Danes Hill is widely recognised as one of the leading co-educational day preparatory schools in the country. Situated in the village of Oxshott, Surrey, Danes Hill provides boys and girls aged 3 to 13 with an unusually broad and balanced curriculum in 55 acres of landscaped grounds. Pupils are encouraged to realise their fullest possible academic potential, and each year a large number of scholarship and exhibition awards are achieved at a wide range of day and boarding Senior Schools. Danes Hill children are characteristically self-confident and outgoing and, in addition to the emphasis on academic work, they have plenty of opportunity to develop sporting, musical, dramatic and other non-academic interests.
Educating the Whole Child
Our mission is to develop young people with active and creative minds, a sense of understanding and compassion for others, and the courage to act on their beliefs. We stress the total development of each child: spiritual, moral, intellectual, social, emotional and physical.
Ethos and Expectations
The school encourages boys and girls to become confident, articulate individuals by providing them with values, skills and a desire for learning ready to take on the challenges of the next stage of their education and life beyond.
The school aims to provide a broad-based education, with sufficient support and resources available for those at both the stronger and weaker ends of the spectrum to achieve their full potential. Danes Hill children are also encouraged to take every opportunity to develop sporting, musical, dramatic and other non-academic talents and interests. The school is divided into four houses and inter-house competition in sporting, artistic and academic spheres is encouraged.
The school aims to guide children so that they become well-rounded and self-assured individuals who enjoy succeeding and making a contribution to both the school and the wider community.
Children are expected to have the fullest possible involvement in the life of the school, and the flourishing school council meets regularly to discuss issues and influence decisions affecting pupils’ welfare.
Pupils are always encouraged to be tolerant and supportive of others, and there is a strong emphasis on charitable giving and fundraising which might range from support for an individual child’s fund-raising efforts, to a major event such as a sponsored walk, involving the whole school.
Organisation of the School
Our children begin their Danes Hill education in Transition the pre-preparatory ‘Bevendean’ department on its own self-contained site at the heart of Oxshott village. This has undergone a major rebuilding programme providing state-of-the-art classrooms and facilities. The emphasis at these early stages is on learning through play, laying down the key numeracy and literacy skills. All children enjoy specialist French teaching from age three, and Bevendean has its own swimming pool, library, ICT and art rooms.
In Year 2 pupils move to the Main School, where the emphasis is on developing pupils’ independence and self-motivation. All children now have specialist teaching in Art, Drama, Design Technology and Music, and as they progress through the school their academic subjects are increasingly delivered by specialist staff too. In addition subjects are setted to provide smaller teaching groups and an excellent pupil-teacher ratio. Languages are a strength of the school, and those studied include French, Spanish and Latin. Greek is taught to pupils as part of the entrance procedure to certain senior schools if required.
The Main School is divided into the Lower School (Years 2 and 3), Middle School (Years 4 and 5), and Upper School (Years 6 to 8). Each section has its own Head, its own assemblies and traditions, and very much its own ethos. Children are encouraged to feel allegiance to their own particular section of the school, and this sectional subdivision ensures that the school never feels overwhelmingly big, a strength remarked upon in successive school inspection reports.
Music, drama and dance are given an exceptionally high profile at all levels of the school, and opportunities abound for boys and girls to develop their performing talents. Every year group has its own major annual production in which all the children are involved, and drama and music lessons are popular with all pupils.
Sport plays a major part in the life of the school and all pupils are encouraged to develop their talents and participate to the full. A dedicated team of over a dozen specialist games teachers provides expert coaching in a wide variety of team and individual sports, and the greatest possible opportunity is provided for boys and girls to represent the school in competitive fixtures, as well as performing at county and national level.
Information and communication technology is an integral part of every pupil’s experience at Danes Hill. All children are taught ICT skills by specialist staff, and they are encouraged to develop confidence and ability in a wide variety of software applications.
Languages are a major strength of the school, with even our youngest pupils being encouraged to develop an awareness of the fundamentals of French through weekly sessions of songs, games and puppetwork. Such specialist French teaching continues throughout the Main School, where all pupils also study Spanish and most likely Latin as well, whilst Classical Greek is an additional option for those requiring even greater challenge.
Maths and English are the bedrock of every child’s education, and the daily Literacy and Numeracy hours in the Lower and Middle School establish the primacy of these subjects, both of which are setted from age 6 to ensure the best possible pupil-teacher ratio. The school regularly achieves outstanding results in national Mathematics Challenge competitions.
Educational trips are a vital part of life at Danes Hill, extending every child’s experience, and augmenting topics being studied in the classroom. From Transition pupils visiting a local farm park to seniors enjoying an evening at the theatre, an extensive programme of day, evening and residential trips, each carefully tailored to the particular age group, runs throughout the year. The highlight is the annual Trips Week each June, which sees over 500 pupils from Years 4 to 8 attending a range of residential courses in England and abroad.
Emphasis is laid throughout the school on the importance of good communications both amongst staff and between school and home. The comprehensive weekly and end of term newsletters and regular updates to the school website and parent portal are essential conduits of information.
Parents receive a comprehensive written report on their child twice each year. In November and early summer a Staff-Parent Conference for Years 2-7 allow face-to-face feedback in all subjects. There are additional parents’ evenings for Year 8 scholars in November after their mock exams and twice yearly for CE pupils at the end of the Autumn Term and after their mock exams in February. There are two Staff-Parent meetings for Bevendean pupils in October and June. Heads of Section institute a comprehensive round of parental interviews over the course of the year. There is regular formal and informal contact between school and home at all levels from Heads of Section to individual form and subject teachers.