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Some parents suggest that ‘this would not be the right school for a slow developer, as the boys work at a fast pace and it becomes demanding in year 2 with plenty of homework.’ For those who need support ‘they bring in the cavalry’. Boys are bussed to Hyde or Battersea Park every day to let off steam and play sports. The boys enjoy their fixtures, stating that ‘If we lose against the Manor, who are bigger than we are, we beat them at chess’. The majority of pupils…

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What The Good Schools Guide says

Head

Since 2017, Huw May (late 40s) MA Ed, NPQH, advanced diploma Royal Welsh College of Music, BMus, previously head of Eaton House the Manor Pre-Prep. Earlier experience in headships include Sydenham Junior School, Roedean Junior School and St Aubyn’s pre-prep. A professional singer for several years before taking up teaching, he is a trained ISI inspector.

Mr May lives over the school during the week, returning to his home in Sussex at weekends. Gardening, classic cars (MGs and older Mercedes) and walking his dog Harvey – boy-approved relaxations. He has quickly gained the respect and trust of parents who find him ‘approachable’ and ‘a good listener’. They especially value the fact that he has ‘the boys’ well-being and interests at heart’. Ambitious for his school, shows vision and is full of enthusiasm for developing each boy’s all-round potential, emotionally as well as academically. A parent commented: ‘We really value the immersive approach to learning and the school’s entrepreneurial spirit; for example, Mr May has set up a partnership with the Science Museum’.

Mr May’s arrival, after a brief tenure by respected long term deputy Annabel Abbott, coincided with a change to school organisation plans (see below). He speedily got a grip, emphasising individual learning plans for each boy, and the school seems as good as ever, with excellent results.

Entrance

Genuinely non-selective (but this is Belgravia). Main entry is at 4+ into kindergarten with, on average, 70 places. Places are allocated on a first come first served basis, with priority given to siblings, so it is important to put your name down early. Large deposit payable on accepting a place. There is no financial help on offer. For entry further up the school, the occasional places are subject to an assessment to see if the applicant will fit into the year group. Entry at 8+ is possible, now that the prep is open, but has yet to develop in any volume. Eaton House Schools Group is happy to let it develop at an organic rate.

Boys come from a wide range of Belgravia nurseries plus Victoria, Pimlico, Fulham and Battersea, with a few from as far away as the City. The majority of pupils have British or part-British nationality (60 per cent) with the remainder mostly European.

Exit

About 40 per cent leave at 7+ to eg Westminster Under, King's College Junior or Westminster Cathedral Choir School. Boys now able to stay until 11 (and could travel to Eaton House the Manor in Clapham for years 7 and 8); at 8+ in 2019, 10 stayed on at Eaton House, with 21 others moving to Wetherby Prep, Sussex House, Westminster Under or St Paul's Juniors. This would be an impressive record for a selective school, let alone one with EHB’s broad intake; Mr May is clear and direct in advising parents on which schools they should aim for.

Our view

Eaton House Belgravia is part of the Eaton House group of schools. The principal Hilary Harper and her husband took over Eaton House Belgravia in 1978 and developed the school into the group it is today. On retirement in the summer of 2016, she sold a majority stake in the group to private equity group Sovereign Capital, though her daughter, chief executive Luchie Cawood, has a significant stake and is thoroughly involved in the schools.

Parents who choose EHB want a traditional pre-prep/prep experience and the school delivers with a 3Rs curriculum, academic rigour and plenty of extras. In particular they value ‘the excellent, nurturing male and female teaching staff who ensure they know their boys and care for them’. Classes are small with so far only informal sets for maths and English from year 2 upwards, so that the boys gain a full understanding in all maths and English topics.

EHB offers a very particular brand of boy-friendly teaching. Boys work hard in short bursts in the morning; in the afternoon games are followed by clubs and activities such as football, cookery, coding and Spanish. The extensive list of clubs changes regularly. They are supposed to enjoy the work and to have a riotous time in extras and ‘run around after school and relax in supervised activities’. Some parents suggest that ‘this would not be the right school for a slow developer, as the boys work at a fast pace and it becomes demanding in year 2 with plenty of homework.’ Some teaching talk & chalk (albeit on interactive whiteboards these days), but much based on doing something physical, thinking through what you have done, and then applying it to a problem.

Individual provision (‘differentiation’) involves weekly consideration of how to support each child: all will at times be taken off into a side room for one-to-one. Not just academic/SEN support: there’s Move Fit, run by physiotherapists for anyone who needs to improve coordination, and occupational therapy, for example handwriting and touch typing. In the kindergarten, Lego groups help develop social skills.

Communication between home and school is frequent and well-coordinated. The original plans to grow Eaton House Belgravia Prep organically on its south Kensington site changed in 2018 to expand Eaton House Belgravia pre-prep up to 11 years on its own site. The school is comprised of two immense, linked cream town houses on several levels. The basement houses the kitchen, dining rooms, staff room, some individual music lesson rooms and a well-used science lab where boys enthusiastically carry out experiments and make discoveries. On the ground floor there is a well-stocked, light library and classrooms. The top two floors of the No 3 building, previously administrative offices and living accommodation, have been converted into learning enrichment classrooms, art and languages rooms for the new prep school. More recently, a new science lab took the place of the old kitchen, with a DT classroom in the old science lab. Boys care about their food, and now this is freshly prepared on the premises, but some parents still believe there is further scope for improvement - school says that with the old kitchen moved closer to the dining room, there is now 'more space [for] a wider range of freshly prepared and tasty meals to be produced onsite'.

Boys enjoy their art and we saw some house competition inventive illustrations for selected poems, as well as arresting year 1 wild west T shirts for a forthcoming fashion show. We spotted an attractive watercolour crab on our tour and evidence of interesting artwork in topic lessons throughout the school.

Mr May is clearly going to add zest to an already excellent musical provision (inter alia he has commissioned an opera for the school). Music takes place in the hall and is timetabled for all. Boys perform in fortnightly music assemblies and termly concerts and take part in competitions and charity events. Parents say that the head of music nurtures and encourages all ages to take up an instrument - drums, piano, singing, trumpet, guitar and violin all taught - with those who are fearful of performing offered strategies to gain self-confidence. The school has a dedicated ICT room, touch typing and coding are encouraged in the curriculum and classrooms have touch interactive boards and now tablets.

There is only one tiny outdoor space, but planning permission has been submitted for a sizeable outdoor learning centre. The fairly small hall/gymnasium is tightly packed when the whole school assembles. By necessity the days are very structured. The school council suggestion of Five a Day interruptions of five minute physical activities by desks is popular and beneficial. Boys are bussed to Hyde or Battersea Park every day to let off steam and play sports. Staff ensure boys are not taken out of sports and bemoan the time spent sitting in traffic. Swimming takes place at the Queen Mother's sports centre. Parents comment approvingly of the sport and ‘the diverse clubs on offer including optional weekend activities, so there is lots to do’. A number of football clubs operate outside school hours. The boys enjoy their fixtures, stating that ‘If we lose against the Manor, who are bigger than we are, we beat them at chess’.

The house system underpins all areas of the school and is very effective. It supports a culture of positive reinforcement regarding behaviour and respect, whilst enabling the boys to interact and enjoy the healthy competition on which they thrive. There is real engagement and an understanding of responsibility; ‘Boys don’t want to let their house down and captains write prayers for assembly’. Good manners are encouraged and one special feature we observed was the practice of one boy in every class shaking our hand, making eye contact and welcoming us to the class. The boys learn to make presentations and recite poetry confidently in public. ‘I want them [the boys] to develop skills for life including adaptability, resilience, and determination and learn to listen and articulate their opinions confidently,’ says Mr May.

The majority of pupils live within walking distance, with some international families and many parents working in the City as lawyers or bankers, and most are very ambitious for their sons. ‘We don’t mind taking a round boy in a square hole’ and parents agree that the school happily accommodates boys ‘with different personalities and backgrounds, providing a really good real experience’. School advises, ‘EHB is probably not the right school for you if you want your son in bubblewrap’ and parents agree that the boys ‘are not coddled and must be able to cope with academic rigours’. All boys wear uniform shorts and long socks whatever the weather. The pace is fast and there is an expectation that everyone will join in and accept challenges; excellent preparation for the top academic prep schools they are aiming for. ‘We are slightly quirky’ and the school is not purpose-built or manicured but full of energetic, interesting boys. Boys and staff muck in and this works a treat, as the boys are clearly happy. Staff are always on hand to advise parents about a suitable choice of prep schools where their engaging personalities and good manners will be an asset.

Special Education Needs

LE (Learning Enrichment) is provided to a small number of pupils who require it in warm and inviting rooms. The team are experienced and will always do their best to ensure that any pupils on their list are well supported. 10-09

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Aspergers
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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