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There are obvious close connections but this is not just a Queen’s Gate with smaller people; rather, a school with its own identity. ‘That is exactly the kind of girl I want my daughter to be,’ said one parent after his pupil-led tour. Recent changes in the academic structure include an increased awareness of the ‘excitement of numbers’ – continues at home with school now providing parents with tips on...

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What the school says...

The Junior School is lively and welcoming. Strong emphasis is placed on developing individual skills and talents, as well as providing a sound foundation in the basic skills. Music, sport, drama and art are integral parts of the curriculum.

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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

Director of the junior school

Since 2017, James Denchfield BA PGCE. English and history degree from Goldsmiths and PGCE from the Institute of Education. Brought up and educated in Norwich but escaped down the M11 to London, following in the footsteps on one of his heroes, Pip in Great Expectations. Early in his career he worked in Waterstones, just around the corner, and ‘fell in love with South Ken’ - so when a job at Queen’s Gate School came up, he applied immediately. A stint as head of English led to him being made head of lower school and then to his appointment here.

Comes across as calm and reassuring, with a quick understanding and equally alert (just hidden) sense of humour. A very articulate man, as you’d expect from someone who admits to ‘being obsessed with poetry’ in his youth, he explains why he feels that he has a three-dimensional view of the school: he has worked in the senior school, had a daughter in the junior school (convincingly sad that she couldn’t stay, due to the commute) and still teaches a double English lesson every week. In fact, we suspect it’s hard to keep him out of the classroom as his eyes light up whenever he mentions teaching.

Claims Rosalynd Kamaryc, principal of Queen’s Gate School, has ‘significant presence’. But we didn’t feel he’s a number two type and were heartened to hear from pupils, parents and staff that ‘his door really is open all the time, it’s not just a cliché’. Parents feel that his changes are all positive, from subtle improvements in communication to talking to other heads and encouraging STEM subjects.

Entrance

Around 80 apply for the 40 places offered. School says it’s ‘looking for potential, not girls who have been taught what to say’. Important too that the whole family ‘gets’ the ethos of the school, echoed by parent.

There is an assessment morning at 4+ although head dislikes the term and is considering changing the way the screening is carried out too. Nevertheless, one happy candidate told her parents, ‘I danced and they gave me crayons’ – obviously not a frightening experience for her. A waiting list for the occasional place further up the school, caused by two or three families moving each year; normally around 10 girls for each spot.

Currently, only one scholarship at 7+ but they are adding another, so there will be both an external and internal offering. While not an official position, school states that attempts would be made to try and ensure that any girl affected by a change in her parents’ financial circumstances could stay until a suitable break-point is reached.

Exit

The vast majority (80 per cent at last count), stay under the Queen’s Gate umbrella and move on to the senior school. There are few destination surprises from the handful who go elsewhere - two or three become boarders at schools such as Downe House, Wycombe Abbey, St Mary’s Ascot or Heathfield; remainder tend to go to leading London independents including Godolphin & Latymer, Wimbledon High, City of London etc. Odd few to Holland Park School, which some would class a private school in all but name.

Parents say the next step is made easier thanks to good rapport between them and school. Members of staff add that the size of the school means they grow to know each girl really well, so are confident about knowing where she might fit in best. For instance, they said that ‘there are always girls who need acres and acres of green space’ (presumably they meant sporty types) who might not be suited by the lack of ‘outdoors’ at the senior school.

Our view

Although almost next-door, this school feels different to its older sister. The ethos may be the same but the atmosphere is calmer, possibly due to more square feet per smaller child. That said, the links are many, among the most important of which is access to specialist teachers who operate across both schools - a huge plus as experts in their fields are not always available in small preps.

Recent changes in the academic structure include an increased awareness of the ‘excitement of numbers’ – continues at home with school now providing parents with tips on how to fan the flames of numerical curiosity. Hugely popular problem solving classes start in year 2, based on maths and also designed to develop lateral thinking. Girls are encouraged to give STEM subjects equal importance to that previously given to English and the arts - the traditional strengths of the school. Twenty-two different subjects include six languages - French all the way through; Spanish, Italian, German, Mandarin and Latin all on timetable at different stages. Fluent French speakers (several, as this corner of London is almost a Parisian arrondissement) follow an adapted programme. An extra enrichment lesson for year 5 (taught by head) covers a new topic each week taken from current issues, such as Brexit or DNA testing. Setting in maths from year 3. From year 4 onwards, some core classes are divided according to the level a particular child is at and the Albertopolis club (a great example of Victorian nomenclature, not to say immodesty, by Prince Albert) has been launched for those prepared to put in the extra work or who find the standard level not quite challenging enough. This approach chimes with a parent’s view that ‘the girls are encouraged to enjoy the world of academia’.

EAL and SEN teachers operate across the junior and senior schools, but we got the impression they are not often called into play due to the small (maybe two or three at any one time) number of identified children. Head says the weekly staff meetings bring any potential problems to light. In addition, both he and the teachers say that they can almost always spot issues (either academic or pastoral) a mile off.

The preliminary classrooms on the ground floor to year 6 in the attic are bright and cheerful, although the layout means this is probably not a school for anyone finding stairs a problem. The tables in the former computer room are decorated with a certain amount of haphazard paint and there is a charming cubbyhole on a landing, labelled ‘The Burrow’, where one-to-one lessons can be held. The library takes up one floor and is satisfactorily full, with an enthusiastic librarian plus a popular digital interface. The school chose the winning title for the Awesome Book Awards last year and has high hopes of being on target again. ‘We’re rivals but we’re still friends,’ was the pupil comment about the scoreboard on the stairs showing the current scores in the annual battle between the two school houses and the current week’s maths challenge is displayed, alongside an endearing home-made, green letterbox where answers can be posted.
‘There is not enough space for playing after lunch as there isn’t time to go to the park,’ grumbled one pupil. Indeed, the only outside space is a yard for the little ones, although the gym in the senior school and close-by Kensington and Stanhope Gardens allow more running around (there is a 50/50 split between organised sport and free time in the gardens, with head voting for ‘spitfires and hurricanes’, whenever he gets the chance). Plus, Hyde and Battersea Parks come into play when a larger space is called for.

Sports staff from the senior school include an ex-goalie of the England hockey team and they field teams for netball, hockey, fencing, biathlon, swimming and cricket. Fencing, taught by an Olympian coach, is enough of a draw to bring girls (and presumably their poor parents) to school at crack of dawn (well, 7am) for practice. Running has a popular programme and rowing is an option in year 6. Open to suggestion, they acted very fast when told of nearby tennis courts and that is now another games option.

The influence of the ‘legendary’ art teacher in the senior school has permeated down, resulting in exciting examples of work on display - ‘They get to see what the senior girls can do, which is amazing’ enthused a parent. We were shown a calendar (part of a competition run by the Mayor of London) with the cover design by a Queen’s Gate pupil and saw one child working towards an art scholarship.

Musical talent is explored at an early stage, with every girl given a ‘music taster’ on an instrument and all girls in years 3, 4 and 5 play in a strings orchestra - one girl was so won over by the music department that she asked her parent for a cello for her sixth birthday. Concerts several times a term, whether strings, woodwind, piano, choral or combinations and The Kids for Kids Concert is a very big deal. Drama was enthusiastically promoted by our guides with the highpoint being an annual production by years 5 and 6 at RADA, as well as the weekly lessons on the timetable.

Once landed in year 1, girls tend to go to a club most days and even the little ones join in at lunchtime. There are some imaginative and well-subscribed arty options including papercrafts, story club, young writers and musical theatre as well as the usual sports although one parent felt they could include more languages.

The school council, made up of form captains and an elected rep from each year, feels its requests are listened to but as yet the much longed-for school pet has not arrived. PTA meets once a term and has introduced regular social outings, where parents and teachers can talk out of school. A very close-knit bunch of parents, with one remarking that when her daughter left ‘the saddest thing would be moving away from the other parents’.

There are obvious close connections but this is not just a Queen’s Gate with smaller people; rather, a school with its own identity. ‘That is exactly the kind of girl I want my daughter to be,’ said one parent after his pupil-led tour. A traditional, genuinely friendly all-girls school, with the added bonus of access to teachers from the senior school and actively encouraged relationships between the older and younger girls. As the head says, ‘we take all the best bits’.

Special Education Needs

Please enter a general description of your SEN provision here.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
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
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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