Independent Pupils: 150 Ages: 4 – 11
C of E Fees: £3128 - £4181
Headteacher: Since 2015, Sally Ralph BEd (hons) fifties, educated at a Gloucestershire grammar where she was head girl, followed by University in Bath. Mrs Ralph moved to London in the 1990s, teaching at Feltonfleet and Rowan Prep before becoming head of St David’s in Ashford. She has now taken up the headship of the boys’ preparatory school after five years as acting head and deputy head of both the girls and boys junior schools. An appointment much approved of by parents, pupils and colleagues who tell us she is a gifted mathematics teacher as well as a dynamic leader of young men. She remains active in the classroom working with all age groups on a weekly basis and as the maths specialist. She has a passion for gymnastics and has had a liaison role between School and the British Gymnastics Association. A keen follower of many sports, who enjoys reading and trips to the theatre, she has two grown-up children, one of whom works in the finance department at Surbiton High.
Entrance: At 4+ informal assessment days are held in November each year for 44 reception places. For occasional places in other age groups, contact the admissions office.
Exit: At 11+ boys are very successful with around fifty percent annually gaining academic, music, drama and sports scholarships. Most go to local day schools Hampton, Kingston Grammar, Reeds, Royal Grammar Guildford and KCS Wimbledon. A few to Tiffin and other Surrey grammars, with the odd one to boarding school.
Remarks: A growing reputation for inspirational teaching. In the early years, pupils are taught mostly by their class teachers, subject specialist teachers for modern foreign languages, sports and music throughout the school. Class sizes are between 18 and 22, each one has team teachers so boys can be taught in ability groups. Year three upwards sees the introduction of specialist teachers for all subjects. Mathematics continues to strengthen across the age groups. The curriculum is developed and updated on a continuous basis, lots of themed projects run to link subjects together. “Did you know you share fifty percent of your genes with bananas?” remarked one little lad who was busy making a DNA model in the science and art room. English and drama are embedded across the curriculum, spending the day as a Tudor child provides the stimulus for all sorts of history, arts and literacy activities. The school is noted for being particularly good at helping children develop listening and speaking skills. Enthusiastic speakers read and write their own poetry, others join the debating club or the school council. French from reception, later on Spanish and Mandarin are added, delivered by The Dragons of Europe boys work towards CE level 1. Popular annual event is the French musical breakfast, parents enjoy the choir while year six don bow ties and act as waiters serving coffee and croissants. Classrooms and corridors are bursting with displays of both academic and artistic work demonstrating there is plenty of imaginative teaching going on. All subject knowledge is broadened through the use of the latest technology. Year three upwards all have their own iPad while younger boys can access school iPads. Focus groups, Friday drop ins and maths clinics are available to all pupils wanting to catch up or extend their work. Learning support staff are on hand to assist with a variety of mild SpLDs, touch typing is delivered through a club, and EAL is arranged as required. There are lunchtime clubs, academic, creative and active to choose from, breakfast club opens at 7:30 AM and an after-school club, which working parents find very useful.
With the acquisition of additional premises adjacent to the main school the boys’ prep is in the first phase of a long-awaited expansion. The school now has space for two classes in each year group. Reception, years one and two are based at the newly acquired and refurbished Charles Burney House, years three to six remain at the original site in Elmers Avenue. Both buildings are large Victorian houses with small but well-equipped playgrounds. Boys benefit from a fabulous 39 acres of sports grounds in nearby Hinchley Wood which includes tennis/netball courts, all weather hockey pitch, rugby/football pitches and a pavilion. Adjacent to the sports ground in is a lovely wooded area which allows numerous opportunities for adventure and learning outside the classroom from pond dipping, observing wildlife in their natural habitats and family camping weekends. Sport is a great strength throughout the three schools. The physical education programme covers skills and techniques required for basketball, hockey, gymnastics, athletics and tennis. The main school sports are football, rugby and cricket. An extensive fixture list ensures all boys get the opportunity to represent the school in competitive matches. PE display cupboard shelves are teeming with awards and trophies.
Music continues to be high profile, the school arranges visiting instrumentalists and tuition for any instrument is available. In year three, everyone gets the opportunity to learn a string instrument, the following year a brass instrument. Lovely music room brimming with instruments, boys have an impressive choice of choirs and ensembles to join. All the boys get the opportunity each year to be in musical and dramatic productions and assemblies.
Parents feel older boys are well prepared for 11+ exams and looked after all round and in a calm and sensible way. Each boy is allocated to a mentor to help with practice interviews and any queries. Mrs Ralph guides parents through the process of choosing the right senior school for their son. Parents are unanimous in commenting on the success at 11+, is due to how well the school manages everyone’s expectations.
A child orientated school full of learning opportunities, where cheerful and articulate boys are also allowed to have fun and encouraged to be kind and thoughtful. The school is a member of the United Learning, which offers single sex education with coeducational openings as the boys and girls preparatory schools often link together.