Gayhurst School, Gerrards Cross
Muddy says: The only co-ed prep school in or around Gerrards Cross, Gayhurst marries a happy 'village school' atmosphere with excellent pastoral care.
Gayhurst is the only co-ed prep school in the Gerrards Cross area, with 310 children 3-11 years (72% boys, 28% girls) in classes of 16-18. Originally a boys school until 2008 when, in its centenary year, girls were introduced to the school and created its local USP, you’ll find Gayhurst on a compact 6-acre site on a well-to-do leafy road in the town. The main building is slightly underwhelming from the front with its red brick and tarmac, though much more attractive looking back at the school from the playground, so make the effort to step through the door!
It’s a small school physically but there’s no absence of learning facilities with recent building projects including new classrooms and individual tuition rooms, two ICT suites, revamped Junior library, modern Science lab and STEM room, astro turf and a very cool woodland adventure trail.
The open layout of Gayhurst at the back of the school allows it to feel much bigger than its 6 acres, with a large grass playing area, woodland at the back, and a lovely junior playground that is separate to but next to the Senior school play area but of course the size does mean that there are fewer shiny facilities than at some other local private options. The kids walk to nearby Pease Field for rugby, cricket and football, and swim off site at Chalfont Leisure Centre.
Gayhurst is in an area already riddled with good prep schools and excellent grammar school provision that many parents will have their eye on (Dr Challoner’s, John Hampden and RGS are all close), so not performing academically isn’t an option.
There’s been a 61% (5 year aggregated) pass rate for the 11+ at Gayhurst compared to 33% county average so parents can rest easy. However, do not choose Gayhurst expecting the school to drill your children like exam sergeant majors. This school is non-selective in Nursery – Y2 (when most children would start), and Gayhurst makes it explicit in its vision statement that ‘ children’s pastoral needs, happiness and wellbeing are paramount’. There is the sense here that, in a good way, pastoral care is king.
Science seems to be a big success here – it’s taught from Y4 in the flash Science Lab (above), Y5-6 have four lessons a week, and the Gayhurst Science Quiz Team reached the national finals in 2019.
The ethos here is ‘sport for all’ and there’s a lot of co-ed sport here which is great to see with girls joining the boys for mixed cricket, cross country, athletics, basketball and swimming. Main sports for boys are rugby, football and cricket and the girls focus on hockey, netball and cricket (rounders is officially RIP) with matches starting in Y3.There’s a mile loop around the school’s fields and woods that is used for cross country, and other sports on offer in clubs (some of which are part of the school fees) are Table Tennis, Triathlon, Golf, Skiing and Fencing.
MUSIC & DRAMA
LAMDA lessons are well established at Gayhurst with 51% of the children taking them. 32% of kids here learn some form of musical instrument at the school, and there are choirs in every year group from Y2 which is quite unusual – normally you’ll find just a Junior and Senior version, but these are kids who are taken on choir tours of Prague, Venice and Vienna so the bar is set high. There are also instrumental ensembles every instrument – Swing Band, orchestra, guitar group, percussion ensemble, wind ensemble and Music ICT club.
Gareth Davies has been in charge since Sept 2016, having previously been head of Alleyn Court in Southend-on-Sea for 8 years. A trained ISI team and compliance inspector (it’s worth noting that the last ISI report came out in 2015 before his tenure, so my review is much more up to date!), he has three daughters, two of whom have attended Gayhurst, which is a good sign that the provision for girls will have been thought through! On his wish list for Gayhurst is a theatre, new sports hall, and perhaps easier to follow through in the short term, Forest School – surprisingly not on site already given the woodland.
Click here to access both the compliance report 2018 and ISI school report 2015.
Well, I don’t go to many schools where the staff, parents and children have a skiing holiday together! The size of the school and also the largely local cohort means there’s a real community feel to Gayhurst. What else? There’s a Head of Girls Pastoral Care here as well as other pastoral staff. The after-school clubs include the usuals plus the likes of Strictly Dance, Mandarin, Fencing, Philosophy, Real Tennis, Creative Writing, Kapla, Ski Club, and the brilliant sounding Invasion Games. And two years ago, the school dropped the leaving age from 13 to 11, perhaps as a nod to the reality of so many girls and boys leaving to take up grammar school places.
Reasonable, if you include the fact you don’t have to pay for any clubs or extra curricular enrichment stuff. Nursery from £2200; YR £4053; Y1 £4250; Y2 £4620; Y3 £4999; Y4-6 £5400. Breakfast club (£5 per day) and some text books are chargeable.
WRAP AROUND CARE
Standard practise for private schools these days that often have two working parents. There’s a Breakfast Club from 7.25am, and a Supper Club until 6pm.
WORD ON THE GROUND
Homely, happy, family-oriented and definitely not pushy. A few parents would like to see an even higher percentage of the 11+ results.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Families with boys and girls – they can send them to school together. Parents wanting a ‘village’ school environment where pastoral care is high on the priority. Classes of 18 may seem large compared to some private schools but personally I approve of slightly larger, more interactive classes (and btw, compare them to state school cohorts of 30 – the individual attention is still massive).
Not for: Gayhurst is a small school on a small site, so alpha-style kids who need room to roam or parents who like heritage buildings and ambitious investment programmes might not be satisfied here. The numbers skew towards boys here may not suit gentler girls.
Dare to disagree? Be my guest! There’s an Open Morning for Nursery and Reception on Weds 2 Oct, with the main Open Moring for Year 3 and the Senior School on Weds 16 Oct.
Gayhurst School, Bull Ln, Chalfont St Peter, Gerrards Cross SL9 8RJ. Tel: 01753 882690.