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Holmewood House School
Holmewood House School
Holmewood House School
Holmewood House School
Holmewood House School Tunbridge Wells, Kent Visit
school
Holmewood House School
Tunbridge Wells
470 pupils, ages 3-13
Mixed
Day and Boarding

Holmewood House School

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Our View

Holmewood House has been undergoing a renaissance of late. Ruth O’Sullivan, head since April 2022, has been busy implementing a more holistic mindset that values and nurtures a child’s emotional wellbeing as much as their academic ability. A non-selective admissions policy coupled with top-notch pastoral care, plus a real emphasis on the arts and creative subjects as well as academia is creating a winning formula for happiness and success – and pupils are leaving well-rounded, buoyant, and excited for their top-tier senior schools.

Where?

On the outskirts of Tunbridge Wells down a quaint country lane, Holmewood House looks every inch the idyllic English prep school, with its stately main building and 30 acres of beautiful grounds. Pupils come from Tunbridge Wells and a sweep of local villages, with almost all travelling no more than 25 minutes to reach the school (there’s a school minibus serving the local area). And for boarders, there’s a chaperone service from Charing Cross.

Aware how lucky they are to have such a stunning site, the school makes full use of this gorgeous area, with outdoor learning part of the curriculum for all years up to and including Year 8. The Pre-Prep buildings open up onto a smart newly-landscaped space including an adventure playground, to which the little ones flock at playtime, alongside mud kitchens and herb-growing spaces.

Other planned developments include an Innovation Lab which will deliver robotics and coding, and a brand-new Food Tech suite.

Head

Ruth O’Sullivan has been at Holmewood House since April 2022, having moved from South Lee School, Bury St Edmunds. Kind, empathetic and intelligent, Mrs O’Sullivan was an early adopter of mindfulness when she introduced it over 10 years ago at St John’s College School in Cambridge, where she was deputy head. Passionate about nurturing children’s emotional wellbeing, Mrs O’Sullivan believes in teaching ‘with the child at the heart’, and inspires her staff to do the same. She places great store on listening to her staff as well as the children, with every school member’s voice considered both important and relevant, and everyone is pleased to have stability after a few years of change. Mrs O’Sullivan is clearly loved by the children who wave and smile at her through her office windows at playtime. Currently teaching the Year 7 cohort Philosophy and Metaphysics, Mrs O’Sullivan enjoys these classes: both because she gets the chance to stretch these senior pupils’ emotional intelligence and because she herself loves getting to know the children better.

New members of senior management have joined or will soon join, including new Deputy Head Nell Bond, who has an educational research background, and Assistant Head Co-curricular Simon Jervis whose brief is to shake-up the co-curricular provision, including creating industry links with clubs to increase their relevance.

Admissions

Children can join the nursery in the term they turn three and most stay all the way through to Year 8. Most Reception children move up from the nursery, but some pupils also join at Reception. Pupils may join at any point, with Year 3 and Year 7 being particularly popular. Children come for a taster day and admission is non-selective. Those joining in Years 3 and above will sit a computer-based Cognitive Abilities Test in the afternoon and are asked to provide their latest school report.

Class sizes are small, with three-class entry in all year groups. Boy:girl ratio is around 50:50 throughout the school.

Academics and senior school destinations

Despite its impressive academic reputation, Holmewood House’s non-selective admissions policy results in a broad church of abilities. Pupils are extremely well taught and many leave with academic scholarships, but more importantly they leave knowing themselves and what kind of learner they are. They’re very much encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning.Streaming in maths starts in Year 3, with specialist teachers in French, art, music, D&T and games. From Year 5, pupils are taught all subjects by specialist teachers and have biology, physics and chemistry in science labs.

Enrichment is timetabled into the school day for all year groups and revolves around STEAM topics with an emphasis on world-awareness and social skills; each element of the programme is designed to pique the pupils’ interest and further problem-solving skills. Subjects vary on rotation but can be as varied as Mrs O’Sullivan’s Philosophy and Metaphysics class, to sign language, yoga & wellbeing, women in science and debating. In Years 5 and 6 the reasoning skills and exam techniques so vital for the upcoming senior-school entry tests are built into their enrichment framework. The top years can pick from Model UN, entrepreneurship, leadership-training and service.

In the upper years, An enriched humanities programme takes a thematic approach to a topic through the lens of Continuity, Change and Conflict in the UK and abroad. This means pupils work together and alone on projects that are then reviewed and moderated by heads of departments from senior schools. The top years no longer include a separate scholarship set, as this was deemed divisive and outdated. Instead, Years 7 and 8 are taught in smaller groups for all subjects across the year groups, with a specialist additional scholarship programme available for those children aiming for one at senior school, whether in art, music, sport, drama or academic.

Leavers go on to a raft of senior schools from Tonbridge to Bedes, Marlborough to Eton. As well as academic scholarships, many also win scholarships in drama, sport and music.

Co-curricular

The school has a strong sporting reputation and excellent facilities – and is known on the local match circuit as a force to be reckoned with. This lucky lot have access to plenty of playing fields, tennis courts, a shooting range and an Astro pitch. Indoors, there are squash courts, a sports hall and an impressive swimming pool. The swim club is hugely popular, with children training every week and putting their PBs up on the wall to motivate themselves, and the school always does well in the IAPS swimming galas.

Games are still split into boys and girls, with boys playing football, rugby and hockey in the winter, cricket and athletics in the summer. For girls, as well as netball and hockey, football has been added to the winter-sports schedule, and they also do cricket and athletics in the summer. PE is co-ed, with everyone doing gymnastics, badminton and basketball together.

Innovative art classes see pupils creating vinyl album covers, throwing clay pots and experimenting with glazing, while in D&T they make puppet theatres complete with cogs and handles. Drama is inclusive, with a drama studio and full-size theatre to put shows on. Matilda is the latest to be staged and, judging by the rehearsals we saw, it’s safe to say the standard here is extremely high.

There are many talented musicians too, with choirs and orchestras meeting weekly. Older pupils have use of a tech room where they write songs and learn digital musical annotation.

While always a key part of the timetabled week, the popular and numerous co-curricular clubs have been given a recent upgrade. Running in the morning, at lunchtime and after school, these may be facilitated by teachers but are run by pupils – some in years as young as Year 3 – which is all part of the school’s philosophy of developing future leaders and desire that the clubs should be not hierarchical, but empowering. In the senior years, topics include more cerebral pursuits such as Model UN and politics.

Boarding

Boarding numbers are on the up, and the school now runs a chaperoned train service to and from London. The roll currently stands at 15-20 full boarders, both British and international, and the new houseparents are keen to grow this number. Flexi boarding is highly popular among local children and their parents. Although the school day finishes at 4.40, day pupils can stay until 6pm and have supper: a great option for working parents.

School community

Holmewood House takes pastoral care seriously. A new Assistant Head of Pastoral, Simon Porter, will join Holmewood House from Clayesmore School in January 2024. The pastoral care team includes 50 trained mental-health first-aiders, as well as an Assistant Head of Learning and Teaching and an Assistant Head Pastoral. Pupils receive awards for good works and are encouraged to be reflective about less exemplary behaviour, so it’s very much carrot over stick. Pupils know their voices will be listened to, and staff have more time to work and support each other. A new Wellbeing and Medical Centre is due to be built.

Years 5-8 can turn to a dedicated tutor as well as their form teacher for support, and all children have a safety circle: a number of teachers to whom they are comfortable approaching, and this list is refreshed every term. Year 8s take on leadership roles, collecting younger children for meetings and reading out loud to them.

The house system is a huge part of daily life at Holmewood House – everyone, from pupils, teachers and support staff is in a house and regular friendly but fiercely fought competitions take place on and off the sports fields. At the weekly house meetings, the Year 8 Heads of Houses lead the agenda, not the teachers.

The school is well supported by an active parent community (its summer ball is always much anticipated), and there’s great communication between staff and parents. Most are fairly local, although they do travel from all over Kent and Sussex.

And finally....

Thoughtful, kind, inclusive and buzzing with life, this dynamic prep gets its pupils future-ready for onward schools while ensuring they grow and remain grounded within its beautiful Kent roots.

Gallery See All

boy in a blue cap and cricket whites
girls in bee suits and lilac gloves
little girl in a blue and white dress holding a yellow clock
Boy in glasses smiling looking through a cardboard box
Boy in safety goggles and gold tie in the science lab
boy on a rope swing
boy and a girl studying a globe in the library
girl playing the violin
Boy in blue overalls painting in the art room
  • Senior school destinations

    Senior school destinations

    Ardingly (4%), Bede's (6%), Benenden (6%), Bethany (2%), Brighton College (13%), Charterhouse (2%), Claremont (2%), Eastbourne College (15%), Eton (2%), Harrow (4%), Hurstpierpoint (9%), Kent College (2%), Mayfield (2%), Millfield (2%), Sevenoaks (9%), The King's School Canterbury (7%), Tonbridge (15%).

  • Scholarships for senior schools

    Scholarships

    Academic9St Paul's School; Stowe School, Tonbridge School, Wellington College, Benenden, Kent College, Mayfield School
    Music2 Bede's Senior School; Tonbridge
    Drama2 Mayfield; Bede's Senior School
    Sport8 Bede's Senior School; Brighton College; Eastbourne College; Hurstpierpoint College; Roedean School; Tonbridge School
    Art2 Mayfield
    DT0
    Other1 Dance Roedean


  • Fees and bursaries

    Day fees per term

    Nursery£3,460
    Reception£4,180
    Year 1£4,805
    Year 2£4,990
    Year 3£6,595
    Year 4£6,595
    Year 5£7,480
    Year 6£7,555
    Year 7£7,555
    Year 8 £7,555
    Boarding fees per term

    Nursery-
    Reception-
    Year 1-
    Year 2-
    Year 3 -
    Year 4 £10,260
    Year 5 £10,260
    Year 6£10,260
    Year 7£10,260
    Year 8 £10,260




    Bursary contact:
    Finance Bursar Emma Bradshaw
    ebradshaw@holmewoodhouse.co.uk
  • SEND

    This school currently supports the following kinds of learning needs, health needs and physical disabilities:
    The school supports a range of needs from Visual Impairment, Hearing Impairment, Specific Learning Difficulties (Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia), ADHD, ADD, ASC

    This school currently delivers the following interventions to pupils in class and outside class to support their learning, health and/or physical needs:
    Phonics, Social Skills, English, Maths, Lego therapy, Reading/Comprehension, Touch Typing, Handwriting, Sensory circuits, EAL, Occupational Therapy, Drawing and Talking therapy, Lexia, Social communication, Anger management, Clever Fingers

    This school currently provides the following support for pupils' mental health needs
    The school has an Assistant head pastoral who meets with children. They facilitate a play therapist within school, and offer drawing and talking therapy as well as lego therapy to support social skills.

    Co-ordinator: Michelle Hinkley mhinkley@holmewoodhouse.co.uk
  • Transport links

    School Transport
    Escorted train service to/from London
    School daily bus network

    Public Transport
    Nearest mainline train station: Tunbridge Wells
    Journey time to London by train: 50 minutes
    Nearest international airport: Gatwick (21 miles)


  • Parents tell us

    ‘Like most independent schools, all of Holmewood’s activities and facilities are of a high standard, and equipment is modern. It wasn’t until we had spoken to the Headteacher that we felt that this was the right school for our children. The school’s greatest strengths are its ethos, high moral code; the teachers show caring enthusiasm and a want to teach.  


    I had the chance to probe the headteacher about dealing with boys, and I dropped the word “punishment” into the conversation. I was suitably impressed with the response. The headteacher challenged my assumptions, presented the school’s ideas on disciplining students, and reminded me about the shared responsibility, between parents and the school, to work together when dealing with the child. The headteacher used words such as train, mentor and coach the student to guide them towards good conduct.  

    The admissions process was straightforward, efficient and thorough. The school communicates with parents well via the weekly newsletter, personal emails and phone calls. I have never missed a thing when it comes to my children’s education.  

    My sons are both boarders and so pastoral care is vital for their wellbeing. I thought that the first couple of weeks were going to be difficult, however the opposite has been true; my boys needs were addressed quietly and successfully. The lessons on “My Heart My Mind” have been interesting as they have given my sons space to look at how they feel within themselves, coping with everyday school life. This has particularly helped to bring out the confidence in my youngest child.  

    I know Holmewood carefully track all of my children’s progress every week through classroom observations, prep-work and outdoor activities. The teachers quickly contacted me about my youngest child not meeting the expected level for maths. They pinpointed how best to support him and move forward.  

    The Holmewood House school community has worked hard at building connections between families and the school since we joined in September 2021. The Family Funday and Fireworks nights are great examples. I use these times to get together for informal chats with other parents. 

    All expectations have been achieved so far.’

    ‘We chose the school for our child because of its academic reputation; we got the overall feeling that it would really suit his attributes. 

    The headteacher is hardworking, professional and not too sales-oriented which was a distinguishing factor. She comes across as genuine and is interested in getting it right for all concerned, as opposed to promising the Earth! 

    It was terrifying moving a child relatively late (year 5) and so it felt like a huge leap, but our experience of the admissions process was great.

    The school’s communication with parents is always sensitively pitched and intelligently done, not all independent schools manage this. The school is preparing my child for his next stage of education extremely well. It’s a fantastic school and the education he receives at Holmewood is exactly what I’d hope to be able to provide for him. We feel very fortunate to be able to send him there.’ 

    'We chose the school because of the option of applying for a scholarship, and we knew the school was brilliant.

    We were in a state school. However, Holmewood was very generous in offering us a scholarship. It is brilliant that they give opportunities to bright children that cannot afford the full fees.

    Potential scholarship children take exams in March. My son was successful and it has been a fantastic opportunity.

    The staff are simply amazing, all of them. The kitchen staff, the groundskeepers...the teachers are very knowledgeable. The school secretary helps all the parents, from looking for a lost sock to finding a child that forgot a dentist's appointment at the end of the school day... The staff are all available to help and make the child feel safe and secure.

    Everyone is very friendly. The communication is brilliant.

    The staff really commits to promote wellbeing. My son sometimes even tells me..."Mum, please don't start talking to me about wellbeing..." - "The school does it all the time." 

    The school community is quite close. However, you can choose how much you want to participate. There are always games, beautiful concerts, plays where the parents congregate and we talk. We also have coffee mornings. I have always felt welcomed, from day one. I always make sure I welcome the new parents and also the visitors that come to the school to watch an event. The school knows each child well and their families too. 

    The school has amazed us. Every day something special happens.

    My advice to other parents would be if they think something is wrong, just talk to the school. If anything is not right in the parents' views, let a teacher know. They sort the problems overnight. It is brilliant.

    We are very privileged to be at this school. Holmewood is fantastic. We are very grateful for the brilliant education our son is receiving.'



  • Pupils tell us

    ‘The best thing about Holmewood House is that we all come together to make one big family. Even though we might have differences, they are always resolved and put behind us. That is what families are about. The school’s motto is self-belief, aspiration and kindness and we live by it religiously. The facilities and the food are amazing, and we are asked to contribute to make our school an even better place. 

    I would tell new students to feel free to ask either the staff or pupils, we will always be happy to help you. Don’t be afraid to make new friends – everybody is always so welcoming and kind. Be yourself! Holmewood House will always accept you for the way you are.  

    I settled in to the school immediately. Holmewood House makes sure that pupils and staff look out for you and you are also given a buddy who will make you feel very welcome. 

    All the staff are very welcoming and have made different positive and lasting impressions on me. For example, Mrs O’Riordan, my boarding house parent, is truly a mother to me. She has taught me to sew, bake, do my tie, photography and, when my mum can’t come to an event, Mrs O’Riordan has always been there to support me. I will always remember her for that. Mrs Monkman is our amazing receptionist. That is always there to give advice, answers and solutions to any concern we may have. I truly respect her, and she is always there to photocopy my LAMDA, let me know what time my mum is picking me up, or even to give me a spare hairband. I cannot thank her enough for that. Mrs Preston-Bell has always been there to make sure our pronunciation is correct, telling us to “pronounce your T’s in every word”. I am very fortunate to have had her as my form tutor in Year 3.  

    My boarding life is amazing, and full of fun and entertainment. I started boarding in Year 3 and I was welcomed in with a warm hand. I have now been boarding for about 4 years and it has helped me a lot with independence and confidence. Without this experience, I don’t think I would be who I am today. Our boarding house is an action-packed place. It is just like an extended family with so many boarding brothers and sisters. I am really fortunate and happy to be a part of the boarding house, and I cherish the memories I am putting together on this journey.  

    It is really hard to choose the best thing on the school menu because all our meals are good and taste yummy. However, I love “Anita’s fish and chips”, which are the best fish and chips ever tasted! For the best dessert, it is a tie between churros and toffee waffles. 

    Our school has a lot of traditional events such as the End of Term Slide Show, Fireworks Night, Family Fun Day and the Christmas Fair.  

    If I was head for the day, I would make a Holmewood House shop that could sell Holmewood personalised items. For example, Holmewood Gumshield or a Holmewood pencil case. 

    After I leave, I am aiming to get into Benenden School. I know this is a very achievable goal because I have been brought up in Holmewood House. All the staff here have supported me, taught me to value things and told me to aim high so that I can be a role model for the younger ones to look up to. I believe that Holmewood House is the best school to go to. I am a Holmewoodian and although I might move on to a new school, all the things I was taught will stick with me and I am confident that they will help me in the futute.  

    Holmewood House is a great school and I highly recommend it for any student. Being a Holmewoodian is an amazing privilege that I am happy to have.’

School Updates

  • View from the Top: Ruth O’Sullivan on the benefits of staying at prep school for Years 7 and 8

    View from the Top: Ruth O’Sullivan on the benefits of staying at prep school for Years 7 and 8
  • WATCH: Holmewood House Pre-Prep Video

    WATCH: Holmewood House Pre-Prep Video
  • Nell Bond, deputy head at Holmewood House School, reflects on the importance of embedding EDI into school life and offers suggestions to those looking to do the same.

    Written for the Independent Schools Council (ISC)
    Nell Bond, deputy head at Holmewood House School, reflects on the importance of embedding EDI into school life and offers suggestions to those looking to do the same.
  • Latest news from Holmewood House

    LAMDA success!
    Latest news from Holmewood House
  • 10 Questions with Ruth O'Sullivan, head of Holmewood House School

    10 Questions with Ruth O'Sullivan, head of Holmewood House School
  • See Holmewood House School in our Country Preps Focus

    Find your perfect country prep school. Whether you're contemplating a move for your entire family or want to explore the education options within a daily minibus-ride of the capital, we can help.
    See Holmewood House School in our Country Preps Focus

Holmewood House School is
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Essentials

Address
Barrow Lane, Langton Green, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN3 0EB

Contact
admin@holmewoodhouse.co.uk
01892 860000

Website
holmewoodhouse.co.uk

ISI Report

Fees

Term Dates


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