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St James Preparatory School
St James Preparatory School
St James Preparatory School
St James Preparatory School
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St James Preparatory School London Visit
school
St James Preparatory School
London
167 pupils, ages 2-11
Mixed
Day

St James Preparatory School

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Our view

Every school likes to harp on about happiness, but there’s an all-pervading sense of joy at this unconventional west London prep, where every lesson starts and finishes with a mindfulness pause, Sanskrit is on the curriculum from nursery and lunches are strictly vegetarian-only. St James offers a traditional British education laced with Eastern wisdom, and its academics are strong – and pastoral care even stronger.

Where?

Tucked off the Hammersmith Road (a stone’s throw from Olympia), St James Prep borders Marcus Garvey Park, where its nursery is situated. The school shares its site with the senior girls' school, and, Tardis-like, it feels a lot bigger than it first appears. Behind the high red-brick walls, the prep school sits on one side, the senior girls’ on the other, separated by a courtyard where we spotted lots of lovely old-school games in full flow and girls and boys contentedly huddled in groups drawing cartoons or playing cards. The slightly imposing façade conceals bright, modern classrooms and gleaming glass, and it all feels very fresh and smart, with lots of pupil work on display.

There are scooter and cycle racks for pupils, but most travel by public transport. St James is just five minutes on foot from Olympia Tube station, 10 from West Kensington Tube, and it is on the High Street Kensington–Hammersmith bus route. There are also school coaches from west and south London, plus a daily service shuttling children between this site and the boys’ senior school set on a phenomenal Surrey plot near Heathrow, which has a lake and water sports to boot.

Head

The very welcoming Hilary Wyatt has been at the school for two years. She has 31 years of teaching experience under her belt, including stints at Eton Square, Durston House School and Lyceum Prep, where she was head. She has a good rapport with pupils and hosts the Year 6s every Friday at 3pm for tea and toast, where they hone their impeccable manners over a table laid out with goodies.


Mrs Wyatt is no ‘sweeping changes’ head – rather, she values the preservation of the wonderful balance that St James strikes between academics, creativity and nurture. ‘It’s what makes the school unique,’ she tells us.

Admissions

There’s stiff competition for places, so it’s a good idea to register before the age of two. Entrance to the Montessori-style nursery is first come, first served, with many children staying on and taking advantage of automatic entry into Reception. As this is a real community school, it’s packed with siblings, who get priority.

Otherwise, there’s no formal entrance test, just a satisfactory report from the child’s current nursery (if they’re at one) and a taster morning with parents. A number of children join in Years 3 and 4 – big draws are the school’s 11+ provision and the seamless entry for prep pupils into the girls’ or boys’ senior school.

Academics and senior school destinations

There are four lovely core values at the heart of learning here: Caring – for yourself and others; Open, the ethos of expressing yourself confidently and creatively; Responsible – following the rules; and Elastic – bending but not breaking. And they don’t just make a neat acronym (CORE); we saw them in action in every pupil we met, all of whom were confident, happy, polite and immaculately turned-out.

There is no streaming, and small class sizes ensure every pupil receives individual attention. Each classroom has a reading corner, and from Year 2 upwards there are flexible, needs-based groups to ensure every pupil achieves their potential. There are specialist teachers for maths, drama, music, art, cooking and sport and, from nursery, Sanskrit. Nursery pupils upwards learn the ancient Indian language, with a Sanskrit handwriting and speech competition held once a year (pupils from St James have gone on to study the language at Oxbridge). This is a real pen-and-paper school, but it does have a well-equipped ICT suite, and pupils from Reception upwards have lessons there.

Pupils benefit from a seamless transition to the St James senior schools, although with the girls’ school on the same site, more girls than boys stay on. Those sitting the 11+ are well provided for via a dedicated 11+ club. They also receive interview practice. Among the other schools pupils head off to are Wimbledon High, St Paul’s Girls and Latymer Upper.

Co-curricular

Sport is refreshingly co-educational (girls and boys play football, rugby and cricket) and successes are plenty, with pupils regularly earning their place in ISA championships and local tournaments. Netball, football and cricket are the main team games for each term, which the pupils play on site in the playground. For athletics and cross-country, they travel 10 minutes by coach to King’s house sports ground in Chiswick. They’re an active bunch, playing fixtures twice a week and every pupil is in a team from Year 3 upwards. Pupils swim from Year 1 at a pool in Fulham, and they are taught dance, do gymnastics and play dodgeball in the school’s big hall.

Art is a big part of life here, and the corridors are like galleries – every Friday assembly, an artist of the week is announced and their work gets pride of place in the displays. Pupils learn pottery, painting and drawing, and every term there’s an extended art project to which the whole school devotes a morning. Drama is enthusiastically embraced too, with an annual whole-school Shakespeare festival, a Year 6 musical (last year it was Beauty and the Beast) and a Nursery to Year 2 Nativity. LAMDA lessons are popular and, from Year 1, drama is timetabled weekly. A new head of music is revamping the department; music is timetabled from nursery, children can volunteer to play their instruments in assembly and there are collaborations with the senior girls’ school – they’re currently rehearsing with them for a production of The Odyssey.

We were impressed by the cookery provision led by chef Allegra McEvedy, who has designed a dedicated facility featuring a big stainless-steel table down the middle of the room with a mirror above it so everyone can see what she’s doing. Each class has cooking four times a term and all the food made is vegetarian.

School community

Pastoral care is taken seriously here. Mindfulness is woven into the school day with the Pause at the start and end of each lesson. It allows everyone to ‘take a bow to our best self’, says the head. In assembly, the Pause is led by Reception, ‘breathing in the joy of the morning and breaking out the stress of the school run’. There is a meditation room for staff, and Spotty the school wellbeing dog is on site for staff and pupils alike.

The librarian – who is also a mental-health first-aider – manages the Friendship Wobble post box, and the head girl told us: ‘Teachers are always there to talk to if there is anything sad or you are worried about anything.’ Year 6s buddy up with Reception pupils and there’s a lovely sense of being part of one big family. This extends to parents, who are invited to Friday assembly, their own weekly Sanskrit lesson, art class, and the staff and parents’ choir.

Most children live locally; lots in Brook Green, Notting Hill and Kensington, plus a small showing from Knightsbridge and Chelsea. A quirky mix of creatives and City slickers, parents are mostly an ambitious, grounded and supportive bunch.

And finally...

St James is a one-off, and while it may not be for everyone, there’s much to be said for its original approach. This is a school with real soul and warmth, and pastoral care at its core – if that piques your curiosity, it’s well worth taking a look.

Gallery See All

little girl in navy polo shirt running with a blue relay baton
Children in uniform watering plants with yellow watering cans
Children playing in a playground with hoops
Boys in blue shirts and ties sewing
girl in blue blazer speaking into a microphone on speech day
Girls in blue aprons in a cookery class
Boy jumping over a yellow bar onto a blue mat
Girl in a yellow dress performing on stage
Boys in blue shirts and grey shorts sitting playing the guitar
  • Senior school destinations

    Senior school destinations

    St James Senior Girls' and St James Senior Boys' School - 29, Hampton - 1, Holland Park School -1, Ibstock Place - 1, Kew House - 1, Notting Hill and Ealing High School - 1, St Paul´s Girls´ School - 1, Waldegrave School - 1.

  • Fees and bursaries

    Day fees per term

    Nursery£5,270
    Reception£6,915
    Year 1£6,915
    Year 2£6,915
    Year 3£6,915
    Year 4£6,915
    Year 5£6,915
    Year 6£6,915




    Bursaries
    St James’ Prep offers means-tested bursaries from Reception to Year 6 which can cover up to 100 per cent of fees if required. A third-party service is used to conduct the financial review and a house visit is required as part of the application process.

    Bursary contact:
    Bursary Secretary
    bursary-applications@stjamesschools.co.uk
  • SEND

    This school currently supports the following kinds of learning needs, health needs and physical disabilities:
    Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia, Hearing Impairment, Cerebral Palsy

    This school currently delivers the following interventions to pupils in class and outside class to support their learning, health and/or physical needs:
    Small booster groups for Phonics, Maths, handwriting. Privately funded one to one tuition available for Dyslexia / Dyscalculia / Dyspraxia support (outside the classroom)

    This school currently provides the following support for pupils' mental health needs
    Ad hoc one to one sessions with Pastoral Lead (bereavement / anxiety / friendship concerns). Access to privately funded access to a School Counsellor and Art Therapist on site.

    Co-ordinator: Mrs Kathryn Wilson k.wilson@stjamesprep.co.uk
  • Transport links

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

    Public Transport
    Nearest London tube station: West Kensington
    Nearest London Overground station: Kensington Olympia


School Updates

  • New Scholarships Available at St James Preparatory School for 2024-25 entry.

    Three scholarships in Creative Arts, Sports and Academics are available and will be awarded to Year 3 applicants who show outstanding potential in their given area.
    New Scholarships Available at St James Preparatory School for 2024-25 entry.
  • WATCH: Meet our Headmistress at St James Preparatory School

    WATCH: Meet our Headmistress at St James Preparatory School
  • WATCH: St James - Meet our Year 6 Teacher

    WATCH: St James - Meet our Year 6 Teacher
  • See St James in our All-through Schools Guide

    See St James in our All-through Schools Guide
  • See St James in our London Prep Schools Guide

    See St James in our London Prep Schools Guide

Essentials

Address
Earsby Street, Kensington Olympia, London, W14 8SH

Contact
office@stjamesprep.co.uk
020 7348 1777

Website
stjamesprep.co.uk

ISI Report

Fees

Term Dates


Open Days

Open days and how to visit View Open Days Register for open Day

Open Event (9am-10.45am)
01 May 2024


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