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Pupils travel from as far as Wimbledon and Barnes, Bayswater and Kennington. More than half are local. Every subject is under an impressively rigorous continual review. A major focus is developing a new curriculum for the upper years – including in the new senior school which runs from 11-18. Social and environmental responsibility is much in evidence, from this year’s charitable support of a local community boxing club voted for by… 

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What The Good Schools Guide says


Head of the Thomas's Battersea Senior School is Ben Thomas, who is also principal of Thomas’s London Day Schools.

Head of Junior School since 2017, Simon O’ Malley (50s); MA English lang and lit from Aberdeen, followed by a PGCE in English with drama and games coaching at Westminster College, Oxford. Previously positions have taken him in and out of London and across the world: most recently at Wellesley House, Broadstairs where he was head for 12 years; initially the Banda School in Kenya, where he went for two years and returned after seven having met and married his wife Katy – they have always worked together; she is resident art teacher.

As impeccably immaculate as his school: we omitted to ask Mr O’Malley how he felt about his inclusion in Tatler’s list of hottest headmasters. To our mind, a keen Roger Sterling, the silver-haired ad man of Mad Men, he credits his selection for this most sought-after of jobs to his empathy with the cultural values of the school and perhaps his own sound-bitey vision for a school in perpetual growth mode – Better Never Stops. Sporty, he runs to and from school, has recently completed his first London marathon and enjoys golf and cricket. He has two grown-up children. Parents approve: ‘He is approachable, intelligent and cares, a lot.' ‘He seems to have time for everyone… one morning he will be at a music recital, the same afternoon at an away cricket match.' ‘Very inspirational. I really feel he loves what he is doing.' Children smile his way and he congratulates achievement as we go.


Sixty-three reception places. To avoid registration lists closing within weeks of birth the lists are now open between a child’s first and second birthdays. Classes are selected with a balanced mix of births throughout the year and gender. A strong sibling policy reduces places for newcomers significantly. Children are invited to spend up to an hour taking part in small group activities observed by staff: they're looking for confidence to undertake tasks, follow simple instructions, language and social skills. The odd occasional place may arise higher up the prep. There is a formal assessment during the Lent term for 11+ entrants, when 20 to 25 places become available.

A new senior school opened in September 2021, with around 132 places available at 11+ (and some additional places at 13+). Applicants are invited to a Discovery Day in January of year 6 when they are informally interviewed, join a group discussion and get stuck into a group challenge outdoors. Offers (dependent on continued progress) are made in February of year 6. The senior years are being added gradually so the school will be full from reception to year 13 by September 2025.


At 13+ around two-thirds move on to the senior school. Others to a mix of London day schools and out-of-town notables with many opting for co-education. Over the past five years children have consistently gained places at St Paul’s School, Eton College, Harrow, Wellington College, Westminster School, Marlborough College, Francis Holland, Dulwich College, Bryanston School, Downe House and many more, with a healthy number of scholarships across disciplines.

Latest results

The first cohort of year 11s will take their GCSEs in 2023.

Teaching and learning

An enquiry-based curriculum aims to set children up for a lifetime as learners, whilst still meeting the ultimate hoopla of tests and scholarships. The theme of the week at the time of our visit was ‘perseverance’ and a mother reported as if on cue: ‘My daughter is happy to make mistakes, learn from them and try again. She is not afraid to fail, because she is being taught that mistakes are a positive way to learn.’

Every subject is under an impressively rigorous continual review. A major focus is developing a new curriculum for the upper years – including in the new senior school which runs from 11-18. Spanish from year 7 with Mandarin for younger years. French remains, with advanced classes for the many native speakers. Outdoor learning - not Forest School, but adventure based - has proved a big hit with pupils and parents. As befits these digital natives the head is keen to stress the school’s seamless integration of technology into every subject, whether it be use of 3D printing, programming drones, digital photography or iPads in years 4 and 7, giving children the discernment to use them well. Maximum class size is 22.

Given the locale and the scrabble for places, we were encouraged to hear from a parent, ‘It doesn’t feel like a hothouse’ and ‘for the junior years very little homework at all apart from reading a book’. More intense as you get higher up: ‘Our 13-year-old might have one and a half hours of homework and music practice of 30-45 minutes a night, and this may be after extra school activities.’

Around a third of the teachers in the prep have been at the school for more than 10 years, but lots of youthful (mostly female) faces – and of course there’s the inevitable influx of newbies in the new senior school. A mother of two reported, ‘Some of the staff are exceptional; I am very happy with the teaching.’

Senior school is a split site. Main campus Battsersea Square in September 2022 will be the base for maths, English, performing arts, MFL and global studies; Putney Vale (where students will spend two days) will be the base for science, technology, DT, art and outdoor learning.

Learning support and SEN

Two full-time SEN staff in a dedicated large space with innovative pods, plus visiting specialists. Sixty children in the prep (no current figures available for the new senior school) currently identified with SEN – more dyspraxia than dyslexia. A mother of a child with various undiagnosed learning differences on arrival told us, ‘The school is incredibly supportive with revision help and timetabling for my son.’ Her son added, ‘Without Thomas’s I would be nowhere.’

The arts and extracurricular

A ‘particularly strong’ music dept hosts over 400 individual lessons a week. Choristers perform at the Cadogan Hall and Albert Hall. Ensembles of every kind: ukulele, rock, jazz and brass. Spectacular drama full of West End wow: unsurprising once you know the Thomas’s schools have their own technical dept staffed by industry professionals. This doesn’t stop pupils behind the scenes applying stage make-up, creating posters, prop making. Ambitious productions of Macbeth, Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, Disney’s Mulan, and Beowulf for year 5 complete with huge monster puppets. An amazed parent commented, ‘Our shy-by-nature son now wants to be the lead in school plays’. Dance is an important part of the school too.


An increasingly co-ed focus for sports provision. On the ground this means things like boys’ and girls’ cricket teams with any player eligible for the 1st XIs. Other main sports for boys are football, rugby and athletics, for girls netball and hockey, with everyone taking part in gymnastics and athletics. The odd Olympian dropping in. Also on offer: tennis, table-tennis league, golf, karate and fencing clubs. A thriving list of trad and on-trend clubs – pottery, yoga, coding and girls’ football.

Ethos and heritage

Classrooms are light, bright and spacious, more often than not full of hubbub and excitement on the day of our visit. Huge windows capture views of the city or towards the inner courtyard and sedum roof of the attractive dining hall. The older part of the school – tiled walls and concrete stairs – has been repurposed for the creative arts, housing a pottery studio as well as large art room. Fabulous drama space with theatrical make-up closets. Large media suite and brilliantly child-friendly libraries with modular seating providing well-used reading nooks.

The zingy lime green used on everything from doors to walls in the new building helps, but the fizz definitely comes from within. ‘Vibrant and bustling’ are the descriptors we encounter most often from parents. ‘Warm, sociable, fun, confident kids, kind, professional and highly organised,’ another parent thought apt.

The Thomas’s school motto, ‘be kind’, is written in stone, literally, above the door and the school leads the way with its pastoral care. A father reported ‘an overwhelming sense that they have this square and centre in everything they do’. A mother: ‘very caring and very open… a teacher would call me directly just to say that my daughter was sad or upset about a certain thing so I could speak to her at home.’

Pastoral care, inclusivity and discipline

Rules are clear. The behaviour policy states a precise 6:1 ratio of positive to negative comments from teacher to pupil. Stars are so old hat: children (in prep, anyway) receive ‘golden unicorns’ for notable behaviour or work. ‘Reflection time’ is a sanction for misbehaviour. An early adopter of mindfulness, pupils or parents may make use of the school counsellor. An extremely well thought through well-being policy aims to ensure no mental health issues go unnoticed and staff are well informed on everything from FGM to radicalisation. As a parent confirmed, ‘Thomas’s keeps up and is always thinking ahead on how best to prepare the children for the world we live in today.’

Social and environmental responsibility is much in evidence, from this year’s charitable support of a local community boxing club voted for by pupils, to an enormous pile of bags of clothing heading to good homes. A lovely art installation in a corridor features papier-mâché sea creatures entwined with single-use plastics, and children go litter picking along the Thames. A stunning installation above a stairwell called A Shared Future, of suspended clothes found on a Greek beach belonging to refugees, has made political and social issues real for everyone here. A mother told us, ‘The focus is on making the child a good person, not just an academic one.’

Pupils and parents

Pupils travel from as far as Wimbledon and Barnes, Bayswater and Kennington. More than half are local. Large numbers of French and Italian but also Mandarin, Russian and Swedish speakers. Twenty-seven children receive some level of EAL support. Whilst many pupils are inevitably from extremely wealthy families, one mother shared, ‘We live in a less privileged part of town and commute half an hour to the school. We have always felt 100 per cent accepted.’ One pupil in particular has brought global attention: Prince George. On a practical level this means extra security measures evident from the front door. Visitors have their phones placed in a locker. Parents, however, are simply issued with security passes, no-one has to sign a non-disclosure agreement and new parents and pupils are simply spoken to openly about expectations.

Money matters

There are a few high-value bursaries for pupils joining the school at a higher age.

The last word

A school with pastoral care at its heart and teaching based on broadening minds. The result? Happy, confident, interested children. It’s inclusive too, with parents telling us it’s ‘friendly and non-pretentious’ and that ‘within the school walls we’re all equal’.

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
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 Y
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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