When should I apply for a school place for my child?

It’s never too early, and often it’s not too late!  Whether you’re thinking of the future for an imminent arrival, contemplating your little ones first experiences of formal education, or pondering a move from another school; we’re happy to hear from you at any stage of your child’s development.

In an ideal world, your first enquiry will be well in advance of your child starting with us, but we know that life doesn’t always work like that. We’re happy to secure future spaces for children registering with us early, or will happily check spaces in the appropriate year group(s) if it is a swifter start date you’re hoping for. Just let us know and we’ll do our utmost to make it work for you.

Will my child have to pass an exam to get a place at Pennthorpe?

To join us, children aren’t subject to assessments in a big hall with a squeaky shoed invigilator! Tests don’t enable children to demonstrate their true ability, and at Pennthorpe, we welcome children to join us who bring more to the table than the ability to pass an exam.

Our admissions process is based on each child enjoying a taster day with us; a realistic day in the life of a Pennthorpe pupil. They’ll be supported by a buddy, who will help show them the ropes, and they’ll get to experience a normal timetable. For children in year 3 and above we will also invite them into an informal Assessment Day we’ll go through some assessments in reading, writing, English and Mathematics, to gauge how they will fit academically in the year group they are joining. This helps us to understand where to pitch their initial learning should they join, and ensures we are able to offer the appropriate support and challenge to enable them to develop and thrive.

Can I delay entry into Reception for my summer born child?

We recognise that all children develop at different rates, and summer born children can occasionally struggle in a group of children who may be up to a year older than them. In our experience however, this is rarely the case, and we have summer born children in every year group, many of whom are exceeding the expectations for their cohort.

As an independent school we can be flexible in our approach, to ensure we meet each child’s needs. As such, we are happy to discuss with parents, any concerns they have about their Summer born child’s development. Sometimes a delay to them progressing to the next year group is the right answer, but often we find that our small class sizes and ample support from our exceptional teaching staff, mean we are able to tailor our approach, to ensure the right levels of support and challenge are in place for each child.

Can I benefit from Early Years Funding, Childcare Vouchers or the Tax-Free Childcare scheme?


We offer up to 15 hours a week of universal Free Entitlement for eligible children in our Honey Pot, Beehive and Reception. This benefit is available from the term after a child turns 3 until the end of the term within which a child turns 5 (so the whole of a child’s Reception year if their birthday falls within the Summer Term!).

The Free Entitlement can be applied to certain parts of the day. Our Bursary team will be happy to help you understand more detail about how this will work for your child.

Childcare Vouchers and funds from Tax-Free Childcare accounts can be used to pay for school fees for children before they turn 5 (in the Honey Pot, Beehive and the end of the term within which your child turns 5 in Reception). Some Extended Day options can also be paid for in this way, as can some other additional sessions (such as chargeable enrichment sessions) that take place out of normal school hours.

Is there any help available if, in the future, I experience financial difficulties?

Pennthorpe has a discretionary Hardship Fund set aside for families who unexpectedly face temporary financial difficulties. This is not an unlimited pot of money, and all families are eligible to apply for help, so we cannot make any guarantees. However, our goal will always be to help minimise the disruption to your child’s education should you face temporary financial hardship.

Can you help working parents juggle childcare around working hours?

Children can be supervised at school from 7:30am to 7:00pm (or 6:00pm for nursery children), which we hope enables our families to juggle their working lives as well as their child’s school life. Our Extended Day offering comprises a Breakfast Club, After School Supervision, Hobbies and Supper Club. All of these options ensure you have access to high quality childcare in a safe, familiar and welcoming environment, that we hope will take the pressure off parents at either end of the day. Find out more here.

Our handy bus service can also help parents to juggle the work:school balance. Serving the key residential areas of our pupils, including Horsham, Billingshurst, Loxwood and Cranleigh, the bus service is especially helpful for those parents who don’t work near to the school. Find out more here.

What is included in the termly school fees?

At Pennthorpe, in addition to the excellent tuition, the termly school fees include all the key things your child will need during the core hours of their school day; three course lunches, home baked snacks, learning resources, stationary, and transport when representing the school (e.g. for sports matches).

Extras are kept to a minimum but do include some mandatory items, such as school uniform and sports kit. There are other, optional, items that incur an additional cost, including:

  • 3 Day trips per year Residential trips – usually once per year from Year 3. Costs vary according to length, destination and activities.
  • Laptops – all children from Year 5 are required to have their own laptop, to enable them to use technology seamlessly across their learning at school and at home.
  • Open access residential trips – these are optional trips that take place during the school holidays.
  • Music lessons – these are delivered by external music professionals.
  • Wraparound Care
  • Extracurricular Activities – Where an activity is delivered by an external professional it will incur an additional cost but many activities are run by Pennthorpe staff members at no extra charge.
  • Enrichment workshops – Children can be invited to up to two optional workshops per term.
  • Learning Support – Learning Support is offered depending upon each child’s needs.

How will you help my child to settle at a new school?

All children will be offered a ‘taster’ of the school before you make your final decision on whether Pennthorpe is the right school for them. For our tiniest tots, this might be for an hour or a morning, and for school aged children this would usually be a full day. This taster is intended to give each child a realistic experience of how their life would be as a Pennthorpe pupil, and is a great opportunity for children to make friends before they join us and get a sense of our happy and dynamic atmosphere.

For children of Reception age and older, we carefully choose some ‘buddies’ who we think they will hit it off with, and who will help show them the ropes. Buddies will be in the same class as the new child and make great ‘first friends’. The children chosen as buddies love to take on this responsibility, and do a really great job of helping new children to settle in. Many children are still the best of friends with their buddies, years later.

New pupils are given huge amounts of support by their teachers, which means they always have a choice of people to turn to if they are finding things tough. Find out about how we ‘Champion our Children’ here, which of course starts from day one for all of our new children. All our staff are very experienced in giving new children a warm Pennthorpe welcome, and will do everything possible to help them to feel at home.

Do you operate a sibling discount?

Yes. Families who have three or more siblings at Pennthorpe should talk to a member of our Bursary team about arranging a discount of their termly fees. Please contact our Bursar to discuss what this might look like for your family (telephone on 01403 822391 or email bursar@pennthorpe.com).

Is there a Saturday school?

No, we don’t have school on Saturdays. Weekends offer precious family time and rest opportunities, which we know our children benefit from greatly.

The Pennthorpe Purpose focuses greatly on the positive mental health and wellbeing of our children – if we get this right academic success will follow. We strongly believe the impact on our pupils wellbeing of school free weekends, far outweighs the benefits of increased time in lessons.

We do offer some optional enrichment classes for those children who are eager to learn more, which often take place on Saturday mornings.