Hazelwoood School in Oxted


- Credit: Archant

Hazelwoood head Maxine Shaw gives us the low-down on the school in Oxted

Originally published in A+ Education South East Autumn 2015.

The school

• Address: Wolfs Hill, Oxted, Surrey RH8 OQU

• Tel No: 01883 712194

• Website: www.hazelwoodschool.com• Number of pupils: 602

• Age group: 6 months - 13 years

• Gender: boys and girls

• Day/boarding: day only

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• Person interviewed: Maxine Shaw

• Role: Head


When was the school founded? - The school was founded in 1890 by husband and wife team, Mr and Mrs Baily. We have just celebrated our 125th anniversary this year with a special programme of events including a memorial cycle ride to France, a Victorian day and special open morning for alumni.

What would you say that you are most renowned for today? - We are the only school in our area to have received the NACE Challenge Award in recognition of our provision for our gifted and talented children and our expansive curriculum which includes subjects such as forest skills and philosophy for children. Our music is second to none with almost two-thirds of the prep school taking part in the musical life of the school. In March we took the chapel choir to Prague to take part in the International Music Festival where they sang their way to a gold award and acclaim from the international panel of adjudicators. It was a very proud moment.

Do you have a school motto and, if so, what is it? - Our school motto is spiritu inspiratus which means ‘lungfuls of inspiration.’ It is a relatively new motto, created in partnership with the pupils to reflect the current school’s ethos and ambition. It draws on the past – Mr and Mrs Baily chose the site for the school because it afforded the pupils ‘ lungfuls of fresh air’ – and looks to the future and the school’s promise to its parents to inspire pupils with a love of learning.

What do you think are the most interesting changes taking place in the education system? - There is now a greater emphasis on the characteristics that children need to be effective learners. It is not just about teaching skills and knowledge but also about fostering an understanding within a child of their ability to take risks, be empathetic and show focus and resilience. This approach addresses and enhances their emotional as well as their academic intelligence. It gives children a greater ability to take responsibility for their own learning. We have embarked on a project using the work of Jane Simister as inspiration. We have taken 12 character dispositions and used these to draw the whole school into a programme of self-evaluation and curriculum innovation. The results have been startling.

Who are your most famous alumni? - Our most distinguished alumnus is Lieutenant Cather who was awarded the VC for his gallantry and bravery in the First World War. He is buried in France near to where he fell in battle in the Somme. The Memorial Cycle Ride visited his graveside to lay a wreath and a eulogy written by one of the school’s current year 7 pupils. The school has been proud to serve members of the Stilgoe, Fayed and Surtees families.

And have you any stars of the future currently attending? - All our children are stars and destined for great things in whatever they choose. The school celebrates each of their talents and will follow their future successes with interest and pride. Amongst our current pupils we have future sporting and music stars, design and business gurus, a potential prime minister and probably the odd headteacher (as in occasional and not strange).

Tell us the most surprising story about the school? - During the Second World War Hazelwood School, far removed from densely populated London and any installation of military significance, seemingly became a target for enemy doodlebugs. Daily the boys were sent running for cover as the ‘death engines’ plummeted to earth wreaking havoc. The story was that a double agent, working for Germany but supporting the British war effort, had the co-ordinates for London changed to save the capital from bombings. Luckily the only direct hit on the school buildings happened in the holidays.

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