Thorpe House School, Gerrards Cross
A small, friendly day school for boys aged 3-16 between Gerrard's Cross and Chalfont St Peter, set in 7 acres and high on inclusivity, priding themselves on knowing every child individually.
This time last year I put on my journo hat and headed off to Thorpe House School on the border of Gerrard’s Cross and Chalfont St Peter. I’ve now updated the review with all the latest facts and figures. Here’s my verdict on the school.
Thorpe House School is a boy’s day school in Gerrards Cross (Bucks) for 300 children from 4-16 years. The school was founded in 1923, and boasts former Poet Laureate, John Betjeman, as a former Cricket Master (he failed his Oxford University divinity exams and came to teach here for the year). Set in 7 acres, it’s not remotely flash to look at – you’re not going to reach for your son’s favourite Aloysius teddy bear and cricket jumper here. But with strong exam results, and class sizes of no more than 16, decreasing to 12-13 for GSCE years, Thorpe House School has plenty of its own appeal.
Headline facilities include the newly covered swimming pool adjacent to the site, plus a seven acre playing field site two minutes drive away (the school minibuses take the kids down to the field) with four full sized pitches, a hard tennis court and a large pavilion for changing and after match entertainment. Within the school there’s a new second science lab, and a recently expanded art room, below. Over at the pre-prep department there is a more extravagant outside space, plus an outdoor classroom and mud kitchen.
Coming next year (Spring 2020) is a brand new multi-purpose hall, with ample space for indoor sports (basketball, volleyball and badminton are being added to the sporting programme), changing rooms, plus two extra classrooms and two-storey ancillary building.
Most boys bomb around on the playground during free time, kicking footballs, playing table tennis and giving off the unmistakable energy that you can only get from large groups of boys in one place. They were boisterous but well-behaved – it was fun to watch them.
Music wise, there are the usual peri-teachers, plus prep and senior choirs and various ensembles. No full school orchestra which is a shame, but on the plus side there is a rock band so, you know, swings and roundabouts.
A new headteacher, Nicholas Pietrek, started in Sept 2019, coming from independent Birkdale School (pre-prep through to sixth form) in Sheffield, where he was Acting Head. I’ve met him, and liked him – a calm, considered character who has taken no time at all in dispensing with the former head’s horrific shiny lime green chairs. Pietrek, it’s clear, has high ambitions for Thorpe House School – he is trimming numbers of GSCE taken down to 9 so that boys can concentrate on quality and grades, and he is intent on smartening up the school, believing (as I do) that first impressions linger not just for parents but for the pupils themselves.
The uniform is gloriously smart – check out those blazers! Those furnishings in the headmaster’s room take some beating. Also, the school motto ‘To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield’ is quite a mouthful. But then I could say the same about eating a packet of Maltesers in one go. I’ve never managed it myself, but who am I to knock the ambition?
87% of students achieved a 4 – 9 grade at GCSE (with 19.1% at 7 – 9). The science department was particularly strong this year with 34.6% of grades at 7 – 9, as was the art department with 50% of grades 7 – 9.
Average. A stepping scale starting at £3,650 for reception, £3,840 for Years 1-2, £4,795 for Years 3-6, then £5,654 for Years 7-11.
WRAP AROUND CARE
You can leave kids for Breakfast Club from 7.30am (for boys aged 5+) for a charge of £3/ day or £2/ day depending on whether they are having breakfast or just being supervised. At 8am the school gates open and boys can come into school and play in the playground under the supervision of Thorpe House’s gap year student. There are after school clubs or supervised prep sessions for boys in Y3 upwards, plus a separate after school club for Seniors from 5-6pm. Basically, the safety net is there for those, like me, who are habitually running late or have to juggle work, school and home life and drop more balls than you keep in the air.
Nurturing and friendly are the words I keep hearing about this school. The new headmaster is bedding in nicely. No-one is very enamoured of the school’s appearance (though big improvements have been made to the playground area since my last visit in 2018) but conversely parents like the central location.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Those who prefer to be a big fish in a small pond – the teachers pride themselves of knowing every child individually, and creating a supportive, friendly environment that would benefit kids who need a confidence boost. I felt the teachers were very caring and interested in the children.
Not for: Really big personalities. Some kids just need more physical and mental elbow room than Thorpe House School provides. The size of the school means that all kids get a chance to join in school teams, but the super-competitive may find that kind of inclusivity frustrating.
Dare to disagree?! Check out the virtual open day video here.
Thorpe House School, Oval Way, Gerrards Cross, Bucks, SL9 8QA. Tel: 01753 882474.