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The boy:girl ratio here is 60:40, but the feel is thoroughly co-ed. And despite the step up in academic rigour in recent years (including more testing), Lambrook lessons genuinely seem fun, with relaxed but respectful relations between pupils and staff, many of whom live on site. Grounds and facilities are a sportsperson’s paradise and while it must be tough to do them justice (and, apparently, the match teas), the boys' and girls' teams regularly bring home gold and silverware – but, say pupils, they don't just play to...

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What the school says...

Nestled in stunning grounds of over 52 acres, Lambrook School boasts 150 years of academic excellence and outstanding opportunities for its pupils. The Lambrook experience combines first class teaching and excellent facilities with traditional values, in the idyllic, tranquil surroundings of the beautiful Berkshire countryside.

By far, our most important asset is our children. From 1860 to the present day we have been nurturing boys and girls, ensuring that they enter senior school life as confident, outgoing, intelligent and creative young people.

We pride ourselves on our high academic standards, superb facilities and sporting provision. Our boarding is fun, friendly and flexible, with a real family atmosphere, yet not compulsory.

Lambrook gives your child the best possible foundations for senior school and beyond. The development of each individual child is at the heart of everything we do, allowing them to grow and thrive in a stimulating, challenging and rewarding environment.
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What The Good Schools Guide says

Headmaster

Since 2010, Jonathan Perry, previously head of Kingsmead School in Hoylake, and before that senior housemaster at Monkton Combe, Bath. Degree in religious studies and history from Gloucestershire; PGCE from Cambridge. With a family made up largely of teachers and clergy (father was a bishop), public service is clearly in the blood.

Personable, chatty and very much a double act with wife Jenny, a gentle and hospitable woman who works one day a week as a clinical pharmacist at a nearby hospital; their own children attended the school and have since progressed to Wellington and Downe House. ‘I only got the job because of Jenny,’ he jests. ‘But a headmaster’s wife’s husband, he is not,’ points out Jenny; indeed, her role is limited to meeting prospective parents with him (most mornings), helping pastorally with the school nurses, overseeing the school’s second-hand shop, match teas and liaising with the PTA.

Doesn’t do timetabled teaching (‘I’d constantly have to find cover’), but does current affairs sessions for older pupils when he can. Says his door is always open, although pupils told us they ‘wouldn’t dream of going over to that side of the school unless invited’; they did add, however, that he’s ‘approachable’, ‘fun’ and ‘often out and about’ and they are clearly at ease in his company.

Described by parents as ‘the perfect fit’ and ‘always willing to go the extra mile – the type of head who gets into costume on Greek day and who is the first to start clearing up after a social event.’ And it is testament to his modesty that it took parents to tell us how he greets them every morning, is present at most matches and, as one put it, ‘finds exactly the right school for your child to move on to’. Mixed feelings about his decision to increase pupil numbers, but he promises ‘no more’.

A keen sportsman, he enjoys golf, tennis and cricket, ‘but more often these days from the sidelines’. Cornwall is where the family go to get away from it all – sea being practically the only thing lacking in Winkfield Row.

Entrance

Mostly at 3, 4 and 7 years. School meets all prospective pre-prep families and there’s a formal assessment day for entrance to the prep, up to a year before prospective entry. Assessment criteria include academic ability, wider interests, character and behaviour. With around four to five applications per place in some years and growing waiting lists, parents are advised to clock an interest a good few years in advance.

Increasingly favoured by west London parents (for which school runs three minibuses, but is capping it there); while home counties parents hail from Ascot, Windsor, Eton and Henley, as well as villages right across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Surrey.

Exit

Destinations have remained fairly consistent in recent years, with the majority moving on to Eton, Charterhouse, Bradfield, Marlborough, St Mary’s Ascot, Downe House and Wellington.

Our view

If you’re lucky enough to visit this magnificent white Berkshire mansion on a sunny day, it is a glorious site. And if you pick a day to see the school’s 52 acres of lush prime estate at their peak of green and pleasantness, expect to see children playing under trees, with the cricket pitch and nine-hole golf course (yes, really) looking like velvet and hear birdsong coming from every direction.

The front door of the original house leads to a grand hall and staircase, with stylish reception area and headmaster’s study; pupils and parents enter through a modern foyer which bridges the old and new builds. The library is gem, with gothic wood panels and shelves, plus comfy seating for children to use anytime (which they do). Double glass doors lead from here into the spacious, conference-style Churcher Room, where we saw pupils working away on iPads. The dining room, although large, is homely and unintimidating. Here, as elsewhere, historic photographs of the estate’s history and past pupils – teams, plays etc – form part of the fabric rather than a separate archive. Founded in 1860, Lambrook is alma mater of, among others, Lord Alfred Douglas (Oscar Wilde’s downfall), Queen Victoria’s grandsons Prince Christian Victor and Prince Albert, WC Sellar and RJ Yeatman, authors of 1066 and All That. More recent alumni include actor Alex Petyffer and rugby internationals Max and Thom Evans.

The fine chapel with its gleaming brass and polished pews can no longer accommodate everyone, so whole-school assemblies and inter-house competitions (singing etc) take place in the performing arts auditorium (a 2013 building that is also home to swish music facilities), while other newer buildings of note include the sports hall and spectacular indoor swimming pool (2015).

The boy:girl ratio here is 60:40, but the feel is thoroughly co-ed. And despite the step-up in academic rigour in recent years (including more testing), Lambrook lessons genuinely seem fun, with relaxed but respectful relations between pupils and staff, many of whom live on site. ‘I can’t think of a single teacher that has been substandard,’ one parent told us; and teachers (a good mix of male, female, old and young) praise the CPD they’re offered. Many pupils (and some parents) would gladly give their right arm to give up Saturday school (compulsory for years 5 and above), although will have to grin and bear it as head says, ‘I’m proudly holding on to it – it’s what most will be doing in senior school so it prepares them well.’

Four-form entry from year 3, with maximum of 18 to a class. Setting from year 3 in maths and English (five sets); from year 5 in French, Latin and science (four sets). Lots of fluidity, agree all, and there’s some informal banding for humanities too. French taught from nursery; Spanish from year 7 (Saturday school); German for scholars; Latin from year 5; Greek for the most able year 7s. Mandarin as extracurricular. Homework on the heavy side – 40 minutes a night from year 3, moving incrementally up to an hour and a half by year 8, but with compulsory daily prep sessions that finish at 5/5.30pm, pupils don’t usually have to take any home – ‘such a boon,’ said one parent.

Milder cases of SEN well catered for, with support in the classroom where possible. No stigma, with pupils chatting away about their various needs, while parents rave about open-minded approach: ‘The school is very mindful that dyslexia is not one thing and are happy to try one thing and move onto another if it doesn’t work, as well trying out approaches I’ve read about,’ said one.

Music is flourishing; 85 per cent of children learn at least one instrument up to and including grade 8 (420 performing arts lessons each week) and there’s a wealth of school bands and ensembles, as well as a full symphony orchestra. We were privy to choir practice in the chapel at lunchtime – a sonic sensation; no wonder they are regularly invited to sing at Eton College and St George’s Chapel, Windsor and have also performed at Notre Dame Cathedral. ‘It’s not just the acting we get involved in, but the backstage tech stuff too,’ pupils told us excitedly. Art also flying, with the school currently building a bigger department for art, design and technology.

Grounds and facilities are a sportsperson’s paradise and while it must be tough to do them justice (and, apparently, the match teas), the boys' and girls' teams regularly bring home gold and silverware – school currently county champions at hockey and first 11 football team has been unbeaten for three years straight. Main sports (played four afternoons a week) are football, rugby, hockey, tennis, cricket (boys) and hockey netball, lacrosse, tennis, rounders (girls). ‘But we don’t just play to win,’ say pupils, with A-E teams ensuring everyone gets to represent the school. Don’t like sport? ‘You still play!’ pupils told us, but breadth of activities thankfully mean most are lured by something – trampolining, skiing, basketball, fencing, diving, sailing, polo (well, this is Ascot). Impressive choice of clubs include creative writing, beekeeping, debating, astronomy etc, with school often busy until 8pm. Equally exciting range of expeditions, with highlights including canoeing in Sweden and bi-annual cricket tour to South Africa, all with a strong sense of public service included.

Proactive pastoral care, with form tutors and heads of year meeting with pastoral head every week to identify children in need of support – ‘anything from a friendship group regularly falling out to someone whose father has just died.’ Matron, counsellor (visits every Thursday) and Mrs Perry also involved. ‘It’s a busy, pressured environment and we have to back that up with support,’ she says, with staff themselves attending mental well-being courses. ‘There’s no teacher I don’t feel I could talk to,’ one pupil told us. High expectations (rather than lots of rules) set the tone for the good behaviour and most pupils go through school without a detention. ‘There’s room to slip up, with most teachers giving multiple warnings before you get a punishment,’ one pupil told us. Two temporary exclusions in the last few years. ‘Bullying doesn’t exist,’ pupils told us; head knew better than to make such assertions, ‘but we’re on the front foot, identifying and keeping a close eye on children with sharper elbows.’ No-phone policy.

We visited the nursery, separate from but close to the main school, just before lunch (meals on wheels from main school kitchen). Tinies sitting on the floor were engrossed in a singing session. All downstairs classrooms boast fenced-in outdoor areas to encourage free flow, while outdoor classroom with tepees and a sensory walk is also used regularly. Pre-prep has its own hall, used for before (from 8.15am) and after (until 6pm) school care – a bonus for parents, especially if they have older children at the main school.

Boys’ dorms (two to 10 beds per dorm) are located at the top of nursery, all with homely touches and contemporary colours, plus a common room packed with table football and other active indoor games. Girls’ dorms (two to eight beds per dorm) are back in the main house, with similar set-up but far more pink and a common room more focused on seating (‘We chat and watch telly more,’ explained one girl). Boarders’ kitchens are large, sunny and refreshingly un-institutional. Boarding (available from year 3 upwards) is either weekly or flexi; the latter is particularly popular at the end of the week – parents certainly appreciate it – with 220 different children having boarded during the last year. ‘It’s really good fun – you get a great mix of scheduled activities and free time with your friends,’ one pupil told us.

Lambrook is a happy, dynamic and unstuffy prep school in an idyllic pastoral setting where children are educated to the best of their potential. Providing a fabulous range of opportunities to broaden horizons and instil new interests, it’s best suited to the academically able and (ideally, but not exclusively) sporty boys and girls.

Special Education Needs

We aim to provide each child with every opportunity to develop their potential, taking into account their different learning profiles, abilities and interests (including gifted and talented pupils). Seven suitably qualified teachers, who can assess and teach throughout the age ranges, provide comprehensive individual programmes for those with special learning needs. We apply a whole school policy to meet each pupil’s individual needs following the guidelines of the Code of Practice for SEN. We aim to identify at the earliest opportunity any child who may have Special Educational Needs and to maintain a Special Needs Register. The Learning Development Centre has been well established within the framework of the school. It is expected that pupils attending the LDC will integrate into the school and achieve the expectations of the school curriculum. Pupils need to be able to access the curriculum independently and to have the potential to succeed at Common Entrance. Our aim is for pupils to be happy, motivated and efficient learners. We also strive to build their self-esteem, establish their self-awareness, self worth and confidence in the school environment and beyond. A wide range of specialist teaching is available with a visiting occupational therapist, speech therapist and educational psychologist. Lessons are designed to meet specific needs, as identified by tests or professional assessments. Strategies for classroom management are supplied to all staff to implement and these are reviewed termly. Lessons are usually on one-to-one basis and can be instead of Latin in years 5 to 8. Withdrawing pupils from curriculum subjects is avoided wherever possible. Special arrangements for examinations are applied for and word processors and laptops can be used when appropriate. The progress of pupils with the LDC is continually monitored and reviewed each term. The school has provision for EAL lessons for children for whom English is an additional language if, it is deemed that with appropriate help and support, they will benefit in due course from the mainstream curriculum and will be ultimately successful at Common Entrance. 09-09

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
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 Y
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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