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Parents see the school as occupying the middle ground - a relatively unselective place where pupils can be themselves. If you like the approach, great, but accept that it won’t be for everyone. ‘School is very honest that it’s for some children and not others,’ says parent. ‘Encourages every pupil to do something, whether they’re good at it or not,’ says a parent. Chamber choir much praised – singing is ‘amazing,’ says parent (an understatement, if final prep...

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What the school says...

The Pre-Prep school (Reception to Year 2) is based on a different site - 47A Fulham High Street, London SW6 3JJ. Tel:020 7371 9911, Fax 020 7371 9922 email:[email protected]
The senior school (currently Year 9-10 is based at Greyhound Road this year but will be moving to a new location from September 2020 email:[email protected]
Free transport between the two sites for families with children at both sites. Entry to the Pre-Prep is non-selective, entry to Prep is by exam and interview
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What The Good Schools Guide says

Heads

Since September 2020, Christopher Cockerill, who grew up in Anchorage, Alaska and Surrey and attended TASIS England and Imperial College (maths). Before joining Fulham, he was director of sixth form at North London Collegiate School. Has also worked in Highgate School and Sevenoaks School. Plenty of experience at pre-university stage, including IB, A levels and American advanced placement courses. Married to Olivia and has two children, Eric and Jonathan.

Head of prep since September 2018, Neill Lunnon BSc (40s). Previously biology teacher, housemaster and master in charge of football at Wellington College 1994-2018, his first post after uni (where he met his wife, now head of Wimbledon High School). Spent three years on secondment at linked prep, Eagle House, as deputy head of strategy, performance and pastoral care. Raved about by parents for, among other highlights, open door policy and dedication - can be found at 7.30am on wet Saturday mornings on match duty. Extends to residential trips. He turned up midway, checked everyone was happy, then drove all the way home again. ‘Delightful, chatty, approachable,’ says a mother. ‘Whenever you email him, he emails straight back, knows all the children’s names.’ Signed birthday cards to all prep pupils one of the highlights of their time at the school.

Head of pre-prep since 2005, Di Steven BEd. Previously deputy head for two years. Before that, taught in independent girls’ school for three years, after 12 years teaching in Scottish state primaries. First teacher in her family. Had originally planned to be an architect but gave in to the lure of the profession at university. Talents now diverted into timetabling (eye for structure essential) and creating wonderful and versatile backdrops. One moment it’s a pastoral landscape for summer production, the next a winter wonderland (just add reindeer and cotton wool). Originally saw role as a stepping stone to another role but ‘loved the entire feeling and ethos’. Teaches literacy and numeracy (toggles between years 1 and 2). Clearly a fine diplomat - has established excellent relations with neighbours, bonding over recent successful communal effort to make busy road at back one way.

Entrance

Main entry in reception based on date of registration – the earlier the better. Either offered a definite, reserve or waiting list place. Non-selective, aim for balance of genders, birth dates and also give priority to siblings as long as it’s felt they’ll thrive. Was taking in four forms in each pre-prep year during building works, now back up to five.

All new reception children visited by pre-prep team who speak to keyworker to assess strengths and areas of need. Where child has learning needs, will involve SENCo to see if can make it work – have had children with visual impairment, specific learning difficulties (normally diagnosed at ages 7-9). If needs (like ASD) make environment uncomfortable for pupil, school will work with parents to find an alternative setting where can flourish.

Smaller intake in years 3 (15 pupils), 7 (25) and 9 (15) – some occasional places available in other years. Mostly automatic entrance to prep and senior school from pre-prep, though will sit assessment.

Largely local intake – nurseries, pre-preps and preps as well as state schools. About 30 per cent from ‘all over the world’.

Sixth form opening in September 2021, with students following the IB programme.

Exit

Small numbers to eg Ken Prep at end of year 2 but most carry on until at least year 6 (when 45 leave) or year 8 (35 departures) - so parents looking for a change of scene at 7+ or 8+ are on their own. Instead, thoughtful transition from pre-prep to prep with numerous opportunities to get acquainted for the children to visit the prep school, including full day of lessons in June.

Latest results

First GCSEs will be taken in summer 2020, first sixth form will start in autumn that year, working towards IB.

Teaching and learning

Parents see the school as occupying the middle ground - a relatively unselective place where pupils can be themselves. If you like the approach, great, but accept that it won’t be for everyone. ‘School is very honest that it’s for some children and not others,’ says parent. Air also allowed into the curriculum by way of themes that work their way through every subject – an approach that’s a much touted feature of many schools, says head, but frequently not done terribly well. Links to philosophy of Inspired, the new education group owner of the school, which extols benefits of ‘lateral thinking, comprehension and innovative application of skills and concepts’. Could range from getting each senior year group to create or make something (anything from a party to a play or charity initiative) to a whole-school teaching initiative, where members of staff filter a theme through their own subject. It’s also – like other London schools – tapping into the current vogue for building young entrepreneurs, with initiatives like ‘Perfect Pitch’ - a competition where teams present their business ideas to a panel of judges.

Goals are ‘simple’ says the school – it’s all about diversity of outcome, with children’s achievements celebrated in context. Low-ish class sizes (18 in pre-prep and prep, normal max of 22 in senior school) undoubtedly help, ditto the pupil to teacher ratios, best of all for seniors – just 3:1 (compared with eight and six to one in prep and pre-prep respectively). Senior ratio will change as school expands.

Lessons are big on interactivity, delivered by what parent described as ‘sensational’ teachers (some stalwarts with decades of experience). In pre-prep, child might be singled out for score of 3/10 in spelling that – for them – is exceptional. Displays don’t seek to backspace the mistakes. One year 1 pupil’s cheeky picture of a big cat was labelled, ‘A lion can eat a persn’ (sic).

Key in these youngest years is fluid differentiation – no setting – with children moving to different groups for literacy and numeracy and TAs used tactically from year 1, going where they’re most needed, adding spot of challenge here, a dollop of support there (while there’s no official labelling or comparison children here as so often have a very clear idea about their strengths).

Form teachers (impressively large number of men on the staff) cover much of the ground, but school stresses number of specialist teachers employed (they reckon a school USP). Music, dance and French (from reception); ICT, art and sport from year 1. Science, taught in the lab, big on experiments but low on Bunsen burners (come in at prep stage). Plenty of (chaperoned) movement between lesson venues sows seeds of later independence. Prep adds additional subjects (such as Latin – from year 5) and – from year 5 – specialists in everything.
Between years 5-8, some pupils stay on, others prepare to leave and new pupils join. School’s solution is for everyone to follow the same curriculum, syllabus broadly aligned with Common Entrance and sets (and CE scholarship group) introduced in year 7. Exams become more formal (taken in the school hall from year 5). ‘Don’t go from zero to 100 but ease their way. The pace they go in year 3 isn’t the same as year 5 or year 7 – it’s like building a muscle, not throwing into the deep end but allowing them to swim up there,’ says parent.

Parents stressed the particular magic that goes into the 11+ and Common Entrance process. Somehow it’s de-toxed, they say, so that children genuinely seem to approach exams as a step up rather than a mountain to climb. ‘Haven’t seen my child or friends exhibit any sense of stress or anxiety,’ thought one parent.

Emphatically not a testing, testing and more testing regime (though for all the laid-back vibe, tutoring remains rife, according to parents). Instead, plenty of opportunities for original thinking and attractive addition of gentle humour. To hear year 7s confidently debating the proposition ‘Are we born evil?’ with a fine line in semantics – one point was dismissed an opinion, and thus invalid - was an eye opener. Plenty of fun, too. We enjoyed watching some of the younger prep pupils, delighted to be creating a marble run out of cardboard boxes and sellotape.

While numbers going on to senior school are currently small (children who’ve had almost a decade’s worth of the school by year 8 understandably want fresh horizons) parents think it can only grow in popularity. ‘Having a senior school that’s co-ed and middle of the road and caters for a wider range… [makes it] a fantastic option,’ says parent. ‘There’s a huge need, particularly in this part of London because there just aren’t that many options.’

Expectations in senior school are that everyone will take six core subjects at GCSE (English lit and lang, maths, and three sciences) plus four options, including French, Spanish and Latin, art and design, computer science and drama but currently not music or PE. School does its best to be infinitely adaptable. Flexible approach to subjects – if children really aren’t keen, potential to drop a subject. Tracking and progress designed to pinpoint where student is and what might be capable of achieving (will soon be compatible with pre-prep and prep tracking system).

Preparation underway for first teaching of the IB programme in September 2021 when the new sixth form opens.

Learning support and SEN

There are regular reports and meetings, not so much to pick holes but fill any gaps, while much praised SEN team offers one-to-one lessons (extra charge, maximum two a week) with dedicated SEN team (two in pre-prep, working four and two days respectively). Also sessions with external OT and SALT who work across other schools.

The arts and extracurricular

Drama and music felt to be most popular synapse boosters and first-class throughout. Lots of choirs (separate for boys and girls) orchestras and ensembles – even a percussion club and school of rock band, while pre-prep pupils enjoy timetabled lessons that include a weekly singalong for each year group together and, from year 2 are introduced to recorder, violin and ukulele. Chamber choir much praised – singing is ‘amazing’, says parent (an understatement, if final prep rehearsals for Lion King on day of visit were anything to go by). Around 170 pupils take individual music lessons in school (many more outside), achieving up to grade 7.

Residential visits start in year 4 with trip to Flatford Mill learning (among other things) to set humane mammal traps. Also annual ski trip, assorted sports tours (year 5 football – boys and girls – to Gothenburg). All teachers are involved in running lunch time and after school clubs (others bought in at extra cost). Prep pupils are encouraged to choose at least one club each term - homework to hair braiding, jewellery making to mini engineers. Seniors have music ensembles, comedy improvisation, science clubs, debating, coding, singing groups with DofE offered from year 9. Generally good though parents occasionally question value for money. ‘Child’s end of term karate display consisted of standing up, lifting leg in the air and bowing,’ says one.

Sport

Improved sports facilities at King’s House Sports Ground in Chiswick, have significantly reduced travel time. ‘Encourages every pupil to do something, whether they’re good at it or not,’ says a parent. And teachers know how to raise flagging spirits after a bad result. ‘We lost the semi-finals at football and the teacher got us food from Tesco. They have this way of making people happy,’ says prep pupil. Team games – for which school uses nearby sports grounds - dominate until year 10, when there’s switch to more individual activities e.g. life-saving, badminton, aerobics. Lots of tours – co-ed football tour to Gothenburg, year 5 rugby in Cornwall, prep and senior girls’ netball to Marbella, annual ski trip. Currently just doesn’t have the critical mass to field the numbers, and standard of teams that some parents would like to see – in which case tend to move either for bigger co-eds or selective single sex schools. However, as school grows, team choice – and results – both expected to be bigger and better, girls’ sports already upweighted.

Ethos and heritage

Surprisingly young, started only in 1996 with a single class by Jane Emmett (still a governor). In 2014, snapped up by Inspired, an international education group which boasts ‘64 premium schools, 45,000 students, five continents’ but has managed to keep this school’s identity miraculously intact. Now on four sites with decent amount of outdoor space – latest is the new sixth form campus. Has new name (was Fulham Prep) though internet has yet to catch up with searches - at time of writing, quite often coming up with newish state boys’ school, just down the road, with a very similar name...

Pre-prep on Fulham High Street is a recently renovated 1860s building housing reception over two floors and extending in approximate horseshoe shape out into the playground. It’s comfortable, cosy and listed (top floor roof buttresses have welcome padding to protect taller visitors). Second more modern, and recently renovated, building with four floors accommodates remaining year groups, also includes hall with warm lighting, specialist teaching rooms and music room - which is ‘beautiful’, says the head.

Outdoor spaces – more and prettier than you’d think – are attractively hidden round corners: outdoor play areas for reception, artificial grass, pirate ship playground, astro, plus delightfully unmanicured garden with crops tended to by children (and ex-goldfish tended to by heron).

Closer to west Kensington is the prep school, currently also housing senior school pupils and occupying about an acre. Outside it’s slightly on the bare side, though not necessarily the school’s fault. There’s a token tree - lovingly tended and looks it – and they have recently added a new green surfacing on the playground. Nice touches include water fountains and the odd eccentricity – an old red phone box that’s ‘just decorative or used as base for hide and seek,’ says pupil.

Inside, school has been built up ‘into the eaves’. Stairs – ‘too many,’ says pupil – can get congested, though breaktime noise was well within acceptable limits. Year 9s and 10s currently share premises on top floor with bright, white classrooms, a small shared common room (tour guides slightly embarrassed by cheerful clutter of dumped bags) and thoughtful touches including a notice board with ‘Gratitude corner’ in printed letters above a blank space (we assume a TBC rather than deficit in thankfulness). Library (with mezzanine treehouse reading space), theatre, science lab, art studio, dance and fitness studio are among the areas recently improved and there’s a new music block.

Pastoral care, inclusivity and discipline

School previously had its three Cs - consideration, commitment and courtesy – known by heart by all pupils. Now developed into the Fulham ‘core’ with input from pupils, designed to (among other things) teach the value of failure; it crops up in initiatives like ‘Failsafe’ – get your mistakes in early – and as an enterprise goal. Staff won’t always leap in to rescue initiatives that aren’t working but will encourage children to talk through process and help themselves, an approach that brought recent fashion show, entirely pupil-led initiative, back from the brink. Perhaps accounts for moderate rather than febrile competitive spirit between houses, thought older pupils, reaching apogee on sports day.

Bullying swiftly dealt with, felt parents. One rare incident was posted into the worry box and ‘never mentioned again’. School counsellor also on hand, daily meetings with tutor good at flagging up and resolving many of the routine issues.

When things do go right, they’re made much of – big and small. Celebration assemblies recognise everything from top academic prizes to lining up awards in pre-prep so low hoverers as well as high fliers get their moment in the sun. But the biggest lure, we reckon, is decision to let year 11s wear own clothes – bound to be a sure-fire winner.

Prep school food was only area felt to be letting the (buttered) side down though one parent reckoned children are just too fussy. Strenuous efforts now made and children vote with their tokens – if like their grub, post smiley face disc by way of acknowledgement – and there’s also a wizard wheeze where all lunch waste is weighed and logged by house. ‘Brilliant at encouraging people to eat everything on their plate,’ says pupil.

Pupils and parents

Still traditional – more working dads than mums but dual incomes now far more common, says school. Many parents are from the immediate area and paint an idyllic picture of informal out of school socialising in local parks. Happy, relaxed vibe. ‘Have made some lifelong friendships,’ says one. At senior level, smaller cohort felt by one parent to be ‘ideal for those who can excel in small group rather than get lost’. Parents all praise the natural charm of pupils and desire to answer questions (not deliver pre-rehearsed response). ‘Sweet and not robotic,’ says parent, ‘just happy little children, never fails to astound me how normal they are – hold the door open without being told but still chatting with their mates, might have a finger up their nose – it’s a real school.’ Co-ed but with girls still in the minority – though for most parents it’s not an issue, particularly with more girls starting to join in years 7 onwards.

Money matters

Sibling discount of 10 per cent. No bursaries or financial support currently offered – ‘programme under development’.

The last word

A warm, popular and well-led school that reaps high praise from its predominantly local parents. Evolution into all-through school is being carefully managed (separate senior school premises – and a few more girls – will undoubtedly help) and could pay off for early adopters. But for prep parents seeking success at 11+ and 13+ - the biggest customers of the lot - it’s reassuringly business as usual.

Please note: Independent schools frequently offer IGCSEs or other qualifications alongside or as an alternative to GCSE. The DfE does not record performance data for these exams so independent school GCSE data is frequently misleading; parents should check the results with the schools.

Special Education Needs

As a non-selective school for 4+ entry, we have a few children who prove to be dyslexic or dyspraxic. Should this be suspected, we request that the child has a full educational assessment with an educational psychologist. If necessary, we can then provide some 1 to 1 support, no more than two half hour lessons per week, for which a charge is made. This programme is supervised by our SENCO together with our part-time dyslexia specialists. We also have the services of a paediatric physiotherapist who spends one day a week in school to help children who are known to have dyspraxic type difficulties. We are an academic school and prefer, where possible, to limit the number of special needs children in any one year. 09-09

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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