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Housed in what was once a gracious Victorian house of substantial proportions, with an ample garden – ‘Compared to other schools we saw, it felt like it had grounds’ – the Village School for Girls is non-selective academically throughout. Old-fashioned manners prevail – girls leapt to their feet on our entry and introduced themselves by name – and discipline not an issue. ‘It’s a very kind environment,’ says the head. From September 2024, the school will expand into year 7 and beyond, so those who wish to…


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What the school says...

The Village School for Girls is a warm, family orientated school, where education is about a passion for learning, a curiosity that allows children to go off on tangents to explore a subject more deeply, a lack of fear in any subject, and a confidence in their ability to be able to discuss any topic. The school has an excellent record of academic success and an outstanding reputation for pastoral care. Our small class sizes and individualised approach provides an excellent learning environment where inspirational teaching from specialist teachers ensures all girls are ambitious to reach their full potential.

At the heart of our school is our motto ‘Ad Astra’ and we are committed to providing an inspiring, educational journey that enables not only academic success but also fosters life skills, which will provide our pupils with the ability to think critically, be creative, work collaboratively and communicate effectively.
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What The Good Schools Guide says


Since September 2023, Mrs Kirstie Hampshire, BA (Hons), PGCE. Mrs Hampshire grew up in Zambia – where her parents help found a school to compensate for the lack of local options – then boarded at Windlesham House School in Sussex and Bedales, followed by a degree in French at the University of East Anglia. After a stint in marine insurance and co-founding a cleaning-services business, she trained as a teacher at Kingston University. Taught at Royal Masonic School for Girls, all-boys Thorpe House in Gerard’s Cross, and all-boys prep Hereward House in Hampstead, where she was head of middle school.

She had no thought of becoming a head, but when approached, fell in love with the Village School for Girls. ‘I think it’s a really special school. There’s no hothousing, and the staff are truly brilliant.’ Continues to teach when there’s a need. ‘I like to keep teaching; it helps you empathise with the teachers and get a broader perspective.’ Mrs Hampshire took over after a period of rapid change (she’s the third head in five years), and her positive, down-to-earth, open-door style has been welcomed by parents. ‘A certain level of experience helps in a head,’ said one. ‘It gives that extra degree of professionalism. She’s lovely.’ ‘She’s a good communicator, very transparent,’ said another.

Married to a head, with two adult children, in her spare time she enjoys reading and travelling.


Non-selective academically throughout, but older entrants take assessments in maths and English to establish the level they’ve reached. ‘Our admissions are bespoke,’ says the head. ‘We want to see if they fit with the Village School for Girls and we can do the right thing by them.’


Small leakage at 7+, but majority stay till 11 with girls currently proceeding to the full range of north London favourites – Highgate, South Hampstead, North London Collegiate, City, Channing, Francis Holland, etc, with regular scholarships, including for music and dance. Discussion about future schools begins in year 5. ‘I’m realistic with parents. If somewhere is not the right place, I say don’t put them through it,’ says the head. Plenty of practice for testing, with tailored learning and progress meetings. ‘When it’s time to focus they bring it home,’ said one mother. Some, however, expressed concern that preparation for the most oversubscribed schools was not always sufficiently cut-throat. From September 2024, the school will expand into year 7 and beyond, so those who wish to remain will have the option to do so.

Our view

Classes are small across the board – rarely more than 11 or 12 – so every child gets individual attention. And the teaching we saw, particularly in the core subjects, was sparkling. After observing a particularly jolly maths lessons, where year 5 pupils rapidly and confidently did a quiz on the square of numbers well beyond 12, we asked how many people liked maths and every hand shot up. A notably impressive result in a girls’ schools. Reading firmly embedded by a teacher with missionary zeal, who underlines the benefits of daily story time and liaises closely with parents to ensure they know how to play their part – ‘We get helpful sessions about phonics, so we can teach at home,’ said one. Spanish from pre-prep. Latin and history of art added in year 5. French once a week after entrance exams are over in year 6. Comfortable, well-stocked library is clearly well used and well loved. ‘You can come in here and read a book and relax,’ said one of our guides. ‘New books come in almost every week.’ Regular library sessions mean girls know exactly what’s on offer, with one explaining, ‘The non-fiction section is not big, but it’s very good.’

Nursery starts at 2, and the smallest can remain all day and – from 3 – attend after-school clubs. We saw the tinies painting striking green pictures of moonrocks – ‘It’s my sister’s birthstone,’ confided one. Parents are impressed. ‘I put my daughter into nursery on the principle, try before you buy. I was intending to move her at 4, but I saw a huge growth in her learning. She suddenly piped up one day, “Is that the 247 bus?”’

Special educational needs, overseen by a SENDCo, has its own pleasant room where individual attention can be given to those with dyslexia, dyspraxia, ASD, speech and language difficulties, etc. ‘We have a very adaptive curriculum and are redesigning the playground, so can address a real mix of physical needs,’ says the head. English as an additional language also well supported. Classroom teachers follow through with personalised regimes. ‘My daughter has hypermobility and struggled to grip her pencil,’ said one parent. ‘They did a great job of maximising her skill while not making her feel any different.’ Those who need more stretch are given bespoke work. ‘The teacher will pull you aside and talk you through it.’ Homework – mainly done at school – is kept to a minimum. ‘They view free time as free time,’ said one parent.

Enthusiastic, well-qualified teachers receive high praise. ‘You can go right in in the morning and feel like you really know the teachers,’ said one parent. ‘They’re very responsive to individual concerns.’

Spacious double-aspect room on the ground floor houses the Creative Lab, a comprehensive space for science, music and art. Science facilities are currently relatively basic, though girls definitely enjoy what’s on offer – ‘We do lots of fun experiments’ – pointing out the raw materials for lava lamps and a spider’s leg under a microscope. Aspirations are raised through posters of women scientists, and will be easier to fulfil with the arrival of a better-equipped science lab in summer 2024.

Art and music both taught by specialists throughout. All learn singing and ukulele, with individual lessons provided by peripatetic teachers during the day or after school in a dedicated music room. ‘The music side is of quite a high level,’ said one mother. ‘They’re really encouraging and the music teacher composes her own songs.’ Girls get a chance to perform at weekly ‘cultural’ assemblies, when they can sing, dance or recite. An art club and art scholarship group provide extra scope for those with aptitude or enthusiasm. Each year group performs a musical, allowing even the shyest to shine. Plenty of after-school clubs offer everything from eco-club and dance to karate and skateboarding. ‘It’s up to us to suggest what we want do,’ said one year 6.

An extra-large playground, both broad and deep, with a new adventure playground, outdoor classroom, and eco-garden in the pipeline, provides space for netball, football, rounders and cricket. Rugby is taught in partnership with famed north London club Saracens. Dance lessons, gym and ‘sport when it rains’ take place in the large hall. ‘I’m a firm believer in not cancelling because of the weather,’ says the head. Swimming has now been reintroduced after the pandemic. ‘The sports teacher is very passionate and there are lots of fixtures,’ said one parent. ‘What’s good is there’s always space for everyone to be on the A team.’ If larger teams are required, year groups can be combined.

Discipline not an issue. ‘It’s a very kind environment,’ says the head. No mobile phones in school and old-fashioned manners prevail – girls leapt to their feet on our entry and introduced themselves by name. ‘Celebration assemblies’ spotlight girls’ achievements in one of six learning ‘dispositions’ (curiosity, collaboration, reflection, perseverance and resilience, independence, and creativity), and ‘wellbeing Wednesdays’ encourage holistic reflection. Friendship groups seem to work well despite – or because of – the small class size. ‘In some ways the class size is an advantage, because they often play as a group or two groups,’ said one mother. Only occasionally do girls feel left out, with some parents counteracting the limited social pool with outside activities. ‘They form a tight bond, but it can be very tricky shifting social allegiances.’ A house system (swallows and swifts for younger years, eagles and falcons for older children) unites the age groups. Year 5 pupils are encouraged to apply to be house captains – who organise events such as a teacher-student netball match – with applications evaluated both by the departing year 6 and by the head. Lunch – cooked daily on the premises – is nutritious (with raw vegetables on each table) and, we can attest, delicious.

Housed in what was once a gracious Victorian house of substantial proportions, the school is well provided with large, light, high-ceilinged classrooms. The ample garden is a further attraction. ‘Compared to other schools we saw, it felt like it had grounds.’

Established in 1985 by Carol Gay and Fanny Prior and originally located in Kentish Town, the school moved to its current site in Belsize Park in 1993. It is now part of a growing group, Chatsworth Schools, founded by Anita Gleave in 2018, which believes in an inclusive education. Parents largely see Chatsworth Schools as a benign force, willing to invest in the school without overly didactic oversight. ‘They don’t want us to lose our ethos,’ says the head. ‘It’s not just about money.’

Pupils are delightful – confident, articulate and outgoing. Parents, many from overseas, are grateful they’ve landed here. ‘What struck me right away was how much they cared about each individual girl,’ said one. ‘I love the community,’ commented another. ‘It’s incredibly supportive and everyone knows each other. We’re eternally grateful we found it. We just want to capture it and take with us.’ ‘It’s a unique offering in an area where there’s a lot of hothousing,’ said a third. ‘No school’s perfect, but they put the children’s happiness first and foremost.’

Money matters

Bursaries available, evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

The last word

A small school in delightful surroundings providing a warm, attentive, well-rounded education. Those who wish to move on do so successfully, but the school will now cater for anyone who wishes to remain for the secondary years.

Special Education Needs

At The Village School for Girls, we understand that every student may encounter various challenges during their academic journey. Our primary goal is to ensure that all students receive a comprehensive and tailored curriculum, regardless of any learning needs or physical barriers they may face. We are committed to closely monitoring each student's progress and providing a range of support services to facilitate their learning experience. Our dedicated team of teachers and special needs educators work collaboratively to address individual needs. With small class sizes and experienced teachers, we create an environment where students can thrive, acknowledging their strengths and implementing effective strategies. For those with dyslexia and other specific learning needs, including students with English as an additional language, we offer specialised support, ensuring that every student receives the necessary resources to excel academically. All girls participate in a series of national competitions and specialist subject workshops, alongside differentiation within our regular curriculum.

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