The Spectator

School portraits | 15 March 2018

Snapshots of four notable schools


There aren’t many traditional all-boys, full-boarding prep schools left in the UK, but Ludgrove in Berkshire is one. ‘Our boys speak for themselves and it is them that make Ludgrove special. They are full of spark and never short of things to say,’ according to the school. There are two mantras of Ludgrove life, ‘Be kind’ and ‘Be the best you can’, while the school motto is: ‘Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might’ (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Ludgrove has a strong academic record — around 70 per cent of the top year go on to Eton, Harrow, Radley or Winchester — but sport and tradition are just as important. One unique sport is stump in the yard: a special game of cricket played against any wall all over the school. Another is Sets Football, where around 35 boys from each house play one other in a huge game. With 70 odd boys on a pitch, and three referees looking after three footballs, it’s more like organised chaos than anything else.

University College School

Originally founded as part of University College London in 1830, University College School (or UCS to most) moved to Hampstead in 1907. This independent day school for boys, now with a co-ed sixth form, is famous for its liberal ethos (the UCS foundation was set up to ‘promote the Benthamite principles of liberal scholarship’), with music, drama and the arts all thriving. That doesn’t mean it isn’t academic: in 2017, 90.9 per cent of the pupils’ GCSEs were
A* or A, with a 100 per cent record of A or A* in German, Mandarin and music. One recent parent described the school as ‘not too formal, but focusing on what really matters for a well-rounded education’, with ‘very approachable teachers’.

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