Situated on the edge of London’s Richmond Park, this popular co-ed day school has a record of academic achievement, a great range of extra-curricular activities, and a focus on dance, languages and public speaking.
IPS has a Prep school (4 to 11 years) and Senior School and Sixth Form (11-18 years) on the edge of Richmond Park in Roehampton. The Prep School is housed across two purpose built buildings with 14 classrooms, a library, an art studio and a science laboratory. It shares facilities at the Senior School (located at the Clarence Lane and Cooper’s campuses a short walk away) which include music rooms, a performance space, theatre, sports hall, sports fields and swimming pool.
It’s a high achieving school with a community of just under 1,000 students. While there is a focus on academics, the opportunities in extra-curricular dance, sport, and public speaking are also great.
IPS has a strong house and tutorial system here that is equally focused on academic and pastoral care. Senior students join a vertical tutor group, with one tutor focused on their wellbeing and another who monitors their progress in the classroom. By staying within the same tutor group throughout Senior school, students can feel known and understood by their tutors.
Headteacher Christopher Wolsey took the role in 2021; he was previously deputy head and has been at the school since 2007 as Head of Sixth Form and Humanities, so knows the school incredibly well.
An education here is rigorous and challenging, and teaching aims to build students’ understanding rather than simply ‘spoon-feed’ them facts. The school doesn’t talk about a curriculum, it talks about Achieving Academic Excellence. This feeds into a learning culture that focuses on traditional academic subjects and sees “learning to be of paramount importance”.
In Prep, the curriculum is very broad, helping to prepare students for a variety of pathways in GCSEs and A Levels, which may be academic or creative. As Headteacher Mr Wolsey says, IPS can help students find their “strengths whether to become the promising musician, the meticulous scholar, the outstanding sportsman or the talented artist.”. With a list of alumni as varied as Nigella Lawson, Emily Blunt and Nadhim Zahawi, IPS is a school for students with a variety of interests and aspirations.
Languages studied in Prep include French and Latin, and students are introduced to specialist subjects from a young age including design technology, computing, PE, dance, swimming and music.
IPS has a reputation for its traditional ethos and a strict code for behaviour that results in a very well-mannered community of students. However, it is as Mr Wolsey explains, a school that is also ambitious, restless and adaptable. As some other schools scale back their modern foreign languages, IPS has expanded in this area; students start to learn Mandarin from Year 8 and all students take two languages for GCSE. Other highlights in the curriculum include a focus on formal debating skills in Years 7-8; this is a school that wants its students to speak up and be heard.
Sixth Formers take either three or four subjects for A Level, as well as the Extended Project Qualification. There’s a wide choice of 24 options, including new subjects such as classical civilisation, economics, history of art, politics, psychology and philosophy.
The main sports taught here for boys are football, rugby, cricket, athletics and tennis; for girls it’s netball, hockey, cricket, athletics and tennis. Badminton, basketball, cross-country, golf, swimming and water polo are all offered as after-school or lunchtime clubs. A competitive spirit is encouraged with a busy calendar of fixtures against other London independent schools and overseas sports tours to Spain, Canada, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, and the US.
Over half the school learn an instrument here, and many more sign up for one of the many choirs, symphony orchestras, and bands. In the arts department, there are clubs, Open Studios where students can complete work after-school, GCSE clinics and visiting artists. Dance is huge here, and there’s a timetable of classes covering everything from acrobatics and acro-dance to pointe work and repertoire. The school’s impressive theatre, complete with orchestra pit, green room and dressing rooms, provides the ideal setting for regular productions including A Christmas Carol and Peter Pan.
There are daily sports clubs, dance classes and co-curricular clubs (offered after tea in the refectory at 4pm if you so choose); students can also stay to work on prep assignments or other schoolwork.
The school takes full advantage of its city centre location, with frequent visit to the London’s theatres, museums and galleries. There’s also a very active Partnership Programme that focuses on community service to ensure that its students “do not grow up in an echo chamber”.
Results are really impressive. In 2021, 40.6% of A Level grades were A*, 75.4% were A*-A, and 90.5% were A*-B. There were five offers for Oxbridge, and 80% of students were offered a place at a Russell Group university. In 2021, 86% of GCSEs were graded at A*-A or 9 – 7; 43% of entries were graded at 9 and 100% of entries were graded at A*-C or 9 – 4.
Located on the edge of Richmond Park in a leafy part of South West London, IPS seems to have it all for a city school. There are historical buildings oozing with character, including a beautiful Edwardian house; there are modern arts, sports and science facilities to support changes in the curriculum; and there’s plenty of wide open space, nature and fields across its main eight-acre campus.
Main entry points for Prep are 4+ and 7+, and students are assessed before being offered a place. The main point of entry into the Senior School is at 11+, and students must participate in a Learning Workshop and sit a computer-based (CEM) test and an entrance exam in English and maths.
While the majority of Prep students continue into the Senior school, there’s no automatic entry; everyone has to pass the same entrance exams and assessments. It’s a popular school in the city, and close to some most of the desirable postcodes in South West London, and there’s competition for places.
Students travel by foot, bike, train and bus, coming from Richmond, Sheen, Hammersmith, Fulham, Putney, Southfields, Clapham and Kingston.
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