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Probably most cosmopolitan of all the Thomas's schools, with a wide ranging mix of international parents and 19 different foreign languages spoken at home. About 25 per cent of children on the EAL register. Academically, teaching deemed pretty good, though lots of coaching still occurring in the last years. 'Just as insurance,' say the parents. We did feel that this was definitely more about anxious and ambitious parents than inadequately taught children. We particularly liked the charcoal drawings lining one staircase alongside a written request to please not rub against them. And, of course, being a Thomas's school...

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What The Good Schools Guide says

Headmaster

Since September 2017, Simon O’Malley MA PGCE (late 40s), previously head of Wellesley House. Educated at the Oratory School, Reading and at Aberdeen University. Has also been a housemaster and later deputy head at Beaudesert Park in Gloucestershire. Ambitious and enthusiastic; generated an energy and buzz about his previous school. Much liked and respected by parents.

Entrance

Mainly at 4. Competitive and oversubscribed. Register as soon as possible, preferably at birth. Assessments in November prior to entry in September the following year. Three applicants for each place offered. Up to six boys and girls per hour’s session. Looking for children who ‘have a measure of confidence, are responsive, sociable, with a light in their eyes.' Sibling priority but not absolutely guaranteed. Occasional places further up the school when candidates are assessed while spending half a day with their peer group. Written report from previous school also necessary. More places at 11+ but majority of these tend to be taken by children from Thomas’s, Kensington.

Exit

Very few leave at age 7 or 8 as no preparation for these exams although, inevitably, the odd trickle whose parents are scared they may not make it later. Westminster, St Paul’s, Eton, KCS Wimbledon, Wellington College, Marlborough College, Bradfield College, GDST schools, St Paul’s Girls’ Godolphin & Latymer, Francis Holland SW1, Dulwich, Whitgift, Emanuel, Bryanston, Brighton College, Oundle, Tudor Hall, Downe House, Heathfield, Woldingham and others. Very broad spread of destinations and the numbers vary hugely from year to year as reliant on parent choice. In 2017, 16 scholarships, including to Wycombe Abbey, St Paul's, Harrow, Brighton College and Alleyn's.

Our view

A big, busy, slightly chaotic school for cosmopolitan parents who want their children to have the best English education money can buy. That is what they want and, to a large degree, that is what they get. Plenty of opportunities for pupils to excel but withdrawn types might find it all somewhat overwhelming.

Occupies an attractive, listed ex-grammar school building, with many modern additions and plenty of playground space. This last is easily transformed into a car park at the beginning and end of each day as public transport not particularly convenient. Has own fleet of buses which convey children from Kensington and ferry the whole school to sports venues etc. All the facilities for a broad curriculum. Great science labs - 'we do chemistry, physics and biology here,' said our youthful guides - computer suites and all the modern aids to a tip top education. New music centre, with 245 individual lessons taking place each week on instruments that range from piano to cornet; an orchestra, various bands and ensembles, choirs at all levels (recent concert had the school orchestra playing alongside the Southbank Sinfonia) and their own choral society where they are joined by parents from the other schools and members of the local community. Two great art studios and two pottery rooms with their own kiln. Imaginative creations displayed all over the school. We particularly liked the charcoal drawings lining one staircase alongside a written request to please not rub against them. And, of course, being a Thomas's school, the drama is outstanding with huge productions by each year group being put on over the year. 'Only drawback', said one parent, 'is that they are always musicals. Not much use if your child can't sing'. School assures us there's always something for everyone. Great Hall where they perform is pretty splendid.

Lots of sport, say it takes up about 20 per cent of the timetable from year 3 onwards. All the usuals with sculling added in the summer term at the top of the school. Matches inter-house, inter-Thomas's and against other schools. Great gym and school playground excellent place for organised and unorganised games. Also use facilities at Battersea Park, Barns Elms and the Wandle Centre. Youngest children, reception to year 2, have fantastic and imaginative rooftop playground on high.

Academically, teaching deemed pretty good, though lots of coaching still occurring in the last years. 'Just as insurance,' say the parents. We did feel that this was definitely more about anxious and ambitious parents than inadequately taught children. As in all the schools, some specialist teaching from the beginning. Mixed ability classes, with setting in maths and English only, until they reach the upper school when they are divided into those doing 11+ and those staying on and academia becomes the be all and end all, with all classrooms subject-based and a tutor system coming into operation. Not a wide choice of languages, although 11+ leavers have the option of German, Spanish or Italian after their exams. French from reception, Latin compulsory from year 5.

Enthusiastic, experienced head of learning support who also teaches maths in the lower and middle schools and study skills to years 7 and 8. Determined to catch children early so that they can let go of support by year 6 or 7. Works closely with class teachers, showing them how to help pupils. Mainly milder end of the spectrum but one-to-one teaching available for more serious problems and laptop training when absolutely necessary. Parents always involved and communication apparently good.

Probably most cosmopolitan of all the Thomas's schools, with a wide ranging mix of international parents and 19 different foreign languages spoken at home. About 25 per cent of children on the EAL register. A few of these need extra support which is well provided. School celebrates and appears to make the most of this range of different cultures.

Special Education Needs

Our school in Battersea (London) ensures that the broad curriculum offered is fully accessible to children with special needs/specific learning difficulties. In the light of evidence about a child's particular needs, provision may include: appropriate and effective classroom management plans; ongoing consultation with parents and pupils; developing and maintaining links with other mainstream and special schools; alerting all teachers and support staff to the child's needs; helping the child develop appropriate practices for taking down and recording information eg using laptops; and providing alternative sources of information. Nov 09

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
Aspergers Y
Aspergers Syndrome [archived]
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders [archived]
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
Delicate Medical Problems [archived]
Dyscalculia
Dysgraphia
Dyslexia
Dyspraxia
English as an additional language (EAL)
Epilepsy [archived]
Genetic
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class Y
HI - Hearing Impairment
Hospital School
Mental health
MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty
MSI - Multi-Sensory Impairment
Natspec Specialist Colleges
Not Applicable
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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