Gidea Park Prep School, under the leadership of Headmaster Mr. Callum Douglas, has undergone a remarkable transformation in the past three years. With a steadfast commitment to providing a nurturing learning environment, fostering curiosity, and delivering exceptional value for money, the school has become a beacon of educational excellence in the region.

In a recent interview, Mr. Douglas shed light on the school's journey from Gidea Park College to Gidea Park Prep: “We changed the name of the school to ‘Prep’ in order to highlight all of the skills and the confidence we imbue children with, that’s what comes from a prep school education.

“As a preparatory school our job is to give children as many skills and experiences as we can, so they can get into the schools they want to go to when they leave us at age 11 and hit the ground running when they get there. There’s a lot of focus here on character development and the soft skills that children need to drive forward as learners. Academic disciplines are hugely important, but they aren’t the only area we want to help our pupils excel in."

Romford Recorder:
Mr. Douglas tells us Gidea Park has three very clear aims:

A Happy Community

We are collaborative, respectful, confident and compassionate. We celebrate uniqueness.

Fearlessly Curious

We constantly question, are resilient and have a growth mindset. We are risk takers who learn from our mistakes.

Proud of our Learning

We are ambitious and aim high. We are independent and hard working.

Gidea Park’s celebration of uniqueness is reflected in its thriving multicultural community, welcoming students and staff from an extremely diverse range of backgrounds. “We have a huge number of children and staff that are bilingual and coming from different cultures, which makes it a really lovely place to be”, says Mr. Douglas. This ensures a rich learning environment in which the children learn about other cultures and the importance of inclusivity.

Romford Recorder:
Another hallmark of Gidea Park is its small class sizes, which ensure every student receives personalised attention from dedicated teachers. “Our classes are tiny, ranging from 10-16 pupils. Our current reception class, for example, has 14 children, which even for an independent school is considered small. For a lot of parents that’s a huge difference, especially in terms of the amount of teacher time your child receives.”

Responding to an increasing demand for quality education after national state school allocation day, Gidea Park Prep School is expanding, with their reception class this September welcoming two classes instead of one to ensure that small class sizes are maintained. “As an independent school we have a lot to offer,” says Mr. Douglas, “But I think quite often our small classes can be a major deciding point for parents sending their children here, they want their child to do well academically and the class sizes make a huge difference to that, enabling us to tailor our approach to the needs of the individual child, so they all make more progress.”

Romford Recorder:
Pastoral care is a concern for many parents when choosing the educational path of their child, a factor that is well on the radar at Gidea Park. “We have an incredibly positive culture, the children’s behaviour is brilliant, they have a very clear understanding of what is and isn’t bullying, and a very clear idea of what their rights and responsibilities are.” Mr. Douglas says, “We have one school rule, which is: ‘Don’t bring anything with nuts in it.’ We don’t need any others as the children know perfectly well what they should be doing, the most that’s ever needed is a quiet word. The situations that we deal with are few and far between and so extraordinarily low level that we really don’t need a structure in place to manage it, it’s just not necessary.”

Mr. Douglas prides himself on knowing each pupil personally, ensuring that no child’s wellbeing is overlooked in the pursuit of academic excellence. “Another benefit of our small school size is that I know every pupil in the school and all of their parents. There’s no capacity for a child to get ‘lost in the system’. If I’m talking to a parent about their child’s academic or pastoral wellbeing, it’s never a case of having to get second-hand reports from class teachers, I know them, and almost certainly would have taught them myself at some point.”

Romford Recorder:

As a further nod to the wellbeing of its students, Gidea Park is a SATs free zone. Recognising the undue pressure that the SATs place on young learners, the school prioritises a well-rounded education over rigidly teaching to one standardised test. “We want our Year 6 to enjoy their last year, they still work hard but are more focused on projects and collaborative work. Whilst it’s important that they can perform to a high academic standard, it’s also very important to us that they leave as well-rounded individuals.”

This sentiment is continued by the school’s non-selective status. It’s often a misconception that all independent schools are selective, but that is not the case at Gidea Park, Mr. Douglas tells us. “We’re a non-selective school, we do absolutely no formal assessments at entry. We want to meet your child, and they’ll do some work, but we won’t sit them down for a test.”

Romford Recorder:
Whilst academic excellence remains a priority at Gidea Park, the school goes above and beyond to prepare children for everything they may encounter during their next steps. Mr. Douglas highlights: “All of our activities outside of academics are about giving children experience and confidence, so that once they get to their next step, they shouldn’t really be encountering anything that’s completely new. We’ve adapted our sports program, aiming to cover as many mainstream sports as possible, so the children have experience in them when they go to their secondary schools.”

Further to their sports program, Gidea Park offers a huge array of clubs. “We have an enormous number of clubs, both before and after school, that run every day. Most of these are run by our own staff, which we don’t charge parents for, with the rare exception of activities such as Karate, for which professionals are brought in. We’re always looking to increase the number of clubs we run, to increase the experiences the children have.”

Romford Recorder:
As an independent school, Gidea Park also provides pupils with the opportunity to come out of lessons for speech and drama classes, which is a hugely popular option to increase a child’s confidence. They also have many options for music lessons: the drums, violin, piano, singing and many more are on offer.

As part of the Inspired Learning Group, Gidea Park is able to invest in large projects to benefit its pupils, one such initiative being the distribution of iPads to every pupil. Mr. Douglas tells us: “We’re an old-fashioned school in that we focus a lot on English, Maths and other key academic skills, however our use of technology is really high level, children are able to learn advanced coding skills and up to date robotic technology is prevalent throughout the school.

“All the children from reception to Year 6 have their own iPad, through which a lot of their homework and reading books are set. Pupils do most of their written work in a book, so they aren’t typing away all day, but this is then photographed and uploaded with the iPad.” Investing in technology ensures children don’t fall behind in an increasingly tech-heavy world, and is environmentally friendly, cutting down on paper usage.

Romford Recorder:
The benefits of sending your child to Gidea Park can start at an exceptionally young age. As the only independent school in the area with a nursery that is open all year round, Gidea Park is able to implement much more structure than you would find in a day nursery, better preparing children to move into reception. Mr. Douglas tells us that: “As there is no difference between school time and term time, with structured days maintained throughout the whole year, children’s ability to move into reception and start that journey is much greater.”

An incredible amount of progress has transformed Gidea Park Prep over the last three years, so much so that Mr. Douglas says the school is “almost unrecognisable”. Parental input is greatly valued, and actioned; the changes that have been made are testament to that. Mr. Douglas explains that many of the adjustments in the school followed a parent survey: “Parents wanted to know what made Gidea Park value for money beyond our small class sizes. Everything we have done in the last three years, with the clubs, technology and character development, has been centred around making the school value for money. Making sure that we are really worth it has been a massive driving force behind our prep school evolution”.

Romford Recorder:
As Gidea Park Prep School continues to evolve, it remains steadfast in its commitment to providing an exceptional educational experience. With a focus on curiosity, community, and character development, the school prepares students not only for academic success but also for a lifetime of learning, growth, and fulfilment.

Get in touch or find out more today via:


Phone: 01708 740381


Gidea Park Preparatory School & Nursery
2 Balgores Lane, Romford, Essex RM2 5JR