Battersea: 28-40 Battersea High Street, London SW11 3JB
Clapham: Broomwood Road, London SW11 6JZ
Fulham: Hugon Road, London SW6 3ES
Kensington: 17-19 Cottesmore Gardens, London W8 5PR
Profile: Thomas’s is a popular group of co-educational Kindgardens in Clapham and Pimlico and four schools in Battersea, Clapham, Fulham and Kensington, educating over 1,850 children in total. The schools in Fulham and Kensington prepare children from 4 to 11, while the prep schools in Clapham and Battersea continue on until the 13+ stage (Fulham and Kensington pupils can automatically transfer to the other Thomas’s schools at 11+).
The founding idea of the school was to offer the breadth of a boarding school education to London Day pupils, and the school combines outstanding teaching with a wide range of extra-curriculars including Drama, Rugby, Karate, Ballet. Thomas’s Fulham pupils are frequently seen playing rugby and field hockey in the beautiful adjacent South Park, while Kensington pupils meet for an optional morning run in Kensington Gardens at 7.45am. The school places great emphasis on happiness and personal development of the children. Kindness rules are on prominent display in the schools to remind pupils to play inclusively on the playground.
Pupils come from the immediate neighbourhoods of the respective schools, but they do run a school bus service, which also helps those students transferring from Kensington and Fulham to the Clapham and Battersea schools aged 11. From personal observation, the profile of pupils is mainly British and European, with somewhat less diversity than other central London prep schools. The school is owned by the Thomas family, and Ben Thomas himself is headmaster of Thomas’s Battersea.
The school also runs a Kindergarten at St Mary’s Church in Battersea for children from 2.5 to 4, but they still have to pass the 4+ assessment to be accepted into the preparatory school (the Kindergarten in Pimlico, sadly, is due to close next year).
All schools have been rated by Ofsted, achieving an outstanding rating in almost areas, with lots of praise for curriculum, teaching quality, pastoral care and extracurricular activities:
As a result of the outstanding curriculum and teaching, pupils in all year groups attain exceptionally high standards compared with national averages and other independent schools. Their achievement is outstanding in relation to their starting points. Most pupils gain top grades in the 11+ and 13+ examinations and all move on to a school of their parents’ choice
Every care has been taken to provide each pupil with an opportunity to find something they can excel at and their individual gifts and talents are nurtured by the specialist teaching. For example, every year group is involved in annual drama performances and about half the upper school pupils learn a musical instrument. The more able artists have one extra weekly lesson in which they compile a portfolio of work
Children’soutstanding behaviour contributes successfully to their positive attitudes towardslearning and creates a very warm welcoming learning environment where staff andchildren are able to work in an atmosphere of mutual respect.
(all taken from respective Ofsted reports of the individual schools, see links below)
Admissions: Thomas’s schools are very popular and early registration is essential to be invited for an assessment. Once registered, entry is via assessment, with priority given to siblings of current pupils. The school looks for children that will enjoy the busy atmosphere at Thomas’s. Parents comment that communication skills, social readiness and the ability to focus on one task at a time are all important.
At these interviews we try to select children whom we feel would most benefit from the environment at Thomas’s; that is, children who will thrive in a busy environment, who will make the most of a wide range of opportunities and who will be prepared to “have a go”. We see approximately three children for each place available and priority is given to the siblings of current pupils
Exit Results: The majority of Thomas’s leavers gain entry to leading London Day schools, notably Godolphin & Latymer, St Paul’s and Francis Holland, with a smaller number moving to boarding schools such as Downe House, Eton College and Wycombe Abbey. It looks from the scholarship information provided by the school that the amount of scholarships won by Thomas’s leavers has gone down in recent years, but parent reviews and inspection reports suggest the school is still very good at supporting pupils gain entrance to their secondary school of choice. Thomas’s Battersea generally has the reputation of gaining the best exit results, but keep in mind that quite a few pupils from Kensington transfer to Battersea (and from Fulham to Clapham) at 11+, so I would not get too stressed about the differences between their four prep schools.