Learning in The Secret Garden

At Handcross Park, the children in Pre-Prep enjoy a rich curriculum full of creativity and theme-based learning. Most importantly, learning is enjoyable and purposeful at every step of the way. Academic standards and expectations are high alongside the development of the child as a whole, and we take great pleasure in celebrating children’s achievements.

Simply magical - an enchanting place for your children to grow

Tatler Schools Guide


From Reception to Year 2, daily reading, writing and Maths build a firm foundation of core skills upon which the other curricular areas can build, offering a wide cultural learning experience. Sharing and developing a love for books and studying a wide range of quality children’s literature instil a love of language and teaches pupils to read with fluency, accuracy, understanding and enjoyment. This in turn leads to emergent writing, where we teach children how to express their ideas in clear sentences using appropriate, adventurous vocabulary and applying a range of punctuation, grammar and spelling strategies.

As well as a positive ‘can do’ attitude in Maths, we aim to to create a firm foundation of knowledge and skills to build upon. Children are taught all the core calculation skills together with problem solving and investigation strategies, all the time ensuring learning is placed in a meaningful and purposeful context. We aim for children to achieve ‘mastery’ in Maths, which means they understand exactly what they are doing and are able to apply their skills to a wide range of problem-solving situations.


From Nursery, the children are immersed in languages in a way that is enjoyable and accessible to all, enabling them to become confident communicators. Spanish and Mandarin are the core languages which are taught throughout the school – children learn Spanish from Nursery and Mandarin from Year 1.


Our primary focus in the Pre-Prep is to teach the children the important core skills to understand and use the range of technology around us. By empowering the children with the life-skills of exploration and experimentation together with mouse control and typing, they are then able to navigate and use any future technology. Tablets, Chromebooks, remote-controlled devices and programmable toys are all used to engage, support and enhance the children’s learning, better preparing the pupils for the computing opportunities in the Prep School.


Children in the Pre-Prep take artistic inspiration from famous artists through different times and cultures. They develop an understanding of colour, shape, space and pattern, using a range of tools, techniques and materials.

Each class has a weekly lesson with a specialist Music teacher, plus daily singing and listening to music. Individual music instrument lessons with peripatetic specialist teachers are available as well as a range of after-school activities including indoor and outdoor art clubs and pottery club.

Numerous events through the year give children the opportunity to perform, compose and appraise as well as practise valuable public-speaking skills. Our nativities and end-of-year signing concerts and performance are particular highlights, giving all children their moment to shine.


As well as the wonderful natural play-spaces inside the ‘Secret Garden’, the stunning grounds of the Prep School offer grass, astro-pitches, tennis courts and swimming facilities for all the children. Every child has weekly PE lessons taught by subject specialists including Dance, Games and Gymnastic activities, plus a weekly swimming lesson in our heated indoor pool. Sport is competitive but at the same time accessible to all with a ‘have a go’ attitude.

Outdoor Learning

Outdoor Learning is a daily part of our teaching and learning in the Nursery and Pre-Prep. Each of our Early Year classes has its own generous outdoor spaces as well as an incredible Reception outdoor area bespokely designed for young learners.

Within the Secret Garden, the outdoor space is full of sand pits, bicycles, climbing frames, a sports pitch and willow domes, all of which provide plenty of opportunity for energetic and imaginative play.  We also have a relaxing garden and seated areas for peaceful play and exploration. Our gardening club and classes look after our many grow-beds, vegetable plot and wild areas, which are all an integral part of the whole school curriculum.

An enchanting path meanders its way from the walled garden of the Pre-Prep to our Forest School site within our woodland area. As well as building and extending on skills taught and acquired inside the classroom, Forest School provides a wealth of opportunities for the children to investigate and explore the natural environment, learning to use a range of tools and bushcraft techniques, and at the same time developing a respect for nature.

If you would like further information about learning in the Pre-Prep or a copy of our latest curriculum booklet, please contact our Registrar, Lisa Taylor, on 01444 400526 or [email protected].

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