Falkner House school visit

Falkner House is located a very short walk from Gloucester Road tube station in South Kensington, in a lovely old house on Brechin Place. It is a family run school with no external owners or governing body. The headmistress, Mrs Anita Griggs, a former Economics A-Level teacher at St Paul’s Girls’ School, inherited the school from her mother, and given that she has four daughters and several granddaughters, is likely to keep the school in the family for a very long time.

We arrived in the morning and could observe the girls for their school assembly. They are very well behaved and friendly girls that seem to reflect the diversity of the neighbourhood very well. There is only one class of a maximum of 22 girls per year, which seems a bit larger than your average pre-prep school.

As a small, family-run school, parents on a school visit will be able to spend a large part of the visit asking questions to understand the ethos of the school, which is decidedly academic. In our group, many of the questions revolved around assessments and admission to the school, which is very competitive. Mrs. Briggs made no secret of the fact that Falkner House is a very academic school and looks for very clever girls. The school places a strong emphasis on very high standards of language and the ability to think. It was refreshing to see them so openly endorse the “elitist, pushy school” label. I remember my school visit to Glendower Prep School, which I had always thought was “the hothouse”, where they insisted it was not. Not so at Falkner House, which wants to provide a happy and secure environment, but at the same time likes to get the best out of the girls and make sure they are busy and advancing at all times.

I am glad they are so open about their academic approach. It is not for everyone, particularly in the international community I imagine. They do provide a wide range of extracurriculars and almost all girls at the school learn at least one musical instrument, but the focus does seem to lie on the academics. It felt like a very different environment from Hill House School or Knightsbridge School, which seem to place far more emphasis on the arts, sports and other areas of interest beyond academics. But if you have a very clever and focused daughter and are looking for an environment that challenges her academically, Falkner House is certainly the right place for you.

Have you visited Falkner House and gotten the same impression? I am wondering because when I was reading descriptions and reviews online, I had never expected to be that academic and was rather surprised. Not in a bad way, but it was unexpected. Please share your experience by leaving a comment below!

3 comments… add one
  • Jane March 1, 2012, 8:53 PM

    I visited Falkner House and had very much the same impression – they concentrate on results. This would not seem to be the school for any girl who is not focussed and academic. The trouble is – how do you know that at the stage you are registering? I have a bilingual daughter but languages do not seem to be embraced there. The view was that a girl is generally not going to be good enough in English if she is speaking two or more languages. I missed the enthusiasm for the child and the enthusiasm for learning that I have seen at other schools.

  • amya May 24, 2012, 9:19 PM

    i visited falkner house .it was the best school i have seen i have daughter and i told her about she was so eager to go there she had done so much work on finding the school .But instead of finding a girls school we found a boys school!

    • Paloma June 25, 2012, 10:49 PM

      I went round Falkner House recently, and had a long discussion about the issues of multi-lingual children. The headteacher obviously welcomes us international families (and she would be foolish not to, in view of the school’s likely clientele!). She did, however, give us some understandable warnings reminding us that our bilingual children are going to be competing at the highest level with monolingual children at a very young age. She mentioned that bilingual children, especially those for whom English isn’t their first language, do need a great deal of support in order to compete at this level. My general feeling though, was that the school embraces multi-lingual children, and provided they are academically strong enough to get into the school, they will be given every support possible to help them overcome any language issues. I am very proud of my native language, and want my daughter to be bilingual but also to benefit from being at a top academic school in London and I think that Falkner house ticks all these boxes. I’m definitely hoping that my daughter is accepted there!

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