Blackheath Nursery and Pre-Prep opened in September 1996 as part of Christ’s College, a senior boarding school founded as a boys’ academy in 1823. From that time until 1950 the school had been privately owned by a series of headmasters. The majority of the senior boys were the sons of servicemen and professionals working abroad.
During the 1990’s most of the pupils came from the Far East and Africa. English was taught as a second language. In the area of Blackheath, it was not recognised as a school for local children, though a few day pupils did attend. The numbers were falling, and the future of the school in its current form was financially unsustainable.
The governors realised that if the school were to survive it would need to attract local children. They recruited Mrs Jenny Wedgeworth, who had run her own successful nursery in Blackheath for 13 years, to open a nursery and reception class. Mrs Wedgeworth enjoyed an excellent reputation within the area and her former nursery children followed her to the school to become the first reception class. This part of the school enjoyed rapid expansion and within a year, two form entry was introduced. Demand for places increased and a healthy waiting list developed. By 1998 the Nursery and Pre-Prep were full.
In May 1998 the governors realised that the senior school was no longer financially viable and so Christ’s College was closed. The future success and stability of the school lay in creating a selective co-educational independent day preparatory school with a reputation for exemplary pastoral care and high academic standards. To lead the next stage, Mrs Elizabeth Cartwright, formerly of Blackheath High Junior School, was appointed to develop the Prep school for children from 7+ to 11.
The Headship of the school was shared between Mrs Wedgeworth (Head of Nursery & Pre-Prep) and Mrs Cartwright (Head of Prep) for three years. The results of secondary entrance exams were excellent, with many scholarships being obtained to some of the most competitive schools in the area. In September 2001 Mrs Wedgeworth continued as the Head of Nursery and Mrs Cartwright was appointed Head of the school. The school continued to expand with increasing numbers of children and staff. Following the retirement of Mrs Cartwright in August 2006, Mrs Penelope Thompson was appointed Head in September 2006 and the school continued to go from strength to strength. The school was formally renamed Blackheath Preparatory School in 2011. Following the retirement of Mrs Thompson in March 2019, Mrs Clare Dawe was appointed Acting Head. In December 2019, the Governors appointed Mr Alex Matthews as Head of the School with effect from 2020.
The School’s development has included the imaginative refurbishment of older buildings and the addition of new ones, a multipurpose hall in 2006 and notably an extended Dining Hall and Music Suite in 2007. Christ’s College’s original chapel has been converted into a wonderful library and, in 2015, a state of the art Technology Block was added with dedicated classrooms for Art, DT and ICT. Plans are underway for the future construction of a Sports Hall to enhance the facilities further.
Our pupil numbers have grown from 168 in 1998 to just under 400 today. We are proud of our history and the enormous success the School has achieved in such a short space of time and look forward to an equally successful future.