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Wow-factor science lab – hexagonal tables with Bunsen burners in the middle encourage interactive learning. Flatscreen Apple TV on the wall. A flock of ducklings the latest furry friends to hatch from the incubator. Well-stocked library. Good traditional hall for productions, assemblies and younger girls’ gym. Decent ICT suite. Drama is also much loved. Year 4 and year 6 productions in the wonderful senior theatre are annual highlights – a week off timetable to…

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What the school says...

Lady Eleanor Holles Junior School is proud of its ethos of excellence within a family atmosphere, and seeks to develop bright, happy and confident girls, who mostly join us at 7 from a wide range of independent and maintained schools. The majority proceed to the Senior School at eleven with a guaranteed place (with very few exceptions). Standards are high, and girls generally work in advance of their chronological age and standard year group.

Lady Eleanor Holles Junior School occupies a very attractive building, Burlington House, the classrooms are large, light and airy. There are superb specialist rooms and Junior girls make full use of the school's magnificent sports facilities including an indoor heating swimming pool. The school stands on a wonderful 23 acre site, and the girls enjoy their own play area, with a trim trail and climbing frame, and their own dining room.

There is a very wide range of lunchtime and after school clubs and activities. There include Drama, Tennis, Netball, Swimming, Gymnastics, Art, Latin, Chess, Gardening, Speech and Drama, Choir, Orchestra and other Music groups. Day trips, outing and visitors to the school are important ways of enriching the curriculum. Girls also have the opportunity to experience residential school visits.
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Other features

All-through school (for example 3-18 years). - An all-through school covers junior and senior education. It may start at 3 or 4, or later, and continue through to 16 or 18. Some all-through schools set exams at 11 or 13 that pupils must pass to move on.

What The Good Schools Guide says

Head of Junior School

Since 2016, Paula Mortimer BEd (40s), previously head of St Christina's in St John's Wood. A science specialist with an Oxford degree in education and a specialism in SEN. Prior roles include deputy and acting head of Channing Junior School. Lives in Ealing with husband, teenage daughters and ‘sprollie’ (springer-collie mix, for the uninitiated). Happiest in her wellies on the Devon coast though seems very comfortable in her smart-but-not-corporate office here.

Very committed to pastoral care and nurturing resilience – ‘It’s OK to be disappointed, it’s how you deal with it that’s important’. Particularly keen that ‘girls seize amazing opportunities without being frightened to give it a go’. Teachers lead by example, experimenting with technology in lockdown and planning innovative lessons – ‘we all want to show that it’s normal to step out of your comfort zone’. The result? Girls are ‘better at understanding that you’re not always going to get 100 per cent’ – no mean feat in a school of this calibre.

A great believer in frank conversation – ‘It’s my “come in, let’s talk it through” approach’. We imagine that her practical attitude is just what’s needed when girls are upset. ‘Mrs Mortimer is so lovely’, say parents, and we agree – kind though no walkover, brave yet level-headed. Wants the junior school to feel ‘safe, cosy, warm, nice’ without compromising on excellence – seems to be doing a great job.

Head of whole school is Mrs Heather Hanbury (see senior school entry).

Entrance

Entrance tests in English and maths at 7+. Top performers invited back for an activity session. Total of 48 places, split across two forms. Only two girls trying for every place, but don’t be fooled – competition is hot. School looking for academic aptitude and potential – ‘what girls are capable of, not what they’ve already achieved,’ plus genuine curiosity. In other words, not interested in those who have been heavily tutored and good at rooting them out.

Post-Covid, the area is having a moment – ‘gorgeous’ local parks have always attracted families to Hampton (which was good enough for Henry VIII, after all). Now, though, the idea of a campus school is right back in fashion as the metropolitan elite decide that suburban living is where it’s at. We suspect that interest in LEH will grow accordingly and recent admissions figures bear this out.

Exit

Majority move up to the senior school. No exam required (parental cries of ‘hooray’) – instead, ongoing assessment of classroom work and routine school exams. Guaranteed places offered in year 5. ‘We are an all-through school and we want them to go on and say goodbye to us at the end of sixth form’. Occasional girl does not get an offer, but this will be never come out of the blue – progress tracked carefully from year 3 and any concerns flagged early. When this is the case, lots of support with finding the right fit. We did not feel this was ‘weeding out’ – the senior school is no place for the faint-hearted and some girls would simply be happier, and thus do better, elsewhere. They may still sit the LEH entrance exam if they wish. Those who want to try for a scholarship also sit the entrance exams alongside outside applicants. A few each year are lured by the local grammar, another London day school or to board.

Our view

A surprisingly informal school where girls thrive academically, and then some. Life here is busy and fun. The all-through set-up is a luxury – without the 11+ hanging over them, girls have time to explore and investigate, soaking everything up while having a wonderful time. Plenty of photo evidence of that around the school – girls at carol services, on school trips, doing drama productions etc.

School building was an attractive old house, although build-ons over the years have left it less aesthetically pleasing. Fabulous amounts of space and outdoor learning is big. ‘Hedge homes’ (little dens in the bushes) are popular. Tepee – ‘we love our tepee’ – used for story time and other activities. Science garden has been developed during lockdown to provide a pond, bug hotel etc for the girls to monitor. All ties into head’s passion for getting the girls out into the fresh air and talking to each other. A healthy eating project (joint with Hampton prep) in the summer of year 6 sees them all ‘trooping down to Sainsbury’s’ before having a picnic on the grass.

Inside, everywhere is carpeted, giving it a quiet, civilised feel. A sense of purpose pervades. Pupil work is displayed in every corridor in witty, appealing and imaginative ways. Great cross-curricular approach too – if they learn about the ancient Greeks, they make Greek vases; if they learn about circuits, they design and make a working toy car. Art and DT are unusual and clever – girls make 3D mazes, personally designed carry-bags and slippers. Girls make animated films in year 5 with their own clay models, Wallace and Gromit-style. Even the plastic lunch plates are each designed by a girl.

Wow-factor science lab – hexagonal tables with Bunsen burners in the middle encourage interactive learning. Flatscreen Apple TV on the wall. A flock of ducklings the latest furry friends to hatch from the incubator. Well-stocked library. Good traditional hall for productions, assemblies and younger girls’ gym. Decent ICT suite.

Dedicated music room for class lessons, while around three-quarters have private instrumental lessons in the senior school – girls lug instruments of every shape and size around the site with characteristic good humour and determination. Choirs (audition-only and free-for-all), orchestra and string group (which has performed in Hampton Court).

Drama is also much loved. Year 4 and year 6 productions in the wonderful senior theatre are annual highlights – a week off timetable to prepare staging, rehearse and perform, and an opportunity for pupils and parents to experience what the senior school might be like. Big singing and acting voices for girls so small – a treat to watch. Girls take part in everything from poetry recitals to debating competitions to the Summer Arts Festival . It’s not all too serious, though – recent production of Beauty and the Beast saw girls singing and dancing while dressed as life-size teapots and candlesticks. Auditions – and for some the inevitable disappointment that follows – are another learning opportunity. ‘I tell them, “If you’re going to be a tree, you’re going to be the best tree on that stage”’, says Mrs Mortimer. If only we all had a bit of Mrs Mortimer in our lives.

Superb sports and great preparation for the legendary sporting culture of the senior school. In winter, the focus is on swimming, netball and gymnastics and in summer, on swimming, rounders, athletics and some tennis. Super garden area with excellent climbing frames and other apparatus, courts and pitches – much of it, of course, shared with the senior school, making the move into year 7 less intimidating. Do girls get bored after 10 years in the same place, we wondered? Apparently not – ‘the campus grows with them’ and the move from junior to senior school buildings (not to mention increasing interaction with Hampton boys) gives them a sense of progression.

Academically, the school holds an unfair (we think) reputation for being a hothouse, which clearly infuriates staff and parents alike. Instead, ‘growth mindset’ is a phrase you hear a lot here. Careful assessment at 7+ ensures that the girls can keep up with the fast pace and enjoy the buzz – parents delighted when they come out of school bubbling with whatever it is that they’ve been doing in geography, science or art. Homework is fair and never set for the sake of it – 20 minutes a night up to year 5, then 40 minutes. ‘The school understands that if you’re a working parent, you might not have time to do hours of homework,’ said one grateful mother.

Very little setting, although girls sometimes taught in smaller, mixed-ability groups if it’s felt it will aid their learning. French offered throughout and Spanish introduced in year 6 to give the girls some exposure to it before they move into the senior school (where German is also added). Languages taught with the same innovation that we see elsewhere in the curriculum – ‘lots of project work, lots of culture, lots of opportunities to speak’, says the head. Language provision driven by demand – ‘we’re always watching to see what the girls are interested in’. Specialist teaching in science, music, PE and computing from year 3 – and in every should be most subjects from year 5.

LDD department (learning difficulties and disabilities) supports those with mild SEN. Help just as likely to be for a spelling group that need short-term strategies as for anyone with dyslexia or dyscalculia. No stigma. Short-term bursts of intervention favoured. Focus on arming the girls with tools and techniques to keep up with the fast academic pace.

Pastoral care excellent – -his is not the tough school that some assume it to be. A proactive approach, with lots of staff meetings to discuss how girls seem to be getting on (‘do you think X has been a bit distracted lately?’ etc). Will discuss it with girls if appropriate and happy to contact parents. Likewise, parents feel welcome to call the school. Girls praise the strong system of buddies – coach buddy, house buddies and peer mentors – who help people out in the playground if they’re sad. Lots of leadership roles (science leaders, head girl, house captains etc). Super ‘Raising Resilience’ programme from year 4 and mindfulness teaching for year 5s.

Head very keen to engage parents in pastoral care – ‘it’s a team effort’. School recognises that parents can sometimes feel lost with all the different things to consider when it comes to social media and online. Lots of talks and workshops for parents and carers.

Bullying minimal. All staff work to ensure girls feel comfortable talking to them about worries before they escalate. Wrong decisions taken seriously but the approach is not punitive – ‘we constantly talk to girls about making the right decisions; if you do get something wrong that’s an opportunity to discuss how you’ll approach it differently next time’. Often girls want to resolve friendship problems for themselves, but they’re not quite sure how - pastoral team on hand to guide them through and help them recognise when they’ve misjudged a situation. Group paint-by-numbers sessions with staff at lunchtime give girls the chance to voice concerns and talk things through in a relaxed setting. Misbehaviour negligible – girls understand that rules are set to make sure that everybody feels comfortable. A happy, cohesive community.

Interesting trips include Winchester Science Museum, Butser Ancient Farm and Kew Gardens.

Parents very normal; no flashiness. Many holding down a couple of jobs to pay the fees. A shared sense that they’re investing in their daughter’s futures. Lively Parents’ Association – school life is ‘as sociable as you want to make it’ though people are busy and there’s not as much of a post-drop coffee culture as you might find elsewhere. Most live within half an hour, often via the super-efficient coach system that is shared with the senior school and neighbouring Hampton School.

Money matters

Fees not the cheapest in the area. No bursary provision though lots available in senior school. Parents grumble about the termly bill but don’t question it – ‘getting the money together can be a struggle but it’s worth every penny.’

The last word

‘Give these girls a little bit of something and they run with it’, says their proud headmistress. ‘My child loves going to school’ is a phrase we heard time and time again and we saw for ourselves the reassuring skips down the corridors and beaming smiles in the classrooms. ‘Anything you’d change about the school?’ is one of our common questions to parents, to which we twice got the answer, ‘Only that I didn’t get to go there myself.’

Special Education Needs

A fully-qualified SEN teacher is available part-time to work with individual girls or small groups as required. All girls are screened for Specific Learning Difficulties in Year 4 and further individual assessments are offered to any girl whose work or test results cause concern. Individual assessments with the SEN teacher are also offered at any stage if staff believe a child may need extra support.

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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