Skip to main content

What says..

Does Mr Horton’s day finish in time for Homes Under the Hammer we wonder? He has the developer’s eye for potential and a north London teacher’s amazement at all of this space – three large halls suitable for indoor sports, rehearsals, assemblies and gymnastics, even spare classrooms which can be set up for break-out activities such as a jungle complete with sound-track and lighting for book week. During the holidays he found ...

Read review »

Do you know this school?

The schools we choose, and what we say about them, are founded on parents’ views. If you know this school, please share your views with us.

Please login to post a comment.

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

Head of preparatory

Since 2015, Tim Horton MA FRCO, degree in music from Jesus College, Cambridge. Previously at The Hall, Hampstead, but has also taught at Abbots Bromley School and Birkdale School, Sheffield. This is his first headship. He was attracted by the diversity of this community in particular but being part of the charitable Whitgift Foundation was important too – he says: ‘it’s much easier to teach values if you practise what you preach,’ and there is a certain freedom here too: ‘you don’t have to put all of your focus on the bottom right hand corner of the budget sheet’.

Mr Horton radiates warmth, amiability and impeccable politeness, slipping in and out of teacher mode in classrooms at ease with every child whom we encountered and name-perfect. His two youngest children, a boy and girl, clearly delight in attending his school, even if it’s not always easy to remember when he’s in headmaster mode. Hard to believe, but his family also includes two older children, another boy and girl – having teens and toddlers at the same time raised a few eyebrows, but typically he says that it worked surprisingly well.

He felt this school ‘had a huge amount to offer but was not outward facing enough.’ That’s all about to change, with new signage just the beginning. He’d like to collaborate with parents, to increase their sense of ownership of the school and for the school to be ‘more actively proud’. With so much space to hand, there is clearly room for expansion. However, Mr Horton says the prep ‘is going to grow gradually, otherwise we might lose the character of the school, the family atmosphere.’

Parents told us: ‘He is a lovely, personable headmaster, who always takes the time to speak to the parents either at the door in the morning or in a private meeting.’ One enthused: ‘He has only been at the school for two years but quickly became part of the fabric of the school and I couldn't imagine it without him.’ He is seen to have placed a particular emphasis on ‘kind behaviour and good manners.’

Those who have chosen the whole school for their daughters, inspired by Mrs Jewell, head of the senior school, will not be disappointed to find that she is a presence here too, often attending pre-school and prep activities. As a mother noted approvingly: ‘The leadership is second to none - it sets the tone here and everything that is a success at this school flows from this.’

Head of nursery is Jacqui Hines NNEB (40s), two teenage girls, one a gold medal gymnast. Feisty, fast talking with a supportive, calm deputy – ‘I run around like a loon. She’s the yin to my yang’ – and runs a tight-knit team of 35 full and part-timers. Started as second in command, promoted to current post, three months in. Can’t imagine doing anything else. ‘Children are so lovely and innocent and speak their mind. Whatever you’re pouring into them, you’re shaping their lives’.

Entrance

For 4+, assessments are held in the reception classrooms covering language and social skills, maths, physical and creative skills as well as understanding of the world. Parents are also required to attend an interview with the head of the prep or deputy. We’ve previously described the intake as ‘oversubscribed’, but with two applicants for each place it’s something of a breeze compared with schools even a fraction closer to central London. A fair few newcomers join the prep in other years and are quickly absorbed, with firm friendships quickly established, say pupils.

At 7+, pupils are assessed through written testing as well as an interview with the head. Choral scholarships available at this point. Pupils with any SEN needs will be supported during the assessment process and the possible provision within the school discussed with the head.

Exit

For girls at the nursery, assumption (by parents and school) is that they’ll go on into Old Palace reception. Though their passage there isn’t automatic (there’s an assessment), in practice ‘all our girls get places,’ says head of nursery. Boys tend to stay in the independent sector, with Cumnor House and Elmhurst the most popular destinations, Park Hill Infants for those going on to state schools.

Year 6 is part of the senior school, on a different site, and everyone moves up automatically. They all take the 11+ there and some 70 per cent stay on for year 7 and above (though this is not guaranteed), many with scholarships, while others move on to local grammar schools.

Our view

The average classroom size is 18 and maximum is 22. This is an academic school. The aim is for year 5s to be working a year ahead of expectations, with no need for Sats prep. The most able are stretched in the classroom with extension built into every lesson, and all children have individual targets. No homework in reception, just under two hours per week in years 1 and 2, building to just under three hours by year 5.

An ‘excellent mix of child-initiated and adult-led activities,’ says the ISI, which notably judged the school’s early years foundation stage to be ‘outstanding’. Much evidence of fun, hands-on learning and cross-curricular project work higher up. Year 3 built a ‘ring of fire’: impressive erupting volcano models, including one made of chocolate rice crispies. DT and computing are included. French from reception and a modern foreign languages ‘experience’ designed to fill a few cultural gaps on the way.

Fourteen staff have been with the school for more than 10 years and are described by the incoming head as as a strong team who pull together. Parents talk in glowing terms: ‘The teaching staff are always so supportive of the children. They never say they cannot do something. Instead they encourage and support them to achieve their goals.’ A mother with two daughters at the school told us: ‘Not only are they technically brilliant, but they have an amazing ability to inspire the girls to learn. Both girls seemed to just 'get' reading, but that was absolutely down to the skill of the teachers and the fantastic teaching assistants. I can't fault them.’ Mr Horton’s daughter is so enthused she now colours everything purple and green (the school uniform colours).

Quite low profile provision regarding SEN. The learning support co-ordinator is based at the senior school. Any pupils with a SEN, such as dyslexia, have an individual student action plan outlining differentiation needed within the classroom, but no one-to-one support. Those with more complex learning difficulties and an EHCP would have one-to-one (subject to funding). Progress is regularly reviewed. Only one pupil with EAL needs currently. Pupils may attend extra English lessons and are provided with extra work allowing them to catch up with English and key vocabulary in different subjects.

There are plenty of sports fixtures for girls from year 3 upwards, and the ethos is inclusive – everyone has a chance to compete. There is at least one session of PE per week and older pupils have a sessions of games too. No minibus scrambling, with a large playing field and playgrounds doubling up for tennis and netball right here. Everyone has a swimming lesson each week at the senior school pool. Dance is taught by a specialist. There is a squad and a club for every sport. Not so many glittering sporting achievements; when we asked we were told about the year 3 and 4 borough cross-country championships gold medal.

Music flourishes, with a good range of free taster sessions in year 3 and many learning instruments, excellent facilities (a big, terraced room, piled high with xylophones and five practice rooms dotted round the place) and a decent range of groups, instrumental and vocal, headed by the audition-only junior polyphonic, which performs with seniors in Croydon Minster. We arrive during a rehearsal for the Christmas concert by years 3, 4 and 5. Nothing short of joyful and exuberant. Mr Horton feels it exemplifies the spirit of the school - ‘we’re not a typical girls’ school – it’s quite a robust environment’ - which far from being a metaphor for needing to be quite resilient to survive, here seems to mean girls throw themselves into everything with gusto. Modelled by staff, too, who last Christmas surprised pupils with a performance on the steel pans whilst wearing reindeer antlers.

Bridge, ballet, orchestra, swim squad, Spanish, rounders and much more all on offer as pre- and post-school clubs.

Now situated within the former Croham Hurst senior school, the buildings are quite a ramshackle collection, some more nondescript than others, connected by covered walkways. Once inside everywhere smells clean, is warm, calm and bright. Classrooms are large with massive picture windows. We encounter children quietly digging in soil for rocks and creatures during a biology lesson and totally engaged in learning how to work out the value of an acute angle by thinking in terms of pizza in maths. A new science lab is intended to give science a bit of a lift within the school and the prep works closely with the senior school with regards to STEM subjects. An attractive library is well stocked with books and used for the accelerated reading programme.

Does Mr Horton’s day finish in time for Homes Under the Hammer, we wonder? He has the developer’s eye for potential and a north London teacher’s amazement at all of this space – three large halls suitable for indoor sports, rehearsals, assemblies and gymnastics, even spare classrooms which can be set up for break-out activities, such as a jungle complete with soundtrack and lighting for book week. During the holidays he found a two bedroom flat and a set of changing rooms he didn’t know existed.

A mother of two told us: ‘Both of our children absolutely love the school, and my son is always so thrilled when he asks if it’s a pre-school day and we say yes!’ Another with children higher up the school said: ‘The school is so warm and caring; however, there is a positive undertone of competitiveness. Healthy competition is encouraged in a caring atmosphere.’

Pupils eat in houses. Year 5 girls enjoy the responsibility of mentoring reception children – this begins with an introductory letter over the holidays and is a long term commitment rather than something that fades after the first day. As top dogs, without a year 6, they acquire the trappings of seniority early: all can be prefects and get to sit on benches not the floor during assembly.

The majority of pupils have English as their home language, with a couple of handfuls of overseas nationals, currently from China, India, Mauritius, Nigeria and Taiwan. Almost everyone mentions the diversity of the children and families here in an appreciative way.

Very well set up for working parents (most). Open from 7.30am with a free breakfast club, then an after-school club runs until 6pm. No need to panic during school holidays either, as a third party provides a full-time holiday club for a reasonable fee.

Children can attend the nursery from the age of 1 upwards. Open 51 weeks of the year, with a waiting list (though most are eventually accommodated). For the baby room, early registration essential. ‘We get women phoning us the day the baby’s born.’ Mobility is prerequisite for the toddler room (most start aged 12 to 15 months); freedom from nappies, or close, for kinder room (around 2). Some children do full 7.30am to 6pm days from the start, others attend just a few mornings or afternoons a week.

Rooms are fairly plain and, dare we say, a little uninspiring, but well equipped, huge and full of light with above average staff to child ratios – plenty of glitter and dressing up corners. Those under 3 experience a curriculum focused on developing personal, physical and communication skills. Pre-schoolers aged 3 to 4 are sensitively divided into half yearly age groupings, progressing to the ‘transition’ class where they are readied for reception with an increasing amount of teacher-led activities and subject-based learning, graduating to pinafores and striped shirts and mixing with older children in the playground.

  Zoopla sale properties   Zoopla rent properties   Hide Zoopla markers

Powered by Zoopla

Leavers' destinations


Subscribe for instant access to in-depth reviews:

30,000 Independent, state and special schools in our parent-friendly interactive directory
 Instant access to in-depth UK school reviews
 Honest, opinionated and fearless independent reviews of over 1,000 schools
 Independent tutor company reviews

Try before you buy - The Charter School Southwark

The Good Schools Guide subscription

GSG Blog >    In the news >

The Good Schools Guide newsletter

The Good Schools Guide Newsletter

Educational insight in your inbox. Sign up for our popular newsletters.

Now the school and university years are over

 
 

Apprenticeship levy leaving you baffled? Leveraging the Levy on 5th April 2019. Buy tickets now