We chat to Jamie Hornshaw, head of Berkhamsted Prep School in Hertfordshire
How long have you been at Berkhamsted Prep?
This is the start of my fifth academic year as headteacher at Berkhamsted Prep. Prior to this, I was head of the Junior School at the British School of Paris in France.
Tell us a bit about the school’s history.
Berkhamsted School was established in 1541 in the town of Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire. It amalgamated with Berkhamsted School for Girls in 1996, adding the respective Prep and Junior Schools in 1998. Historically the Christian Foundation derives from the founding of the school in 1541 by John Incent, Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is our patron, and visited in May 2016. The Prep School is co-educational and houses pupils in Years 3 to 6. In 2011, Berkhamsted School acquired Heatherton House (Girls Prep School, Amersham) and in 2012, Haresfoot School, which is now the campus for Berkhamsted Pre-Prep & Day Nursery.
What do you see as the school’s main strengths?
The buildings of Berkhamsted School form separate campuses in close proximity around the centre of a historic market town. This enables us to offer a small school feel within a larger infrastructure. The education offered by us is co-educational in the Pre-Prep and Prep Schools, with single-sex teaching in Years 7 to 11 for girls and boys, before returning to co-educational teaching in the Sixth Form.
The Prep School campus has excellent facilities for its pupils including two science classrooms, bespoke Art, Design Technology and Food Technology rooms, a light and spacious library as well as three Eton Fives courts, newly refurbished play areas and a large multi-purpose hall. Located across the road at the Girls’ campus is a 500-seat theatre, sports centre and six-lane indoor swimming pool which are used by Prep pupils on a weekly basis.
The curriculum is broad, making effective use of class and specialist teaching. In 2016-17 the school qualified for national finals in five different sports, becoming champions in Tennis and Eton Fives. There is also an excellent after-school activity programme with more than 50 clubs currently available. The school offers a wrap-around care facility to parents from 7.30am to 6.30pm; plus a variety of camps each school holiday to help support our working parents.
Why is Berkhamsted Prep an attractive option for London families?
Berkhamsted is a prosperous community surrounded by the Chiltern countryside, and is within easy reach of London Euston by train (approximately 35 minutes). The rare one-stop, 3-18 educational opportunity for families in this area is highly popular. Currently around 90% of Prep School pupils choose to move on to Berkhamsted Boys & Girls at Year 7 having completed the necessary entrance procedures.
What’s coming up this new school term?
We have completed the second phase of a new adventure play area which has been generously supported by the Prep Friends’ parent association. Additionally, the school has invested further in mobile devices to enable cross-curricular technology skills to be applied by the pupils and staff.
A new virtual learning platform is also being launched in the Lent term.