worth noting that some nursery schools run out of spaces before your child has even reached the age of a couple of months! I am NOT joking. However, the good news about being in London is that it is such a transient place and things can change.
Day Care Nurseries
If you are looking for a day care nursery that can take children from quite young, Bright Horizons – St John’s Wood Nursery & Preschool, Active Learning and Carlton Hill Community Nursery are options within St John’s Wood or nearby. Nearby, you can also find Merchant Square Nursery (close to Paddington) and Abacus Ark (Maida Vale/Kilburn border). In a normal day care nursery, your child can often start from as early as 3+ months old, and timings are typically from around 7 am till 6.30 pm which can be a good option for those families where both parents work.
There are more nurseries than these mentioned above and for an up-to-date full list, check with the Citizens Advice Bureau, Westminster or Camden Councils.
The daycare nurseries mentioned above are quite different from nursery schools which usually start between ages 2,5 and 3,5, and they help prepare your child for starting proper school. One thing to note is that nursery schools operate on a normal school term basis which means there are many weeks in the year when your child will be off on various school breaks.
There are several nursery schools calling themselves Montessori Schools, however not that many are Montessori accredited, so please make sure you do your research if you are after a ‘purist’ Montessori school/nursery.
The Good School’s Guide gives you information about a variety of schools. Read it, but most importantly, go and visit the schools and nursery schools themselves. Very often, it isn’t till you go in person that you can get a proper feel for them.
All private schools, including nursery schools, have different dates and procedures for application. Many private schools assess children between the age of 3 and 4. Competition is fierce. You also need to think about whether you would like your child to go through the 7+ exams or the 11+ (girls)/13+ (boys) exams. To make things even more confusing, many of the pre-tests for boys take place at 11+.
Further down are links to state schools within the borough of Westminster and Camden. Those in St John’s Wood are Robinsfield Primary School, George Eliot Primary School, Barrow Hill School and The Harris Academy (previously Quintin Kynastin School/QK).
The application process for the state schools differs from the private school application process. You usually apply in January of the same year your child is due to start reception. Below are links to Westminster and Camden Councils where you can find out more about the schools and how the application process works.
There are some faith schools such as St Saviour’s Primary School in Little Venice/Maida Vale and St Joseph’s Catholic School in Maida Vale. These are also popular and to have any chance of getting a spot, you need to go to church. However, there are many more things to be aware of, so always check the criteria for each school.
More information about private nurseries and schools
Below are a number of nurseries, nursery schools and schools that are either in or close to St John’s Wood. There are of course several more.
Nursery Schools – a few local ones
The Liberal Jewish Nursery School (LJS) situated on St John’s Wood Road (opposite Lord’s) is a nursery school open to children of all faiths from 2,5 years of age till the year they turn 5. The boys and girls can stay up to three years (which includes the reception year).
Saint Christina’s School on St Edmund’s Terrace has a nursery school for boys and girls that then feed into the actual school itself. It is a Catholic school, and like LJS, it is open faith.
Toddlers Inn on Cochrane Street (parallel to St John’s Wodd High Street) has been running for approximately 44 years with their first setting being in Hampstead. They have been located in St John’s Wood since 1981 and has had the same owner and manager since then.
Broadhurst School is situated in South Hampstead very close to the Finchley Road Waitrose.
The Maria Montessori Children’s House on Abbey Road in West Hampstead, take children from the age of 3 till 6. Children can then continue to the Elementary Classes from the age of 6 till 11. One of the Elementary Classes is situated in Hampstead.
Casa dei Bambini Montessori School (formerly Lymington Road Montessori School) on Dresden Close (close to Waitrose on Finchley Road) is an AMI accredited school, taking children from 2,5 to 6 years old. It has strong bonds to the Maria Montessori Institute in Hampstead and as such is very ‘pure’ Montessori.
The Vestry pre-school in the grounds of St Mark’s Church take children from 2 to 5 years of age and runs Mondays to Fridays from 9-12. For more information, please call them on 020 7624 2705.
St John’s Wood Synagogue Kindergarden Nursery on Grove End Road is a Jewish nursery school situated within St John’s Wood Synagogue.
Phileas Fox Mulitlingual Nursery School in Little Venice offers Mandarin, Russian and French on top of English.
St John’s Wood Pre-Prep School here in St John’s Wood takes children from nursery school till the 7+ exams.
Tigerlilies pre-school is situated just off St John’s Wood High Street at the St John’s Wood Adventure Playground.
Windmill Nursery School is now back in Maida Vale after renovations.
Little Sweethearts Montessori School is situated right by Warwich Avenue tube station.
Below is a link to the private schools in the borough of Westminster and the names of some private schools in/around St John’s Wood.
Girls – just a few local-ish ones
- South Hampstead School for Girls – there is a junior school and a senior school.
- St Christopher’s
- Queen’s College Prep School – there is a junior school and a senior school.
- Sarum Hall
- North London Collegiate – there is a junior school and a senior school
- Channing School – there is a junior school and a senior school
- St Anthony’s School for Girls
Boys – just a few local ones
- Arnold House School
- The Hall
- St Anthony’s School for Boys
- Hereward House School
- UCS Pre-Prep (7+)
Co-ed/Mixed – just a few local-ish ones
- St Christina’s School (boys only till 7+ exams)
- Abercorn School
- Highgate School
- The American School of London (ASL)
- Southbank International School
- North Bridge School – there is a junior and senior school.
- Devonshire House Prep School
- St John’s Wood Pre-prep School (only up till 7+ exams)
- Trevor Roberts
- Connaught House
Abingdon House School – the school now goes from age 5 to age 16 (& potentially 18) and will be doing GCSE, Btec and Asdan (life skills exams). It’s an amazing bespoke small school offering one to one therapy while letting the children take the curriculum at their own pace.
Swiss Cottage SEN School – this school opened in 2014 and offers schooling to children with severe issues. Not only does it cater for children with a range of special needs, but it is also a training school as well as caters to helping other schools.
Joanna Gibbs is passionate about teaching and helping all children to unlock their potential. She is the founder of SENSational Tutors.