The Spectator

Schools portraits: a snapshot of four notable schools

Colville Primary School, London; Junior King’s School, Canterbury; Ludgrove, Wokingham; Benenden, Kent

Schools portraits: a snapshot of four notable schools
Colville Primary School
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Colville Primary School

Based just off Notting Hill’s Portobello Road, Colville Primary School occupies a Victorian Grade II-listed building that was once a laundry. Today, it accommodates pupils up to the age of 11 who are taught under the school’s ‘three key values’: respect, aspiration and perseverance. Colville also says it believes in the British values of democracy, individual liberty and tolerance. The school’s performance has shot up over the past decade: three years ago, it was rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. Despite its setting in the heart of London, there’s plenty of area for play — the playground facilities are new, and there’s also a large ball court and running track. The school is digitally savvy, too: Google Classroom is used to set and submit homework. Breakfast is served from 7.45 a.m., while some clubs run until 5.45 p.m. — Colville is a school at which pupils are encouraged to follow their interests well beyond the classroom.

Junior king’s school, canterbury

The feeder of arguably the oldest continuously operating school in the world (education in the grounds of The King’s School has taken place since 597 ad), the nearby Junior King’s School, Canterbury educates 400 pupils aged from three to 13. Some board, but the majority are day pupils. The school is set in a stunning 80-acre countryside spot, only 50 minutes from St Pancras station. It has its own fenced woodland site, where children are able to play and explore as well as take part in bushcraft and scouting. King’s says that academic results take care of themselves when children are well looked-after — all pupils belong to one of four houses which meet every fortnight. When they leave, the vast majority of pupils from the Junior King’s School go on to The King’s School, Canterbury via the Common Entrance exam.


Founded in 1892 by the footballer Arthur Dunn, this Berkshire prep boarding school gives its 190 boys an enormous amount of space in which to compete and play. It is one of the last remaining prep schools to provide full fortnightly boarding, so at the weekends boys can enjoy Ludgrove’s 130 acres of grounds, complete with a nine-hole golf course, swimming pool, 11 pitches, four tennis courts and two squash courts. With several ex-England football captains as former headmasters, Ludgrove’s sporting prowess is hardly surprising: it can field up to 17 teams on one afternoon. The school firmly believes in the link between sporting and academic performance, which is borne out by results: every year, around 70 per cent of the Year 8 cohort go on to Eton, Harrow, Radley and Winchester, with several securing scholarships. Ludgrove excels in knowing its boys, and provides the perfect setting for them to thrive.


Based in a Victorian country house in Kent, Benenden houses more than 550 girls from 11 to 18, with some space for day students as well. In 1923, the school was founded by three teachers from Wycombe Abbey, who wanted to build a ‘happy school with personal integrity and service to others always in mind, where everyone would be given the chance to follow her own bent’. Across 250 acres of land just an hour from London, each girl is given ‘a complete education’ (the school’s motto) both in and out of the classroom: students are involved in everything from the Combined Cadet Force to barista training. The facilities are state of the art: the science laboratories — opened by the Princess Royal a decade ago — are some of the most advanced for school-level in the country, and its multi-purpose theatre was opened by Helena Bonham Carter in 2007. Next year, Benenden will open its new school hall and music school.