With longevity on its side, The White House Prep School does what it does best, preparing children for big school
Grafton and Telford Park tennis clubs were the unlikely beginnings of what is now the well-established White House Prep School in Clapham, rated outstanding in all areas by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI).
Thirty years on, The White House Prep School no longer waves the little ones goodbye aged five. Today, it operates a day nursery, kindergarten and prep school, mostly from a large white house on Thornton Avenue.
But the one constant is principal Mary McCahery, founder of the kindergarten all those years ago. Today, she teaches history to Years 3-6. While two of her daughters run the Woodentops nurseries, Dan Cummings was brought in two years ago as head of The White House. He also teaches ICT to Years 2-6: “It keeps my ꀀnger on the pulse,” he says.
Children leave here for the top independent schools, often with scholarships. The main destinations are Alleyn’s, Dulwich College, Emanuel, JAGS, Putney High School, Streatham & Clapham High, Royal Russell, The Hall, Trinity and Whitgift. They also go into top sets in Dunraven, Graveney and Wilson’s grammar.
Cummings knows exactly why the school is so popular with parents. “Our pastoral care is wonderful – we value each and every one of our children. A happy, safe and secure child is ready to learn,” he believes.
“We’re unique in our size,” adds McCahery. “With 16 to a class and one form entry, we have a nurturing environment and are very inclusive. It means that everyone’s in the choir!
Warming to the topic, McCahery says, “We have time for every pupil, and greet them with a handshake in the morning and another when we say goodbye at the end of the day. The secondary schools they go to say we bring up nice children that are not arrogant.
When it comes to private education, Cummings recommends starting the journey early, so we can plan the trajectory of the child. “We have in Year 4, so we know what we’re delivering in Years 5 and 6,” he explains.
“Our pastoral care is wonderful – we value each and every one
of our children. A happy, safe and secure child is ready to learn”
Even before that, much preparation is done to ready pupils for prep school. McCahery holds an afternoon tea and Christmas drinks for feeder nurseries “to ꀀnd out what the children are like”, Class lists are given out to encourage play dates and children meet the Head of Foundation Year as a group.“The best practice is sharing information,” she says. “It’s no good it sitting in silos.” an early conversation, in Year 4, so we know what we’re delivering in Years 5 and 6,” he explains.
The White House
24 Thornton Road
London SW12 0LF
020 8674 9514