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Classrooms at lower end of school open on to their own enclosed areas. When we visited, one had been temporarily transformed into a mini racing track, complete with scooters, toy cars and cardboard petrol pumps. Pupils get the chance to air their views at school council meetings. Previous head was astonished when girls vetoed his plans for a school disco and said they’d like a barn dance instead. Parents give school a firm thumbs-up. Two-thirds of girls are from families where both parents work, and with this in mind recently introduced breakfast club...

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What The Good Schools Guide says

Head of junior school

Since September 2012, Mr Ross Urquhart BSc (early 40s). Previously head of Broughton Manor Prep School and deputy head of Milton Keynes Prep School.

A PE and geography graduate from Brunel University, he has a passion for sport (tennis and skiing) and has taught all junior school subjects. Married to Nicola; they have two daughters, both at the school.

Entrance

Pupils admitted to nursery (open for 46 weeks of the year) on a first come, first served basis. After that main entry points are reception, year 3, year 5 and (increasingly) year 6. Prospective pupils visit for a half day, doing assessments in English and maths, before hearing whether they've got a place. Not completely full at the moment – 'possibly due to our selective entry, not that it's particularly high,' says school.

Exit

Virtually all progress to senior school. 'Robust tracking system' and any concerns get flagged up early on, but school says, 'We very rarely find ourselves in that situation'.

Our view

School is housed in same building as its older sibling. Shares facilities like canteen, swimming pool and sports pitches but has its own distinctive feel. Like other GDST junior schools, it combines first-rate delivery of the curriculum with a nurturing environment where girls feel safe and secure. Most year groups have two classes, three in year 6. Class sizes range from 16-24. French from year 1 and ICT lessons once a week for all. Modern building means all classrooms are airy and spacious, with oodles of storage space for books, coats and PE kit. Classrooms at lower end of school open on to their own enclosed areas. When we visited, one had been temporarily transformed into a mini racing track, complete with scooters, toy cars and cardboard petrol pumps. All classrooms equipped with overhead projectors and most with interactive whiteboards too.

Glowing recent ISI report judged the school’s EYFS provision to be ‘outstanding’ in every category, highlighting the fact that girls here are ‘happy and greatly enjoy the setting’. Own SENCo, who works with each class once a week as well as offering one-to-one learning support before school and during lunch breaks. Mild learning disabilities catered for plus enrichment opportunities for gifted and talented. Teachers (16 full-time) have good working relationship with their counterparts in senior school, meeting regularly to discuss curriculum.

Excellent pastoral care. PSHCE lessons given over to issues girls may face, such as eating disorders or friendship problems. Teachers give girls opportunity to play old-fashioned (and very wholesome) playground games like Grandmother’s Footsteps, What’s the Time, Mr Wolf? and Stuck in the Mud, with aim of getting everyone involved.

Own hall for assemblies, dance, ballet and gym and library. Around £3,000 spent on new library books each year - Michael Morpurgo, Dick King-Smith and Anne Fine are girls’ current favourite authors. Pupils get the chance to air their views at school council meetings. Previous head was astonished when girls vetoed his plans for a school disco and said they’d like a barn dance instead. Music, drama, art and sport galore, plus activities like sponsored spellathon, cyber fashion show, talent show, hobbies convention and trips to pony club, music festivals, museums and art galleries.

Parents give school a firm thumbs-up. Two-thirds of girls are from families where both parents work, and with this in mind recently introduced breakfast club – for parents as well as girls. It opens at 7.45am and has proved hugely popular, particularly with the dads.

Fizzes with energy and enthusiasm. Girls are an industrious lot who like being busy and working hard. As one year 3 told us: ‘The teachers here are very kind and they help us a lot.’

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