We chat to James Denchfield, the director of Queen’s Gate Junior School in South Kensington, about life in the classroom
Tell us a bit about the school.
We are a small, friendly girls’ school, offering continuous education from age four to 18.
In the Junior School (ages four to 11), we have one form in each year group. High academic standards and a warm, nurturing ethos underpin our philosophy. We offer a broad education in a family-orientated environment.
We were founded in 1891 in South Kensington’s Albertopolis – the great Victorian hub of culture and education. In our elegant buildings, therefore, we have long traditions, but we balance these with a very modern outlook.
What do you see as the main strengths of the school?
Our central London location affords us excellent facilities: the Natural History, Science and Victoria and Albert Museums are on our doorstep; Imperial College, where we swim, is very nearby. We have use of the track and court facilities at Battersea Park, and our girls make regular trips to Hyde Park for exercise. We also benefit from specialist teachers in Science, Modern Foreign Languages, Mandarin and Art. Our staff might teach A-Level Chemistry one lesson and then present newly-hatched chicks to our little ones the next!
Our girls achieve so highly because they are confident. When parents visit, they are given a tour by the pupils and the first thing they notice is the friendliness of their tour guides, and how proud they are to present their school.
What level of pastoral care do you offer?
We are a very happy school and our pupils’ happiness is our main concern. In my view, a nurturing environment and academic success go hand-in-hand. Because the girls are so well-supported and feel safe, they are not afraid to challenge themselves. Being a small school, we get to know our girls – and our parents – very well indeed, forming close relationships which last for years. There is daily interaction between the different year groups and our girls are delighted to see the Sixth Form students who visit to read with the girls and help with clubs.
How do you ensure every young pupil achieves her potential?
Our pupils make excellent progress and achieve high academic results – and yet we are not a hot house. Our curriculum is broad, offering pupils a wealth of opportunities: a rigorous focus on Maths and English sits happily alongside subjects as diverse as Mandarin and Enrichment. Each pupil moves at a pace that is suitable to her: the brightest are challenged and are offered freedom to take bold strides; those requiring support are given one-to-one attention to boost confidence and ensure success.
Do you offer extra-curricular programmes for little ones?
Our youngest pupils enjoy ballet, dance, gymnastics, yoga and kickboxing. All girls sing in a choir and begin learning French upon arrival. Our clubs provision is extensive throughout, from Debating Society to Philosophy Club, STEM Society to LAMDA.
What’s coming up this year?
We have introduced taster afternoons for nursery children, who are invited to join the Preliminary classroom, taking part in activities and using our Smart Table. We are also very excited about our residential trips to Normandy, the Isle of Wight and Dorset. Our older pupils are taking part in STEM challenges and are to begin debating competitively, too.
Open morning – Thursday 22 March