Situated in 55 acres of stunning estate and located in the village of Oxshott, Surrey, Danes Hill School is one of the UK’s leading day preparatory schools for boy and girls aged three to 13.
Danes Hill attracts pupils from all over the country, including nearby London – because of the amazing school’s outstanding success.
In 2019, all graduates from the preparatory school successfully gained entry to their chosen senior school, with 57 pupils achieving senior school scholarships and 94 per cent of grades being A*-C.
Furthermore, since 2016, pupils at the school have won 237 scholarships to some of the most elite schools in the UK, including Eton, Harrow, St Paul’s School, Westminster School, Charterhouse, KCS and Cheltenham Ladies’ College.
So, what are the secrets of Danes Hill School’s outstanding success?
The pursuit of excellence
Danes Hill School is structured with the pursuit of excellence in mind. The education and development of all pupils are predicated on enabling children to achieve their utmost, whatever their ability.
- Each pupil is given an individual timetable tailored towards building on their own strengths and improving areas of weakness.
- In the Upper School, tutors meet with their tutor group daily, ensuring guidance and support in each child’s academic and social development.
- The Extra Curricular Activities programme encourages students to explore strengths and develop new skills through clubs such as debating, gymnastics, Middle School mathematicians, girls’ football, model making, golf, skiing, mindfulness colouring, sewing, tennis, art, LAMDA lessons, STEM Young Engineers, Stop Motion Animation and Innovators.
In addition, with achieving excellence at the heart of its ideology, staying on to 13+ remains a very successful school model for Danes Hill.
- Valuable senior years bring pupils many opportunities to develop their intellect, character, understanding, awareness, and skills – through the content and style of their exams as well as from chances to lead, take responsibility and be a role model.
- Year 7 and 8 children have the most opportunities to develop many, varied skills – all without the pressures of being in a teenage environment at senior school.
- The expertise acquired and the important values instilled during their experiences in these years are often those most valued by senior schools.
Education is never static, and Danes Hill is constantly experimenting with different pedagogies.
- The school varies its teaching methods, through approaches such as the Independent Learning Project in which a cross-curricular initiative puts into action knowledge and theory. This year’s ILP involves English, art, history and geography; pupils will study the work of Dutch artists, the story and diary of Anne Frank and the geography and history of the Amsterdam canal system, with the project culminating in an overnight trip to Amsterdam.
- Performance arts such as music, drama and dance are prioritised at all school levels. Each creative art stages its own major annual production in which all the children are involved. Over 360 Danes Hill children play a musical instrument and take part in the three choirs, the jazz band, two orchestras or smaller ensembles.
- In sport, a dozen specialist games teachers double as expert coaches in a wide variety of team and individual sports, leading pupils to regional, county and national competitions and to winning national sporting titles. Danes Hill offers truly excellent sports facilities: 15 sports pitches, a full-size competition astro pitch and a 25-metre, heated outdoor swimming pool, and these facilities are just at the Main School.
- Computing is an integral part of the curriculum at Danes Hill, with specialist staff guiding all pupils to develop confidence and ability in a wide range of software applications.
- Languages are taught to the youngest pupils (basic French and Spanish) and Main School pupils continue to learn from specialist staff, and can also attend Mandarin and German clubs.
- Pupils also expand their knowledge and understanding of the wider world with residential trips to places such as Tenerife, Spain, (Science), Austria (skiing), and Italy (Year 8 Pupils).
With the school situated in 55 acres of beautiful grounds, there is no doubt that a Danes Hill education is positively impacted by the experience of learning and developing in the extensive, landscaped surroundings.
- Younger pupils at Bevendean enjoy their own amazing, pirate ship playground and visit the preparatory section’s Forest School in The Paddock.
- Older pupils make the most of their adventure playground (with zip wire) and take part in lessons which promote stimulated thinking using the many outdoor resources.
The Paddock’s space and pond also provide learning opportunities by taking the classroom outside and it is also popular for events such as cross country, camping and a great venue for the school’s Eco-Committee.
- The Eco-Committee has recently been awarded the Bronze Eco-School award for their efforts, such as the school’s Walking Bus and also No Electricity Day. Its garden’s vegetables are eaten in the dining hall!
The school has recently formed a relationship with The Woodland Trust to plant 500 trees on site this year.
Community and compassion
Putting others first is a central tenet of life at Danes Hill.
The school aims to foster in every pupil an awareness of the circumstances of others and a percipience of how they can play a part in alleviating their difficulties.
With this understanding comes perspective, compassion and maturity, and it is achieved in a variety of ways:
- Through the activities of the Charities Committee, the registered charity parent body the Friends of Danes Hill, and the teaching and guidance at the core of the PSHEE curriculum.
- In Year 7, pupils are able to take part in the Raven Award, one of the “pillars” of which is to devise goals that lead to taking more responsibility in the wider community.
- The school has close links with local schools and invites elderly care homes and the local community to the Nativity play and the annual Y7 production. It welcomes all local residents to its annual Fireworks Display and Christmas Fayre.
- Children are encouraged to help those in need in other countries and have been involved in supporting Kenyan, Angolan and Ghanaian children, as well as helping communities devastated by hurricanes or those in need of clean water and sanitation.
- In the past decade, Danes Hill has raised more than £200,000 for charity.
Educating the whole child
So, the secrets of Danes Hill’s outstanding success lie in its vision, its philosophy and its approach, all which meld with the school’s ethos of “educating the whole child”.
At Danes Hill, both teaching and learning encompass the holistic nature of the development of each child. Life at Danes Hill is dedicated to providing spiritual, moral, intellectual, emotional, physical and social education.
As Headmaster WD Murdock says: “At Danes Hill, we aim to take every child in our care on a most extraordinary journey, and one which can nurture and provide the skills and experience to last a lifetime.”
Visit Danes Hill and see the secrets in action. And see the difference it can make to your child.