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Parents told us Rokeby is ‘not right for families who want to take a more relaxed approach for their son’s education’. ‘It’s no hothouse, but you do need to be able to keep up with the academic rigour,’ elaborated one. Most schools we visit brag about personalised learning, but Rokeby aims to take it to the next level, assessing and monitoring to the hilt, taking into account every boy’s strengths, interests and individual needs when devising their learning plans. Manners so flawless that Rokeby boys are renowned for their politeness – but the boys we met from the upper school seemed ...

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What the school says...

Rokeby is an Independent Preparatory School for boys from Reception to Year 8. We offer the best of education in the widest sense, preparing boys not only for a variety of independent senior schools but also for their future lives.

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What The Good Schools Guide says


Since 2007, Jason Peck BHEd NPQH. Joined school in 1996 as a year 4 and science teacher, becoming deputy head in 2004. Has seen one son through the school and has one still there – ‘it means I see things from both sides,’ he says.

Initially keen to train as a vet, only to realise during work experience that he was thoroughly squeamish. Absence of James Herriot moments led him instead to a spell travelling and running own business, arriving at Kingston University in mid-20s better versed in ways of world, he feels, than some younger out of the egg fellow students. First and only previous post was in tough middle school in Merton.

Personable, open and with a good sense of humour, he operates from his tucked-away corner office, which boys told us they visit strictly ‘by appointment only’, although they did say they see plenty of him during the school day, with year 5s getting an extra dose as he teaches them science (‘It helps me to really get to know the boys, which in turn helps with finding the right senior school’). Dresses up for World Book Day and charity days. ‘He’s nice,’ was the most we could get out of the boys, although parents (especially of boys in the lower school) were more loquacious. ‘The ethos of Mr Peck, which is totally child centric, cascades through the whole school to all members of staff,’ said one, while a star-struck mother gushed, ‘Without wanting to sound like a ridiculous schoolgirl, I’m totally in awe of him – he’s so human and real, constantly developing and growing the school.’ One parent felt that higher up the school Mr Peck was less visible and his vision for the school less clear, but school points out that he attends everything, helps out with the morning drop off system, defines his vision and direction for the school at the annual speech day and provides updates in termly newsletters.

Any spare time, he says, is spent writing his first novel. ‘Well, someone’s got to fill JK Rowling’s shoes,’ he laughs.


Catchment tends towards Wimbledon and Putney more than Kingston and up into Teddington/Richmond, although that’s starting to change. Many parents live practically on the doorstep, lapping up the added convenience of next door Holy Cross, a similarly high-performing prep for the sisters.

Parents perceive the school as becoming increasingly selective, but school insists that ‘while there is a level of selection, it’s very low key.’ So-called discovery morning that takes place in autumn term the year before entry into reception is, according to the school, ‘an opportunity for a two-sided discussion to work out if we are the right place for their son, definitely not a pure assessment. You can’t test at 2 – just not possible.’ A few leave at end of year 2 to go either to King’s College Junior or St Paul's Juniors, with those at the top of knee-deep waiting lists soon filling the spaces.


Every year group heads off to between 12 and 18 schools. Epsom College most popular followed by St Paul's, Hampton and Eton. Also King's College School, St John's, Reed's, Harrow, Claremont Fan Court School, Whitgift, Cranleigh and Charterhouse. Every year, one or two boys leave earlier because they are not keeping up academically – ‘we are very transparent, so if we have concerns whether a boy can thrive here, we let them know as early as year 1,’ says head. Eight scholarships in 2021.

Our view

Sandwiched between two other similarly grand homes-turned-schools, Rokeby is reached via private roads with barrier-only entry (for which school issues passes to non-residents). As with so many schools, the reception area, reached by the original front door, gives a flavour of what’s in store – in this case, a homely, friendly vibe and impeccable manners.

The original solid Victorian building, with its (in places warren-like) carpeted corridors and classrooms of varying sizes, is home to year 4s upwards (‘the point at which the level of work starts to really ramp up,’ said one boy), with younger ones taught in newer (2013) purpose-built lower school, complete with gorgeous performing arts theatre where we saw littl'uns practising for their nativity play. Head admits the school could do with a couple of extra classrooms (‘not because we are short on them, but for greater flexibility’) and a new hall in the main building which, we clocked, can surely not have changed since the 1980s. But overall, facilities are excellent, including huge touchscreen boards, three whizzy science labs (‘there are lots of practicals,’ say boys), assorted music rooms (tuneful solos from windows – standard here is high) and fabulous corridor and classroom displays (some of them floor to ceiling) among the highlights. Cosy upper school library has brightly coloured chairs, well stocked shelves and a cheery librarian, but the rows of desks all facing forwards have the disappointing effect of making it feel like yet another classroom. Outside space is limited but maximised, with various beautifully equipped playgrounds, courts, smallish Astroturf and year 8 common room (a log cabin).

Parents told us Rokeby is ‘not right for families who want to take a more relaxed approach for their son’s education’. ‘It’s no hothouse, but you do need to be able to keep up with the academic rigour,’ elaborated one. Most schools we visit brag about personalised learning, but Rokeby aims to take it to the next level, assessing and monitoring to the hilt, taking into account every boy’s strengths, interests and individual needs when devising their learning plans. ‘It’s not just about the teachers’ awareness of different learner types – auditory, visual and kinaesthetic etc; we hone in at a much more micro level,’ claims school. ‘Very quickly, the school observed our son’s talents and interests and has sought to develop them with stretching classroom work but also opportunities outside of school, such as a history discovery day at a senior school,’ confirmed one parent.

Lots of staff enthusiasm, including much-admired DT teacher (all kicks off with ball mazes in year 3, progressing to robot wars and even design-led working speakers in year 8), charismatic drama specialist (‘we do loads of the backstage stuff like lighting too,’ said one boy) and history teacher (‘who actually brings the past to life’). Latin a bit of a Marmite subject – ‘it dominates compared to history and English,’ groaned one boy. Two-form entry up until year 2, then pupils are split into three forms for year 3. Art and sports, drama and music taught by specialist subjects from the off, DT specialist from year 3 then all from year 5. Setting in maths and English from year 5 (the year ‘when everything is about maths and English,’ admits school) and in French and science from year 6. French is taught from year 2 and Mandarin from year 3.

SEN department has one full-time and two part-time staff members who ‘mainly guide teachers how to support boys to manage in their lessons, rather than taking them out of the classroom’. Parents generally satisfied (‘any learning support needs are picked up very quickly with an array of specialists at hand to help the boys navigate through,’ said one) although another told us her son struggled with a teacher ‘who seemed to think [his SEN] was his lack of attitude and effort,’ but head of year subsequently ‘put in place a whole support system for him which worked brilliantly’. On the welfare side, boys can see the ELSA (emotional literacy support assistant), which helps them with things like anxiety (but they can’t self-refer), and there’s also mindfulness on the menu for most boys, plus a counsellor who’s called in when needed. Boys describe it as a ‘caring’ school. Bullying at a minimum, they say, ‘because there is so much work in place to prevent it’. No suspensions for two years.

Short, sharp shocks, aka tiered detention system, manage any poor behaviour but boys told us you can get through the whole school without one if you play your cards right. Lots of recognition and rewards – not just verbal praise, but certificates, awards etc. Manners so flawless that Rokeby boys are renowned for their politeness – but the boys we met from the upper school seemed so focused on their etiquette and saying the right thing that at times we felt we wondered if we were getting a rather wooden version of their real selves. Even standing with arms straight, hands gripping over each other, seems to be a uniform stance here. The moments they let their guard down, however, were a joy – earnest boys, but with added playfulness and candour.

Sport a major feature of school life, with a level of tracking that you’d expect in academic teaching. Plenty of success in cricket, football and rugby (main sports), with athletics on the rise. County and national success at skiing, county success at cross-country. School recently introduced a more able sports programme to develop their elite. Boys said they’d like more PE – ‘by the time you’ve changed clothing, there doesn’t feel much time left,’ said one. But plenty of extracurricular opportunities, from karate to tennis, with other clubs covering everything from LAMDA and debating. Boys are encouraged not to do too many at lunchtimes, however, ‘because they need a break’. Trips galore - both days out such as Latin to Bath and residentials abroad eg annual football tour to Holland.

Music boasts the usual school orchestra and various ensembles, with superb choirs – junior, senior, chamber and training, including an emphasis on making sure boys whose voices are breaking don’t bail out of singing too soon. Lovely art studio, with boys’ favourite projects including African sunsets (lower school) and Animal Farm trophy heads (year 8s).

Families – a socially active bunch - range from ‘the extremely wealthy’ to dual income families who give their all to afford the fees – although breakfast club (from 7.30am) and homework club (until 5.45pm) surprisingly undersubscribed. Though school has its own transport, including minibuses and coach, the school’s biggest challenge remains transport. ‘Parents know they have to get stuck on a busy road at 8am if they drive here,’ says head.

The last word

Could so easily be swamped by pressure and riven with nerves. And that’s just the parents. But while results give it undeniable cachet as a prep whose top leavers continue to have the entrée to some of south-west London’s most sought-after senior schools, this school is about so much more than getting hard results. We found the boys engaged with everything the school has to offer, and extremely proud of it.

Special Education Needs

We offer learning support to boys with difficulties accessing the curriculum, dyslexic boys, dyspraxic boys and boys with difficulties in Maths and English as well as study skills help. At present a learning support teacher takes 19 boys from Years 3 to 8 in the Senior School. There is to be an additional part time LS teacher from January. The Junior School also offers learning support, with its own LS teacher.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
English as an additional language (EAL)
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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