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We were struck by how creative the teachers were, never mind the students – colourful and intriguing lessons seem to pour joyfully out of every classroom and wonderful displays are everywhere. ‘We got letters in hieroglyphs when we were doing ancient Egyptians and we decoded them!’ remembered one child fondly. Girls can learn virtually any instrument and eagerly participate in choirs, orchestra, jazz, etc. ‘I credit the school with discovering and nurturing our daughter’s love for music,’ was one parent’s verdict...

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What the school says...

It is vital that your daughter's first step into full time education is a positive, happy experience. At The Study, girls from the age of 4 years gain in confidence and initiative, work hard and learn to think independently. Well prepared for a wide range of independent senior schools, girls leave us at 11+ with a zest for learning, gained in a stimulating, challenging and secure environment. ...Read more

What the parents say...

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What The Good Schools Guide says

Headmistress

Since 2011, Susan Pepper MA PGCE NPQH (50s). Attended Godolphin & Latymer, then read modern history at Somerville College, Oxford. Did a brief spell as trainee manager for Nationwide, but quickly realised education was her métier. After finishing her PGCE, she taught History at Seaford Head School and St Paul’s Girls’, then moved to Francis Holland Sloane Square as head of history. It was clearly a happy move, because she stayed for another 20 years, becoming in turn head of sixth form and deputy head.

Made the crossover to primary years education when the headship at The Study Prep came up, and loves everything about it. The feeling is mutual. ‘Very good, very thorough, so straightforward,’ say parents. ‘An excellent headmistress, very approachable’; ‘She’s done amazing things for the school’; ‘Her door is always open and she has always given her time and advice when we needed it’; ‘Always interested in the girls’ achievements both in and out of school’; ‘Her focus is the girls, and she really does know them.’

Runs the debating club, and remains an inspirational history teacher – ‘My daughter loved her lessons and history is still her favourite subject.’ Married to a draughtsman, with one grown up son. Interests include horses – ‘The love of my life!’ – and reading. A self-confessed crossword puzzle fanatic.

Entrance

At 4+, automatic sibling entry, thereafter by ballot. Around 120 apply for up to 48 places. School is completely non-selective at this stage, and doesn’t ask to meet any of the applicants. ‘We never know who we’re going to get,’ observed the head of the pre-prep, proudly. ‘We’re genuinely all-round.’ Applicants for any occasional places that might arise for years 1 and 2 are given an informal taster day while the teachers observe them.

Usually a handful of places at end of year 2, and school assesses for these: papers in maths, English and reasoning, plus informal interview. Same procedure for any available places in the upper year groups, although school doesn’t usually admit into years 5 and 6.

Bursaries available from Y3.

Exit

At 7+, a handful of leavers because of selective 7+ entrance point at neighbouring schools. School doesn’t prepare children for this, but doesn’t block it either.

At 11+ to a whole range of impressive schools: The Lady Eleanor Holles, Wimbledon High, Putney High, Surbiton High, Sutton High, Kingston Grammar, St John’s Leatherhead, Epsom College, Notre Dame, Guildford High – etc. Occasional St Paul’s Girls’ successes. A very small number each year to board at eg Roedean, Benenden, St Mary’s Ascot, but not many – parents here are generally in favour of the day school ethos.

Impressive number of scholarships – 39 awarded in 2018, an all-time record for the school, and testament to its nurturing of the girls’ abilities on all fronts.

Our view

The school is spread across two sites, both of them exquisite. In the heart of Wimbledon Village, years 4, 5 and 6 are in Spencer House, purpose built as a school back in 1905 when the original head, Miss Sidford, felt the need of something bigger than her own front room for her burgeoning student roll. Ten minutes’ walk away, Wilberforce House, acquired in 1992, is home to the first four year groups, and occupies a truly magical position on Wimbledon Common’s west side. Around 60 per cent of the intake is from SW19, giving The Study the feeling of a village school, although plenty come from further away - Wandsworth, Putney, Southfields, Raynes Park, even Fulham. After school care now offered until 6.30pm, to huge relief of working parents.

Classrooms are immaculate, well-equipped and inviting, with interactive whiteboards and all the fixings. Charmingly old-fashioned wooden desks with lift-up lids for the older girls (‘The girls adore them!’). Small but newly revamped libraries, dotted with children sprawling luxuriously on scatter cushions, attest to the importance of books here. Specialist ICT teacher has bank of laptops and tablets at her disposal in addition to work stations in every classroom. Delightfully refurbished outdoor play areas. Exciting plans for Wilberforce House site prove that school isn’t content to stand still.

Maths and English setted from year 3, an approach which parents welcome, saying it has enabled their daughters to be appropriately stretched and challenged. It certainly seems successful, judging from the high quality of the work we saw. Lessons are lively but focused, and the girls remain impeccably well-behaved. There are at least two members of staff for each class, a teacher and an assistant, ensuring that pupils get the attention they need.

For geography, history, science, etc the school recently adopted what it calls the Creative Curriculum, whereby all the subjects are taught under the umbrella of a particular theme each term. Thus the year 1 pupils had just finished beautiful portfolios on Out of Africa, for which the work included designing a ladder to help a visiting toy monkey down from the top shelf in the classroom, while the year 3s worked on some delightful Creative Recycling projects after the mysterious appearance of Stig’s Dump in the school garden.

We were struck by how creative the teachers were, never mind the students – colourful and intriguing lessons seem to pour joyfully out of every classroom and wonderful displays are everywhere. ‘We got letters in hieroglyphs when we were doing ancient Egyptians and we decoded them!’ remembered one child fondly, and ‘They make the lessons such fun!’ was a comment we heard from every girl we spoke to. Excellent facilities for science, and school has increased the amount of practical work the girls do. ‘Previously there was a very strong concentration on biology and it was all too facts-based. Now it’s much more practical and hands-on.’ French taught from reception – we listened to some year 4 girls chirrup away in delightful French accents. Spanish taught from year 6.

Homework kept to manageable levels for the younger ones, with about half an hour per night being standard. Big hike from year 3 to year 4, however, and again from year 4 to year 5, and a few parents told us they thought it could be excessive, particularly once the 11+ exams were over – ‘The girls could be given a bit more time to relax,’ was a typical and rueful comment. Others wished that there could be less poster and project based homework, with one adding that hours spent on this had impacted her daughter’s enjoyment of certain subjects. A year 6 child told us, however, ‘I don’t mind all the homework, because you have to prepare for senior school.’

Full-time SENCo plus team of part-timers oversees provision for those with additional needs, mostly dyslexia and dyspraxia. Because girls are accepted unseen into reception, school occasionally has to work with parents to find an alternative school for children with more than moderate needs that can’t be supported adequately here.

Extracurricular provision seen as one of the great strengths of the school. ‘My daughter would participate in everything if she could, and she pretty much manages to!’ wrote one mother. Wide-ranging sports provision includes netball, cricket, hockey, offered at school’s own sports grounds at Beverley Meads, plus swimming at Wimbledon baths. ‘I’ve been struck by how many more sporting opportunities my daughter has had at The Study than she will have at the senior schools we looked round!’ commented a parent, sadly.

Drama and music both ‘outstanding’, according to parents, taught by specialists with ‘limitless energy’. Girls can learn virtually any instrument and eagerly participate in choirs, orchestra, jazz, etc. ‘I credit the school with discovering and nurturing our daughter’s love for music,’ was one parent’s verdict. Regular productions are ambitious and hugely popular, ranging from The Wizard Of Oz to Macbeth, and LAMDA offered from year 4. An astonishing array of clubs encompasses fencing, yoga, horse & pony, chess, street dance, martial arts, music theory, touch typing – the older the girls, the bigger the choice. Unending succession of trips – the Polka Theatre, British Museum and Hastings were some of the most recent when we visited. We thought the visual arts really exceptional. Under the guidance of remarkably expert, knowledgable teaching, pupils here produce work that is sophisticated and imaginative.

‘I have nothing but good things to say about the pastoral care at The Study,’ wrote a mother, and every parent said the same. A different value is taught each month – respect, kindness, generosity, resilience, etc. – and the older girls all take part in peer mentoring the younger ones. ‘It’s great fun!’ said a year 6 pupil, ‘and sometimes it’s easier to talk to another pupil than a teacher when something’s bothering you.’ Much praise for the EQ Prep, a programme whereby counselling and support for both children and staff are embedded into the running of the school. The result seems to be a particularly happy community. The girls are chatty, lively, courteous to others and contented. ‘We don’t have many arguments, but the teachers sort things out really well if we do.’ ‘Everyone is really friendly here, and everyone makes you feel welcome.’ We were also impressed at how, despite hailing from what has to be one of the most affluent areas in London, the girls didn’t seem remotely materialistic: told to choose a treat for coming top in a recent house competition, they asked if they could sit on chairs during assembly. The widely-praised head of Spencer House attributes much of this to the school’s non-selective ethos. ‘You get the range of abilities and talents and passions, and the girls learn to support each other.’

The flip side of being such a kind and happy place is that staff can get out of practice in dealing with issues on the rare occasions when they do arise. Whispers reached us regarding a year group with some over-dominant personalities who, a number of parents claimed, hadn’t been satisfactorily dealt with. There was also a perception that the school could be firmer with strong-willed parents who try to push their own child’s interests ahead of everyone else’s. (‘Should be stronger with these parents, although they are very scary!’ was how one mother put it.) School surprised and disappointed to learn of these comments, and responded: 'The school has robust policies and procedures for dealing with any pastoral issues that arise and the staff are well trained and experienced in implementing them.' And we must add that, despite these wrinkles, everyone who contacted us was unanimous in recommending the school, including the ones who had the above-mentioned concerns. ‘Our daughter has been extremely happy at The Study and is sad to be leaving.’ ‘She has really loved her time there, and wishes that there was a Study Senior!’

We really liked this school, with its joyfully creative and caring workforce, and thought it conclusive proof that all-girls education from an early age can be simply brilliant. The children here struck us as articulate, loved, personable, relaxed, comfortable with themselves and others, and above all, completely and superlatively themselves. And that, surely, is what real girl power is all about

Special Education Needs

The Study is non-selective at age 4 and is able to cater for those girls with Specific Learning Difficulties such as mild to moderate dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD. There are flexible support groups in some years and one-to-one private tuition for those who need it. Support staffing consists of a Learning Support Coordinator, four private tutors, a part time support teacher and four teaching assistants. Nov 09

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Aspergers Y
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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