Nestled in the heart of Caterham, Essendene Lodge Preparatory School and Nursery is more than just an educational institution; it's a hidden gem that caters to the holistic development of children aged 2 to 11. 

The school's next open morning will take place on Thursday, January 25th, from 9:30 to 11:30AM, and is an invitation to witness the essence of this unique educational setting.  

We caught up with Mrs Kishwar Ali, head of Essendene Lodge School, who talked to us about what makes their school special and their unique offerings for their pupils. 

A day in the Life: School in action 

During our open morning, visitors will have the opportunity to experience the school in action. I believe the highlight of the day is interacting with the true experts - the children. Year 5 and Year 6 Children will lead tours, sharing their perspective on what makes Essendene Lodge School so special to them.

Wandsworth Times: Mrs Kishwar Ali, head teacher, Essendene Lodge SchoolMrs Kishwar Ali, head teacher, Essendene Lodge School (Image: Essendene Lodge School)

I’ll be available for parents to chat, but they’ll also have chance to explore the curriculum, chat to staff and learn about the array of extra-curricular activities offered, including Spanish, drama, maths clinics, gym, cooking, chess, football, and STEM club as well as residentials such as our annual ski trip and one week in a water sports centre in Dorset including the many off site educational visits we organise.  

We really pride ourselves on being a small school that achieves big things. Our focus is on nurturing well-rounded and confident individuals, preparing them for future challenges. The school fosters a sense of responsibility through roles like Year 6 house and sport captains, and head girl and head boy and prefect roles empowering the older students to drive positive changes within the school community. 

Unveiling the 'Hidden Gem' 

Wandsworth Times:  Essendene Lodge School has a proven track record of preparing students for grammar and selective independent schools Essendene Lodge School has a proven track record of preparing students for grammar and selective independent schools (Image: Essendene Lodge School)

What sets us apart is our strong sense of community and family. The school is a valuable part of both the children’s academic and personal growth. With a small class size, never exceeding 18 and typically around 14, we offer a bespoke curriculum tailored to each student by a dedicated team of teachers.

Our academic excellence is complemented by a focus on creative arts, incorporating tradition and modern technology into everyday learning. Every child has their own i-Pad to further enhance the curriculum.  

We have a strong focus on STEM at Essendene Lodge School, where our children can get creative while learning, making balloon rockets, air powered cars and even towers out of food items.

Additionally, the children routinely investigate scientific processes through experiments to enable them to hypothesise and predict results. We have nearly half the school learning to play a musical instrument and they get to showcase their talent for their parents in our annual Spring Concert.   

We also arrange specialist weeks, such as Maths Week, Science Week, Wellbeing Week and our upcoming Careers Week which provide students with the opportunity to collaborate with other year groups to explore and learn in a team.

During Careers Week the children will learn about various job roles within the school, but they will also be encouraged to imagine their future self and aspire to realise their goals and ambitions thus promoting a hands-on approach to learning and personal development.

We are really committed to student well-being here, which is evident in our mental health accreditation, where we were shortlisted for the ISA mental health wellbeing award, and initiatives like the wellbeing club. 

Preparing for the future: 11 Plus and beyond 

For parents considering the 11 Plus examinations, Essendene Lodge School has a proven track record of preparing students for grammar and selective independent schools, including Trinity, Woldingham, Caterham, RGS, Croydon High and Lingfield College.

The curriculum in upper KS2 is specifically designed to assess and mentor children for success in selective school interview techniques and entrance exams. Our school's success rate is remarkable, with nearly 100 per cent of students gaining admission to their school of choice, which is testament to the commitment of my team and the high standard of teaching across the school.  

Beyond borders: Making a global impact 

We extend our impact beyond our immediate community with a long-term partnership with a school in Malawi. Since 2012, students and staff have been actively involved in raising funds to make a tangible difference, from providing fresh water to constructing classroom blocks.

The school's commitment to charity extends nationally and internationally, instilling in students the values of empathy and caring for others. 

Trips to Malawi and fundraising initiatives, like the recent drive to raise £20,000 across 16 schools, highlight the dedication of our community to making a positive impact on a global scale.

The focus on girls' education in Malawi, breaking down cultural norms, and supporting gifted girls through scholarships help our students to foster a sense of social responsibility. Our work and our impact in Malawi have impressed the Independent School Association where we won the international development award.  

Essendene Lodge Preparatory School and Nursery isn't just an educational institution; we are a community that nurtures potential, fosters creativity, and instills a sense of global citizenship.  

As our next open morning approaches, we invite all parents and guardians to explore our school with a unique blend of tradition, innovation, and compassion for themselves, whilst offering an affordable private school education. 

If you’re worried about your child’s academic performance or concerned that they might not meet the requirements of their designated state or independent school, please don’t hesitate to discuss with us the educational opportunities available for your child at Essendene Lodge Preparatory School. 

For more information on our open morning, visit:

To contact the school directly, call 01883 348349 or email: