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What says..

One school. Three buildings.  A rabbit warren with lots of ‘stuff’ and all the better for that. Colourful displays, books in nooks, magical Spanish. Laudable attitudes to diversity and neurodiversity (which ‘help the pupils to become perceptive and accepting’), growth mindset, the global citizenship initiative and a ‘well-harnessed code of behaviour’.  Sport is inclusive, teams are mixed, and pupils enjoy quidditch ‘played on brooms but…’

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What the school says...

The Roche School is an independent family owned, co-educational, nursery and primary school offering children a wide range of academic, creative and sporting opportunities in a family-orientated environment on the boundary of Putney and Wandsworth.

Our curriculum is taught by inspiring, committed teaching staff enabling pupils to fully achieve their potential whilst they are with us. Attitudes to learning are important too – we encourage pupils to enjoy challenge, working together and independently. In academic subjects, we run small classes which are attentive to matters of pace and understanding and our pupils go on to achieve places at top London day schools. We are committed to being a school comprising a diverse range of families and pupils who enjoy the dynamic culture at the school.

We are proud of our strong academic record and encourage pupils to excel.

The atmosphere of the school is happy and polite with the pastoral system emphasising the importance of kindness and respect for others.

Please check the website for open days or ring the school for a private tour.
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What The Good Schools Guide says


Since 2010, Vania Adams. From ‘a family of teachers’, raised and educated in west Sussex, degree in English and drama (Roehampton), PGCE secondary (Middlesex). Father was ‘an educator and a painter’, who encouraged an interest in the expressive arts, especially poetry. Two children, now adult. Teaching career briefly interrupted by a stint in publishing – ‘so valuable’ – then Ibstock Place School before a move to The Roche (year 6 form teacher). Promotion followed and the rest is history. Lives nearby, but not close enough to be seen doing her weekly shop in the local supermarket.

Parents praise her integrity, values, leadership style and ‘approachability’ and children love her. ‘She’s been friends with my brother, my sister and now she is friends with me,’ explained one boy, the youngest of three siblings to have attended the school. Another informed us that he ‘went for a sleepover with her and it was really fun!’ It later transpired the head had offered herself as a babysitter in an auction. The winning parents arranged a sleepover to ensure other children could benefit from the investment. Head, undaunted, plans to repeat the exercise.


Non-selective. Majority join nursery (here or sister nursery, Keswick House - waiting list for both at age two) or reception on a first come, first served basis. Two or three classes per year group with 15 to 18 pupils in each. Years with two classes often have waiting lists. Those with three have ‘a little more wriggle room’. Numbers currently very strong. Most pupils live in Putney and Wandsworth but buses ferry children to and from Wimbledon and Southfields.


Vast majority of children stay until 11 to enjoy ‘a Roche School education and the benefits of being at the top of the school’. Early departures tend to be those moving out of area. Impressive lists of offers (from around 40 schools) with a huge haul of scholarships (36 in 2023). Final destinations (24 different schools) suggest that parents really do heed advice to think about ‘the right school’ and that pupils are not moulded so much as guided. Wimbledon High School, Hall School Wimbledon, Emanuel, Kingston Grammar School, Whitgift, Latymer Upper School, Dulwich College, Hampton School, St Paul’s, Epsom and Kings College School Wimbledon the most popular recently.

Our view

Established in 1983 by Carmen Roche who was intent on delivering ‘thorough teaching in a homely environment’. Her husband, James, became principal some years later. Both still involved and daughter Sophie (a former pupil) is currently a teacher and head of marketing, but school is resisting pressure to become more corporate or branded. Marketing aims ‘to attract the right parents through the door’: parents who share the values and ethos of the school and will support their children. The school reflects the multiculturalism of the local area and parents (mostly professional with both working) embrace this wholeheartedly. They applaud attitudes to diversity and neurodiversity (which ‘help the pupils to become perceptive and accepting’), growth mindset, the global citizenship initiative and a ‘well-harnessed code of behaviour’. The children we spoke to (both those selected to be guides and those who took the initiative and introduced themselves) were absolutely delightful.

One school, three buildings, many stairs. A rabbit warren with lots of ‘stuff’ and all the better for that. We loved the myriad colourful displays and the creative ways in which books were housed in nooks and crannies or wherever corridors were wide enough for a set of shelves. Reading is part of the life blood of this school, overseen by a reading co-ordinator. Rugs on the floors (not the sort you buy from school suppliers but the type you inherit from grandparents or pick up in interesting antique shops), cushions and chairs. Not an inch of wasted space. On the first floor, a ‘hub’ with reception and year 1 classrooms and little corridors leading off in all directions. Books being changed, adults working with individual children, computers, readers, small group phonics, caterpillars (soon to be butterflies it is hoped) and a lot of coats hanging on pegs. Very busy with a genuine sense of purpose and tangibly happy children.

Hilden House, just down the road, is the year 5 base. First impressions of a rather austere and functional building (especially the staircases) soon dispelled as the familiar bookcases and rugs appear in the spaces between classrooms. There’s a dance studio (with sprung floor, mirrors and barres) and a cluttered and paint-splattered art room - the scene of many a happy art or DT lesson if our year 5 guides’ stories are anything to go by. Tie-dyed t-shirts on a drying rack awaiting embroidery in a subsequent lesson, a kiln, racks and shelves of paint, paper, fabrics, wool, wood and every conceivable item that any creative child might want or need.

New year 6 centre, a few minutes away (‘only inconvenient if it rains’), makes pupils feel ‘independent’ and ‘grown up’. Transition to secondary programme is thoughtfully designed to ease the transfer to senior school. Would they prefer to have all year groups in one building? Undoubtedly so, but the current arrangement works just fine. Making ingenious use of the spaces you do have is what counts and we award ten out of ten to The Roche in that respect.

Consistent with the ethos of the school, wellbeing is prioritised for everyone. Room at the Roche is a safe space off the playground where children can pop in to discuss any problem or anxiety they may have with dedicated and trained staff; teachers can also refer children. Parents are ‘kept in the loop’ if appropriate and other professionals are available for onward referrals if needed. Staff can also make use of the facility and a parent wellbeing initiative has been launched.

Consent, gender and relationships are taught with age-appropriate content throughout the school, alongside topics such as managing money and e-safety. School is keen to keep abreast, even ahead, of developments in equal opportunities, non-gender bias, diversity and anti-discrimination and to embed these in all they do.

Numbers of SEND pupils vary from five to 20 per cent. School says, ‘It is in our DNA to support any child,’ and there’s close collaboration between school and home. Support generally provided in class but 1 to 1 sessions with on-site specialist teacher or additional adult support in the classroom available (funded by parents or, for those with an EHCP, the local authority). EAL pupils are assessed, supported and monitored to ensure language is never a barrier to reaching potential. Classroom management and provision are adjusted when indicated. Effort pays off as evidenced by results at 11+. ‘Aim higher’ register ensures more able are stretched. Enrichment opportunities are identified and include ‘The Battle of the Books,’ an initiative run by the school for able readers in year 4 across the borough.

Nursery integrates Montessori approach with early years curriculum. Pink water with glitter attracted our attention. Elsewhere, a home corner, complete with kitchen equipment and a dog and puppy in a basket, was proving popular with a cohort who have spent more of their early years at home than might normally have been the case. Child-led activities are gently steered to ensure appropriate learning takes place. Interactive whiteboards and iPads, as one would expect, but a couple of small people fully engaged with more ‘old-fashioned’ fabric toys (buttons to be done up and pegs to be attached to clothes lines to develop fine motor skills). Outside space, under cover and partitioned off from the rest of the playground, enables creative play to carry on in the fresh air come rain or shine. Weekly forest school - several members of staff are trained forest school leaders – presents other opportunities. Sister nursery, Keswick House, registered and housed separately, offers parents the choice of an alternative venue.

Elsewhere, a little school magic takes place. School’s USP is its fresh approach to teaching languages: an immersive Spanish option in reception (to be extended up to year 2 and with ‘more than a usual amount of Spanish thereafter’). Both classes have morning maths and literacy lessons in English but one class has all other lessons in Spanish. Even this linguistically challenged GSG hack learned several words and phrases. Inspiring.

From year 1, groups for English and maths (eight to 12 children in each) are fluid and not based purely on ability or attainment. In English, imagination and technical mastery do not necessarily go hand in hand so a good mix is sought, while in maths, pace is often key.

Music is described as ‘incredible’. Choir and orchestra open to all and, we were told, 'Name an instrument and they will find a teacher.' In the upper school assembly, children sang lustily, conducted by the director of music and accompanied by a guitar-touting teacher and a jazz pianist. As the rendition of Hallelujah built to a crescendo, Jemima, the school dog, inserted a timely and pitch-perfect bark generating smiles and laughter. As the children filed out, one diverted to secure a quick hug from the head. A parent had advised that we would witness this and it was certainly not the only time it happened during our visit.

Staff (called by their first names plus appropriate prefix) are ‘wonderful’ and plentiful (‘to ensure we can deliver on our promises’). One parent told us that they ‘help us navigate a tricky world’. Retention is high but there is young blood too, including one teacher who was a pupil at the school herself. A real sense of family; staff are united in their determination to deliver a great education for life, not just exams.

‘Well-paced and well-judged’ 11+ preparation. Parents and staff agree ‘children need to be in a good place academically and emotionally’ in order to do themselves justice. One year 6 pupil told us that there were times it was ‘a bit stressful’ but added, ‘We all got through it together.’ Another simply said that it was ‘enjoyable and fun’. That viewpoint something of a first, in our experience. Efforts to discourage tutoring seem to be pretty successful. A father claimed, ‘the parents are just not like that!’ and anyway, ‘You don’t need a tutor when it is all given as part of the service.’ Booster classes (including English with the head) before school plus interventions during the day in the run up to the exams. Deputy head does practice interviews with all children.

Committee system in year 6 avoids the need for head boys and girls, prefects and suchlike. Collaboration is key and disappointment is avoided but ‘the natural leaders rise to the challenge’ in the sports, eco, community and fundraising, or Roche Approach committees. Pupil voice (school council) provides another opportunity for children to influence school life and feel they have a say. Recent new playground equipment is thanks to their endeavours.

Strong sport delivered by ‘amazing teachers’ either on-site (games and dance) or in Wandsworth Park (PE). Sport is inclusive, fixtures numerous and, apart from girls’ football, the teams are mixed. The netball team has met with particular success recently. Summer term sees alternative sports on Fridays. Year 6 options include quidditch (played on brooms but at ground level), dodgeball and boxing, the latter (minus sparring) run by trained boxing instructors at a nearby gym, is proving a big hit with girls and boys alike.

Money matters

Fees remain very competitive. Means tested bursaries (up to 100 per cent) available, plus access schemes and scholarships.

The last word

No pretentious window dressing here and no doubt at all that energy, investment and care is directed where it matters most: the pupils. Space may be at a premium, but what stands out at The Roche is the massive heart at the centre of this small school. Pupils and staff smile, thrive and achieve in this people-centric environment and impressive results prove the adage that happy children do well.

Special Education Needs

For those children who are identified as having particular learning difficulties, extra provision can be made through one-to-one support and by small group sizes - particularly in English and Maths.

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