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Much-admired creative curriculum is ‘magical’, say parents. Topics like the Arctic, kids in space, dragons and knights are introduced with an ooh and aah moment – a pop-up woodland camp with a branch tent - have a 'marvellous middle’ and  ‘fabulous finish': the medieval banquet at the end of Turrets and Tiaras included an ice sculpture and – courtesy of parents – a glitzy if anachronistic chocolate fountain. Adds stardust – and depth – and fosters a genuine love of learning...

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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

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What The Good Schools Guide says


Since September 2023, Sharon Maher, previously head of Halstead Prep.


Inclusive – far more so than many other schools in the area – though general expectation is that most children will be working at around age-related expectations (may be some leeway).

Guaranteed places for families registering by end of April the year before September of entry. Ballot for remaining places. No assessment for reception places. Short assessments at 5+ and 6+. More formal written assessments for 7+ and above. Priority for siblings, staff members’ children and returning families.

Once commit to a child, will stick with her, though for those requiring significant classroom support may have discussions about whether it’s the right place, particularly in senior years given increased pace and academic demands. Have supported a range of physical, sensory or medical needs, including visual impairment. ‘If we can support, we will – there’s no terror in our hearts,’ says school.

Strong on EAL, supporting children who may start here with minimal or no English and usually make rapid progress. Experienced SENCo who really knows her stuff is forging links with local ADHD and autism groups to build expertise as rates of diagnosis in girls accelerates. Routine dyslexia screening in years 1, 3 and 5 – sooner and more comprehensive than in most other schools – means that ‘we can start to make a difference [earlier],’ says SENCo. Where additional support is needed (eg an EHCP), will work with families to support them through the process.


Like investments, results at hugely oversubscribed top schools can go up and down, particularly when there’s a relatively small cohort. Most popular schools for recent leavers were Surbiton High and Wimbledon High, followed by St John's, Leatherhead. The odd one or two headed to Marymount, Sutton High, Kingston Grammar and Latymer Upper. School doesn’t prep for the 7+ (though several children each year sit for Putney or Wimbledon High). Not encouraged because, says school, ‘we know them so well at 11 that we can recommend the right school.’

Our view

Stands out in an area rife with parental ambition (described by one as the ‘Wimbledon illness’) as a saner, more nurturing alternative to some of the more driven establishments nearby. Not that this stops anxiety about the 11+. Do parents tutor? You bet they do. It’s not something anyone talks about (and of course, it’s discouraged by the school – girls need their free time, parents are told) but – as elsewhere in SW London - it’s widespread, if not universal.

If the pre-prep’s green and pleasant vibe doesn’t captivate visiting prospective families the second they see it (backs right on to Wimbledon Common), its approach, sense of community and impressive pupils – no robotic tour guides here but ‘articulate, polite and happy girls you could hold an adult conversation with,’ says parent - do the rest.

Down to school’s happy ability to ensure that girls aren’t pigeonholed. ‘Don’t try to mould them into a set product,’ says parent. ‘Have their individual personalities and interests and the school tries to find and develop these.’ Strong partnership with parents feeds into approach to learning support – open, effective and tailored. Similarly clued up when it comes to wellbeing – EQ programme, run by very popular wellbeing consultant, who liaises with SENCo, extends to parents as well as pupils and covers everything from sex and relationships to mental health and friendship issues, inevitable but usually short lived. Brilliant with friendship issues or unkindness, say pupils. ‘She helps you and doesn’t tell your parents and teachers unless there are big situations,’ says one,

Parents, most fairly local, include the massively wealthy (one pupil had found fish and chips a challenge as ‘we only have crayfish at home’) and otherwise. Active parents’ association, which organises glitzy events including a ball at the Hurlingham Club, welcomes them all and ‘you never feel judged,’ says parent. Wraparound care caters for the increasing numbers of dual-income parents, with most opting either for breakfast club (from 7.30) or for after-school care (to 6pm) rather than both.

Founded in 1893 – now an educational trust – the school is on two sites. Wilberforce House is home to 4 to 8-year-olds, who then move to Spencer House in the heart of pretty Wimbledon Village for years 4-6 – a well-handled graduation that’s an excellent rehearsal for the transition to senior school, think parents. Substantial redevelopment at Wilberforce House has added a large, impressive new wing, all automatic sliding doors, clean lines and wide corridors. Highlights (in addition to the Tupperware box full of tadpoles gracing the reception area on the day of our visit) include ultra-smart visitors’ loo, so accessible that it has to be wedged or door swings open when unlocked.

Classrooms are open, light and airy, library ditto, with purpose-built bookcases, interspersed with reading nooks, that form part of the staircase, and a striking new theatre with a minstrels’ gallery and movable tiered seats used by the whole school for concerts and productions – Matilda Jnr and The Rainmaker among recent performances. Seamlessly joins the older parts of the school - part historic (Octagon House), part mid 20th century – including 1960s dining and sports hall that is both generously sized and - as demonstrated by exuberant (but very well behaved) reception class practising ball skills - ear-tinglingly echoey.

The prep, Spencer House, in a prime residential road (developers must salivate), packs a lot into a compact building, with space well planned and used and corridors brightened by wonderful art - delicate, detailed Japanese style fish against a subtle colour wash background just one of the many highlights on show.

Welcoming library is stuffed with books, fiction to the fore to encourage reading for pleasure rather than profit. There’s a well-equipped science lab (specialist teaching from year 5), a partitioned art and adjoining music room that can be combined into one big space for production rehearsals, while the playground at the back of the school is a green oasis, admittedly with plastic grass - essential given heavy use – but offset by attractive planting.

Bar some comments about the levels of staff turnover (larger number were on the cusp of retirement than usual, says school) and length of parent–teacher meetings (could be a little longer – though detailed tracking and assessment system, on the way for years 3-6, should satisfy the most information hungry of families), parents can’t praise the school’s approach to learning highly enough.

Classes, maximum of 24 pupils, with six pupils to every full-time member of teaching staff, are led by teachers who are caring, approachable and hardworking, say parents. Experienced, too, with 20 members of staff who have been here for over 10 years and five for over 20. Above all, teachers are ‘kind’, we were told by every pupil. Impressively able to set a fast pace that challenges without overwhelming – children go home ‘with a smile on their faces,’ says a parent – and you ‘never [see] a reception girl going to school crying,’ reckons another. (We did see one - but she was late, and it was raining…)

Much-admired creative curriculum between reception and end of second term in year 3 is ‘magical’, says every parent we spoke to. Topics that span the subject range (the Arctic, kids in space, dragons and knights have all featured) are introduced with an ooh and aah moment – like the pop-up woodland camp with its branch tent and rustic tree trunk seats that had appeared next to reception classrooms at the start of their Wild Child topic. Another halfway point attention-grabber - the ’marvellous middle’ – keeps interest levels high and the topic concludes with a grand finale (‘fabulous finish’): the medieval banquet at the end of Turrets and Tiaras included an ice sculpture and – courtesy of parents – a glitzy if anachronistic chocolate fountain. Adds stardust – and depth – and fosters a genuine love of learning. Staff dedication involved in ensuring all learning boxes are ticked is astonishing. ‘It’s hard work, but very rewarding,’ says teacher, busily producing teeny tiny printed responses to children’s questions to the Wild Child. At the end of each topic, each child takes home a beautifully produced A3 book packed with photographs, descriptions and their individual work, a labour of love that’s worth the fees alone.

The more traditional, subject-based approach for older years remains highly enjoyable, with plenty of quizzes, group work (we watched year 5 mathematicians enthusiastically volunteering to solve problems on the white board) and much enjoyed school trips – no mere fillers for the dog days of the academic year but taking place all the way through. Year 6, just back from Henley Fort, a WW2 Home Guard outpost, were discussing how it felt for women to have wartime employment snatched away after D-Day. Some setting from year 2, with support groups for English and maths and extension groups introduced in year 3. Similar flexibility in other years so that different cohorts get appropriate challenge and support. A light touch with homework ensures that nobody is overwhelmed and while one parent felt that some pupils – bright but quite happy not to stretch themselves – might benefit from a little more, the girls themselves felt the balance – little to start, a gentle increase from year 3 - was about right.

Out of the classroom, there’s plenty to keep pupils busy. Art is ‘phenomenal’, performing arts also strong, girls encouraged to try different instruments until they find the one that inspires. Dance – particularly ballet, timetabled up to year 2 – is well rated. Sport extensive, netball (impressive 24 teams) much liked and very successful. Cricket is a harder sell (‘At first I thought, “What is the point of this game?”’ said year 3 pupil). Matches against other schools – played at school’s own grounds a couple of miles down the road just off the A3 – are scheduled from year 3, with everyone selected for at least one fixture and team allocation generally felt to be fair. Being in the A squad ‘doesn’t mean you’re better,’ says a pupil, firmly. Point is made with team names – ‘Amazing’, ‘Brilliant’, ‘Courageous’, ‘Determined’.

After-school clubs are very popular, though a few more (such as languages, additional instrumental lessons and cookery) would gladden some parental and pupil hearts and the most popular (gymnastics in particular) are now allocated by ballot. Plenty of cookery at Spencer House, confirms school, which also ‘challenges the lack of instrumental lessons – we have many!’

With technological niggles well in hand (hit a low point when the school had to hire laptops so year 6 pupils could sit online 11+ exams in 2020, now hugely improved with iPads all round and older girls having own devices) and school lunches revamped with reductions in stodge and sugar, parents were generally very happy with what the school had to offer.

Money matters

Bursaries available from year 3.

The last word

Several parents we asked were unable to think of a single thing they would want to change. Given the school’s sterling qualities – strong academics, teachers who radiate enthusiasm for their work and a highly effective approach to learning that delivers pupils to their senior schools without fuss or undue pressure – who can blame them?

Special Education Needs

The Study is proudly non-selective at Reception (4+). Every Study girl is different and one child’s strength might be another’s weakness. We understand that some children may be challenged in certain areas and all of our teachers take responsibility for pupils with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND). Our aim is to ensure every girl in our school is given the tools she needs to flourish. We aim to know and understand each girl as a unique individual to ensure she feels happy and secure, and is able to make the progress she’s truly capable of. Teaching children with varying abilities and needs is a whole-school responsibility, requiring a whole-school response. Central to our work in every class is a continuous cycle of planning, teaching, assessment and evaluation that takes account of the range of abilities, aptitudes, gifts, talents and interests of all pupils. From this viewpoint, our provision for SEND begins with building a clear picture of the girls’ strengths and areas of difficulty. We run a dyslexia screening test in Years 1, 3 and 5, and will undertake further testing as required. We begin with inclusive in-class support and increase this through carefully planned and evaluated intervention groups outside the classroom. Each pupil has a profile of her particular needs documented in an individual SEND programme, which specifies short-term targets, the teaching strategies to be used and the provision to be made. These are shared and reviewed with both the pupil and their parents. There are of course some pupils who need us to provide interventions that are additional to, or different from, those provided as part of the school’s usual differentiated curriculum. Our graduated response to a child’s additional needs may result in bespoke one-to-one tuition, out of the classroom, or support from other outside professionals. We welcome visiting Occupational and Speech and Language therapists as well as specialist teachers to increase pupils’ progress. All out-of-class interventions are scheduled to take place with minimal disruption to classroom learning wherever possible, avoiding the core subjects of English, Maths and Science. If required, we may recommend additional support from our visiting specialist teachers. We have two highly qualified learning support specialists, with well-recognised qualifications enabling them to work with pupils with specific learning difficulties. The cost of this specialist one-to-one tuition within school is agreed and paid by the pupil’s parents. Through a process of both formal and informal assessment, they look to identify and address any gaps in learning using multi-sensory teaching strategies and align individual learning targets to the demands of the classroom. They also meet with class teachers twice in an academic year to monitor and review progress.

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