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Set in grassy parkland with the requisite cows grazing next to the drive, Edge Grove is a world apart from many of its concrete-clad urban rivals. New school day structure popular with parents who say ‘it just makes sense’ to teach core subjects in the mornings when the children are most receptive. Smiling boys and girls in woolly red sweaters cheerfully and proactively greet you as you walk around, giving the impression of a happy, down to earth and confident cohort. Not surprising when you see…

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What the school says...

Edge Grove is a day and boarding school for boys and girls aged 3-13 years, characterised by a genuine commitment to the pursuit of excellence. Located in 28 acres of beautiful Hertfordshire countryside, and conveniently located close to the M1 and M25 motorways and only 15 miles from central London, its wonderful setting and facilities ensure pupils are exposed to a wide range of experiences and develop confidence in a challenging, fun and inspirational environment. Following a recent inspection from the ISI, the school was rated ‘excellent’ in all areas. Edge Grove looks to encourage and foster talent whether in the classroom, art room, in music, on the stage or on the sports field. Its first class resources, strong academic approach and accessible and enjoyable teaching allow pupils to progress individually and reach their true potential in all spheres of school life ...Read more

What the parents say...

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What The Good Schools Guide says

Headmaster

Since 2012, Ben Evans (40s). A Devon lad (mother still breeds Dartmoor ponies there) with a love of all things country. Head boy at Bramdean School before heading to Exeter University to read history and archaeology. Returned, armed with his degree and PGCE, to Bramdean where he ‘learned to teach,’ before taking up the post of head of history at Brighton College, later returning as deputy head to his alma mater.

Had a ‘now or never’ moment before hot footing it to Sri Lanka to teach at the junior school of the British School in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he served a total of six years, the final four as head. Returned to the UK following the birth of his first child and found love at first sight with Edge Grove – ‘exactly what I wanted,’ he says. Laughingly says wealthy Sri Lankan parents provided good grounding for dealing with those of the ambitious north London variety, although parents say it is clear he is not trying to turn school into ‘a typical north London hothouse.’

Lives in head’s house at school with wife Alex – ‘an absolute gem,’ according to parents. Described as dynamic, likeable and no nonsense, she regularly rolls up her sleeves and gets stuck in in the boarding house, sorting things out ‘with a deft hand,’ says one mother.

Huge sighs of relief breathed by staff and parents alike at the end of Evans’ first year in tenure as he appears to be there to stay, having scrapped Saturday lessons, made dramatic changes to the school day and really ‘upped the ante’ on the academic front. One parent said Evans had achieved more over the summer holidays (new adventure playground, gleaming home economics room and upgrades to textiles facilities) than they’d seen over the last three years. Just what Edge Grove needed after an unsettled patch with a revolving door of head teachers.

Entrance

Gently selective, with relaxed assessments and parental interview – ‘we want parents to have chosen us for the right reasons,’ says head. Little ones at 3+ and 4+ come for a short session where staff engage them in an activity and observe their skills in, for example, sharing and socialising. Currently oversubscribed for nursery and reception. Entrants at 7+ attend an assessment day and take verbal/non-verbal reasoning tests before spending a day in class to see how they fit in. ‘We want the kind of children who will take advantage of all the things we have to offer,’ says head.

No bursaries in the lower part of the school apart from those offered to military families. New scholarships introduced for existing pupils in years 7 and 8 to ‘acknowledge their contribution to the school.’

Exit

Majority of girls leave at 11; others and most boys leave at 13. Girls to St Albans High School for Girls, Haberdashers' Aske's School for Girls, Abbot's Hill and Downe House, with St Albans Boys, Merchant Taylors’ School and Harrow popular for boys; plus both to a range of co-ed schools including Rugby, Haileybury, Uppingham, Berkhamsted and Aldenham. A good handful of scholarships achieved annually, ranging from academic to sport and music. Conversations about next schools start with parents in years 5 and 6.

Our view

When you arrive at this idyllic country prep it’s hard to believe that it’s just a stone’s throw from north London and that the background hum is the M25. Set in grassy parkland with the requisite cows grazing next to the drive, Edge Grove – formerly the home of JP Morgan – is a world apart from many of its concrete-clad urban rivals.

Smiling boys and girls (school is now 50/50 and ‘firmly co-educational,’ according to head) in woolly red sweaters cheerfully and proactively greet you as you walk around, giving the impression of a happy, down to earth and confident cohort. Not surprising when you see the space they have to occupy – campus feels as if it could accommodate twice the number, with a huge open space for the nursery alone and separate science and art school buildings for older ones. Lovely manners abound, with classroom doors hardly opened before children leap to their feet.

Pupils and parents ‘a really good mix,’ according to head. About 20 per cent London based with the rest from around Radlett, St Albans, Elstree and Borehamwood and some Forces, based at Northwood. Ethnically diverse, reflecting the local area: ‘wonderful,’ say parents. Some discreet old money, others more flash and plenty of hard-working dual income first time buyers.

New school day structure popular with parents who say ‘it just makes sense’ to teach core subjects in the mornings when the children are most receptive. Activities take place either between 4 and 5pm or 5 and 6pm depending on year group and children can also stay for prep and supper, helping working parents or those further afield manage the pick-up. Saturday school abolished by current head in 2012 and replaced with voluntary Saturday attendance to take part in fun activities like music and drama or the Edge Grove Award (like a mini D of E) and stay for lunch if they wish – ‘the quality of what we offer is much better now,’ he says. Fleet of new iPads introduced for year 3 and up in 2013, kicking the school firmly into the ‘progressive’ bracket as far as technology is concerned. Class sizes capped at 20 in the pre-prep and 18 in the prep school.

Head ‘aiming for excellence in all subjects.’ International Primary Curriculum taught in pre-prep, which also has a forest school curriculum. French taught from reception and classics from year 5 with setting starting in year 3 for English and maths, then for French and science from year 5. New virtual language lab. Years 7 and 8 see pupils split into a scholarship set and two other common entrance sets. Parents talk about the ‘academic rigour’ being teased out of pupils on current head’s watch and report a welcome increase in homework for younger ones. Mandarin, Spanish and Italian offered as after-school clubs for budding linguists.

Parents praise staff mix: ‘some really old school, some young and dynamic,’ although concede that ‘some are better than others.’ Communication between parents and teaching staff is reportedly ‘excellent’ in the main: parents are able to email class teachers direct and, with occasional exceptions, receive prompt, useful replies. Even throw-away comments in the car park are taken seriously and actioned, said one. Whole school communication ‘getting better,’ according to parents, with recent introduction of weekly email letting parents know of all forthcoming fixtures and trips to help pupils be better prepared. Head, keen to iron out any bad habits inherited from predecessors, has introduced weekly staff training sessions to ensure consistent quality across the board. SEN and EAL limited to offering learning support to children with mild difficulties and no plans to increase provision.

Outstanding art taught in inspirational atelier style space with first class work in genres ranging from cubism to pupils’ favourite, street art, on display. Host of shiny new sewing machines will no doubt add to pupils’ textiles capabilities; home economics also on the curriculum. Classrooms alive with sound of music: head wants ‘music to be happening all the time,’ and is getting his wish with over 180 peripatetic lessons each week (‘brilliantly timetabled,’ say parents) and a new director of music (ex Haileybury) driving musical excellence in all its forms. Choral music is ‘very strong,’ says head and a lucky few get to try their hand in the school rock band – recently kitted out with four electric guitars, a drum kit and, most importantly, a soundproofed practice room. Plenty for budding thespians too – year 5 recently performed A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the school’s grounds, with a production of Bugsy Malone another success.

Sport taken seriously for both genders with a total of around 800 fixtures a year and specialist teaching from reception. Girls benefit from the guidance of an ex-England netball coach and the school has strong links with Radlett Cricket Club. U13 six-a-side football team current national IAPS champions, with other pupils reaching county standard for cricket, archery and squash and recent introduction of international tours for top teams. For less starry types, there are plenty of inter-house matches and tournaments which are fiercely contested, so everyone gets a go. Weekly swimming lessons and galas take place in the immaculate heated outdoor pool on the site of a former beautifully walled garden, mirrored on the other side by impressively sized, albeit slightly tired, tennis courts.

Around 25 full and weekly boarders, just under 10 per cent international, many Forces children, with a total of 50 beds to accommodate flexi-boarding. Newly appointed non-teaching head of boarding has made a ‘huge difference,’ to what was formerly a fairly chaotic boarding function according to parents, although many agreed that there is still some way to go in terms of organisation: very little wardrobe space (one wardrobe for seven girls) and no lockers lead to lost clothes, with one parent reporting having lost up to 20 pairs of socks and others on-going problems with lost sports kit. Occasional issues with bullying and bad behaviour are ‘not dealt with badly,’ for the most part but parents have high hopes the ‘new broom’ will step up discipline and eliminate these issues altogether, to create a calmer and more nurturing boarding environment.

Bright, newly decorated dorms sleep up to eight pupils, with seniors (years 7 and 8) having their lounging and TV area incorporated into the dorm. There’s also a games room in an annexe with snooker, table tennis and table football. Head, determined to avoid ‘sleepover culture,’ insists that boarders stay for a minimum of three nights a week from year 5, although they can stay for one in years 3 and 4, and all year 3 pupils are expected to board for at least one night during expedition week when years 4 to 8 head off site. Popular fun themed weekends twice yearly give all pupils a chance to taste boarding on a first come, first served basis.

Clubs galore – many of which are included in fees – from gardening and chess to taekwondo and war gaming. These are integrated well into the long school day and parents happily describe their children as ‘very busy.’ Two minibus services ferry years 3 to 8 to school if they choose, along routes covering Hemel Hempstead, St Albans, How Wood, Totteridge, Whetstone, Barnet, Brookmans Park and Shenley.

Special Education Needs

No comment offered - and very modest in the SEN details section too.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Aspergers
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders
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 Y
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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