Parents praise Devonshire’s incredibly supportive teachers, who do an excellent job with extremely motivated pupils. There’s an average of 20 pupils per class, with specialist teaching in French, music and P.E from the early years, and all other subjects from Year 4. Maths and English are streamed from Year 2, and all other subjects from Year 6. French is taught from nursery, everyone in Years 4 and 5 learns Mandarin and there are extra clubs for anyone who wants to dip their toe into Spanish or German. In addition, four SEND specialists are on hand to help children with a wide range of different academic abilities including dyslexia and dyspraxia. We were impressed with the large, specialist science, music, art and D&T rooms.
Online learning during the pandemic has massively boosted the school’s IT and technology provision, and there’s been a big push on STEM subjects of late; expect plenty of robotics, VR headsets and heaps of blended learning which sees pupils in Year 7 and 8 tapping away on their own iPad in lessons.
Girls work towards the 11+ before leaving at the end of Year 6, while boys stay on for the final two years and sit the 13+. The school prides itself on its superb prep for both exams; there are early morning maths and English surgeries during the autumn term, and the school will do whatever is necessary to ready a pupil for their senior school exams (it recently laid on Greek lessons for a pupil trying for Westminster). Senior school destinations remain broadly local, and almost everyone goes on to a top London day school; lots to Highgate, St Paul’s, UCS, Francis Holland Regent’s Park, Merchant Taylors’, Mill Hill and North London Collegiate School. Very occasionally, one or two set their sights on boarding, picking the likes of Harrow, Radley, Wellington or Charterhouse. Scholarship success is outstanding, with one pupil offered four different music scholarships last year.
Full use is made of what’s on the doorstep – such as running on Hampstead Heath and cricket at Lord’s. The school has just secured a long-term contract for permanent use of the StoneX Stadium (Saracens Rugby Club’s training ground), which plays host to all other sports, including athletics, rounders, rugby and football.
Music is exceptionally strong, led by a ‘hugely driven’ head of music. There are heaps of ensembles for pupils to join, including a drum band, string ensemble and jazz band. The Christmas carol service – which takes place at Hampstead Parish Church – is always a hot ticket on the school calendar. Upper school pupils put on an annual production (Shrek, most recently), while younger years perform their own class plays.
There are plenty of extra clubs and activities as well, from roller skating to debating, yoga, coding and Quidditch – when we visited, pupils were still waxing lyrical about a recent visit from a member of the UK’s national team.
Don’t panic! We have more than ten years’ experience of visiting schools and advising parents, and we are all parents ourselves – we can make this easier for you.