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Every other parent describes the school community as ‘international’ but the principal says this is more perception than actuality. Parent volunteers do everything and anything from weekend hospitality for the science lab chicks to designing the logos for the houses to being part of the eco committee growing and harvesting crops in the school garden.  Every class has a STEM lesson once a week and there's a new engineering after-school club. Parents say: ‘Reading in the…

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What the school says...

We believe that how a child learns is as important as what a child learns. Parsons Green Prep is an independent day school in London offering a contemporary education for 200 boys and girls from 4 to 11 years of age. The beautiful buildings and playgrounds have been carefully designed, over time, to facilitate successful learning, friendships and a strong sense of school community. Our inspiring team of staff delivers positive, well-planned lessons and encourages children to learn, stretch and achieve both academically and pastorally. At PGP, we begin from our youngest classes to systematically and gradually equip our children as they progress through the school with the tools they will need to gain entry into competitive senior schools. ...Read more

What the parents say...

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What The Good Schools Guide says

Headteacher

Tim Cannell MA BEd (50s), previously the head at the Prebendal School in West Sussex, is covering Helen Stavert’s maternity leave and will take on the role permanently if Helen does not return to school. Educated at Chigwell School and Davies College, followed by Winchester (formerly known as King Alfred’s College). Read theology and has a masters degree in education management. Taught maths and RS in several prep schools - Bialla International School, Papua New Guinea, and Eagle House and Moor Park in the UK - where he was variously day master, housemaster and director of studies. A keen cricketer, he also enjoys playing squash and listening to music. Member of IAPS and CSA; has two grown-up children, both Cambridge graduates.

Head since 2014, and currently on maternity leave, Helen Stavert BEd. Year 6 class teacher and numeracy co-ordinator at the school since 2011 and deputy head for two years prior to her appointment as head. Previously head of year 6 at The International School in Marbella and before that taught at a state school in Gloucestershire. Originally from the Cotswolds (did her degree at University of Gloucestershire in Cheltenham), she lives in Putney and unwinds on long walks with her dog and by practising yoga.

Now in her 30s, but easily passing for younger, she took over the headship following the departure of her predecessor after a year – liked by parents but she didn’t feel she was the right fit. Some natural angst at the change amongst some parents, but those who have experienced Miss Stavert as a class teacher spread the word, saying to us, ‘I believe she will thrive’ and ‘she is respected, committed to the school, approachable and caring about the children as individuals.’ She continued to teach year 6 in the mornings.

Mrs Lucinda Waring (40s) is the founding principal (since 2001) and majority shareholder. Originally trained at St Nicholas’ Montessori College in Knightsbridge, she founded her first nurseries at the age of 26. Naturally inspiring some envy amongst her high-flying parent body, she aims to remain firmly ‘back office’ but has stepped up recently to aid the transition of the new head. The school is very much her vision – to create a school where children could thrive without undue pressure; she is on top of every detail and the children know and greet her throughout the school. She is married with one child.

Entrance

Parents can register from birth (£150 registration fee). Once on the waiting list, entrance into reception via pre-entry checks, including a full academic report from current educational setting. Entry into year 1 upwards by school report and morning activity session. Easy-going families preferred. Sibling policy: 10 per cent off for siblings.

The maximum number entering reception is 44, with almost twice this number on the current waiting list. Pupils enter from Fulham nurseries in the main. Occasional places in year 1 upwards (with references and assessment). A deposit of £2,000 per family to secure the place.

Exit

Preparations for exit at 11 plus are thorough and commence from year 4. Perhaps there is little the school can do to alleviate the inevitable pressure parents and children feel, but one parent said, ‘Children need to be confident enough to be able to think: yes, I can do it! That’s what this school gives them’. Staff insist they will speak up in the face of ambitious parents to try and ensure that children will move on to schools where they will above all be happy. Recent destinations range from St Paul’s Girls’ School, Godolphin & Latymer, City of London Boys’, Dulwich College and King’s College Wimbledon to More House, Portland Place, Arts Educational and Lady Margaret.

Our view

The school has undergone a name change, becoming Parsons Green Prep (previously Eridge House). Despite the marketing-friendly name change, and ambitious air of the principal, there are no plans to expand the school: 200 pupils would be the absolute maximum.

The school was founded in 2001 in a formerly derelict Victorian villa in an enviable location and with that rare thing, some outside space behind a high garden wall, offering privacy and enough room to run around. The original building was restored and modern additions blended, offering new classrooms and the large assembly hall used for everything from staging productions to PE. The end result is a smart blend of light, modern-seeming classrooms large and small, wide enough corridors with spick and span displays and lots of stairs. Come August and with class sizes finalised, the staff may be busily swapping rooms so that each class is accommodated in the best possible space.

The playground is Astroturfed throughout, with just enough room for football, tennis and netball, and a good in and out space for the early years, with wooden play equipment and smaller quiet area with outdoor chess tables. Very physical older children may need more space, not that it will be easy to find in central London. The stockpile of micro-scooters racked on the playground walls points to pupils mostly living nearby.

The school sets out to provide a creative curriculum, but is well ahead of the curve at primary level in putting STEM subjects at the heart of the maths curriculum, following three years of careful training and planning. Every class has a STEM lesson once a week and there's a new engineering after-school club.

Parents say: ‘Reading in the early years is extremely well taught’. Maths and English are taught in small ability groups. One of the numeracy tools has been effectively adopted from Montessori methods. The Mac suite has been upgraded and there is improved wireless technology around the school. Years 5 and 6 have their own individual android tablets with keyboards.

We were impressed by the individual targets on each child’s work in every lesson. Teaching aims to take pupils from their learning comfort zone, where they might be engaged but not excited, to their learning challenge zone where they are encouraged to take risks. The school is currently increasing its expertise in stretching the able, gifted and talented. We found children eager to talk to us in every classroom we visited, either explaining clearly what they were working on, or coming unprompted to share their work.

Parents praise cross-curricular topic work, saying ‘subjects are really brought to life’, such as the year 6 challenge to design a theme park, using mathematical knowledge to design the rides and calculate their profits, whilst utilising art and creative writing to design the posters. Humanities teaching seems fun, too: we observed Horrible Histories style hygiene tips for the Tudors, whilst philosophy for children inspires pupils to interrogate the world around them. Science day saw staff joined by a team from the Science Museum – children made gigantic bubbles, launched rockets and made goop.

French is taught weekly throughout the school with a specialist French programme, which continues after school, for those children who are already fluent French speakers. The occasional pupil exits to the Lycée.

Two assemblies per week. Christmas concert not a carol service. When we visited in October, they were looking forward to going crazy on Christmas decorations.

A third of the 36 staff has been at the school for more than 10 years. We have rarely heard so much praise for teaching assistants: in the main extremely youthful, so they have sufficient energy to keep up with their charges. ‘Right people in the right places,’ says principal and ‘no staff who get stale’. Parents say: ‘often young and enthusiastic about teaching’; 'lovely teachers allow children to be children’; ‘willing to try a multitude of different ways to captivate children’. Teachers feel looked after by the school and are part of a very thorough programme of ongoing training. They describe themselves as ‘creative, motivated and committed.’

Teachers are addressed (by everyone – parents, other staff) as Miss or Mr plus first name, so Miss Lucinda or Miss Helen, which we found a bit Beatrix Potter-ish, but the principal says, correctly, ‘it’s friendlier for the children’.

Most parents are content with ‘sensible homework’, none during school holidays until key stage 2, and there is a dedicated homework session at school. Children are deliberately not over-loaded. Trips could be to the local community supermarket or fire station, but also make the most of London from Fulham football club on the doorstep to Pudding Lane. From year 3 residential trips begin with camping and a French day trip.

Seven per cent of pupils have EAL needs. The school seems to have fewer than average number of children with learning differences, but a SENCo in place to ensure their needs are met.

Parents universally describe children who love going to school and ‘can’t wait to get in at the gate’. We can report beaming smiles and diligent application in every class we visited, and parents agree, describing the school as ‘a happy place to learn’; ‘intimate, caring, quietly competitive’ and ‘children do not feel any pressure at all and yet are making good progress’.

Some gripes about sport persist: ‘No way near enough sport,’ said one parent and another added, ‘Not enough boys in year 3 to field a football team’. However, sport is evolving: now offers tennis throughout the year with new tennis coaches, and a coach from Chelsea FC runs three after-school clubs each week. Year 2 upwards play football, tag rugby, cricket, netball, rounders and have weekly swimming lessons. The school has recently joined the Independent Schools Association, which means more sporting competitions. The usual summer sports day and swimming gala. The upper school makes use of Hurlingham Park. Keen sports players had better be early risers as squad practice takes place before school most days.

Children are taught guitar, piano, violin and now drum lessons - singing and guitar most popular. There's an orchestra and a choir.

‘The summer performance is always excellent,’ said a parent. Most recently A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Wind in the Willows. ‘Would like more drama opportunities,’ said another. A few entries for the LAMDA drama exams with several distinctions.

Chess is huge here, deliberately encouraged to develop logical thinking. Greatly improved clubs, say parents. Those now on offer pre- and post-school or at lunchtime encompass the fun and fashionable, including photography, fencing, orchestra, Mandarin, soccer, chess, baking, sewing, ukulele, running and study skills. Hot lunches and after-school clubs cost extra.

The school is very clear about the standards expected of the children, and parents see pastoral care as a real strength of the school: ‘My child had been unhappy at a different school, but has thrived here’; ‘I really like the atmosphere: it is very caring but with high standards of behaviour’; ‘bullying isn’t tolerated and the staff has been quick to act’ and ‘not much gets by the staff’. The new buddy benches in the playground have been a big hit, too.

Frequent mentions by parents of this school being well suited to a child who might be quite shy initially: ‘a sensitive soul ’ or ‘young in year or late developers’. But parents with more than more child here, the majority, report it suiting all sorts of temperaments and abilities: ‘outgoing children can shine’. A teacher believes it works well for ‘bright children who are not afraid to take risks and who want to learn’.

Parents are without doubt a smart, city crowd: ‘Friendly, international and professional with lots of dual-working parents,’ said one. Many agree on a friendly welcome from other parents. Every other parent describes the school community as ‘international’ but the principal says this is more perception than actuality. Parent volunteers do everything and anything from weekend hospitality for the science lab chicks, to designing the logos for the houses, to being part of the eco committee growing and harvesting crops in the school garden.

Any parents with low-flying or tiger-ish tendencies, this may well not be the school for you. Those who are searching for somewhere to nurture and inspire happy, confident children – look no further.

Special Education Needs

Parsons Green Prep aims to be an inclusive school. At the core of our ethos, we respect and value each child as an individual, with their own unique needs. We have staff experienced in identifying a range of barriers to learning, and skilled in differentiating the curriculum and adapting teaching strategies to meet children's diverse learning needs and styles. We strive to meet all children's needs and use the SEN Code of Practice to shape our policy and practice. We adhere to the SEN and Disability Act 2001 and its amendments to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
Dyscalculia Y
Dysgraphia Y
Dyslexia Y
Dyspraxia Y
English as an additional language (EAL) Y
Genetic
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class
HI - Hearing Impairment Y
Hospital School
Mental health
MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty
MSI - Multi-Sensory Impairment
Natspec Specialist Colleges
OTH - Other Difficulty/Disability
Other SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty Y
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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