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WHAT? WHERE?

Crown House is a nurturing, non-selective, family-focused co-educational prep school for 165 children aged 3-13 years in class sizes of no more than 20. It comes with a reputation for awesome academics and successful grammar school placements – you’ll currently find it selected by The Sunday Times in its The Sunday Times’ Top 100 Prep Schools. First opened in 1925, the school moved in 2014 to a new location just a mile outside Wycombe town centre – a late 17th century red brick manor house just off a residential street next to the attractive recreation ground of The Rye, and is owned by the Chatsworth School Group.

The main school building has that charming, higgledy-piggledy feel that manor houses converted into schools so often have and you’ll find it in two bijoux but perfectly formed acres, with a sleek modern extension that houses the sports hall and early years. With the bowls club and the Rye accessible right outside the school perimeter there’s a feeling of space and greenery.

FACILITIES

Crown House School offers a multi-purpose hall, a sweet vaulted library area, a dedicated room for music, a lovely adventure play area, one all-weather surface for sport and a large field.

SPORT

There is no delineation between girls and boys sports here – the size of the school and the need to pull together enough children for teams means that all sport is taught and played mixed sex. Apparently the girls bomb around playing football at break times with the boys – I really like that idea!

There are weekly swimming lessons from Reception onwards, and sports on offer include netball, football, tag rugby, cross country, hockey, cricket and athletics. An external company ran the sporting provision here for many years but the current Head, Mrs Sarah Hobby seems keen to focus further in this area, and has now appointed an full-time internal PE teacher.

THE ARTS

Art takes place within the class environment, and music is having its glow-up moment – over the last term Crown House has gone from zero peri music lessons to 40% of the children from R – Y6 taking instrumental lessons in violin, viola, recorder, piano, sax, guitar and ukelele, singing and flute.

In terms of music on the curriculum, there’s a dedicated music room and full-time teacher for weekly lessons, while in drama, the children have opportunities each year to perform.

LITTLIES

The small numbers (28 in the pre-school) and homely environment at Crown House school perfectly fits its young guests, and at the Pre-Prep they’re well catered for – the children have their own dedicated play area overlooking the main playground and the little ones I watched seemed delighted with their lot. A benefit of Crown House school is the ability for children to receive Early Years entitlement – between 15-30 hours – applied the term after

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their 3rd birthday. The Pre-Prep has an excellent reputation and places are only now offered to families that also want a place in the main school.

ACADEMICS

Crown House clearly has the academic formula nailed – on a non-academic entry, 85% of its pupils gained entry into grammar schools in 2021 and 75% for 2022. Clearly then, there’s academic rigour here across the traditional subjects. Importantly, the kids I spoke to didn’t express that as pressure; they seemed happy and were full of how lovely the teachers were. The main next school destinations are, as you’d expect, the local grammar schools of Royal Grammar School, Wycombe High, John Hampden, Dr Challoner’s, Sir William Borlase’s or privately to Pipers Corner, Berkhamsted School, Shiplake College, Beaconsfield High or Holyport.

PASTORAL CARE

All schools will claim to know every child as an individual, but Crown House, being a smaller, close-knit school has quite the advantage in this claim! One of Crown House’s strong USPs is its small, supportive, intimate environment, with the form teacher tasked with the pastoral care of his/her own class. Here as in other schools, PHSE lessons have become more prominent since Covid, with the SENDCO leader running wellbeing groups such as teaching the kids the Zones of Regulation (a way of helping them to recognise and control their feelings). Unsurprisingly in a small school, there is no onsite counsellor at Crown House but pupil wellbeing is constantly monitored. It’s worth noting that in the last school inspection in 2018 ‘Personal development, behaviour and welfare’ was judged outstanding.

THE HEAD

Mrs Sarah Hobby arrived in Jan 21, just in time for the start of the third national lockdown. Previously Deputy Head of Highfield Prep School in Maidenhead, and before that Deputy Head of Pre-Prep and Housemistress of the Junior Girls Boarding House at Marlborough College Malaysia (a sister school to Marlborough College UK), this is Mrs Hobby’s first head role and she’s understandably keen to make her mark at Crown House.

Despite a year of fighting Covid fires like every other school head, her hand in steering the school is obvious, with drama, music, games, and a broader curriculum enjoying a stronger focus so that she can make sure Crown House is “more than an 11+ factory”. Current after school clubs include football, ballet, lego, dance, musical theatre, indoor cricket and debating club and plans for tennis and athletics for summer term.

You’ll find Mrs Hobby out every morning at the school gate to welcome in the pupils and chat to parents, and the children clearly warm to her – they were all shouting and chatting to her during our walk around the playground. Professional and approachable, she’s very focused on the children at Crown House and they clearly love her – they chatted away with her on our walkaround and I loved the fact that she has dozens of cuddly toys on the top of her office cupboard for emergency pupil comforting.

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QUIRKS

Schools don’t have to be quirky to be brilliant and Crown House School is about traditional care and attention. The Parent breakfasts, where you can grab a pastry and coffee, chat to

other mums, dads and teachers, and also see your own children in their classrooms, is a nice touch.

WRAP AROUND CARE

Much improved, in keeping with the pressures on modern families. Mrs Hobby has instigated breakfast, plus after school snack at late club since her arrival. Drop off is from 7.45am with latest pick up at 5.30pm, a time which also includes the pre-prep children.

SEN PROVISION

There is a SENDCO co-ordinator at Crown House School who is also a form teacher. Any interventions are managed on a case-by case based on each child’s individual situation.

OFTSED REPORT

As an early years provider, Crown House School was given an Ofsted report back in 2018 under the previous Head, where it was judged to have a combination of Good and Outstanding provision. Read the full report here.

MOBILE PHONE POLICY

Children aren’t permitted to bring mobile phones to school.

TRANSPORT

There is currently no school transport provision.

FEES

Fees here are less expensive than local rivals. From Reception to Year 2 you’ll pay £3240 per term, and from Years 3-6 it’s £3640 per term.

WORD ON THE GROUND

Crown House is known locally as the dead cert grammar school option – basically, if your child can’t pass the 11+ here, it won’t happen anywhere! The feedback on the new Head is positive, and parents here love the school’s supportive, family atmosphere.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: Those looking for a small, caring, nurturing school with great academic credentials. Anyone hoping to get into the grammar school system will be a perfect candidate. The huge number of NHS parents means the cohort is truly multicultural and diverse which the school rightly takes as a strong suit.

Not for: Some children are destined to swim in bigger ponds than the one offered at Crown House.

Crown House. Bassetsbury Manor, Bassetsbury Lane, High Wycombe HP11 1QX. office@crownhouseschool.co.uk Tel: 01494 529927. crownhouseschool.co.uk

The post Crown House Prep School, High Wycombe appeared first on Bucks & Oxon.

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