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  • Ibstock Place School
    Clarence Lane
    SW15 5PY
  • Head: Christopher Wolsey
  • T 020 8876 9991
  • F 020 8876 9915
  • E [email protected]
  • W
  • Ibstock Place School is an English independent day school for boys and girls aged 4 to 18, located in Roehampton, south-west London. The school educates over 950 boys and girls and was founded as the Froebel Demonstration School, with connections to the Froebel Institute.
  • Boarding: No
  • Local authority: Wandsworth
  • Pupils: 994; sixth formers: 156 (91 boys; 65 girls)
  • Religion: Non-denominational
  • Fees: £17,610 - £22,350 pa
  • Open days: Next Senior School Open Evening on Wednesday 4 May 2022
  • Review: View The Good Schools Guide Review
  • ISI report: View the ISI report

What says..

Quality of art is stunning and relentlessly original, from prep school’s pen and ink re-imaginings of Rousseau's tiger that avoid listless copies seen elsewhere to sixth former’s Pre-U work, a menacingly beautiful street scene. Lunchtime house maths quiz (questions in German and French – no native speakers or bilingual pupils allowed) - reinforced the message. If you want an easy academic option, this ain’t it.

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What the school says...

Ibstock Place School entrance criteria:

Prep School : Waiting lists for Kindergarten (Reception); Year 1 through individual assessment; Years 2-4 by assessments in English and Mathematics; Years 5-6 by assessments in English, Mathematics and Reasoning plus a written report from current Headteacher.

Entry into the Senior School at 11 + is by assessment in Mathematics, English, Reasoning and interview in January (detailed report is also required by previous Headteacher). Occasional places available at 13+. Sixth Form is by assessment/interview and GCSE results. ...Read more

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Cambridge Pre-U - an alternative to A levels, with all exams at the end of the two-year course.

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


Since January 2021, Christopher Wolsey, previously deputy head. Has had various roles at the school since joining in 2007, including head of humanities and head of sixth form. Before that, was head of history and politics at Westcliff High School for Boys and prior to that he taught history and was assistant head of sixth form at Churcher’s College, Petersfield. Began his teaching career at William Hulme’s Grammar School, Manchester.


For reception places, assessment includes language development, play and group participation. The second major entry point is at 7+. Children take written tests in English, maths and reasoning with successful applicants granted right of progression to the senior school. Occasional places in other prep years, except year 6.

At senior level, substantial competition and growth in selectivity. Two-stage exam process (look for scores of 105/110). Everyone participates in small group 'Learning Workshops' to assess class performance and sits a CEM computer test and papers in English and mathematics.


Once accepted, senior pupils are supported through to 16+. Minimum of a year’s warning for those who may not make the cut to sixth form. ‘You’ve got to be academically minded and it’s silly to be in an environment where you’re not going to feel happy,’ says school. Of the 30 per cent of so who do leave after GCSEs, some go into sixth form colleges (Esher and Richmond) for less ‘crunchy’ subjects, others to eg Hurtwood House to specialise in drama.

Very occasional unscheduled exits. Just one for drugs in past decade, says school (making it unique in SW London), though head stresses that ‘no one is marched through the door. A mistake has been made and therefore we must assist.’ Help with rehoming as well as taking in the casualties from other schools. ‘We have to understand that we were all children once,’ says school.

Imperial, UCL, LSE, Edinburgh, Manchester, Warwick, Bristol, Sheffield, York, Durham, Exeter, Sussex, Nottingham all popular. Several to universities in the USA. Four to Oxbridge and one medic in 2021. Languages popular, usually several to art foundation courses.

Latest results

In 2021, 86 per cent 9-7 at GCSE; school not releasing 2021 A level results. In 2019 (the last year when exams took place), 73 per cent 9-7 at GCSE; 60 per cent A*/A at A level (88 per cent A*-B).

Teaching and learning

Forget ‘alternative’ reputation. Results now are as mainstream as they come. While inspectors are besotted with school’s liberal and humane approach (several mentions in the latest report), school stresses its ‘fundamentally conservative’ approach with focus on traditional academic subjects, 10 GCSEs the norm with mother language an occasional extra.

Lunchtime house maths quiz (questions in German and French – no native speakers or bilingual pupils allowed) reinforced the message. If you want an easy academic option, this ain’t it. Mixed-ability groups in year 7 with subsequent setting for science, maths and English. Two hours of homework in year 7 rising to three-ish in sixth form. Subject support and free supervised homework club till 6pm help to colour in the gaps.

Firefly – online homework tracking from distribution to completion – is ‘brilliant for disorganised children or parents with multiple offspring,’ said parent.

Mind-expanding activities include senior school subject-related clubs (‘Make’ - takes things apart and rebuilds – and ‘Why?’ – your questions answered) and lots of debate, with year 8 geographers attempting to solve famine in Somalia in UN-style committee meeting (English Speaking Board qualifications offered from prep school upwards).

School is in top five per cent for progress, assisted by low pupil to teacher ratios (one to nine in seniors and one to 10 in prep), plus zest to uncover pupils’ strengths. ‘My child has transformed into a completely different creature,’ said parent.

After gentle start in the pre-prep, pace becomes brisker in year 5 with introduction of timetabled tests - ‘cycle’, in school parlance - in maths, English and reasoning, which give class places and clarify the likelihood of making the cut to senior school. (Parents are asked not to - and don’t - share results.) School felt to tackle this tricky topic with honesty. ‘Handle it very sensitively,’ said parent. Support for the anxious or disorganised is sensitively handled too.

‘My child is a worrier – they spotted that quite early and spent time reassuring her,’ said prep parent. All achieved with quality teaching. Old cynics have been replaced by younger enthusiasts (many in 20s). ‘Almost exclusively exceptional,’ said one prep parent. ‘Have to be strict but they help, they’re open,’ thought senior pupil.

Attention to detail extends to dog ends of the academic year. After 11+ exams, prep pupils get a fiver to start a mini business – home-knitted pompoms a recent highlight - while year 11s (known here as PVIs – pre-sixth formers) return after GCSEs for a summer school with left field options (creating balsamic vinegar capsules in a molecular gastronomy session) and conventional ones (making a clay bust in a day). Can convert pupils to formerly unenvisaged subjects. ‘Didn’t know I would take further maths,’ said sixth former whose idea of bliss was work experience on an oil rig. Others raved about Mandarin, sport and art.

Learning support and SEN

Not the place for more than mild SEN. About 100 have some learning needs, only 40 or so get formal support – a few touch-type, for example - and nobody has an EHCP. Similarly, while there are plenty of EAL pupils (some multilingual), only 10 have additional help with English.

The arts and extracurricular

Just contemplating the range of activities is exhausting, so numerous (around 70 clubs each for prep and seniors) that they stretch out of the week and into Saturdays. Why go anywhere else? 'I'm cancelling family's gym membership,' said mother. At least one club a week the minimum - one prep pupil was up to five, and counting.

Helped by compact campus (getting from A to B doesn't involve a trawl through the alphabet) though one parent felt stronger communications – particularly for new bods – about where to collect children would be helpful.

Arts remain the school’s big thing, with addition of new, better facilities to do them in. Dance (ballet, street etc – nothing wrong with musical theatre but needs good foundations first, says head) is timetabled in prep with clubs for all ages. Though sheds senior boys along the way, some hang in there - several at pro standard.

Same richness applies to drama. Budding thesps have quick change performance space (smaller back-up in prep school) which transforms from seating to scenery in minutes. Even the green room - all glass, light and views - is stunning.

Around 400 learn at least one instrument (string scheme for all prep pupils), with boys-only ensembles (and positive discrimination to ensure gender balance in selective IPS singers). Glitzy productions such as Cinderella. Also have ensemble in residence which performs pupils' GCSE compositions live - beats headphone and computer rendition any time).

Quality of art is stunning and relentlessly original, from prep school’s pen and ink reimaginings of Rousseau's tiger that avoid listless copies seen elsewhere to sixth former’s Pre-U work, a menacingly beautiful street scene with hurrying people interspersed by stitched outlines of ghostly others – a thought-provoking tribute to the ‘disappeared’.


It's ‘out of this world, run very fairly and with great good humour,’ said parent. Despite fluctuating interest and talent levels it’s often very successful, helped by continuity – sports teachers work with both junior and senior pupils.

Traditional division of girl and boy sports is mutating into something more equal and interesting - girls' football already here; boys' hockey mooted (but surprisingly few takers so on the back burner for now), co-ed cricket and water polo highly successful.

School keeps a careful eye on anyone in danger of what it describes as ‘choice anxiety’, as well as offering tea (a bargain £2 for the full cake and sandwich experience). No wonder parents describe the choice as ‘overwhelming’, but in a good way, they were keen to explain.

Ethos and heritage

Site of two halves, bisected by a road (instant Saturday detention for failure to cross by footbridge). To the left there’s the art ‘hut’, showing age, DT, sports hall and large sports field (fenced off from adjacent Roehampton University).

Needs something stiffer than white hydrangeas to transform, so school wisely doesn’t attempt it. On the other side, it’s beauty all the way. ‘I don’t remember my school being this nice,’ said another visitor, staring up at the winding, intricately carved staircase. Nor us.

If leavers lack heightened aesthetic sensibilities, it won’t be for want of trying. Main building features a pitch perfect recreation of a de luxe Edwardian country house lifestyle (the Duchess of Sutherland, house’s original owner, would feel she’d never been away) and the best of contemporary design. Cleaners regularly wash the light walls (impressively fingerprint free) and there’s even talk of ‘low-level dusting’. Library bookshelves have ironwork frames built to the previous head’s design, shelves made of extra-strong American white oak. Even reception pupils’ sandpit is actually plastic beads – tens of thousands of them. Flow authentically but rubbish for sand castles.

Outside, even the smallest of spare spaces is densely planted (with occasional tactical use of artificial grass). Statement vases as well as statement wheelbarrows pep up paths and enhance armadillos (the curved music practice huts) with those signature white hydrangeas everywhere. Though slap bang in the centre of the site, pre-prep (reception to year 1 - gentler transition through EYFS) and prep (years 2-6) have a school within a school, think parents. Smart, well-equipped classroom blocks, library, art and ICT space and mostly soft surface play areas (pupils keen for upgrade to remaining asphalt). Spacious new refectory replaces previous cramped conservatory dining area. Remaining homeopathic quantities of the old Froebel school (display of earnest looking 1960s toys) don’t impinge.

Prep uniform (navy cords for boys, Liberty print dresses for girls) is both sweet and practical (if a bit wanting in a heatwave, said pupils). Youngest wear emerald green jackets – ensures maximum visibility during school visits - navy duffle coat for older pupils. Wellies essential, say parents. Children will spend plenty of time outside. Teachers, too, have their uniform – males, anyway, all in shades of grey (required, apparently). Well, you can’t have anyone clashing with those lovely cream walls.

Pastoral care, inclusivity and discipline

‘We’re quite relaxed,’ say sixth formers firmly, looking, well, quite relaxed. ‘If you have a worry they will show you it’s not the end of the world.’ Parents agree. ‘When I went around… I saw incredibly happy confident pupils, at ease with themselves and each other who looked like they believed that the world was a good and exciting place,’ said one.

It’s a tribute to effective pastoral care headed by class teachers (for juniors), with vertical houses, each with academic and pastoral tutor, in senior school. No mollycoddling but ‘they do look after us,’ said one. Daily pupil notes record staff concerns. Effective, say parents, who rarely escalate issues to top level.

Little fazes staff. Transgender pupils are accepted without fuss, uniform policy is flexible (skirts and trousers could be worn by either girls or boys) and there’s plenty of give and take (‘teachers will always give your child a fair hearing if they think they’ve been unfairly treated,’ said one mother). However, this isn’t a place for boat rockers. Parents stress the importance of complying with school expectations, and advisability of paying close attention to home-school contract. Only two or three days a year when blazers aren’t worn, for example (sustained scorchio levels only), and detentions are the rule for missing homework. Perks for seniors include arriving early for breakfast, though no common room till sixth form. Zero tolerance for mobile phones, which don’t in any case work anywhere pupils might be tempted to use them (loos and library, for example).

While one parent thought there was a little latitude for ‘charming’ naughtiness – if countered by unimpeachable work ethic and creative talent - tolerance for the merely disruptive felt to be low to zero. ‘You fall into line and work hard.’ Parents of those who don’t (though admittedly we didn’t encounter any) would almost certainly have a very different experience. ‘It’s not that kind of school,’ said mother. ‘To me this is a smart school that wants to keep itself smart and you have to abide by the rules.’ Generally works a treat. ‘The most well-behaved children I’ve ever taught,’ says a smart young gent who’s off to induct prep pupils into the mysteries of coding. Parents agreed, and were surprised to hear of the small number of pupils we encountered who failed to hold doors for their headmistress. Agreed that uncharacteristic. ‘Low blood sugar,’ it was explained. Only other question mark was over quality of school lunches, particularly for prep pupils. ‘Not always appetising and it can sometimes be cold,’ thought parent. (School stresses that ‘catering team at IPS work extremely hard to get it right and most pupils are positively glowing about the quality of our lunches.’) Otherwise, ‘I don’t believe there’s anything that hasn’t been handled well.’

The school, among others, was recently implicated on the Everyone’s Invited website regarding allegations of peer on peer sexual assault and sexual harassment. A spokesperson told us, ‘IPS unequivocally condemns the behaviours which are exposed on the Everyone's Invited account. Since March 2021, it has instigated an external review of its safeguarding procedures as well as a further buttressing of its PSHE programme. Further, it has sought sustained dialogue with all of its stakeholders, with pupil voice at the forefront, to build a concerted response to the issue of gendered violence. IPS is committed to building a community which is ever more inclusive, tolerant and respectful.’ The Guide views this as a national rather than a local phenomenon and will be taking a close interest in the effectiveness of schools’ responses to it.

Pupils and parents

Catchment typical for area with a blend of well-to-do with sprinkling of self-effacing celebrities – not an oxymoron as ‘don’t make a big deal but you know who they are,’ said parent. More local than most and friendly, too. ‘Pretty nice people,’ said mother.

Bonding helped by dynamic PTA selling secondhand uniform and running Christmas fair so successful that upmarket commercial organisations (multi-ply cashmere variety) compete to pay for a stand.

Thinking (and living) local definitely a good bet given location - 30 minutes’ walk from Barnes Station or a five-minute trip on the (free) shuttle bus fleet that runs from 7.30am before school and until 6.10pm afterwards. Otherwise, ‘a really challenging place to drive to,’ said parent, though drop-off parking logistics are eased by pleasant staff member who deals with the hard-of-understanding with smiling determination.

Money matters

Music award available at 11+. Music, drama, art and sports scholarships at 13+ (no longer at 11+). Academic, creative arts and sports scholarships at 16+. Bursaries means-tested here as everywhere.

The last word

Striking combination of space, style and success has led to regular appearances on more SW London parents’ long lists than ever before. To flourish here, reckoned sixth former, ‘you need to be hardworking, ambitious, have to want to do well, be positive, extrovert and not afraid to have fun.’ A yen to commune with the odd white hydrangea won’t come amiss either.

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.

Who came from where

Who goes where

Special Education Needs

The School can offer short term support on a fees-for-service basis.

Who came from where

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