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What says..

‘We liked it because it covered everything and when our daughter was 4, we didn’t know what her passion would be,’ said a parent. An ‘orator in residence’ works on presentation and public speaking skills, and parents praise the confident presentation of even shy girls, with the school putting up a team for junior Model United Nations General Assembly. The emphasis is on developing good citizens, ambitious and unafraid of success, rather than demagogues or prima donnas...

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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

Head

Since 2017, Pippa Page-Roberts (40s), BEd Chichester. Previously spent 10 years at Kensington Prep as head of English, then director of innovation, so is very familiar with GDST ethos. Prior to that, stints at Kingswood School in Bath, and the Harrodian as head of English teaching years 3-9.

Half Italian and half Northumbrian, she is married with two stepchildren. Parents respond well to her approachable style, one parent saying she can imagine going out for a fun evening with her. Another parent told how, after intercepting a conversation at the school gate, the head reviewed the modern languages department.

With an eye to the senior school, she wants Putney High Junior girls to be self-directed and embrace the ‘adventure of learning, hard work, fun and that it is cool to be clever.’ She promotes transferable skills, ‘whether they be 12th century or 21st’, which she describes as collaboration, adaptability, problem solving, reflection and resilience – or ‘stickability’ and ‘bounceback’.

She champions the power of pupil voice, asking the girls to help design an adventure playground (shortlisted for Education Business Award), encouraging their views when choosing the new uniform - as part of a rebranding exercise – and having an oracy festival for Y3 and Y4 (which they practise in the outdoor amphitheatre). A ‘collaborative and democratic community’ is enshrined as one of the school’s six core values and, every Monday, she runs a school assembly focusing on those values.

She responds to the role of head with energy and vision. She has put in place a strong management team that includes deputy heads for both academic and pastoral. The leadership team members work together with other staff to produce a syllabus that stimulates and challenges, and an environment in which girls as young as 4 are used to being listened to properly. While cautious about revealing too much of future plans for the school, Mrs Page-Roberts is clear that there are schemes in the offing to ensure the school continues its positive trajectory. ‘I want the girls to have loved this moment of their childhood,’ she says.

Entrance

Age 4+ into nursery. Recently changed assessment process. Girls grouped according to birthday (max 12 in a group) overseen by six adults. There are three sessions a day, and each team sees every girl. Over 200 apply for 44 places (two classes of 22 in reception to year 2), and from Y3, four more places become available as class sizes increase to 24. Girls mainly local but some from Barnes, Sheen and Fulham, and the school will group girls from same postcode together in early years classes. No scholarships or bursaries in the junior school.

Exit

Nearly all to the senior school. The rest to boarding schools (Downe House, Cheltenham Ladies), to St Paul’s or LEH, or to local schools elsewhere should the family move (eg Guildford High). Junior school girls sit entry exam to the senior school in Y5 to confirm whether have a place. Then, they all take the 11+ with the external candidates. Senior school open days familiarise the juniors with the senior school and ensure a smooth transition.

Our view

The junior school girls benefit from sharing the senior school campus. There is a modern cafeteria, a good gym, tennis courts, a new performing arts centre, and years 3-6 have access to the DT studio. The junior school has its own all-weather adventure playground designed by the girls, to encourage risky play, an outside amphitheatre and an Astroturfed space for break times. Four go-karts sit in the corner, built from kits. The school arranges for the girls to be outdoors as much as possible, and while we were there some were busy outside the science classroom. Instead of a friendship bench, there is a Well-being Pod where girls can work in small groups or go to sort out their differences, our young guides told us.

The school building is sprawling, light and airy, and mainly Victorian with a newish wing called The Curve that houses the IT suite and the school hall alongside several classes.

Parents spoke of choosing the school for its broad syllabus. ‘We liked it because it covered everything and when our daughter was 4, we didn’t know what her passion would be,’ said one. Year 1s were making mind maps for their creative writing work; all girls have library lessons, and reading and writing skills are covered in the history and geography syllabuses as well as English.

STEM subjects are big here, the maths department singled out for special praise by parents, and the school has recently appointed a head of e-learning who is an Apple ‘distinguished educator’. From Y4, girls have their own iPads, and use both Google classroom and Firefly.

Girls are encouraged to make their voices heard. There's a gratitude wall, boxes called secret safes are placed around the school where girls can leave messages about anything that concerns them, and ‘emotional barometers’ in some of the classrooms help girls to monitor their emotional well-being and understand the impact it has on their learning. Staff are encouraged to take on individual research projects, and there is a CPD programme for them.

An ‘orator in residence’ works on presentation and public speaking skills, and parents praise the confident presentation of even shy girls, with the school putting up a team for junior Model United Nations General Assembly (MUNGA). Girls chose the names of their houses that are, somewhat predictably, Ava Lovelace, Marie Curie, Rosa Parks and Wilma Rudolph. They also select the charities for which they wish to fundraise.

Parents describe the teaching as ‘exceptional’. One described her year 3 daughter learning a great deal ‘but not being aware she is learning, she’s just having fun.’ Parents report a range of abilities and personalities. ‘There is no such thing as a Putney girl,’ says the head. The SENCo is part of the Learning Enrichment team, whose aim is support, stretch and challenge, and a SENCO. Parents speak of the ‘tap on the shoulder’ if their daughter isn’t going to make it into the senior school; the head says, ‘parents appreciate the honesty’

There’s a strong commitment to music, with two music lessons a week, hymn practice assemblies on Tuesday, all girls sing in one of the choirs, and there’s an orchestra in which 60 odd girls of grade 1 and above are members. Girls in Y5 and Y6 are encouraged to join the junior school choir that performs nationally and have an active role in choosing the annual year 5&6 musical production.

Whole afternoons of sports ranging from cricket and touch rugby to sports acrobatics, swimming and dance; they use the nearby Bank of England sports centre and Wimbledon Park.

The school offers wrap-around care with breakfast clubs from 7.30am and after school clubs until 6pm, as well has having a programme of co-curricular activities (over 70 clubs). There is an ‘entrepreneur in residence’, and Metro Bank comes in to talk to the girls about managing money.

They have taken part in a science conference at the Royal Institution, a maths conference at Oxford and an English conference in Howells school in Wales to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday. Girls visit parliament and go on extended trips to eg Dorset and the Isle of Wight. Children from local state schools are often invited to join in when speakers come round - this year Chris Riddell, Clare Balding and the Ocean Brothers.

There’s a sense of oxygen around Putney High Junior, perhaps because of the outside space, perhaps because it is an environment curated to stretch the girls – gently but firmly. The emphasis is on developing good citizens, ambitious and unafraid of success, rather than demagogues or prima donnas. Parents love the energy of the head and her team.

Special Education Needs

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Aspergers
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders
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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