Within Stonyhurst St Mary's Hall Pre-Prep, we aim to make learning fun in every way by tapping into children’s natural curiosity and eagerness to learn. In the Nursery, our youngest children enjoy a safe, stimulating and inspiring environment where they are gently introduced to a routine for learning through play and child-led activities, helping them to grow in independence.

As the children move through Pre-Prep, there are specialist teachers for games, swimming, French, music and drama. Pre-Prep is an integral part of Stonyhurst St Mary’s Hall and the Stonyhurst community. Pre-Prep make full use of the campus facilities such as the grounds, chapel, swimming pool, theatre and health centre. We often find that the children entering Pre-Prep choose to remain pupils of Stonyhurst St Mary’s Hall until they reach the age of 13 when the majority of parents choose to continue their child’s Stonyhurst education at the College.

Educational Principles

Pre-Prep, both in the Foundation Stage (Nursery and Reception) and in PP1 and PP2 (Years 1 and 2), are part of our innovative school, fully supported by our traditions, incorporating the best of modern practice and equipment. The aim is to lay secure foundations in reading, writing, spelling, handwriting and mathematics; to develop an interest in science, modern languages, art, music, technology and sport; and to teach and demonstrate strong moral values and to have enjoyment in an environment which supports thinking and reasoning skills.

Overall we aim to set children on the right path for their future education and to begin to develop their full potential academically, morally, socially and culturally.

Our Staff

Highly trained teachers facilitate learning by observing the children’s interactions and interests and adapting the provision to meet the needs of all children, focusing on ‘stage not age’. Small class sizes allow the activities and curriculum to be carefully planned to ensure they are thought provoking and motivating, promoting independence in the children’s learning journey and a natural thirst and curiosity for knowledge.

There is an emphasis on a child-led curriculum with experiences both inside and outside. Mathematics along with early reading and writing, creative arts, music or physical education including dance, swimming and tennis are integral elements to the school day. Stimulation, and experiential learning are considered key.  

Whole-school integration

While St Mary’s Hall Pre-Prep is based in Hodder House, it is very much part of the Stonyhurst campus. Younger children take part in whole school assemblies and have the opportunity to interact with older pupils, giving them further opportunities to enjoy the international dimension to the school.

As a boarding school it has a worldwide reach attracting overseas pupils, who introduce other cultures and languages. From Pre-Prep all pupils are encouraged to act, sing, dance and perform before an audience with confidence. The annual Nativity sees all the younger pupils perform alongside professional musicians.


Year groups and curriculum

Our experienced Early Years Foundation Stage (FS1 and FS2 classes) and Key Stage 1 (PP1 and PP2 classes) teams combine a careful blend of maths and literacy with a wide range of other subjects, as well as a varied selection of extra-curricular activities.

Our curriculum offers the core subjects of English and maths, with science, humanities, French and creative arts being an important part of the programme. From Reception (FS2) pupils can join individual peripatetic music and LAMDA (Speech and language) lessons.




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Pastoral care is meticulous and well-coordinated across all sections of the school. All children in the EYFS have a key person who observes and records their achievements.

ISI Report

A Typical Day Time

Doors open

Registration (FSP and FS1 may arrive up to 9:00) 08:20
Assembly 08:25
Morning activities / lessons begin on non-assembly days 08:30
Morning activities / lessons begin on assembly days 09:30
Rec time 10:30
Morning activities / lessons begin 10:50
Lunch and Rec 11:50
Afternoon activities / lessons begin 13:00
FS1 & FSP pick-up at end of session 1* / start of session 2 13:00
Afternoon activities / lessons finish / activities begin 15:30
Activities finish / FS1 & FSP pick-up at end of session 2*


Teatime club session 1 begins 16:05
Teatime club session 2 begins 17:00
Teatime club session 2 finishes – Final pick-up time 18:00

*FS1 and FSP parents should agree the number of sessions before term commences and pick-up will be at the end of the relevant session. Sessions can be added to during a term if there is availability.

Key Staff Members

Christopher Cann

Titles: St Mary's Hall Headmaster, Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead

Michael Gibson

Titles: Deputy Headmaster, Deputy Designated Senior Lead

Sarah Gibson

Titles: Head of Pre-Prep, Designated Safeguard Lead

Charina Hartley

Titles: Early Years Foundation Stage Coordinator

Rosalie Wroblewski

Titles: Assistant Head (Primary Phase), SMH Designated Senior Lead

Ages 3-7 years attend Hodder House, a delightful building, packed with colour. The focus is on social development, literacy, numeracy, art, PE, swimming and French. There is outdoors teaching, exploring woodland and insects. Children have access to iPads. The whole school comes together for assemblies, easing the transition to the main building.

Good Schools Guide

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