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What says..

Split between three attractive buildings in Richmond, this is very much a united school with a clear ethos and sense of purpose. The pupils - aged from 3 to 13 - are happy and chatty. The older children are thoroughly prepared for both the 11 and 13+ and they convey a quiet confidence without arrogance. Wellbeing is prioritised in the belief that happy children achieve well and communication at all levels is outstanding. Change is in the pipeline as the transition to co-educational begins ...

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What the school says...

King's House School in Richmond is an independent day prep school and nursery for children aged 3 to 13 years.

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What The Good Schools Guide says


Since 2011, Mark Turner. A languages graduate (University of Bristol), he spent six years in the army education corps before a career move. First teaching post at Merchant Taylor’s, teaching languages and running the CCF, before an epiphany and a move into primary education. At Durston House (as academic deputy) for nine years and at KHS ever since. A father of four (now almost grown up) children, his sons attended the school and he lives in a school house ‘down the road’. When not at work, he plays the piano, plays and watches sport, and enjoys doing and setting quizzes (including an online staff quiz each week).

His greatest achievement to date, apart from ‘keeping the school full’ (a comment very much spoken in jest but possibly holding a modicum of truth), has been ‘uniting the three components [nursery, junior and senior schools] into a single entity’ despite their physical separation. He also celebrates the fact that the traditional boys’ prep school focus on academics plus sport has been expanded so that genuine value is attributed to the creative arts and DT. Regular surveys enable him and his team to keep their fingers on the pulse of the parent body and to respond to changing demands.

He does not make light of the challenges facing preparatory schools and is refreshingly honest about the fact that the future is, by definition, unknown and is largely outside his control. This realism, combined with a genuine willingness to listen, to adapt and to learn, are all big pluses. For now, presiding over a happy, vibrant and successful school, with exciting developments in the pipeline, is rewarding and he is looking forward to overseeing the next phase.


This is a mixed ability, as opposed to a non-selective, school. Places are offered in order of registration for children entering nursery and reception. Very much a ‘local’ school - word of mouth is an invaluable resource. From year 1 onwards there is a ‘light touch’ assessment (English, maths and an interview) intended more to ‘get a feel’ for the child and whether he will fit in than to select the most academic; behaviour matters. Currently absorbing boys from the closure of a nearby competitor.


Although keen to hold on to pupils until the end of year 8, inevitably some jump ship earlier, a couple at 7+ (usually to King’s College and St Paul’s Juniors) but, more specifically, to co-ed day schools at 11+; a third in 2023. This seems to be a growing trend as boys head to the likes of Ibstock Place, Kneller Hall, Emanuel, Kew House and The Harrodian. At 13+, pupils have gone to in excess of 30 schools over the last few years, with boarding and day schools attracting similar numbers. Most popular are Epsom College (boarding and day), Hampton and St Paul’s. Several each year to the likes of Eton, Harrow, Brighton College and Winchester. A healthy number of scholarships are generally awarded, 12 in 2023.

Our view

It was recently announced that from September 2024, King’s House will become co-educational. Girls joining the nursery now will have the option of staying put. One parent of two boys at the school told us how she ‘did a happy dance in public’ when she heard the news and her daughter will now follow her older brothers through KHS. Those who question whether the school and its staff can adjust to this change of strategy need not worry. A previous head of the junior school (who has also been head and deputy head at some highly regarded girls’ prep and junior schools in London) is being brought in to ensure parents of boys and girls alike can have confidence that this move to co-ed will be a success.

The school comprises three separate buildings in the middle of a stunning residential area of Richmond. One houses the nursery, one the juniors (reception to year 3) and one the senior boys (years 4 to 8). Each has its own identity although teachers cross between the sites where practical; we saw lanyard-wearing music, sport, art and language staff walking in various directions as we visited the different parts of the school.

KHS nursery is housed in two magnificent hall-like rooms flooded with light. In one room are the caterpillars (rising 3s) and in the other the butterflies (rising 4s). Initially the focus is on learning through play, before the focus shifts towards phonics and basic mathematical concepts. The children wear blue gingham smocks, many with their names and pictures embroidered on the front by a local granny who raises money for charity with this initiative. On the day we visited, several girls had opted to wear princess dresses on top of their smocks. We observed a free-play session which seemed calm and purposeful. Staff (numerous) struck a balance between observation, intervention and encouragement. A couple of children were pegging dripping socks onto a washing line having washed them in a sink full of bubbly water. Others were playing with sand, with dinosaurs and construction toys. Hamley’s would be hard-pushed to compete in terms of the variety of toys and activities on offer. Small group circle times enable more focused learning or discussion to take place and, when we visited we happened to walk in as a young boy explained to the member of staff sitting with them on the floor, ‘Today I am feeling happy because I really love you!’ Spontaneous and unscripted.

The junior school is just round the corner in another attractive building. In a reception classroom, pupils were being asked to put up two, one or no thumbs to show the extent to which they had enjoyed an activity. ‘I really wish I had three thumbs’ said one who evidently found just two insufficient to express his enthusiasm. Classrooms and corridors busy and light, with inspiring displays of children’s work. Happy, chatty but focused pupils in lessons. Outside, a brightly coloured playground with endless equipment to encourage physical and imaginative play.

The senior school (‘just across and slightly up the road’ from the juniors) is like a rabbit warren inside with what felt like an unlikely number of stairs going in all directions, somewhat reminiscent of Hogwart’s but on a smaller scale. Pupils move around to specialist teaching rooms and, during the transition from one lesson to another, the relatively narrow corridors and staircases are rammed (woe betide anyone trying to go against the direction of travel) but it appears well-organised and within minutes all reach their destinations and calm is restored.

In each classroom we visited, pupils appeared engaged and relaxed. We were treated to a clear definition of dystopian and gothic literature from one enthusiastic boy while another was obviously feeling inspired by a recent maths lesson on pi (to no fewer than 5 decimal places) and its applications. In computing, a couple of slightly chatty older boys were quickly immersed in the task involving circuits, micro controllers and LED lights. Technology is used appropriately. From year 6 every pupil has a Chromebook and these are well-integrated into lessons. DT comes in for a lot of praise (‘it is really incredible’) and, up at the top of the building, tucked into the eaves, is the DT room, in which some of the younger boys were sewing enthusiastically. For older pupils, a licence to use more complex machines is awarded to those who demonstrate the necessary level of ability and responsibility.

Outside space is extensive and thoughtfully organised. On the lower playground (‘where we mainly play cricket’) a class of boys were dashing backwards and forwards doing a beep test, but at break the game of four square is obviously popular given the number of times it was mentioned. There is also an upper playground with wonderful apparatus in the dappled shade of some impressive trees (‘no ball games, but this is where you can do climbing and talking’) and, beyond that, the Astro where boys apparently head in their droves to play football. Breaks are staggered to ensure there is space for everyone safely to run off any surplus energy. Playground disagreements or disputes are resolved by staff where necessary, or with a game of rock, paper, scissors. PE lessons are held at the school but (in common with many London schools) games takes place a short coach ride away at the school’s 35-acre site in Chiswick.

The boys who showed us round were given free rein to guide and to chat. No lurking marketing manager here to monitor the conversation. What came across was that each and every boy we spoke to was proud to be a member of the King’s House community. One, who joined in year 5, explained how ‘everyone tried to help’ him settle in and how his new classmates would always check he knew where he was supposed to go next which, given the labyrinthine nature of the school, must have been reassuring. Each boy belongs to one of four houses: Churchill, Drake, Nelson and Raleigh. One wonders whether the advent of girls will see this changed.

Parents, mainly professional, are enthusiastic. The general consensus is that the school caters well for all the pupils, accommodating different needs and different types, supporting and stretching them as appropriate. The word ‘nurturing’ was used several times by parents describing the ethos of the school and all felt that the boys ‘treat each other with mutual respect’. Staff go above and beyond to understand, explain and embrace individual, cultural and religious identities whether this be making bracelets to celebrate the Bulgarian festival of Martenitsa or understanding the Sikh patka and how to tie one. One mother, searching for a school that took ‘an emotional and holistic approach to education’, described her first visit to KHS when ‘something clicked’ and she ‘fell in love with it’.

Pastoral care is a priority. The head of pastoral care, senior management team, school nurse and head of learning development work with form teachers and other staff to ensure the pupils’ wellbeing and to ensure any concerns are addressed appropriately. PSHE topics are covered in lessons, assemblies and workshops and address areas such as British values, online safety, racism, consent and, in the senior years, relationships and sex education.

Preparation for 11 and 13+ exams is effective but appears largely without the high levels of stress and pressure that are in evidence at so many schools, although, ‘It has become more pressurised in recent years.’ A parent summed it up: ‘The school is both stepping up and keeping the balance.’ Head and other staff emphasise the importance of being honest with parents from the get-go, thus managing expectations. Parents further up the school report that they are ‘constantly kept aware of where the boys are with their learning’ and are, on the whole, ‘happy to be guided by the school’ when it comes to senior school applications. Pupils are streamed for the final two years following exams in the summer term of year 6: one scholarship set and two parallel classes which are then fixed for the duration. WhatsApp chats can get a little animated when these groups are announced. Tutoring happens but does not appear to be at the fever pitch encountered elsewhere in south-west London.

The boys waxed lyrical about drama, LAMDA, music, rock bands, concerts, plays and a range of competitions (internal and external) in which they are able to participate. Inclusive is the watchword and, ingeniously we thought, pupils can keep within their comfort zones by, for example, deciding whether they might like a major or a minor part in a production and then attending the relevant audition (there being one for each).

The school caters for a wide range of needs and abilities with four per cent of pupils on the SEN register and one per cent with an EHCP. All supported through quality first teaching in class. One parent described the exceptional support given to her son through his time at the school so far, describing how the school has made appropriate provision in order that he can access the curriculum and cope with any social or academic issues along the way. The SENCo, support and teaching staff all take responsibility and, whatever needs to be done, ‘they make it happen’. Communication is excellent.

Money matters

Means tested bursaries (up to 100 per cent) available for children entering any year group from year 3 to year 6. Also available to relieve hardship for existing families.

The last word

Refreshingly normal in this often competitive and frenetic world, King’s House is a successful school with a clear sense of purpose. No hot-house, but a friendly school where happy children do well and with exciting developments in the pipeline.

Special Education Needs

We have two specialist SEN teachers and one assistant. All three are permanent members of the school staff who attend staff meetings and take a full role within the school. Boys who need learning support are all given an IEP which is distributed to the pupil, his parents and to all staff who teach him. This is updated each term. Support can be in the form of withdrawal lessons, in class support, early morning Touch Type, Read and Spell lessons or a combination of all three. We allow laptop use where necessary in class and for homework. All Year 7 and 8 students have a Chromebook for their school work. Each year we conduct full assessments of all pupils to help to identify those who are struggling or who need extension work.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
Dyscalculia Y
Dysgraphia Y
Dyslexia Y
Dyspraxia Y
English as an additional language (EAL) Y
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class
HI - Hearing Impairment
Hospital School Y
Mental health
MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty
MSI - Multi-Sensory Impairment
Natspec Specialist Colleges
OTH - Other Difficulty/Disability
Other SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty Y
PD - Physical Disability Y
PMLD - Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulty
SEMH - Social, Emotional and Mental Health Y
SLCN - Speech, Language and Communication Y
SLD - Severe Learning Difficulty
Special facilities for Visually Impaired
SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty Y
VI - Visual Impairment Y

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