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No scholarship set, but plenty of ‘learning enrichment.’ ‘Exams require sophisticated skills and we introduce enrichment early on,’ says the head. Parents feel he has got a firm grip on the rapidly changing exam landscape. ‘The school used to be not quite as rigorous,‘ said one mother, ‘but now the head is really on top of it.’ The arts, now as always, remain core to what this school is about. The head has tripled the number of music lessons and managed to acquire a baby grand as well as introduce a music studio. ‘My head of music says, “No boy leaves here who couldn’t do grade 5 theory",’ he says happily...

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What the school says...

In addition to French and Latin, Mandarin has become part of the compulsory curriculum from Year 1 with Arabic and Ancient Greek offered as after-school options. Sport very much on the up; the school are U-12 national champions at tennis. In addition to rock band Razorlight, ex-St.Anthony's boys have set up Cajun Dance Party and Bombay Bicycle Club. ...Read more

What the parents say...

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What The Good Schools Guide says

Headmaster

Since 2010, Paul Keyte MA. Educated at Bloxham and Oriel College, Oxford, where he read philosophy and theology, graduating with a first. Fell into teaching during his postgraduate research (on Wittgenstein and Kierkegaard). ‘I thought I’d teach for a couple of years before going back,’ he says, but, instead, became hooked. Started out at Dulwich, where he taught philosophy and RE, before becoming head of liberal studies. Then to King’s College Wimbledon, where he set up the philosophy and RE department and was under master (pastoral). ‘You have to understand the shadow side, the theft and the bullying.’ Then, senior master academic at Winchester and director of studies, deputy head at Highgate and at South Hampstead.

St Anthony’s is his first prep school. (‘I was attracted to the job because it was big enough to be interesting yet small enough for me to be a father.’) An undoubted enthusiast, he remains passionate about teaching (’I feel anchored in the classroom’), and continues to teach RS to year 8 and ‘learning enrichment’ to all. Knows virtually all his pupils by name. A convert to Catholicism and married to a Catholic (who teaches at South Hampstead), he has one son (now at the school). Outside (and often imported) interests include singing, Schubert (‘I learnt German to understand it better’), musicals and Leeds United (much to his pupils’ amusement). Energetic, enthusiastic and intellectual, yet accessible, parents feel fortunate to have him. ‘He’s incredibly supportive and gracious,’ said one parent. ‘He’s the reason we chose the school,’ said another.

Entrance

Two form entry at reception. Tour, then register, as early as possible. Some assessment places reserved for Catholics, who also get priority on waiting lists. All boys are interviewed. ‘I’m looking for teachability and sociability,’ says Mr Keyte. ‘They have to be able to cope with the pace and adapt to our style of teaching. We’re not competitive, but we’re famous for creating independent learners.’ Boys from about 25 feeder nurseries, but Catholics have often attended nearby St Mary’s or St Christina’s in St John’s Wood.

Exit

In large numbers to UCS, City and Mill Hill (mostly at 13, but some at 10 or 11), then everywhere with chunks to Highgate, Haberdashers’ and Merchant Taylors’, a solid sprinkling to Westminster and St Paul’s. Increasing numbers applying to top boarding schools (head has links with Winchester, Charterhouse et al); families keen on a Catholic ethos liable to focus on eg Ampleforth, Downside or Stonyhurst, or schools such as Eton which have a Catholic chaplain. Plenty of scholarships, including for sport and music. No one is ever asked to leave. ‘That’s our duty, once they’re here,’ says the head. Occasionally, some may decide that the academic pace is not for them and are ‘gently helped’ to find somewhere else.

Our view

The head’s heavyweight presence sets the tone and is a good match with the school’s highly qualified staff (many with Oxbridge degrees and interesting first careers).The school is split into two sites across the road from each other, each with its own spacious Victorian building. In the junior school (reception to year 3), you’ll find a sweeping staircase, turn-of-the-century tiling, large light classrooms and a good-sized dining room (which doubles as an assembly and concert hall). Class size is kept to a maximum of 16-20. Specialist subject teaching in French and music from reception. Mandarin from year 1. ‘We aim to send them from the junior school happy and well adjusted, able to cope with the demands of exams,’ says the head. ‘We’re building the personality rather than drilling.’ But skills are thoroughly inculcated. ‘In the junior years,’ said one mother of two, ‘the teaching is very precise. They really get the handwriting and spelling under control, which reaps benefits as they get older.’

The move to the senior school in year 4 is accompanied by greater subject specialisation, more male teachers and recently renovated premises. Some setting in maths, flexible setting elsewhere. With increasing pre-testing in years 6/7, has introduced more specialist maths and English teaching. No scholarship set, but plenty of ‘learning enrichment.’ ‘Exams require sophisticated skills and we introduce enrichment early on,’ says the head. Philosophy, Latin, Greek, Arabic and now programming and robotics - with 'significant' curriculum developments - all on offer. The head also runs lunch-hour discussion groups which any boy can attend. Parents feel he has got a firm grip on the rapidly changing exam landscape. ‘The school used to be not quite as rigorous,‘ said one mother, ‘but now the head is really on top of it.’

Good support for SEN with two specialists, one with expertise in dyscalculia. Sophisticated early screening identifies those who may require additional support. Discreet withdrawal to two small bright dedicated classrooms for those who struggle as well as those who need stretch.

The arts, now as always, remain core to what this school is about. The head has tripled the number of music lessons and managed to acquire a baby grand as well as introduce a music studio. ‘My head of music says, “No boy leaves here who couldn’t do grade 5 theory",’ he says happily. A fair number are gifted musicians, one carrying off a recent Eton music scholarship, another singing with the ENO. Outside school hours, boys are given plenty of encouragement with the school providing the weekend venue for Trinity Laban’s by-audition-only classes. Other art forms not neglected, with a big annual Shakespeare production and two weeks of film-making post common entrance. A wide range of hobbies and clubs - logic and puzzle, general knowledge, chess, dance, touch typing - cover a range of enthusiasms (the lunch-time chess players packed out one classroom on our visit).

Not traditionally known as a ‘sporty school’, but the head is keen to give sport an increasingly important role. ‘This is one area I’m working on developing. I’m passionate about what sport brings to children.’ Traditional carousel of rugby, football, hockey, cricket, played twice weekly at Brondesbury, a 10-minute coach ride away. On site, the school has its own pool and two good-sized playgrounds. At St Anthony’s, however, sport is as much about taking part as winning, with as many boys as possible participating. ‘I’d rather the boys lost nobly and honourably than win for the sake of it. But there’s nothing wrong with really nice sportsmen who get gold medals.’

As a family-owned prep school founded in the 19th century, St Anthony’s was run in its own highly individual way, with a famously alternative ‘vibe’, creative and quirky, underpinned by a strong Catholic ethos. Parents felt concern when the school was taken over by the efficient operator Alpha Plus, but have found that a professional distance has been kept, while judicious investment has brought the infrastructure into tip-top shape.

The only all-boys Catholic prep school in north London (with an ‘outstanding’ Diocesan report), this remains very much a Catholic school (about 80 per cent of families are practising Catholics). ‘Faith is part of the heartbeat of the school,’ says the head. Prayers said morning and afternoon, as well as grace at lunch, and you’ll find a crucifix in every classroom as well as the Catholic RE syllabus at common entrance. The head, however, feels the function of religion is not to exclude. ‘We have a mission to provide for the Catholic community, but inclusivity is important.’ And most feel included. ‘Families with other beliefs get incredible respect,’ said one Jewish parent.

Despite its slightly bohemian reputation, good manners and ethics remain key. Discipline here is done with the lightest of hands, but the boundaries are clearly in place. All teachers known by their first name and learning very much a cooperative enterprise. There’s a golden toffee for those who’ve done something special (such as sing a song in the style of Johnny Cash), but those who break the code of conduct are entered into a ‘green book’ and parents are brought in to discuss anyone who’s managed to rack up a third offence. Higher up the school, boys discuss what they’ve done wrong and what they’ve learned from it. ‘I’ve only given one detention since I got here,’ says the head. ‘It never gets to that point. I try to give them a dignified exit.’ Strong anti-bullying policies. ‘The teachers are exceptionally kind and nurturing,’ said one parent. ’They’ll always do their best to help, whether it’s finding a lost rugby kit or providing interview preparation for senior school tests.’

Parents usual north London lawyers, bankers and advertisers, but Catholic purpose means plenty of Italians, Germans and Spanish. Media parents often come with useful benefits. ‘One allowed us to preview films, another offered tickets to the Wigmore Hall.’ Boys are not necessarily the neatest, but are undoubtedly enthusiastic and individual. ‘St Anthony’s boys are never the same. There’s no stamp.’

The St Anthony's School for Girls opened in Golders Green in September 2016.

Special Education Needs

Our academic profile is skewed to the more able but we do have minority of pupils who need learning support at both ends of the academic spectrum. A recent ISIS report gave the highest rating possible to our Learning Support Dept. 10-09

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
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
Not Applicable
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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