Greenfield School, Woking
This proudly non-selective prep school for boys and girls has excellent all-round offering and impressive academic results with 40% of the 2021 cohort receiving scholarships at their chosen senior schools.
Greenfield School is a non-selective prep school for boys and girls aged 6 months to 11 years – and the 2022 TES Independent Prep School of the Year (announced in June 2022). The school has undergone a massive transformation in recent years – almost doubling pupil numbers to a total of 350 and moving to a new 10-acre site. And yet, much is still intrinsically the same – the strong sense of community that extends beyond just the pupils to their whole family is still very much part of the school’s ethos. Pupils come mostly from the local Woking / West Byfleet area and surrounding villages, but also as far as Camberley, Guildford and Weybridge.
Previously located on a much smaller suburban site – ironically with no green fields at all – the school purchased the former International School of London site on Old Woking Road in early 2019 and after an initial £1.2 million refurb to update the existing buildings, is now coming to the end of a major £7.6 million building programme that’s seen the addition of a sports hall, dining hall, multi-media suite, music rooms and dance / drama studio plus nine new class rooms.
It’s a forward-thinking school that strives to offer a modern curriculum that’s relevant in today’s world. This includes teaching engineering as a subject from Years 1 to 6.
There’s a lack of traditional formality too, although it’s not outwardly obvious, but seen more in the relaxed and confident way pupils interact with the staff including the headmistress. (Pupils don’t rise to their feet and wish the headmistress good morning / afternoon when she walks into the room, for instance. But they do talk to her candidly and animatedly about their learning without prompt.)
There’s everything you’d expect to find on a sprawling 10-acre school site including the brand new three-court sports hall, two forest schools, five grassed sports pitches, two floodlit netball courts and a soon-to-be built multi-surface pitch.
The school is pretty much entirely under one roof – including the sports hall – and it’s been cleverly designed so that many of the classrooms open onto a playground or garden.
The nursery classrooms at one end of the building each open to their own exclusive play areas and there’s a large enclosed courtyard in the middle of the building that’s being developed into a sensory garden with a large planters and a water feature.
There’s a lovely bright library in an open atrium-style room that feels like the hub of the junior school, and a former residential house on the school site that is a dedicated learning support centre.
At the other end of the building you’ll find the Middle and Upper school, and the classroom decor is purposely kept neutral and ‘low-arousal’ which means the walls are not jam packed with bright posters and artwork as you might see in the younger years. It’s feels more grown up – wide corridors with large lockers down one side and low coffee tables with pouffe stools down the other. There are dedicated classrooms for English and maths, as well as science labs, and the multi-media suite that includes a new sound recording studio.
Greenfield prides itself on its all-rounder offering, and that includes the sports. The brand new three-court sports centre is an impressive addition. And like most independent schools, sporting fixtures are played against local schools. The main sports are netball, cricket, hockey, rugby and football. Specialist programmes have also been set up develop talent, and in Years 3 to 6 Sports Masters, as they’re known, can take part in lunchtime coaching sessions which may help towards gaining a sports scholarship.
THE CREATIVE ARTS
Like sport, the arts are highly valued as part of the all-rounder offering. All pupils from Year 1 to Year 4 will learn a range of instruments including the recorder, keyboards, string and wind instrument, and more than half of all pupils continue their tuition with one-to-one lessons by peripatetic music teachers.
Modern dance and ballet are taught to all pupils in the lower school, and there are opportunities for all children to perform throughout the year at assemblies, recitals and concerts. Each year group will also be involved in a production every year.
Similar to the sports talent programmes, a Masters programme exists for pupils who show promise in the visual arts, performing arts, music and dance, which will also help towards scholarship applications.
Nursery starts at six months with provision for 50 weeks a year. Babies start in the Fledgelings until they’re rising 2, and move from here into the Owls (aged 2 and 3 years). From here the rising 4s move into Robins where they can choose to be term time only or have 50 weeks a year provision.
In the Nursery, children will have specialist lessons in Music, PE, Forest School and French.
For a school that’s non-selective, the results (particularly in the number of scholarship offered) are impressive and that’s no doubt partly due to the Masters programme. But there’s also an Aiming Higher programme, which is aimed at children across all abilities – from those who may need additional support to those in the middle who would benefit from focussed small-group teaching, and the higher-achievers who might benefit from further academic enrichment.
In 2022, the Year 6 cohort of 36 children achieved 67 offers from 27 top independent schools. They also received 20 scholarships and exhibitions and two music awards – shared amongst 40% of the cohort. Pupils went on to Box Hill School, St Catherine’s Bramley, Caterham School, Cranleigh, Frensham Heights, St George’s Weybridge, Guildford High, Halliford School in Shepperton, King Edward’s Witley, LVS Ascot, RGS Guildford, More House in Farnham, Salesian College in Farnborough, Sir William Perkins’s in Chertsey and Tormead School.
Greenfield has recently been highly commended for Outstanding Pastoral Care in the Muddy School Awards. (It was also highly commended for Best Sense of Humour!) The ethos here is to welcome families into the school, not just children and indeed the school recognises that investing in independent education can be a huge financial commitment for families.
Tania Botting is a dynamic woman who can take much of the credit for turning the school around. She’s been headmistress at Greenfield for 12 years arriving in 2010, and before here was Deputy Head of Juniors at Manor House School in Bookham for three years. Her career in education has spanned both the independent and state sectors, and she describes her self as less of an academic head and more of an instinctive one. One thing’s for sure, she’s passionate about what Greenfield is offering in terms of a modern education that prepares children for the jobs of the future and she’s keen for all children at the school to reach their full potential.
WRAP AROUND CARE
Breakfast club is from 7.30am where children are treated to cereals, juice, toast and toppings as well as a daily hot option.
The after-school club is available for all pupils from Nursery to Year 6 and runs until 6pm. There are more than 50 extra-curricular clubs on offer every week for kids to join – from judo to chess to sports clubs, coding and more.
The most recent ISI inspection was in 2019 when the school was rated as Excellent across all eight inspection areas – you can read the report here.
MOBILE PHONE POLICY
There’s a strict no-phone policy at the school.
Termly fees are £4,260 in Reception; £4,470 for Year 1 and 2; £4,790 in Year 3 and 4; and £5,003 in Year 5 and 6. Nursery starts at £1,903 per month for full-time provision 50 weeks; or £4,258 per term for full-time nursery during term-time.
WORD ON THE GROUND
Parents like the nurturing nature of Greenfields, and the efforts that are made to discover what each child is good at and loves doing – be it music, sport, art, drama or academics.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Families looking for a school where community, and the so-called softer skills like communication, empathy and understanding are held in as high regard as exam results.
Not for: Greenfield School is not a hothouse, so families looking for a school that’s exam heavy may want to look elsewhere.
Dare to disagree? Book a private tour of the school with the headmistress Tania Botting. Book here