Tradition and achievement at Park Hill School
(Written by past pupil and father of current pupil)
Park Hill School has a simple aim: to offer the finest traditional education in a warm, homely yet structured setting. It is an extremely popular approach – many of Park Hill’s pupils are the second or third generation of their families to be educated there – and it’s an extremely successful one: Park Hill pupils routinely go on to Surrey’s top prep and senior schools.
In these days of vast schools, Government targets and experimental teaching methods, there is huge demand for an unashamedly old-fashioned approach to teaching, in a school where all the staff know each child by name and where a welcoming atmosphere does not preclude a firm belief in impeccable manners and behaviour. Since it opened in 1949, Park Hill has nurtured children according to these principles throughout their most formative years, between the ages of three and 11.
The school provides a bridge between home and the wider world. Its premises – a comfortable Victorian house in a large garden a stone’s throw from Richmond Park – are homely and cosy. Children receive unlimited individual attention; and the staff, led by Principal Marie Christie (herself a former Park Hill pupil), foster a family atmosphere. Visits to museums and galleries, the theatre, opera and ballet broaden the core curriculum, while regular trips to Richmond Park and a wide range of recreational facilities offer healthy exercise and encourage sporting prowess. Pupils learn French from the age of four; art, design and music studies develop their creativity. Computer skills and touch-typing are taught from an early age.
The results speak for themselves. Pupils are literate and numerate by the age of five. Rigorous academic standards stretch able pupils. Older children have the highly developed self-confidence and social skills that will ease their transition to senior school.
The benefits for older pupils are a particular draw. Boys leave Park Hill aged eight, girls at 11. Many schools send children to nursery school’s at two or three , only for them to have to make a transition to preparatory education at four and a half. Park Hill provides an unbroken education for girls right through to secondary school, at which age they are better equipped to make the change to a larger, challenging new environment.
Park Hill prides itself on the close relationship between staff and pupils. The one-to-one attention the children receive not only underpins the school’s superb academic record but also ensures that all the staff understand their pupil’s strengths and abilities; Headmistress Gill Smith is noted for knowing precisely which local senior school would be most appropriate for each child, with the result that applicants from Park Hill are always considered very seriously by the most popular schools in Surrey.
No wonder Park Hill attracts such a diverse range of children, from all backgrounds and nationalities. Its unique homeliness allows children to be children. Its rich curriculum and superb teaching stimulate and broaden their intellects. And the fact that its pupils leave as happy high-achievers is a sure mark of its success.