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Wide range of academic ability. As one parent put it, ‘There are less intellectually confident girls here who are nurtured, but there are also some very clever girls, whose parents have chosen the school because it is Catholic.’  One mother commented, ‘At parents’ evening, the teachers always highlight the girls’ strengths and are keen to build on these, rather than just dwelling on what they can’t do. It boosts the girls’ confidence.’ Creative and performing arts at the heart of the school. Deserves its artistic reputation and currently boasts…

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What the school says...

More House School is a Catholic Foundation which welcomes girls of all faiths. With the benefits of small classes, the particular talents of every girl are nurtured and developed by dedicated teachers. We are proud of the consistent successes of our pupils in GCSE and A Level examinations. A full programme of physical education is part of every girl's curriculum. Good athletes have been chosen to represent the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in the London mini-marathon and there is a sports day each year. Clubs include: art, choirs, orchestra, photography, fencing, drama..... Girls become involved in Duke of Edinburgh Award, World Challenge, Choir Tour, Drama Production, Operas..... ...Read more

What the parents say...

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What The Good Schools Guide says

Headmistress

Since 2014, Amanda Leach, previously deputy head here for eight years. BSc in sports science from Liverpool and PGCE from Exeter. Has taught at Cranbrook School, Kent, and Uffculme School in Devon. Spent a year teaching EFL in Rome. Joined More House in 1998 as a science teacher, and has also taught ICT and PE here. ‘Why would I want to leave here? I love it so much,’ she enthuses. Married with two daughters; husband is director of sport at Bedales. ‘I love being outdoors with my family. My kids are into gymnastics. We are not allowed to sit still for very long at home!’ Described by one parent as being ‘approachable and down to earth, though we don’t see much of her.’ Another said, ‘I love Mrs Leach. She is breathing new life into the place. She has lots of energy and is a total delight.’ Enthusiastic, effervescent and warm. Can be seen cycling to school from Putney every morning and girls wave to her along the Kings Road as she races past. A breath of fresh air.

Academic matters

Wide range of academic ability. As one parent put it, ‘There are less intellectually confident girls here who are nurtured, but there are also some very clever girls, whose parents have chosen the school because it is Catholic.’ Core subjects taken in year 7 alongside Latin, history of art, dance, music and drama. All girls take two modern foreign languages and those that are bilingual can take that GCSE early. Maths, science and modern languages taught in ability sets. Religious studies compulsory for GCSE and many choose to continue with it at A level. Head favours the philosophy and ethics course as it ‘encourages girls to question their spirituality.’ Pupils take eight to 11 GCSEs. Thirty-one per cent A*-A/9-7 in 2017.

French currently popular at A level, though subjects wax and wane, depending upon the cohort. School happy to have only one or two pupils taking a subject at A level and class sizes seldom above four. Polish, Russian and Arabic all fell into this category recently, with no take up for physics or chemistry. Timetable built around what girls want to do and school tries to be flexible in terms of what it offers. Twenty-six different subjects currently taught at A level. In 2017, 34 per cent A*/B and 26 per cent A*/A grades. Extended Project Qualification taken by lower sixth. No plans for Pre-U or IB due to school’s size.

Head has tightened up on academic rigour, making some significant changes since her appointment. Templates now printed in exercise books to ensure that feedback from teachers is detailed and effective and that there is constant dialogue between staff and pupils. School is also getting better at monitoring girls, with assessment points five times a year to ensure those not making enough progress are quickly identified. Colour-coded boards in staff room help teachers to see when a pupil is falling behind in subjects other than their own and gives a more holistic view of each girl’s overall progress. Staff appraisals take place more regularly and twilight sessions help ensure staff members are on board with changes being implemented.

Excellent provision for girls with specific learning difficulties. The department comprises a full-time SENCo, speech and language therapist and a part-time ESOL teacher. EAL girls have extra English support until it is up to scratch. School can support girls with dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia; currently one or two per year group have quite severe difficulties. Currently two girls with Asperger’s. About 25-30 girls currently receiving one-to-one support, with others having help with maths and English in small booster groups. Some girls stop support lessons around year 9 and then come back to having support nearer to GCSEs. ‘It is flexible. Girls can dip in and out, depending upon their need.’ All subjects offer weekly intervention classes for year 11 and above, from October through to start of exams. One parent feels that ‘girls have to flag up their need for support themselves, but once the school is aware of it, provision is made pretty quickly’.

Gifted and talented programme for the brightest pupils. ‘The top end is identified within three or four weeks of being here. A learning mentor then sits down with them and asks them whether they are being challenged in each subject. We listen to them’. Extension work might include Italian classes for able linguists. School explains, ‘It’s not just a case of giving them an extra worksheet. It’s more undercover than that, but we know who has a special talent or ability. We take notice, but they don’t feel pressurised.’ Scholars and gifted pupils are invited to join More’s Household, which offers lunchtime talks, given by internal and external speakers. Girls here regularly enter and win external prizes, such as national poetry and storytelling competitions. One girl recently made the finals of The Big Bang UK Young Scientists Fair.

Games, options, the arts

Creative and performing arts at the heart of the school. Deserves its artistic reputation and currently boasts a textiles specialist, a painter and a mixed-media artist. Head believes that the art department is good at seeing where a girl’s artistic talents lie and then giving her the opportunity to develop her interests whether in clay, textiles or fine art. Weekly, after-school life-drawing classes put on for sixth formers. Numerous visits arranged to London galleries.

Three-quarters of girls have individual music lessons. All year 7 girls play an instrument (brass, string or woodwind), bought through PTA fundraising. Strong choral tradition. All year 7 and 8 girls are in a choir. Optional thereafter. In the last choral concert, 130 girls sang alongside staff, parents and alumnae. Annual international music tour. On a recent choir tour of Rome, girls performed with papal choir in St Peter’s in front of Pope and 75,000 spectators. All musical tastes and talents catered for, from chamber choirs to karaoke and geek club, which involves hand-bell ringing for the Christmas concert. ‘The music is exceptional. All-inclusive. You don’t have to be talented in order to be allowed to perform,’ according to one parent.

Drama is another strength of the school. Sold-out drama productions of As You Like It and Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Biannual play and musical which run on a carousel system. Musical is staged in a professional theatre. If a smaller production is put on one year then a junior production is also staged so that as many girls as possible can perform. ‘Everyone is given a chance,’ and certainly no shortage of opportunities for those who want to be in the spotlight.

‘PE is being taken much more seriously than in the past,’ according to one delighted parent, and sports department is well led. New PE kit has made a world of difference and hoodies without pockets mean that girls are more likely to catch the rounders ball. Practice takes place all over London, including the climbing wall at Imperial College, athletics in Battersea Park, swimming at St Mary’s, Paddington and tennis in Cadogan Gardens. For the first three years, all girls participate in netball, rounders, hockey, athletics and dance as well as a healthy active lifestyle programme. Years 10-11 may also do circuit training, fitness classes, spinning and climbing and sixth form takes part in boot camp. Two girls recently selected to represent borough in London Youth Games netball team. Annual sportswomen’s dinner in summer term celebrates athletic achievement. Teachers run the London marathon and raise significant amounts for charity in the process. ‘The great thing about sport at More House is that everyone participates,’ commented one parent. As head explains, ‘We are competing against bigger schools. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, but all girls get the chance to play in a team.’

Plenty of early morning and lunch time clubs, such as a thriving debating club, as well as play-dough modelling and knitting for those who prefer something more sedate. ‘We want the girls to keep their childhood as long as possible. We also offer flower pressing. We don’t want girls to bypass that lovely age,’ says head. Touch-typing compulsory for all in year 7. Confirmation preparation also offered. Most clubs are run by sixth formers and year 11 girls; some are run by professionals. Enviable overseas trips to Europe as well as ski-ing in America. Year 8 trip to France is a particular highlight, involving canoeing and camping overnight. Those that cannot afford the trips are subsidised, and alternative trips are also organised in London. ‘Always lots going on here. That’s why I am such a fan of the school,’ said one satisfied parent.

Background and atmosphere

Founded in 1953 by canonesses of St Augustine at the request of a group of parents who wanted to send their daughters to a Catholic London day school. Since 1971, the school has been under lay management. Named after Sir Thomas More, the Tudor theologian.

In the heart of Knightsbridge, though not as glamorous as its location might suggest. Described by one parent as being ‘essentially two houses in Pont Street with minimal outside space. Pretty scruffy and quite dark.’ Much of the school (apart from the head’s office and communal areas) was looking distinctly tired when we visited, but all has been transformed: classrooms ripped out, new furniture installed and redecorating throughout. One delighted mother told us, ‘Mrs Leach has ‘been busy tidying up the place, decorating where it was needed and making it more aesthetically pleasing.’

Head is determined that the school should ‘not be a pressure cooker. We’re not waiting for that top to blow off.’ This is a very nurturing environment in which girls are constantly encouraged. One mother commented, ‘At parents’ evening, the teachers always highlight the girls’ strengths and are keen to build on these, rather than just dwelling on what they can’t do. It boosts the girls’ confidence.’ Very small classes which do not change from year 7 to GCSEs. ‘That’s my one gripe about the school. It would be good for everybody if the classes were mixed up regularly,’ said one mother. Almost all classes have no more than 16 girls up till GCSE. Sixth form classes range from one pupil to 10 (but mostly much fewer). Family feel to school and all age groups mix well together, partly due to flourishing house system.

Pastoral care, well-being and discipline

Catholic heritage and ethos strong, with many crucifixes on display around the school. Currently 40 per cent Catholic, though there are girls of all faiths and none. School has its own chapel and the chaplain takes mass once a week. ‘Catholicism is quite a big deal here,’ said one parent. ‘We get the balance right between Catholic and non-Catholic,’ believes head. ‘It’s part of our foundation, to respect each other and to be kind. I’m not a Catholic, though I went to a convent school and then on to a missionary school, so faith is very much part of me.’ Spiritual growth fostered here. Girls also raise decent sums for charity and this is seen an important part of their education.

Parents cite the pastoral care as being a main strength of the school, and those we spoke to felt that issues were dealt with efficiently and effectively. Head is keen that girls should develop a sense of perspective, and frequently reminds them that ‘It’s not failure you should worry about. It’s how you pick yourselves up. I don’t paint a perfect image of myself. We all have ups and downs. It’s my duty to help the girls through their difficulties.’ Head stands at the door each morning as the girls file past. She can usually spot when something is amiss with a pupil. Girls know they can, and do, knock on her door any time. Layers of support in place, including tutors, and all ‘minis’ (year 7s) have a ‘big sister’ in sixth form. Because it is such a small school, eating disorders and emotional difficulties are spotted quickly. Hard for pupils to hide under the radar here.

Excellent relationships between staff and pupils. Girls see their teachers as approachable. As one parent put it, ‘The teachers know the girls so well, that’s the beauty of a small school.’ Occasional short-term suspensions for rudeness to a member of staff but head is not overly quick to punish girls. ‘If a girl has messed up, she’s going to get an earful from her parents. I tend to ask them what they’d do differently next time.’ Saturday detentions recently introduced for persistent offenders.

Pupils and parents

Roughly 70 per cent British. International contingent from all over, including Spain, France, China, Russia, America and Middle East. ‘A mixed bag. Some with lots of money, who are driven in and out by chauffeurs, and others who are struggling. Quite diverse, with a good percentage of different cultures,’ according to one mother. Girls travel from all over London.

Parents mostly professional. ‘I don’t think I have the most demanding parents in London. That’s a reflection of the girls who are here. These parents want the best for their daughters. They are not idealistic in terms of what their daughters are capable of. They are realistic and know we’re going to do the best job we can for them’, explains head. Parents feel the communication is good: ‘We are kept fully informed, both with the good and bad. We are kept in the loop.’

Entrance

One open day only but private tours given by head throughout year. Part of North London Consortium with exams in English and maths. Prospective pupils spend a half day at More House in the autumn of year 6, which involves an interview with head and sample lessons. From 2019, the process will consist of a one hour cognitive ability test (rather than maths and English exams) with great emphasis on the interview. This is pivotal in many ways. Head always tells girls that they will be able to answer all the questions as they are about themselves, so no need to be nervous. Increasing numbers of applicants every year but lists are closed once 150 have registered. Normally 32 places available (two forms of 16) though some bulge years of 48 (three forms). Girls are either offered a definite place or put on the wait-list. Very few turned down completely and when they are it is ‘because they are not More House material as they are off the scale at either end. I can’t support the very lowest ability or very highest ability, given the cohort I’ve got. I don’t want one girl on her own at the top. If a girl can’t be challenged intellectually by peers here, she’s better off elsewhere. It would be great for my results to take them on, but I won’t do it,’ explains head. Occasional vacancies further up the school are filled quickly. Three or four join in sixth form. Head says she is looking for potential as much as performance at each stage. ‘I want to find the golden nugget that’s hidden somewhere in a girl. I want to watch them blossom.’

Exit

About 60 per cent stay on for sixth form. ‘The ones who leave are those who are too cool for school. I’d rather have the ones who want to be here,’ explains head. Some depart for co-ed establishments or go to local sixth form colleges. Post A level, many go to art college. Others head to universities all over: one to Canada, one to Madrid and one to Central St Martins in 2017. One parent felt the school ‘isn’t striving to get everyone into university. That’s not what they are about. They try to support the girl in finding out what is best for them.’ Even if a girl is deemed to be Oxbridge material, there is no pressure on her to apply if it’s not the right course for her. Usually one girl to Oxbridge every couple of years though none recently. School is now focusing on more careers advice for girls and is aware that it should tap into the expertise of its alumnae more.

Money matters

School offers a number of academic scholarships and exhibitions as well as creative and performing arts scholarships to year 7 and lower sixth. Entry bursaries for those starting the school in year 7, as well as special governors’ bursaries offered in response to a particular set of circumstances, and come with provisions attached. Normally only awarded to girls who are already at the school and in examination years. Five per cent off school fees for eldest daughter when there are three or more sisters attending school at same time.

Our view

If your daughter needs a large, competitive school with plenty of space, this is probably not the place for her. But, as one satisfied customer put it, ‘If you’re after an all girls Catholic school in central London, this is a great choice. It’s not for everyone, but if your daughter wants a small, happy and supportive school, this couldn’t be better. If I had my time over, I’d send my daughter here again like a shot’. Head is aware that many parents do not know about More House yet, but that ‘word is getting out as we’re getting better and better.’ The way things are moving, this school is not going to remain a secret for much longer.

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Special Education Needs

Learning support is provided on an individual basis, both in and out of class. However, tuition in classes of approximately twenty girls ensures a great deal of support. Girls who have had dyslexia, or dyspraxia, have confidently gone on to university. We have an excellent support network based around the Form Tutor and our Personal, Social and Health programme

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
Dyscalculia
Dysgraphia
Dyslexia
Dyspraxia
English as an additional language (EAL)
Genetic
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class
HI - Hearing Impairment
Hospital School
Mental health
MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty
MSI - Multi-Sensory Impairment
Natspec Specialist Colleges
OTH - Other Difficulty/Disability
Other SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
PD - Physical Disability
PMLD - Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulty
SEMH - Social, Emotional and Mental Health
SLCN - Speech, Language and Communication
SLD - Severe Learning Difficulty
Special facilities for Visually Impaired
SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
VI - Visual Impairment

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