Meet the heads - from Hampshire's most prestigious schools

from Hampshire's most prestigious schools

The head: Louise Whetstone, Rookwood School

“I truly believe that Rookwood stands out as an Independent school and that it should be the school of choice for parents in Andover and its surrounds; not only are we able to take both girls and boys but we’re also one of only a handful of schools that can nurture a child from its very first steps in the nursery all the way through to their GCSEs.Rookwood is a non-selective school and yet we consistently deliver high academic results; 42% of all GCSEs sat were awarded an A*/ A in 2010 with 91% of all our pupils achieving at least 5 GCSEs at grades A/C – testament to our small class sizes and dedicated teaching .We’re incredibly proud of our ability to support and develop the individual, ensuring each child is given every opportunity to achieve their full potential. We’re also known for our strong pastoral care and family atmosphere, and we’re very proud of that. We’re committed to developing courteous and caring pupils with a strong sense of right and wrong and a natural respect for those around them.As well as being a member of the Independent Schools Association, all of the staff keep abreast of the latest developments within the education sector via internal and external conferences, professional courses and sharing ‘best-practice’  with other Independent Schools. The pupils at Rookwood are always keen to get involved with the various opportunities on offer so we make sure there’s plenty of choice when it comes to extra-curricular activities. From dancing to sport to music and, of course, our Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme is very successful indeed.”Open DayWednesday May 4th, 9.30 am-12.30pm.Contact: Rookwood School, Weyhill Road, Andover, SP10 3AL. Tel. 01264 325900

The head: Mark Johnson, Cheam School

“Since arriving at Cheam as their 20th head teacher I feel I have attempted to and successfully driven through the change from an all boys’ boarding school into its current guise as a thoroughly modern co-ed prep school of some 400 pupils, a quarter of whom are in the pre-prep department. There is a strong boarding ethos but pupils can board on a flexible basis, which is a very popular option. We enjoy outstanding facilities; set in a beautiful 100-acre estate with formal gardens, woodland and extensive playing fields, recent developments include new classrooms, music school & theatre, sports’ centre and the much awaited Art, Design and Technology Centre which will be opened in autumn 2012. We are very involved in the wider community and embark on many overseas tours such as the choir going to New York, the Jazz Band going to the Rhineland and this year, the cricket and netball teams visit to Cape Town. Cheam feeds into a wide range of public schools with Marlborough, Radley, Wellington, Bradfield and Eton dominating the list of over twenty four destinations.Cheam strives for all-round excellence in all its activities, something that I am particularly proud of. There is something for everyone here, so every child can succeed in something thus increasing their self-esteem. Cheam’s extra-curricular list is exhaustive and ensures that every child can pursue their particular talents and interests to the full. Last year’s scholarship tally of seventeen included awards for academia, sport, music, art, drama and all- round ability.”Contact: Cheam School, Headley, Newbury, Berkshire, RG19 8LDTel. 01635

The head: Annette Whatmough, St Nicholas’ School

“St Nicholas’ is set in a beautiful rural position in Hampshire which I believe is spiritually uplifting and conducive to learning. Academic life is important but our pupils also have plenty of time for creative development and sport. We have an outward, forward thinking attitude to learning, teaching our pupils about the world and the challenges they might face in the future. I am very proud of our GCSE results, in 2010 97.4% of our pupils achieved passes at A* to C in 7 or more subjects. I’m also proud of the ongoing developments we make to the school which really benefit our pupils. The standard of our art and textile projects is very high, our new Performing Arts Centre is well used and will host a production of ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ at the end of this term. Our staff are very committed and often give up their free time to take part in ongoing training. They also plan lessons meticulously and take the time to brainstorm teaching methods within their departments. Where possible, staff organise trips for the pupils to make subjects come alive. As a school, we continuously strive to keep our curriculum up to date. For example, we offer ‘taster courses’ in Mandarin to pupils in Years 6 to 9, and the three sciences are offered as separate subjects.We offer a range of sports including netball, hockey, running, tennis, badminton and taekwondo. We also offer drama, choir, art, craft and the Duke of Edinburgh award.”Open Days:Sat 12th March 2011 10am – 1pmWeds 25th May 2011 6pm – 8pmSaturday 5th November 2011 10am – 1pmContact: St Nicholas School, Redfields House, Redfields Lane, Church Crookham, Fleet, Hampshire GU52 0RFTel: 01252 850 121

The head: Patrick Wilson, Salesian College

“Salesian College is an independent grammar school for boys aged 11 to 16 with a thriving Co-Educational Sixth Form. Our aim is to send out into the world young people who are confident, comfortable with themselves, good Christians, honest citizens and decent people.We are proud to be acclaimed by the ISI for our outstanding levels of academic, cultural, spiritual and physical achievement, exemplary student behaviour and a caring ethos. As one of the few schools in the area which has students from 11-18, both the GCSE and A Level results are outstanding. Last summer, Salesian College celebrated double success with a 100% pass rate at both GCSE and A Level. Our academic success is complemented by the number of extra-curricular awards the College has achieved. Most recently, our U12 football team dominated the Aldershot & District 5 a-side tournament by winning all of their games on top of other achievements in swimming, basketball, biathlon and cross country. Salesian College has for the last ten years embarked upon an ongoing programme to improve and enhance the College environment.  Since 2010, this has included the IT installation of whiteboards in every classroom; the building of a new Performing Arts Centre to include a Music Recital Theatre, Practice Rooms and two Drama Studios which will open in summer 2012; refurbishment of the library into a Learning Resources Centre and a new Art Studio.”Open MorningSaturday 14 May 2011 from 9.15 to 12.30pm. Contact: Salesian College Farnborough Ltd, 119 Reading Road, Farnborough, GU14 6PA.Tel. 01252 893000Web.

The head: Jane Gandee, St Swithun’s School

“When I walk around St Swithun’s, I often think of the following quote, “An educational system isn’t worth a great deal if it teaches young people how to make a living but doesn’t teach them how to make a life”. St Swithun’s is all about ‘making a life’.  It is an academic school, but one that I like to call ‘appropriately academic’.  Our pupils get exceptional results because we believe that they can. Our mission is to inculcate in all girls a belief that focused hard work and intellectual curiosity will make the most complicated of problems accessible. This means that the girls work hard in class and on homework, but they focus on content over appearance and they know when to stop. There is no sense in spending all evening on homework when there are so many other exciting and engaging things to do.  There are those who would argue that a girls’ school can never hope to resemble real life. I absolutely agree with this and I am delighted that it is the case. Real life is full of restrictive stereotypes. In a single sex environment girls can be themselves without pressure to choose so-called suitable subjects or to behave in a certain way. They can grow up at their own pace without having to worry about what they look like or whether it is feminine to play sport. I believe that St Swithun’s offers a supportive route through the trials of adolescence and our exam orientated education system.  The young women who emerge at the age of 18 are independent-minded and unafraid to take on the world.”Contact:  St Swithun’s School, Alresford Road, Winchester, SO21 1HA Tel. 01962 835700.

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The head: Professor Pat Preedy, GEMS Sherfield

“We cater for children aged from 3 months to 18 years with boarding from age 14. We embed unique programmes into our curriculum that enhance brain capacity, for example the Fit for Learning Programme in the Primary school uses movement to develop balance, co-ordination, gross and fine motor skills. World languages are introduced from 3 months and the biomimteics project in the senior school is an example of how subject specialist teachers really push the boundaries. The International Baccalaureate in the sixth form enables us to prepare our students for university and their chosen careers and being part of the GEMS group enables our students to experience internationalism within a rigorous academic framework.We work in close partnership with the Independent Schools Association to produce an effective training programme for our teachers and at present we have nine teachers working on special projects including improving working memory, developing bilingual education and exploring the link between learning an instrument and learning in other subjects. We have a very wide range of extra curricular activities on offer – some 70 options – these change each term encompassing sports, from fencing to golf; the arts, with Drama being our most popular after school activity; and general interest including classes such as chess and cooking skills.  We also have on site AAF Cadets and run the Duke of Endinburgh Award scheme.”Contact: Sherfield School, Sherfield on Loddon, Hook, RG27 0HT. Tel. 01256 884800.

Other notable schools The Gregg School, Townhill Park House, Cutbush Lane, Southampton, SO18 2GF. 02380 472133 www.gregg.southampton.sch.ukHampshire Collegiate School, Embley Park, Romsey. 01794 512206. Court School, Ringwood, BH24 3NF. 01425 472856. Portsmouth Grammar School, High Street, Old Portsmouth, PO1 2LP. 02392 360036.

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