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Parents are firmly down to earth, not a whiff of glitz. Very few nannies or au pairs at the school gates. The children are modest, eloquent and courteous. Doors were held open and some older children unselfconsciously stood up as we entered. At every turn, we saw lively, inspiring teaching – all underpinned by kindness, exemplifying school values. Parents describe the teachers as ‘exceptional’ and ‘wise’. ‘They push enough without being pushy,’ said one...

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What the school says...

Saint Christina's School, London is a welcoming, nurturing and high performing independent school (IAPS) for girls and boys aged 3 to 11 years. At Saint Christina’s School, children enjoy the excitement of becoming independent learners, feel safe and happy.
We are committed to the pursuit of excellence in all areas, always recognising the individual needs of each pupil and supporting their full development spiritually, morally, intellectually, emotionally, physically and socially so that they may grow towards the fullness of life promised by Christ.
Each day brings exciting new opportunities to learn and discover at Saint Christina’s School. A warmth and regard for children in our care permeates all aspects of School life.
Saint Christina's School celebrates its 70th birthday in 2019, and as part of the schools celebrations recently completed a successful space launch!
The video of the launch and all the details can be found on their website at
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What The Good Schools Guide says


Since 2018, Alastair Gloag, previously head of Rishworth School, Yorkshire for six years. After studying history at Nottingham, started his teaching career at Stamford School, thence to Royal Hospital School as head of history, followed by King’s Gloucester as head of sixth form, then Birkdale High as deputy head. Arrived at Saint Christina's when it was ‘at a bit of a crossroads’ – his aim was ‘to embed the decision to become co-ed’.

A modest man of quiet ambition, with a cracking sense of humour, he admits he is ‘attracted to jobs where there is a genuine task’ – ‘I'm not one to work in a place which people throw themselves at it just because it has a name’. Relishes a challenge and has certainly risen to this one. There is now a waiting list for the first time for years. Ultimate aim is to have two parallel forms throughout school (except nursery): ‘It's all going in the right direction,’ he says.

Calm, caring and compassionate, his manner embodies a gentle altruism, which prevails throughout school. Did not hesitate to pick up a discarded sports jacket. Lots of talk about love: ‘Children are not units, they have needs which need to be nurtured and loved,’ he told us, later saying he believes children can help change the world by ‘loving their neighbours, friends and family’. Also talks warmly of the golden thread of core values, which quite literally runs through the school in the form of a golden ribbon up the staircase. Catholic but says ‘I’m not a fan of religion but a big fan of faith’.

Until recently taught year 6 history, but ‘there’s just too much executive work’. Still finds time to set a number of quirky initiatives, though, eg a Rubiks cube challenge – and visibly takes a deep personal interest in each child: ‘I want to draw out brilliance from happy and curious children, I prize intellectual curiosity.’ We were struck by the number of cheerful greetings as we walked round. One group of year 3s eagerly showed him their projects hanging on a staircase wall. He eats with the pupils too. Tucking into a scrumptious hot lunch (enticing cold buffet also available), we observed him keeping a kind and vigilant eye on his charges, often asking personalised questions. ‘How did the violin go today?’ Parents rave about him: ‘He’s just so gentle and so warm with the children.’

His small, no-frills office is happily cluttered and functional, with walls filled with laminated work of children. A heap of balloons, rescued after recent disco, were destined for his own daughter’s 20th birthday (one of his four children). Loves walking and dogs and is teaching himself French and Arabic.


Academically non-selective, although children are observed on a taster morning ‘to ensure a proper fit'. Gentle guidance towards alternatives if necessary. Main entry points at 3+ for nursery class of around 20, and at 4+ for reception with two form entry of around 22 each. Early registration recommended. Following a visit, offers made in November year before entry. Open to all faiths and none but priority to Catholics, Christians and siblings. Definitely worth asking about occasional places. Co-ed now solid, with roughly equal number of boys and girls.


Large selection of destination schools, typically 16 in any one year group. Mainly independent but some state. South Hampstead High and other local schools popular, others to City of London, Godolphin and Latymer, Latymer Upper and small number on to board. Seven scholarships in 2023. Senior school guidance praised by parents: ‘You can discuss the children's future at any time, Mr Gloag’s really candid.’

Our view

Housed in purpose-built 1960s edifice near St John's Wood High Street, the school sits next to the Catholic chapel of its founders, the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Four sisters still in residence, three on governing board.

Main reception and head’s office off wide entrance hall. Corridor then mutates into lunchtime servery. Large, versatile hall acts variously as theatre, gym and dining room. New additions mean school unusually has surplus rooms, though not for long, we suspect. Children’s displays everywhere – colourful depictions of the galaxy, bold Jackson Pollock creation and beautiful London skylines.

Early years occupy spacious interconnecting rooms (including fully equipped kitchen) on ground floor. Tables set up for independent learning, creative play and structured activities - cooking, cultivating, counting, etc. We saw a chatty group enjoying fruit at break before carefully putting away their water bottles. Relaxed respect and warm greetings awaited us in every class. One reception pupil animatedly showed us an account of a trip to Paris. Higher up the school, we saw year 5s engrossed in current affairs work, and watched a superbly creative year 6 maths lesson involving the division of chocolate bars. Mercifully, we were spared the recent dissection of an eyeball in a STEM lesson. School is big on STEM. Award-winning Formula 1 models, constructed by the children, shot along the hallway at great speed. Goldfish keep an eye on proceedings inside. Neat row of white coats hang outside. Dedicated rooms for MFL (Spanish) and IT. Specialist teaching in both from nursery.

At every turn, we saw lively, inspiring teaching – all underpinned by kindness, exemplifying school values. Parents describe the teachers as ‘exceptional’ and ‘wise’. ‘They push enough without being pushy,’ said one. Children invited to reflect on their work and to set their own targets: ‘It gives them ownership, they really think hard about it.’ Hence commenting, rather than marking, widely practised. Pen pal communication with sister schools in France and USA: ‘We haven’t dispensed with pen and paper.’ School’s intellectual curiosity programme is a special feature.

One full-time, and one part-time, SENCo are supported by visiting speech and language and OT therapists. Around 15 per cent of pupils on the SEN register, mainly with dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and autism. Two ECHPs at the time of our visit. Ethos is to keep things discreet and openly label as little as possible, the feeling being that this can unnecessarily stigmatise. One parent told us her child ‘did not even realise’ they were receiving special help. Support within the classroom as far as possible, with small booster groups and one-to-ones where required, at no extra cost (except for visiting specialists). Majority of pupils bi or trilingual but very few need formal EAL provision: ‘With the really little ones, it just develops naturally,’ says EYFS teacher.

Art everywhere, with bright studio used from year 1 upwards. Drama for all from reception. Nativity play, poetry competition and climactic annual musical production, with spotlight on year 6 but everybody from year 3 involved. LAMDA prominent. One year 6 pupil ‘couldn’t wait’ for the play – ‘it’s just going to be such fun.’ Myriad opportunities for self-expression during lessons, mass, assemblies and workshops, together with regular class productions. Sight reading and tongue twisters kick lessons off to learn ‘to tell a story not just with your voice but with the whole of your body’.

Commodious music room houses instruments and equipment galore, including serried rank of ukeleles. Music practice rooms for the 45 per cent having instrumental lessons. All years 1 and 2 start singing career in Little Voices before junior and then senior choir. Non-selective orchestra typifies inclusive approach to music. Dedicated music assemblies for pupils to perform to parents and friends.

PE onsite for younger ones and at Primrose Hill from year 3. Football, cricket and netball are the mainstays, plus athletics, tag rugby and rounders. All taught co-ed. Years 3 to 5 swim in intensive two-week programme at Camden pools. Annual sports day in Regents Park. Happily competitive approach, spirited not stroppy. Good record of fixtures and results but emphasis on teamwork and fun. All complemented by clubs offering fencing, dance, judo etc, together with a host of others from typing and eco craft to coding and cookery.

Early years have access to dedicated outdoor space, complete with exciting playground furniture, outdoor mud kitchen, marking wall and planting corner. Older children have more space including not-quite-full-sized football pitch (strict rules on no pushing or shoving), which can ingenuously adapt to cricket and netball. Includes sheltered outdoor classroom and a friendship stop area, a peaceful haven. Forest school on Primrose Hill up to year 2.

Just under a third of the pupils are Catholic, but all faiths are welcome and a recent head girl was Hindu. Gentle persuasion not to opt out of mass: ‘What message would that send to the child?’ This takes place every Friday, and parents are invited, with each class taking its turn to lead. Year 6 help write liturgy for younger years. Small prayer table in every classroom provides tips on leading a compassionate life. Father Rudolph sets a weekly challenge for all. Charity prefects oversee partnership with Caritas and donation of boxes of love to local hospice. Catholicism permeates, proselytising does not.

Parents – firmly down to earth, not a whiff of glitz – are involved and active, enjoying parent link, rather than association. Slightly fewer dual income families than similar schools. Many parental doctors, diplomats and lawyers. Very few nannies or au pairs at the school gates. Parents hugely supportive, with many helping with ongoing food bank collection. Some attend mass in the chapel on Sundays. They speak warmly of school and staff. ‘The staff are all phenomenal,’ said one. ‘Nothing’s too much,’ said another. School buses towards Hampstead and Queen’s Park for a few, but majority walk, scoot, or ride their bikes in. All from north of the park.

The children are modest, eloquent and courteous. Doors were held open and some older children unselfconsciously stood up as we entered. They also helped to stack the chairs after the last lunch session.

Money matters

Fees less expensive than comparable schools nearby. Very small number of bursaries in cases of unexpected hardship. Sibling discount for third child.

The last word

Notably unflashy, this is a hidden gem. Academic success with kindness, benevolence and compassion woven into the fabric. The core values of the school, consistently displayed and depicted in an attractive mural on the stairs, are truly observed in practice. What we sensed on entry became palpable.

Special Education Needs

At Saint Christina’s School we aim to identify and foster each child’s natural aptitude. Through a system of consultations with the child, parent-teacher meetings and regular assessments, we monitor progress and celebrate achievements. When this monitoring and assessment identifies children experiencing difficulty in specific areas of the curriculum, we establish an individual support programme. Learning support may be in the form of small group support in class, or one-to-one or small group tuition with specialist learning support teachers. If there are ongoing concerns, we are willing to advise on further courses of action. Children may be referred to the appropriate professionals for further support and intervention, such as educational psychologists, speech and language therapists or occupational therapists.

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