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The older girls demonstrate the essential skill of risk-taking in the adventure playground (re-designed by pupils as ‘it wasn’t adventurous enough’). ‘We’re encouraged to jump from quite a height,’ we are told; a friend quickly reminding her of the caveat, ‘as long as we know how to land correctly and there’s nobody beneath us.’ Each class has its own vegetable growing area and we were excitedly shown some of the garden produce: ‘A parsnip, allelujah!’ exclaims one proud pupil.

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What the school says...

Putney High School's Junior School offers a vibrant and stimulating environment, where no two days are the same and every girl is valued.

Girls develop a positive ‘can-do’ attitude and a genuine love for learning, curious and keen to embrace new challenges.

Every girl is encouraged to be brave in thought, self-aware and confident, yet also kind, thoughtful and aware of others.

They collaborate, are inspired, learn and laugh together, building meaningful friendships in and beyond the classroom.
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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 2017, Pippa Page-Roberts BEd Chichester. Previously at Ken Prep where she was a year 6 teacher, head of English and then director of studies and innovation. Parents appreciate her enthusiasm. ‘She’s on fire!’ says one. ‘Her love of life and of the children feeds through the school,’ says another. Easily visible on the school gate (red lipstick, colourful clothes, gold sequinned trainers), one parent told us how she feels energised just seeing her: ‘She’s such a positive, jolly person.’ Mrs Page-Roberts would like parents, as well as the girls, to feel connected: ‘We stand side by side with your child at the centre; we want you to share what we do.’ To judge from the enthusiastic interactions we saw on the day of our visit, she takes a genuine interest in the girls and they seem to be drawn towards her. She believes passionately in pupils feeling responsible for themselves and their learning. ‘Pupil voice is important, but so is pupil choice,’ she says. ‘Girls are in the driving seat of their learning. They may encounter speed bumps or even a dead end, but they need to learn to fail fast and to fail well on their journey.’ Her aim is to ignite a spark and to provide opportunities for the girls to challenge and question, and for them to want to learn more.
Mrs Page-Roberts is as creative as she is positive. In her spare time she likes to throw pots and write stories. She is also an avid reader and has a passion for history, archaeology and travel, loving to visit the places she reads about. She says she has a curiosity for the world which she hopes to impart to her pupils.


Main intake into junior school is at 4+, for two classes of 22 girls. Assessment takes place in small groups; girls are observed doing a range of activities to see how they respond and interact. Every newcomer in reception is allocated a buddy from year 6 to help her settle in. A further four places become available at 7+ for entry into year 3, when class size increases to 24 pupils. Occasional vacancies arise higher up the school.


Most girls transition seamlessly to the senior school having had a tantalising vision of what’s to come from daily contact through the shared campus. ‘Former junior school pupils and siblings are the best ambassadors,’ says Mrs Page-Roberts. Parents have an ‘honest’ conversation with the head in year 4, and again in year 5, ‘to see what both sides are thinking’. Pupil performance data is shared openly with parents and with the senior school and, once girls have been assured of a place, they sit the entry exam alongside external candidates. A smooth transition is ensured with taster lessons and initial class groupings set according to postcode. Only one or two girls each year choose to go elsewhere, maybe co-ed or boarding.

Our view

Core values encourage being innovative, inquisitive, intrepid and inclusive, embraced by all at Putney High School.

One of the 25 schools belonging to the GDST (Girls’ Day School Trust), Putney High sees itself as an all-through school. The relationship with the senior school is underpinned through the well-managed sharing of facilities: modern canteen (offering an excellent array of hot and cold food on the day of our visit), well-equipped gym, tennis courts, Astroturf, DT studio, and the fabulous new Athena centre for science, music, drama and debating. The junior and senior schools and their respective heads work closely together and strive towards the same four ‘i’ attributes: innovative, intrepid, inclusive, inquisitive (or intellectual for the senior school). These aspirations form the backbone of teaching and learning. In the £5 Maths Challenge, for example, girls become young entrepreneurs, attempting to make £5 grow with their own business start-up. Girls are encouraged, says the head, to be ‘intrepid disruptors’, learning from their mistakes, and ‘digging deeper’ to solve problems and think for themselves. New Ignite programme focuses on ‘owning your own learning.' Inclusivity pervades the curriculum whether on the sports field or through Diversity Allies, one of four committees run by girls. One parent said how much she appreciates the overall message: ‘Everyone has a value, but no one is the same.’

Outdoor learning on this generous site is an important part of the curriculum. Girls tumble out of classrooms enthusiastically at lunchtime: the younger ones play with water and sand, whilst others look intently at Bugingham Palace to see which insects have taken up residence. The older girls demonstrate the essential skill of risk-taking in the adventure playground (redesigned by pupils as ‘it wasn’t adventurous enough’). ‘We’re encouraged to jump from quite a height,’ we are told; a friend quickly reminding her of the caveat, ‘as long as we know how to land correctly and there’s nobody beneath us.’ Each class has its own vegetable growing area and we were excitedly shown some of the garden produce: ‘A parsnip, allelujah!’ exclaims one proud pupil. Mindful of the mental-health benefits of a ‘biophilic’ classroom, green-fingered girls are responsible for tending indoor plants too.

Parents appreciate the broad curriculum which, as one told us, ‘goes way beyond maths and English, the usual focus in girls’ prep schools after year 5.’ STEM subjects are big here. ‘Think like an engineer’, a NASA-themed enrichment project, led to a talk from space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock, reminding girls of the importance of science and encouraging them to reach for the stars. The head of digital learning, who also teaches computing in the senior school, is recognised by Apple as a ‘distinguished educator’, incorporating technology into the curriculum wherever possible. iPads are used fearlessly across subjects from year 3. Girls learn how to code and apply their skills to robotics. It was particularly uplifting to see a rank of go-karts, built from kits, awaiting a test-drive round the Putney High grounds.

French is taught from year 1, and Spanish added in year 3. We watched an enchanting Mandarin lesson where undaunted 5-year-olds gave a spirited rendition of a song, with words and actions, about happiness. Performance is integral to school life: there is wide participation in school choirs and numerous instrumental groups, from beginner recorders to an orchestra of 50-plus girls. Many girls learn at least one instrument, including a rather impressive complement of six double bassists. All girls are encouraged, as one mother said, ‘to throw their hat in the ring and have a go’ at one of the many performance opportunities. Oracy is encouraged through debating and LAMDA/ESB exams. ‘The ability to argue, to share ideas with confidence and to listen to feedback are essential skills,’ says the head. A recent production of Goldilocks was no mere fairy tale but a courtroom drama: ‘Was she hungry or was she stealing?’ queried one of our eloquent young guides.

Visual arts are boosted by a visiting artist whom we saw running a lino print workshop with year 4. Volcanoes, over-printed in three fiery colours, erupted hot off the coloured card. We liked the project using recycled plastic to create kinetic sculptures inspired by the rotunda chandelier at the V&A. Trips to galleries and museums abound from this south-west London base, and visiting specialists are invited in to enrich and entertain. On the day of our visit, five members of the band of the Scots Guards, dressed in ceremonial red and gold, impressed us all, not least the girls who ‘conducted’, barely able to see out from beneath a very large bearskin hat.

Sport is important, both as part of the curriculum and for the many girls in year 3 up who compete against other schools and in GDST rallies. Gymnastics and netball are particularly strong (feeding into notable successes in the senior school), with lacrosse most popular, athletics and cricket running close behind. We watched a very focused cricket lesson: batters at either end of the cricket net learnt how to communicate to each other, while fielders worked on confidence in leaping for the ball. There is a growing interest in girls’ football. Among the 70 or so co-curricular clubs, there are also judo, table tennis, dance, fencing and rowing. For more sedentary pursuits, look no further than chess, current affairs and brainbuilders clubs.

‘Every single teacher has been amazing, not just academic, also pastoral,’ enthuses one parent. We are told that teachers build positive relationships with parents from the beginning, and are quick to react and to listen to the girls. Secret Safe boxes are visible around the school to ‘post a worry’ or to mention an act of kindness. Girls may message their teacher online with any concern, whether about themselves or about someone else. Opening Minds offers a timetabled opportunity to discuss sometimes tricky subjects, perhaps responding to suggestions from parents about, say, body shape or puberty. The much-loved school dog, Rudy, is a further facilitator for girls to talk about emotional issues.

Our articulate year 6 guides explain that learning enrichment is available ‘for those who are struggling or wish to improve’. This may be small-group support before or after school, or within the classroom. Year group teachers work closely together to ensure that extension and support activities are covered. DIRT (Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time), not to be confused with outdoor learning, is built into the curriculum. There is an enlightened honesty around neuro-diversity and dyslexia, topics which have been addressed in assembly in the context of celebrating the individual and recognising difference.

Girls are encouraged to be responsible members of the community through charity fundraising and collaborative local endeavours. An art installation in Wandsworth and the ‘park and stride’ and ‘walking bus’ schemes (the school won a gold travel award from TfL) were shared with local schools. There are many positions of responsibility within school, including democratically-elected school councillors, eco-ambassadors and digital leaders, not to mention house-related opportunity. The four houses (Marie Curie, Rosa Parks, Ada Lovelace and Wilma Rudolph) are named after individuals chosen by the girls. ‘We admire Wilma Rudolph as she wouldn’t take no for an answer,’ said one feisty child (whom we feel may forever live by the tale).

Most families are local but for those who live further afield there are four school bus routes (from Richmond, Wimbledon, Hammersmith and Sloane Square). We hear of a friendly parent body; plenty of opportunity to get involved through Friends of Putney High School (FOPHS), raising money for extras (eg cricket nets) and organising social events. Parents are invited into school as part of the Future Thinkers programme, encouraging girls to make connections between their learning and future careers. Wraparound care (breakfast club from 7.30am, and after-school clubs until 6pm) is delivered by SuperCamps, an external provider, to make life easier for working parents.

Money matters

No scholarships or bursaries in the junior school.

The last word

A broad education aimed to ignite a spark and to instil a love of learning in curious young minds. The strong leadership team and teachers, while being accessible and down to earth, are innovative and ambitious for their pupils. Pupils feel valued and have the confidence to speak out and be adventurous. ‘We’re very excited we’ve ended up where we are,’ says one parent, and many others would agree.

Special Education Needs

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder 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 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 Y
SLCN - Speech, Language and Communication Y
SLD - Severe Learning Difficulty
Special facilities for Visually Impaired
SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty Y
VI - Visual Impairment

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