We didn't chose Marmalade Cat as we were only offered an afternoon place, but I really liked the nursery. No info on École du Parc.
I can comment on the "feeder"aspect though (there are 2 nurseries in the area that have the reputation of "feeder" nurseries to Thomas' and Broomwood).
Both the schools you mention have assessments (hard to know what happens in the assessments, but I don’t think they check for anything “academic”, I think they check that the children are school-ready i.e. they can pay attention, interact with teachers and other children, etc).
Having been through the process, I think:
- the “feeder” nurseries do not do much to prep the children for the assessments (it would be really difficult to, anyways, at that age), although there is a lot of talk between the parents and the nursery teachers about future schools
- “feeder” nurseries have very close links with the schools, however I don’t think they have any input into who receives an initial offer or a rejection (and if you are rejected, there is nothing that the nursery can do)
- however, if you are on the waitlist (I think Broomwood puts a lot of children on the waitlist), it can be very useful to be in a “feeder” nursery, as the head teacher from the nursery can be in touch with the school about how your chances are progressing (you will do the same, of course)
- you mention your LO is bilingual, for the assessment you need to make sure he/she can communicate well in English, as I don’t think either of the 2 schools expect less at the assessment from bilingual children (I got the feeling that at Newton prep, on the other hand, they do expect less English from bilingual children)
So in summary, going to a feeder school isn’t a guarantee that you will get into those 2 schools, but it can improve your chances (especially if you find yourself on the waitlist).
I do think you are right to think about schools now and chose a nursery with that in mind.
But bear in mind that getting a place in reception at a selective school is a bit of a lottery (a lot depends on your LO’s mood on the day of the assessment), so you need to:
- keep an open mind
- definitely have a back-up option that is not selective and that you’d be happy to take
- make sure that the school you want is actually a good match for your child (you will get a feeling)