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 four co-educational prep 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, although he is stepping down in the summer of 2017.
The school also runs a Kindergarten at St Mary’s Church in Battersea for children from 2.5 to 4, but these children still have to pass the 4+ assessment to be accepted into the preparatory school (the Kindergarten in Pimlico, sadly, had to close down last year). It offers an outstanding breadth of activities with highly quality staff and would be an excellent choice of nursery even for those who will transfer to other schools at 4+.
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. While they have always been popular and oversubscribed, the announcement in March 2017 that Prince George would join Thomas’s Battersea in September 2017 increase the popularity and reputation of the school further. More importantly, the school recently announced the opening of a senior school in Battersea for pupils aged 13 – 18, relieving pupils and parents of exam stress, assuming they are happy for their children to stay on at the school.
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. Thomas’s Battersea generally has the reputation of gaining the best exit results, but keep in mind that many 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. All schools follow the same curriculum and ethos. Anecdotally, exam preparation is lighter than at other prep schools, and it might not be the right choice for parents who want their children to be drilled for exams. In the future, it is quite possible that the majority of Thomas’s children will move on to less competitive boarding schools or stay on at the senior school.