20 Penywern Road, London SW5 9SU
Profile: Falkner House Penywern Road is a school for boys between the ages of four and 11 with a co-educational nursery for children aged two to four. Falkner House provides an outstanding academic education in a family atmosphere. The school offers a unique environment in which children can flourish and are given the opportunity and confidence to excel. Small but mighty, Falkner House children are known, nurtured and respected as individuals. The range of extracurricular activities on offer, from music to drama, sport and art, reflects the school’s philosophy that every child should have the opportunity to shine.
Falkner House aims to:
• ensure that all children achieve a high standard of work across the curriculum
• provide a broad curriculum with progression through the years
• provide a caring and happy atmosphere
• provide an appropriate set of expectations for each individual child
• develop self-confidence and self-esteem
• encourage an ability to form easy relationships with both peers and adults
• encourage a sense of individual pride in all school and personal activities
• instil a wide variety of life skills
Boys will be encouraged to sit for 7+ or 8+ exams only if they are deemed ready on an intellectual and emotional level, but they are welcome to stay at the school until 11 years old, and this is becoming an increasingly popular route. Indeed, recently the school has seen a growing number of boys joining from other pre-preps at 7+. Early parent feedback suggests the children make astonishing academic progress, while being nurtured in a small family atmosphere where every child is valued and respected.
Falkner House has always been a family business and the new school will be no exception with Mrs Anita Griggs as principal and her daughter, Mrs Eleanor Dixon as headteacher. Mrs Dixon was educated at Falkner House, St Paul’s Girls’ School and Cambridge. She worked as a lawyer at a City firm before joining Falkner House in 2011 following the birth of her oldest son Barnaby. At Falkner House Mrs Dixon works in all areas of the school with particular focus on lower school maths and preparing children for the 11+ process.
Below is an interview with Mrs Griggs and Mrs Dixon discussing the new school (updates added in July 2018).
Is the boys’ school be selective at 4+?
Yes. The 4+ process will be run along the lines of the girls’ school, but the assessment will take place in October (3 months earlier than the girls’ assessments) to align the process with other boys’ schools in the area that require parents to make earlier decisions. We would be more than happy to delay these assessments until January if other boys’ schools align their process accordingly.
Do you believe boys can be assessed reliably at such a young age?
Yes, we do feel we can do it. We have built up lots of expertise by running the co-educational nursery for many years and our Head of Nursery is very involved in running the 4+ assessment process. Of course, with any child (boy, girl, or indeed a puppy!), the later you assess the better, but we feel, based on our experience with nursery aged children, that we can assess reliably.
How is the school different from the girls’ school?
The curriculum and approach will be very much the same. We will adapt the teaching methods and the pace of classes a bit as boys can have shorter attention spans and need more change. They also benefit even more from small groups and one-on-one teaching. There will be lots of sports, including Swimming from Reception and games at Holland Park and Barns Elms.
What is your view on tutoring for the 7+/8+?
We try and tell the parents that they are the most important person for their child. They need to take an active interest in their children’s learning. And we as a school work hard to get parents to trust us that we are already doing what is best for the child. We can provide everything at the school. If they need extension, we do that here, if they need extra Maths help, we can do that here. But when we say “less is more”, we really mean less is more. If we felt more Maths or more worksheets were going to lead to better results we would do it, but they don’t. Children need to have a childhood and they need to be able to go home and play in the sand and get messy after a full day at school.
Another problem with tutoring is that it takes away a child’s ability to work independently. When they enter the exam room, there will be no tutor sitting next to them telling them what to do. We will take our boys to the girls’ school for a mock exam in the autumn term of Year 2 to experience what it is like to go into an unfamiliar building to sit an exam. We also work on building up their confidence and resilience which are so important in this process.
What will be special about the new boys’ school?
The new Falkner House will have the strengths of the original: small, family run and personal, with exceptional teachers, a broad curriculum and the best fundamental educational principles at the heart of the school. There will be the same emphasis placed on camaraderie, good manners and kindness. Every child should have the right both to a happy childhood and the very best education, with the importance of the academics balanced by sport, music and art. Boys will develop their strengths without being hot-housed; they will be prepared for the best possible schools for them at 7+ or 8+ in a sympathetic and supportive fashion. We welcome open dialogue with parents and always have an open door policy.
Should you be interested please call the office at Penywern Road on 020 7373 2340 for more information or to book a tour.
Early registration is essential, we recommend applying asap after birth, particularly if you are aiming for a nursery place.