Newton Prep A GSG School
- Newton Prep
149 Battersea Park Road
- Head: Mrs Alison Fleming
- T 020 7720 4091
- F 020 7498 9052
- E firstname.lastname@example.org
- W www.newtonprepschool.co.uk
- A mainstream independent school for pupils aged from 3 to 13
- Boarding: No
- Local authority: Wandsworth
- Pupils: 663
- Religion: Non-denominational
- Fees: £15,840 - £18,150 pa
- Open days: October and tours on most Friday mornings
- Review: View The Good Schools Guide Review
- ISI report: View the ISI report
What The Good Schools Guide says..
Best is the creative and collaborative ethos and the sense of community. A real understanding here that books can provide complementary riches, in so many ways, to the internet – which is equally well-used. The history teacher gives WW1 bullet...
What the school says...
Newton Prep is a vibrant school which offers a challenging education for inquisitive children who are eager to engage fully with the world in which they are growing up. Our aim is to inspire children to be adventurous and committed in their learning. We provide balance and breadth in all aspects of a child's education: intellectual, aesthetic, physical, moral and spiritual. Newton Prep encourages initiative, individuality, independence, creativity and enquiry. The school promotes responsible behaviour and respect for others in a happy, safe and caring environment. ...Read more
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What The Good Schools Guide saysBest is the creative and collaborative ethos and the sense of community. A real understanding here that books can provide complementary riches, in so many ways, to the internet – which is equally well-used. The history teacher gives WW1 bullet shells as rewards rather than house points...
Since September 2013, Mrs Alison Fleming BA MA (Ed) PGCE (40s), a grammar school girl and theology graduate. Previously head of Dulwich College Junior School for four years, prior to which she was deputy head at Highgate Junior School. A team inspector for the ISI and a governor of a local school. And, far more importantly, an ace head.
Forthright, articulate, warm and confident, Mrs Fleming inherited a large prep in good heart, good nick and with a massive new-build. She spent her first year listening, looking, learning and thinking. And now, subtly but decisively, change (all for the good, as far as we can judge) is on the way. This is summed up by Mrs Fleming's hope of relocating her own study away from the admin corridor to, ideally, somewhere at the core of her capacious school. Her aims are to maintain the school's 'academically ambitious' ethos while developing its parental involvement and community links (which included now defunct Kids' Company). In these aspirations, she appears to carry her own eclectic and inclusive school community with her. But there is far more of sound educational value afoot too.
Warm praise, especially from seasoned parents who have been part of the school under the last three regimes and who particularly value the increased headmagisterial presence around the school. 'She is always smiling and approachable,' we were told. 'She is independent-minded and has lots of ideas,' another enthused. A third said, 'She is fabulous. Really enthusiastic and has a really good combination of strength, warmth, leadership and vision.' We get the impression this is a pretty popular appointment.
Oversubscribed at nursery stage when they have 48 places. Application process ensures an even balance of i) boys and girls and ii) of autumn, spring and summer birthdays. There's a waiting list and those who don't get in can reapply for reception. Sibling policy.
Informal assessment the autumn term before entry into reception. 'A gentle process'. Staff observe the children to see how they relate to adults, their peers and the world around them. 'Occasional places' happen occasionally. Year 1 or 2 candidates spend a day in class and take tests in reading, English and maths. Admission at year 3 and above by competitive testing. Any applicant for year 3 is considered for a scholarship (currently worth £250 per term) or a place backed up by a means-tested, top-up bursary. For a school only in its third decade, a surprising amount of financial help available. Most of those admitted at nursery or reception move smoothly up but this isn't guaranteed.
Leavers' lists are encouraging largely because there is clearly no stereotyped Newton product and they go to a wide spread of schools at both 11 and 13. Good range of scholarships – art, sports, dance and academic – won too. Year 6s to eg Alleyn's, JAGS, Emanuel, Dulwich College, City of London Girls, Sevenoaks, St Paul’s Girls and the local GDSTs. Year 8s to similar plus impressive boarding schools (Wycombe Abbey, Wellington, Eton, Harrow, Bedales), Westminster and KCS. New role on the senior management team for a deputy head with responsibility for senior school transfer – a rare, if not unique position amongst prep schools. Watch the others scampering to follow suit!
This part of London – behind the power station, which, along with a wide area round about was being comprehensively rebuilt and regenerated at time of our visit – is not generally appealing. To find an enormous, sought-after prep school housed, partly in an Edwardian block of debatable attractiveness and partly in impressive and extensive new build, is unexpected. However, one only has to enter the somewhat alarming steel wire cage that encloses the school to be transported into a very different and disarming world.
First impressions are formed by the children. They are happy, confident, relaxed, articulate, polite and eager to share their school with a visitor. They inhabit delightful spaces. Second impressions come from the place itself. From nursery, through lower school and up to the subject specific classrooms and studios of the top two years, each learning area is well-structured, full of colourful, stimulating and thoughtful displays and staffed by smiley, interesting teachers. We longed to linger – the language rooms ('souriez et entrez!') invite learning, the art rooms are full of creativity and a vast array of creative opportunities, the science labs and IT suites are sleek and the library is simply the best we've seen in a prep anywhere. Worth lingering especially here – exceptionally well-stocked, each child's reading is guided and encouraged and the children find that they have everything they need for research. A real understanding here that books can provide complementary riches, in so many ways, to the internet - which is equally well-used. Sofas, carpets, bean bags and cushions and hundreds of lovely books. Learning and inventiveness hums. We ventured into the RS room and were instantly involved in a fascinating discussion about the compatibility or complementarity of religion and science.
The old building, seamlessly now melded to the new, is old school standard eg green and brown tiles, sensible corridors, parquet. The new build is high, broad, confident with big spaces of the kind you'd expect from a sizeable and prosperous high school. The newest bits are breathtaking for a prep. A splendid auditorium and equally impressive, acoustically perfect, recital hall. Many senior schools would drool. Vast airy dining room with seriously inviting food, eaten by all. Scooter and bike park: 'they really encourage us to bike or walk to school – you get a special badge for it,' we were told. Sports hall, gym and other spaces for muscle stretching. Two art studios full of lovely stuff. We liked especially the monster sculptures – custom-built in some cases ('our librarian really wants a dragon to hang in the library') , the earth-colour tribal shields, the batik, the ceramics, the marionettes.
Outside space is equally enviable – there is so much of it. A huge all-weather pitch and various other good-sized safe-surface areas, well-equipped and colourful – for the different age groups. So sports thrive and, as parents crow, 'it's not exclusive – they have a C team and everyone has a chance'. Most delightful is the 'garden' – tucked away between car park and road but a rus in urbe idyll once you're in, with shady leafy nooks, fruit trees (one was a blackberry tree, we were solemnly informed) plots and beds, all well used by keen gardeners and for lessons of all sorts.
Around eight per cent have some sort of SEN – vast majority mild dyslexia, small numbers with eg ADHD or some speech and language delay in early years. Support is given either on an individual or small group basis by the director of learning development and teaching assistants in classrooms but head acknowledges that there is work to be done on the SEN side which will be welcome to parents current and future. Music too, now, under sparky new head of dept rising to match the stunning new facilities. We anticipate the Newton's impressive lists of art scholarships might well be matched by music similar in coming years.
Packed programme of events planned to celebrate 25th anniversary in 2016/17, starting with 'mass cake-cutting involving the very first Newton pupil (now a very respectable journalist…)', including whole school sponsored walk round Battersea Park and lots of volunteering by all ages, culminating in 'the first gala performance of our specially commissioned Silver Symphony at our end of year celebration at Cadogan Hall'.
About 20 to a class except for two nursery classes of 24. Pupils from all over south west and central London; locals walk or scoot to school. All speak good English though around 50 (nine per cent)are bilingual eg French, Spanish, Italian, Urdu, Arabic, Russian spoken at home. Small group EAL sessions for those who need them.
Best is the creative and collaborative ethos and the sense of community. Inclusiveness is key as parents testify – 'my children are totally different characters and it's been great for all of them' – and eccentricity is relished. (The history teacher gives WW1 bullet shells as rewards rather than house points.) There is little of the preciousness and snobbery one can occasionally encounter in other preps and the pupils feel part of something bigger than themselves. As they told us: 'Our teachers are so approachable. You can always ask for help'. 'You're not babied by the teachers.' 'There's no fear between the year groups. Year 3s often come and chat to us in year 8.'
A parent summed it up, 'We're going to be really sad to leave.'
Special Education Needs
The aim of the Resource Unit is to enable all children in its care to reach their full potential, to build their confidence and to equip them with strategies to allow them to make the greatest possible progress in their studies at school. The Resource Unit at Newton Prep is staffed by three specialist teachers, all of whom have training in teaching children with special educational needs. It is headed by the SEN and High Ability Co-ordinator, whose role is to provide the vital communication between all those involved in meeting children’s needs: teachers, parents and specialist practitioners. Up until Year 2, children are given extra support in small groups, normally within the classroom. Many younger children will only require a term or two of support until their development catches up with their peers. From Year 2 onwards those children who are felt to need specialist input normally receive it on a one-to one-basis. Support is generally offered without charge. If a child requires intensive support, for which a charge would normally be made, parents will be consulted beforehand. The Resource Unit can call on the input of a wide range of specialist intervention such as speech and language therapy, paediatric physiotherapy and occupational therapy. This professional input will be charged directly to the parents by the practitioner but can take place in school, minimising disruption to the school day.
|Condition||Provision for in school|
|ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder|
|Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders||Y|
|CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia|
|English as an additional language (EAL)|
|Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory|
|Has SEN unit or class|
|HI - Hearing Impairment|
|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|