Parkside School: celebrating more than 130 years of providing first class education in Surrey

Celebrating more than 130 years of providing first class education in Surrey, Parkside School in Stoke d'Abernon, Cobham, is now looking forward to the Olympics coming to the area. Here, we put them under the Surrey Life spotlight


Originally published in Surrey Life magazine April 2011

Celebrating more than 130 years of providing first class education in Surrey, Parkside School in Stoke d’Abernon, Cobham, is now looking forward to the Olympics coming to the area. Here, we put them under the Surrey Life spotlight

When was Parkside School founded and what’s the story behind it coming into this world?  The school was founded in 1879 by Thomas Hill, a classics scholar of Queen’s College, Oxford, and had just four pupils. How or why it began is unknown, but the original Parkside was a private house set in 12.5 acres, near Ewell village.  How have things changed since back then?!Over the years, the school expanded, pupil numbers increasing from four to 45! In 1934, Parkside moved to a more rural setting in East Horsley where the school remained for 45 years until its ever growing popularity necessitated a move to larger premises, which is how we came to settle in Stoke d’Abernon, in 1979. From humble beginnings, we now have well over 300 boys, plus a further 100 children in our co-educational nursery.                                                                                     Do you now feel firmly rooted in Stoke d’Abernon? Parkside has now been in Stoke d’Abernon for over 30 years on a site of 40 acres. Over the years, the site has been transformed from a neglected ILEA training centre to the fantastic school it is today and we pride ourselves on our ongoing development programme, which ensures that our boys have the very best facilities we can provide for them. I think it fair to say we’re here to stay! With education a huge point of debate over the past year, what do you think are the key policies coming in? The emphasis on ECM (Every Child Matters), the government initiative introduced to support children in all aspects of their life, is changing the face of classroom teaching. There needs to be greater differentiation and personalised targets, pupils at both ends of the ability spectrum need to be fully catered for and ALL pupils must be engaged in their own learning. The massive impact of technology in teaching must not allow teachers to become passive occupants of their classrooms.     What does Parkside see as the key to producing well-rounded individuals?We develop the boys academically, physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is important to help them to develop as individuals within a structured, demanding and yet supportive environment. Whilst we prepare the pupils for each new challenge, and for Common Entrance and Public School Scholarship examinations, we are very much aware of the greater need to prepare them for life. Our teaching methods have been designed around the particular needs of single sex education – we place great emphasis on allowing the boys to be boys. There’s a lot of talk about sections of the population being priced out of a high quality education. Do you feel this is the case and, if so, have you put any policies in place to make it easier for those less well off?We are keen to embrace the changing educational landscape and offer a number of bursaries to help those whose financial position means they would struggle to afford private education. Parkside takes its sport very seriously; is the excitement starting to build for the Olympics yet? We do take our sport seriously but the school’s philosophy is very much ‘sport for all’. Every boy is able to take part in a wide range of sporting activities and become a member of a team, so the Olympics will definitely have something to excite all. There is already a definite buzz in the school, which will undoubtedly build to a climax by summer 2012!   …and, with the announcement that the cycling will pass through the area, will you be doing anything special? The Olympics will be taking place during the school summer holidays but there will undoubtedly be many Olympic themed events going on towards the end of term. It will be very exciting to have the cycling event so close by and our triathletes in particular will be looking on with keen interest! What have been the school’s main sporting achievements in recent years?Parkside has an enviable sporting record. In this year alone, at first team level the achievements have been outstanding. The school has recently been National Prep Schools 6-a-side Soccer winners and in January won the Surrey Prep Schools Soccer Cup. The 1st XI hockey team are IAPS South of England Champions. County honours have also been achieved in cricket and tennis and Parkside boys regularly compete on the national stage in athletics and swimming. …and who should we be looking out for in the future?There is no one boy we can name to look out for as we have so many promising sportsmen coming through the ranks in various fields.

You’re based just next door to Chelsea FC’s training ground; do the players/club have much interaction with the school? Has much changed since they moved in?Chelsea FC is an ideal neighbour as, despite its high profile, the club is very self-contained and we hardly know it is there! Who are your best-known alumni?Probably the most famous is Sir Stephen Lander, head of MI5 from 1996-2002.

What are your main ambitions for Parkside’s future?To remain Surrey’s leading boys’ prep school offering an excellent all-round education that combines the best of traditional and modern thinking. In 2010, we achieved our best results ever with 100 per cent success in Common Entrance plus 24 scholarships.

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…and how do you plan on achieving them?We continue to invest in the school facilities and new technology. Our new library opened recently during the school’s Book Week, while our music and science facilities have also been upgraded in recent years.   What in the world are Pussdogs?!  Unfortunately, there is no record of how the Pussdog crest originated. One theory is that it evolved from the family crest of Alfred Vaughan Pott who succeeded the school’s founder in 1902. Alfred’s family crest was a ‘leopard or ounce sejant (seated), collared and chained’. Today we like to think that a Pussdog is a cross between a cat and a dog, signifying the independence and adventurous spirit of a cat and the faithfulness of a dog.

Parkside School, The Manor, Stoke d’Abernon, Cobham, Surrey KT11 3PX. Tel: 01932 862749. E-mail: Web: www,

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