11 Hertfordshire schools and what makes them special
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We asked top schools in Hertfordshire how access to a range of facilities helps to broaden the educational experience of pupils
Abbot’s Hill School
Bunker’s Lane, Hemel Hempstead, HP3 8RP. abbotshill.herts.sch.uk
Established: 1912. Pupils: 480. Age: Six months-16. Boarding/Day: Day. Boys/Girls: Co-ed nursery and pre-school, girls from 4
As an Artsmark school, Abbot’s Hill pupils benefit greatly from use of the purpose built, state of the art performing arts and sports complex. The building houses a large sports hall, theatre, dance, drama and music studios. The theatre provides a fantastic setting for drama productions, workshops, exhibitions and talks from visiting industry professionals.
The prep and senior schools each hold annually an energetic and colourful production in the theatre which features a large cast, backstage crew, front-of-house and a live soundtrack performed by pupils. This year, the senior school performed The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe to sold-out audiences. The prep school recreated The Lion King in the summer term. The cast featured years four, five and six and showcased fantastic talent through dancing, singing, drama and music. Our productions are a school-wide collaboration which culminates in an exciting and captivating show. At Abbot’s Hill, we ensure that our productions are varied and challenging, to stretch the girls and give them all an opportunity to shine.
Overton House, 131 High Street, Berkhamsted, HP4 2DJ. berkhamstedschool.org
Established: 1541. Pupils: 1,742. Age: 3-18. Boarding/Day: Both. Boys/Girls: Both
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Good schools do so much more than focus on attaining a top set of examination passes. They seek to develop the whole person and key parts of the educational experience take place outside the classroom, where the most character-building opportunities are provided. Berkhamsted School has a well-established reputation for offering a broad education.
Every pupil is expected to represent the school at a sport, be involved in a play, either on stage or helping backstage, enjoy an overnight bushcraft experience and serve the local community during their school career. In order to offer these opportunities, the school has invested in a wide range of facilities. While children are part of five small, caring communities – pre-prep, prep, senior girls, senior boys and sixth form – they have access to all the facilities that you would expect of a large school. These include a 500-seat professional theatre, a modern and spacious art and design centre, a swimming pool and extensive sporting facilities (including Eton Fives courts at two campuses). In 2016, a high ropes course was constructed to boost the extensive and vibrant outdoor education programme run by the school. Access to such resources means that each child at Berkhamsted is given the opportunity to explore a wide variety of activities to discover what they enjoy and where their strengths lie.
Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School
Butterfly Lane, Elstree, WD6 3AF. habsboys.org.uk
Established: 1690. Pupils: 1,429. Age: 5-18. Boarding/Day: Day. Boys/Girls: Boys
Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School is delighted to announce we have been named as The Sunday Times Independent Secondary School of the Year for 2016-17. A single-sex, independent day school, we admit the brightest boys with a curriculum designed to keep them involved, stimulated and eager to learn at every stage of their development. We produce confident and self-motivated young men, fully prepared for the challenges of the future.
Our 2016 A Level results were outstanding, contributing to an exceptionally high Oxbridge acceptance rate; almost 40% achieved A* grades 78.5% of results were A*/A range and 97.7 per cent A*/B. As well as academic excellence, Habs nurtures a premiere sports culture. The Medburn Centre, our latest development, is one of the best sports facilities available at any British school. It boasts an eight lane, short course Olympic-size swimming pool, fitness suite, squash courts, climbing wall, sports hall, and café. We have a strong, supportive multicultural community at our core. Students make friends across the most extraordinary range of backgrounds and cultures. Our community stands as a beacon of tolerance and respect.
Lockers Park Lane, Hemel Hempstead HP1 1TL. lockerspark.herts.sch.uk
Established: 1874. Pupils: 160. Age: 4-13. Boarding/Day: Both Day & Boarding. Boys/Girls: Co-ed pre-prep; boys prep
Lockers Park Preparatory School is a day and boarding school for boys aged seven to 13 with a co-educational pre-prep for ages four to seven. A school of ambition and excellence, Lockers Park prides itself on preparing boys for the country’s top independent and public senior schools. A rich palette of opportunities is available, accompanied by high quality teaching and superb facilities to enable pupils to discover hidden talents. Whether it be sport, music, art, design technology or drama, there is something for every child at Lockers Park.
The excellent facilities include acres of football and rugby pitches, sports halls, a heated outdoor swimming pool and a .22 shooting range. And not forgetting the art room, design & technology block, drama studio and the historic chapel and centenary hall, home to countless celebrated choir concerts, musicals and plays. The school’s motivational and supportive environment ensures each boy is encouraged to achieve their full potential, whatever their specialism. As the Good Schools Guide recently observed, ‘Lockers Park brings out the best in boys.’
Princess Helena College
School Lane, Preston nr Hitchin SG4 7RT. princesshelenacollege.co.uk
Established: 1820. Pupils: 200. Age: 11-18. Boarding/Day: Both. Boys/Girls: Girls
Education is not just academic excellence; it is about breadth of experience often gained from a strong, wide ranging extra-curricular programme. First class teaching benefits from first class facilities for sport, music, dance, drama and art. High fitness levels are connected to improved academic performance and at Princess Helena College we make full use of our large sports hall, gym and dance studio.
The 180 acres of grounds and sports pitches is a wonderful balance to the temptations, distractions and pressures of urban life and ensures a calm focussed atmosphere of study. The suite of art rooms benefit from near perfect natural light, Geography and science make easy use of the land for practical field studies and outdoor dance and drama festivals have a magnificent Lutyen’s Queen Anne building as a back drop. A new performing arts centre will further strengthen the school’s impressive reputation in this field.
St Edmund’s College & Prep
Old Hall Green, n Nr Ware, SG11 1DS. stedmundscollege.org
Established: 1568. Pupils: 828. Age: 3-11. Boading/Day: Day nursery to age 6. 7-13 day and boarding. Girls/Boys: Both
St Edmund’s College and Prep are proud of its facilities and the recent investment it has made especially in science, technology and mathematics. These are of key importance to any school and leading the way at St Edmund’s is our science department. The laboratories, often shared with the prep, have seen a £1.7 million refurbishment programme providing an excellent environment where students thrive.
Students are supported throughout the school with state of the art virtual IT infrastructure. VMWare is a solution that enables students to access their personal work space plus a wealth of learning resources both from within the school and anywhere in the world. Our virtual learning environment is an excellent tool allowing teachers to set homework, add revision and supplementary learning resources ensuring students have all the information they could possibly need. We are privileged to occupy a site of outstanding natural beauty and to walk through buildings of architectural merit whilst ensuring that our facilities are of the highest standard ensuring our children can benefit from the very best that modern education offers.
St Francis’ College
Broadway, Letchworth SG6 3PJ. st-francis.herts.sch.uk
Established: 1933. Pupils: 410. Age: 3-18. Boarding/Day: Both. Boys/Girls: Girls
St Francis’ College, set in the beautiful town of Letchworth Garden City, benefits from being situated in the middle of a rich garden city environment surrounded by fields and safe communal community spaces. The fresh clean air, good light, quiet, comfortable and safe learning environment enhances our girls’ educational experience. Physical elements of our college building have a positive effect on our staff and learners. The celebration of high quality art work around the site enhances our community environment, while modern teaching aids, smart boards and Chromebooks complement our teaching resources.
Independent research suggests a direct link between the environment and a pupil’s attitude to learning, through the values and assumptions implied by a particular setting. We believe our college environment is paramount in contributing to concentration, mood, well-being, attendance and ultimately our high attainment. Our fully-tracked and aspirational academic delivery, with proven excellent results and exceptional value-added, is achieved through the college setting as a whole.
St George’s School
Sun Lane, Harpenden AL5 4TD. stgeorges.herts.sch.uk
Established: 1907. Pupils: 1,350. Age: 11-18. Boarding/Day: Both. Boys/Girls: Both
Located a short walk from the picturesque town of Harpenden, St George’s School has three boarding houses, each named after locations in the Lake District, and with a total capacity for around 130 boarders. Boys live in Crosthwaite House, girls in years seven to 12 live in Keswick House and girls in year 13 live in Skiddaw House. Each house is unique in terms of fabric and character and each has its own team of dedicated house staff.
Keswick is the oldest of the three houses located in the original school building. Crosthwaite is more modern and Skiddaw, having been built less than ten years ago, is the newest of our houses and is complete with en suite accommodation in every dormitory. Houses are equipped with study areas, games rooms, common rooms and kitchens. Living alongside their peers results in strong friendships forming amongst the boarding community. Boarders are also able to take full advantage of a busy sports calendar of fixtures and a breadth of extra-curricular activities. Several ex-pupils have gone on to play both club and international rugby including England players Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje.
The Causeway, Potters Bar. stormontschool.org
Established: 1944. Pupils: 155. Ages: 4-11. Boarding/Day: Day. Girls/Boys: Girls
A non-selective day school, Stormont School aims to give every girl the opportunity to explore our broad curriculum and grow in confidence. Our happy girls enjoy learning in small groups taught by specialists. Based around a beautiful Victorian villa, our impressive on-site facilities include a magnificent sports hall where gymnastics, team sports, fitness and fun produce outstanding sportswomen; well-equipped play areas, a three-acre playing field and access to a swimming pool offer even more opportunities to be active. In our bright and well-equipped art room, tranquil pottery room complete with kiln, and productive design and technology workshop girls have opportunities to tackle projects that challenge and extend.
Our science lab buzzes with excitement, and is a focus for the STEM curriculum and problem-solving. Our busy music studio and practice rooms provide rehearsal and performance space for individuals and ensembles. In our modern ICT room is a hub for coding, girls learn e-safety and software skills too. We also have a beautiful library and an air-conditioned hall – for drama, assemblies, exhibitions, parents’ evenings and many extra-curricular activities.
Tring Park School for the Performing Arts
Tring HP23 5LX. tringpark.com
Established: 1919. Pupils: 335. Age: 8-19. Boarding/Day: Both. Boys/Girls: Both
As a specialist performing arts school, Tring Park prides itself on the facilities that it has developed to allow its students to undertake their daily studies in an environment that is conducive to their specific educational needs. The school makes the most of its magnificent setting inside a Rothschild mansion, which has proved to be a highly flexible space. The mansion has rooms that have been adapted into practice and rehearsal space for the school’s vocational curriculum of acting, music and dance, while other rooms inside the mansion and adjacent buildings house classrooms for academic studies.
A new building adjacent to the mansion includes five performance studios. Glass has been extensively used in the construction to maximise the natural light for the students. Tring Park also has a specialist medical centre with treatment rooms for physiotherapy and rehabilitation, which supports performers through their intensive dance training. However, the icing on the cake for Tring Park is the fact the school has its very own 176-seater theatre, which gives the students the perfect opportunity to perform all of their shows in a real-life stage setting.
London Road, Hemel Hempstead HP1 2RF. westbrookhay.co.uk
Established: 1892. Pupils: 300. Age: 3-13. Boarding/Day: Both. Boys/Girls: Both
Independent schools are rightly proud of their small class sizes and the benefits that come from subject specialist teaching in comparison to our colleagues in the state sector. With the press full of stories of state schools being temporarily closed for urgent roof repairs, there has never been a more stark contrast to the facilities that independent schools enjoy.
At Westbrook Hay, we are fortunate to benefit from the charm and character of period buildings combined with purpose-built facilities. Our latest addition, a £3 million performing arts centre, demonstrates not only our commitment to provide the best for our pupils but the advantages these facilities can bring. Offering a 300-seat auditorium and full staging, both audience and performers have their experience enhanced. Added to this there is a music school with teaching and practice rooms and a dance studio. It is little wonder that our children embrace all the performing arts with such enthusiasm and while facilities alone do not make a good school, they certainly help excellent teachers to get the very best from our pupils.