A new website, Talk Education, provides a guide to the ‘best of British independent education.’ Both South Hampstead Junior and Senior Schools feature among its top 200 schools in the UK; the Junior School review features below.
Fabulous new head Caroline Spencer is firmly ensconced in her post (she arrived here from Francis Holland Junior School in 2019) and she’s got her eye on growing this super school, which is the precursor to the north London powerhouse that is South Hampstead High School. A non-invasive programme of development and refurbishment has just kicked off and will be the icing on the cake.
A brisk seven-minute walk from the senior school, the junior school is split across two buildings on Netherhall Gardens; No. 12 for Reception to Year 4, the science labs and art rooms, and No. 5 for Years 5 and 6 and the dining room. Girls have access to all of the senior school’s facilities, but they’ve got a superb patch of space of their own too: two fabulous playgrounds, a netball court and a serious climbing frame for them to let off steam (most sport takes place off-site at a four-acre ground shared with the senior school).
Places are available for 24 lucky girls at 4+ (SHHS is selective from the word go, with children taking part in a two-part group assessment), but anyone who doesn’t secure a place at this stage can always try again at the still very competitive 7+ when the number of applicants jostling for a place isn’t quite so punchy. Once you’re in, you’re in; provided this is the right fit school for your daughter, there are no hoops to jump through to move on up to the senior school at 11+ (which almost everyone does).
Academics are serious business here and pupils knuckle down in lovely bright, spacious classrooms (we were struck by the real sense of calm rippling through the school). There’s a particular emphasis on STEM subjects and instead of being put into sets, girls have access to bolster groups and in-class support – a huge bonus for anyone who joins the school at a later stage. Ms Spencer’s background is in occupational psychology – so under her leadership, we’re expecting the school’s SEND provision to ramp up too.
Girls keep very busy outside the classroom; singing is a high point (a spot in the Chamber Choir is the ultimate accolade); we spotted girls beavering away in the art room making lino prints and there are lots of opportunities to take on leadership roles, be it on the charity committee, school council or as a house captain (we were shown around by one who saw her role as looking after those needing a bit of support in the playground). Sixth-formers pop in to lead history of art or debating clubs, and there’s lots of sharing of facilities and staff, helping ready girls for the transition up to the senior school.
There’s a tremendous sense of community.
There’s a tremendous sense of community; most families live locally (you’ll spot the scooters and bicycles lined up neatly by the school gates) and fully sign up for the whole SHHS journey right the way through to 18.
Read the Senior School review here.