Following the announcement from Kensington Palace on Friday that Prince George will attend Thomas’s Battersea from September, School House rounds up everything you need to know about the London preparatory.
Every child’s first day at school is special but is unlikely to have as much speculation surrounding it as three-year-old Prince George’s. While the nation has a bit more time to wait before they can expect to see a photo of the school run from Kensington Royal, they can find out more about the royal choice of school below.
Thomas’s preparatory schools
Thomas’s Battersea is one of the family-run Thomas’s London Day Schools. Founded in 1971 by the actress Joanna Thomas and her husband David, Thomas’s evolved from a small kindergarten in a Pimlico church hall, to four preparatory schools located in Kensington, Battersea, Clapham and Fulham, as well as two kindergartens in Battersea and Pimlico. The establishment is now run by Joanna and David’s sons Tobyn and Ben (who is currently headmaster of Thomas’s Battersea).
Where is the Thomas’s Battersea?
The school is located on Battersea High Street (a 20-minute drive from Kensington Palace) and occupies a grade-II listed building, the former site of Sir Walter St John Grammar School, founded in 1700. Many of the period features remain, including the historic great hall, although the building is now equipped with a theatre, gymnasium, ballet room, three fully equipped science laboratories, two large and light art rooms plus a pottery room, a spacious music school, including a recital room and instrumental practice rooms, two libraries and two computing suites. Oh, and a rooftop playground!
Children start at Thomas’s Battersea aged four and exit at either 11 or 13 with termly fees ranging from £5,653 (reception to Year 2) to £6,385 (Year 3 to Year 8).
George will join over 500 other boys and girls, aged between four and 15. This is the first time a prince has been educated in a co-ed environment at this age – many expected the Duke and Duchess to choose Wetherby Prep (where his father and uncle were both educated), as traditionally, the royal family has favoured single-sex schooling.
The school has an excellent reputation when it comes to senior exit schools and tends to send pupils onto leading London and country schools, including St Paul’s School, King’s Wimbledon and Wellington College, as well as the Duke and Duchess’ alma mater, Eton College and Marlborough College.
Who is headmaster?
Ben Thomas has been headmaster of Thomas’s, Battersea since 1999. Eton College and Durham University educated, he is also a governor at St Paul’s School and fellow of Wellington College. In a a newsletter sent out by the school on Friday, Mr Thomas stated:
‘We are honoured that the aims and values of Thomas’s reflect those that Their Royal Highnesses would like for Prince George’s education. We are deeply conscious of the trust that they, like all Thomas’s parents, are placing in us and we hope very much to live up to their expectations.’
This September, at the same time Prince George joins the school, Thomas’s Battersea will be welcoming a new head, Simon O’Malley. He will move to the south west London school from Wellesley House in Kent, where he is currently head.
The curriculum and values
While Thomas’s Battersea does follow the national curriculum, the prep places particular focus on the arts, sports and the importance of outdoor activities.
Most commentators have picked up on Thomas’ Battersea’s top billing of the rule ‘be kind’ in its official list of values and aims – the school believes praise to be the ‘greatest motivator’ and there is a pupil-run anti-bullying committee at the school. But kindness is not the only value that the school champions. Thomas’s Battersea seeks to develop the values which, ‘actively support the upholding of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and belief’. It also places importance on ‘the best efforts of teachers, the judicious support of parents and the encouragement of peers’.
Five top tips for getting children into London schools
How do you get your child into popular preps like the Thomas’s London Day Schools? Demand for places are near boiling point and, admittedly, parents won’t have as easy time as the Duke and Duchess, so they need to be savvy.
- Start early – assume registration at birth
- Find out about their sibling policy – some schools automatically give siblings a place (and offer fee discounts). This can work both ways for older children as well as younger ones, and schools like having families, so don’t give up. Children do leave, even mid-term.
- Visit and be known to them – if you are allowed.
- Keep calling – a fostered relationship shows commitment and keeps you in the registrar’s mind.
- Don’t give up –even over-subscribed, popular schools lose pupils to other countries or the countryside. Take a deep breath and put in that call.