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Chinthurst School, Tadworth

Chinthurst nursery and prep school has a strong family-friendly vibe and a big emphasis on community – add to this outstanding academics and the outcome is happy children with great results!

WHAT? WHERE?

Chinthurst is an independent co-educational day school and nursery for children aged 2-11 years in Tadworth. It is one of two junior schools of the award-winning senior school Reigate Grammar which is currently the top co-educational day school in Surrey. Chinthurst students can benefit from the offer of a place at RGS without having to sit the entrance exam which for many parents and children creates a much smoother pathway to secondary education.

The school has been on this site – a former perfume factory – for 113 years, initially as an all-girls’ school, but later becoming a school for boys. It is now very much a co-educational establishment with 260 pupils currently on its roll.

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 and ICT suite.

The Lower School (Little Chicks, Kindergarten, Reception and Years 1-2) can be found across the other side of the playing fields in a building with its 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.

FACILITIES

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 its own ICT suite and indoor hall too.

LITTLIES

Littlies can join nursery either as Little Chicks at two and a half, or directly into kindergarten (for the pre-school year). The nursery aims to get the children excited about learning and there is always lots of imaginative activities alongside plenty of fun and fresh air. As a fully integrated part of Chinthurst school, the joined-up curriculum ensures the children are well prepared for the step up to Reception when the time comes. So, when they start ‘big school’ the children are already familiar with the buildings, staff and routines and families already feel part of the community.

From the very beginning of nursery (and right through the school), there is a structured approach to phonics teaching designed to create fluent readers, confident speakers, willing writers, and able spellers. Maths is taught through problem-solving with a big emphasis on discovery and having lots of fun. Just like the older children, littlies at Chinthurst have specialist lessons in music, drama, swimming, languages and sport. Outdoor learning is a priority, and the children love the regular Forest School sessions in a local wood.

I’d say the relaxed, family atmosphere at Chinthurst sits well with the Early Years facility.

MUSIC, DRAMA AND ART

For those of an arty disposition, there’s a lovely art room – complete with its own kiln and there is lovely artwork displayed around the school buildings.  Recently, the school won an international art competition, and their entry was displayed at the Natural History Museum!

There are several music rooms and an impressive drama studio. The children gain outstanding marks in LAMDA drama exams and there is a strong peripatetic music programme. There are lots of opportunities to perform throughout the year for all the children, at assemblies, musical showcases and drama productions as well as in choirs and ensembles. Last year’s Year 6 children made a superb movie in place of their usual stage production. They even went ‘on location ‘to the surrounding woods to film scenes.

SPORT

For a school of its size, Chinthurst punches well above its weight on the sporting fields. The boys’ sports teams are practically the top in the county – the U11’s Boys’ Football Team was a finalist in the Surrey County Football Cup last year beating much bigger rival schools including Kings College School Wimbledon and Danes Hill. The rugby and cricket teams are also scoring impressive wins, with almost all the Rugby teams finishing the last year’s rugby season unbeaten

The girls have an impressive record too with hockey and netball successes and the introduction of girls’ cricket has been a resounding success.

NEXT SCHOOLS

Kids do well at Chinthurst! Most Year 6 pupils transfer to Reigate Grammar School (having been offered their place whilst still in Year 5) but the school has excellent relationships with many other top independent schools. Several children regularly transfer to Epsom College with a handful to St John’s, Caterham and Box Hill over the past few years. All go to their first-choice school, and many are awarded scholarships in academics, sport and music.

THE HEAD

Ahhhh! The lovely, charismatic Cathy Trundle. Miss Trundle has been at Chinthurst for nearly 5 years – 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. She believes that an all-encompassing and thorough wellbeing programme is an essential part of what Chinthurst does best – turning out happy and successful kids. Children are encouraged to take risks, try new things and failure is turned into a positive learning experience. This builds confidence and provides a strong foundation from which they can fulfil their potential.

QUIRKS

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 importance on the wellbeing of the children also stands out. Kindness is at the centre of a whole school pastoral care system and the teachers give priority to building relationships with the children over everything else.

The school was nominated again last year for an Independent School of the Year Award, this time for its outstanding wellbeing programme, Wellbeing at Heart. This comes after a shortlisting in 2019 for Independent Prep School of the Year. Impressive!

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 cookery. During the holidays, Camp Beaumont provides fun and active holiday clubs onsite for children aged 3 years and above.

FEES

£5,420 a term in the Upper School and £3,975 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 site, so if it’s vast acreage you’re after – Chinthurst may not suit.

Dare to disagree? There is an Open Morning on Wednesday 29 September. 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

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