Polam School
Catchment Area, Reviews and Key Information

2 - 7
Other independent school

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Independent preparatory schools do not have to follow the National Curriculum or submit test results to the Department for Education so there is no individual school performance data or star rating.

Visit the school's website to learn more about their unique curriculum, policies on testing and common leaver destinations (a good indicator of pupil progress). See our About page for information on Choosing A Prep School.

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Leaver Destinations


School Video

School Prospectus

45 Lansdowne Road
MK40 2BU
01234 261864

See News and Open Days from Polam School

School Description

Polam School is a small independent pre-preparatory school located on a quiet Victorian avenue in the heart of the established market town of Bedford. Polam was crowned Independent Pre-prep of the Year in the 2021 Independent Schools of the Year awards, commended specifically for their outstanding commitment to pupil wellbeing and for their innovative immersive learning programme. Founded in 1923, the school remained a family concern until it was bought by Cognita and merged with a similar sized pre-preparatory school in 2008. The school now occupies two large Victorian houses, which have been significantly extended to provide some impressive facilities for a school of its size, including a large gymnasium and indoor swimming pool. The setting receives early years funding. The school provides education and care for children aged from two to seven years. The school believes that the opportunities offered to children during their formative years are critical for the future development of the child and provides a safe, nurturing, home from home learning environment in a small setting. Class sizes are small and adult to child ratios are high. The school provides wrap-around care for children from 7.30 am to 6.00 pm in term time through its breakfast clubs and after-school clubs. It also offers holiday clubs for all children in the School and the Nursery between 8.00 am and 6.00 pm for approximately fourteen weeks a year. The holiday club is also a popular choice for parents whose children do not attend the school. There is a diverse mix of ethnicity within the school. The school aims to teach children within a culture of high expectation and challenge, enabling them to achieve their best, and help them to be good choosers, skilful problem solvers and powerful learners. It aims to give them the confidence to question and to search for answers, to understand that without mistakes they do not learn and so encourage them to take risks. It aims to build the skills, knowledge and understanding required for making sense of the world around them, to learn to work collaboratively as well as independently, and to be caring and respectful of those around them. It aims to help them to recognise that learning is lifelong, but most importantly to enjoy learning.

Polam School Parent Reviews

Average Parent Rating

“Part of the school family”

My daughter loves going to school and we feel part of the school family. Polam is a small school where we all know each other, even other classes teachers.
“Polam will forever be on our hearts.”

We would like to thank you as a team, for all the work you have put into helping us raise such amazing young men. Polam will forever be on our hearts.
“A wonderful little school”

Polam is a wonderful little school and even though my daughter was only there for a year we are thrilled not only with how much she has come on academically but also in terms of her confidence levels. I will definitely recommend the school to others.
“Wonderful school, with a friendly atmosphere”

Our son loved his time at Polam School, and was sad when he had to move on. It is such a wonderful school, with a friendly atmosphere. He loved going to school, unlike his previous school where he was bored, as he was not being challenged enough. Polam's wonderful teaching staff helped our son greatly and prepared him for the entrance exams for the local Harpur Trust schools, where he passed both. Sending him to Polam was the best decision we could have made.
“The magic of education”

Our son has learnt ‘the magic of education’ through the school’s engaging ways to learn and the staff’s enthusiasm….You took a child who was disillusioned and uninterested in learning and in one term made him hungry to learn and happy to do homework – an exceptional skill!
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News, Photos and Open Days from Polam School

Last update: 12 March 2023


We warmly welcome prospective parents to come and visit us for a private tour with our Headteacher or Nursery Manager, to see for yourself what a special little school Polam is during a normal school day. 

Visit Us


Set in the heart of Bedford, Polam School is an independent pre-preparatory school with an outstanding nursery, that offers children from the age of 2 to 7 years a home from home environment in which to begin their educational journey.

Our curriculum goes way beyond national expectations, with music, languages, art, swimming and IT all introduced in small groups from an early age.

We are delighted to have been crowned winner of Independent Pre-Prep of the Year in 2021, being commended in particular for our outstanding commitment to pupil wellbeing and our innovative immersive learning programme. 

We look forward to talking to you about your child's educational future our small school with BIG ambitions!

Discover more

Children can join Polam's Nursery from the age of 2 to 4 years. We have small baby and toddler rooms to provide the perfect environment in which to gently prepare your child for school life whilst receiving personal attention at all times. We offer a well-equipped, comfortable setting that is fully integrated into our pre-preparatory school, allowing children to benefit for the full range of facilities and specialist teaching available at Polam School. 

Our Nursery and Pre-school have been judged 'outstanding' in all areas for the past three inspections. We are the only Early Years provider in Bedford to have been  awarded Millies' Mark. This is the gold standard in paediatric first aid. This acts as an indicator that the nursery goes above and beyond to keep all of our children safe. 

More about our nursery



We teach our children: 

to be good choosers, skilful problem solvers and powerful learners

to have the confidence to question and to search for answers

to understand that without mistakes we don’t learn and so encourage them to take risks

the skills, knowledge and understanding required for making sense of the world around them

 to work collaboratively as well as independently

to be caring and respectful of those around them

to recognise that learning is lifelong

to enjoy learning

Visit our website
Meet the Head: Darren O’Neil

Darren O’Neil has been working in education for 14 years. Starting as a Key Stage 1 teacher he soon took on the role of ICT lead coordinator, a keen interest of his. After several years as part of the extended leadership team, Darren moved to Polam school as part of the senior leadership and Year 1 teacher. Darren shortly took on the role of Deputy Head at Polam, before then accepting the position of Headteacher in September 2020.

Who/what inspired you to become a teacher?

Like many teenagers, I had no idea what career I wanted to pursue as an adult. During work experience at the age of 16 we were offered the opportunity to choose our own placement from a list of local businesses. I chose an infant school purely based on the fact that I used to attend the same school as a child. Seeing the passion from the staff, watching the children learn new things and knowing that every day would be different made me confident that a career in education was for me.

I went through an Infant – Junior – Secondary school system. I recall several teachers who inspired me to be the educator I am today. Mr East, my year 4 teacher, had a brilliant sense of humour. Mr Carter and Mr Hand, my Year 11 Graphic Design teachers, both cool, calm and collected about everything with excellent specialist teaching. Alongside working with inspiring adults there are many teaching moments I had as a child that made me aspire to do the same for future generations.

What achievement are you most proud of as Head?

Although I have recently started the journey of Headship, having just one year under my belt, Polam Pre-Preparatory School and Nursery was recently awarded a prestigious ‘Pre-Prep of the

Year Award’ through the Independent School Parent body. I think this achievement is going to remain my proudest moment for a good number of years. Polam was specifically noted for the commitment to wellbeing and safeguarding young children, and an innovative project on immersive learning spaces. I am most proud of the whole team contributions to all of the things that enable our little school to have a big impact.

What does a successful school look like to you?

A successful school is one where children take the center stage. Every decision, every implementation, every change, etc. All of these things should be undertaken with the pupils in mind. It’s all too easy to become focused on the bureaucracy and for things to become just a ticking exercise rather than contributing to student learning and development. Schools that provide opportunities for children to explore, be curious and learn with a purpose will always be successful. A culture of understanding that it is impossible to plan for everything and it is just as important to seize learning opportunities in the moment.

I recall a time teaching 3D shapes using the interactive whiteboard when a spider began descending on it’s web just in front of the board, casting it’s shadow over the shapes. For a second it was chaos – As a class we seized the moment and it spiraled into a whole morning of learning from researching and finding a new habitat for this creature to creating mini-beast shadow puppets on our board. We wrote about our fears and strategies to overcome them. We’d long forgotten about the 3D shapes – we could come back to those.

What is the most important quality you want every child to have when they leave your school? And why?


If you can encourage a love of learning from a young age, and teach them the skills to learn and enjoy what they are doing, it gives a really good foundation for the rest of their education. At Polam we emphasise the importance of reading. Early reading sparks creativity, imagination and curiosity. It improves language, communication and social skills. Children develop confidence, independence and achieve more in other subjects. Enabling opportunities for children to be engaged and enthusiastic about reading from an early age will give them many transferable skills that will benefit them throughout their time in education.

Please give 5 words to describe the ethos of your school.

Small school with BIG ambitions!

Polam School Catchment Area Map

This school is independently managed and its admission criteria may be selective. There is no set catchment area as pupils are admitted from a wide variety of postcodes and, in the case of boarding schools, from outside the UK. Contact the school directly or visit their website for more information on Admissions Policy and Procedures.