Chinthurst School, Tadworth
Muddy says: A small high-achieving prep school set in a rural location with a strong family-friendly vibe and a big emphasis on community.
Chinthurst is an independent co-educational day school for children aged 3-11 years in Tadworth. It’s part of the Reigate Grammar School family alongside Reigate St Mary’s, and as such benefits from its bigger brother’s resources. Chinthurst students also benefit from an early offer scheme to RGS, which for many parents and students will create a much smoother pathway to secondary education.
The school has been on this site – a former perfume factory – for 110 years, initially as an all-girls’ school, but later becoming a school for boys. These days the ratio is about two-thirds boys to one-third girls. There are currently 190 students at the school.
The main entrance and building – a handsome Victorian number – is on Tadworth Street, and this houses the Upper School (years 3-6), as well as the dining hall, library, drama and music rooms, ITC suite and language classrooms.
The Lower School (Little Chicks, kindergarten and years 1-2), and can be found across the other side of the playing fields in building with it’s own entrance on The Avenue. The littlies have access to a separate play area, but they also mingle with the older kids – like one big happy family.
For a school that’s not set on particularly massive site – it’s about 4 acres all told – it certainly packs the facilities in. As you’d expect from an independent school that is strong on sport, you’ll find an in-ground heated pool (with a roof that slides off during the hotter months – very clever!), rugby and football playing fields, cricket nets, astroturf and an indoor sports hall.
The Lower School has it’s own ICT suite and indoor hall.
MUSIC, DRAMA AND ART
For those of a more arty disposition, there’s an lovely art room – complete with it’s own kiln, as well as several music rooms and an impressive drama studio.
Kids do well at Chinthurst and usually move on St John’s in Epsom, Whitgift in South Croydon, Caterham School, Reigate Grammar School or St Theresa’s in Effingham. Last year, 18 year 6 students were offered 31 school places (some were offered more than one school). And of those, nearly half were awarded scholarships – in sport, music, academic and all round achievement.
Ahhhh! The lovely, charismatic Cathy Trundle. Ms Trundle has been at Chinthurst for a year – having previously spent 10 years at Reigate St Mary’s, seven as that school’s deputy head. She has a genuine passion for Chinthurst and the children – and this comes across. As you’d expect of a fairly new head, she has plans. But she also knows this school’s already onto a winner – and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The school is growing – and she’d like to balance out the ratio of sexes and continue to develop the facilities, while continuing to do what Chinthurst does best – turn out happy, confident and successful kids.
Littlies join the Lower School as Little Chicks in the term they turn three, moving on through kindergarten and nursery and into years 1 and 2. They enjoy specialist lessons in music, drama, swimming and languages. I’d say the relaxed, family atmosphere at Chinthurst sits well with the early years facility.
Perhaps not a quirk as such, but there’s a unique sense of family about the school that includes staff and students. Two of the teachers are former Chinthurst students themselves, while several others have seen their own children, and in some cases grandchildren, through the school. There’s a relaxed and homely vibe to the school – and it’s clear that students – past and present – feel a strong connection to Chinthurst. The school’s tagline is “Start the journey that will last a lifetime” and it’s very apt.
WRAP AROUND CARE
School is from 8.25am-3.30pm – but a longer day is offered for working parents who are always fighting a losing battle with the clock. Breakfast club is from 7.30am, and after-school care goes until 6pm. There are plenty of extra-curricular clubs and activities on offer for kids of all ages – ranging from chess or fencing to drama and forest school. The Lower School students are supervised in their classrooms, while the years 3-6 students have the option of going to a supervised homework club.
£4,780 a term in the Upper School and £3,550 in the Lower School, including lunch.
WORD ON THE GROUND
Parents love the family ethos at Chinthurst, and the way the school pushes the kids to achieve their best without putting them under stress.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Anyone looking for a pastorally driven school with great facilities, excellent academic results and a strong feeling of being a home-from-home.
Not for: It’s a relatively small school, so more rumbustious types might benefit from a bigger pond to swim in.
Dare to disagree? There are Open Mornings on Thurs 8 March and Thurs 3 May. Or you can call the school on 01737 812011 for a private tour.
Chinthurst School, 52 Tadworth Street, Tadworth, KT20 5QZ. Tel: 01737 812 011. chinthurstschool.co.uk