A world-class education at Prince’s Gardens
Its unique location in central London means that pupils at Prince's Gardens Prep School will have an outward-looking global mindset, writes Claudia Dudman
This article originally appeared in the Autumn edition of Little London Magazine.
Standing proudly in Prince’s Gardens in the heart of Kensington, SW7, are four white stucco townhouses that will open as central London’s newest school Prince’s Gardens Prep in September 2020. These impressive Victorian Grade II listed buildings stretch over five floors and will, after extensive renovation, make up the school premises situated just off the academic hub of Imperial College.
Walk five minutes from the school’s front door – Headmistress Alison Melrose has even timed it – and you’ll find yourself in Exhibition Road, which takes its name from The Great Exhibition of 1851. Held in Hyde Park, it was the first of its kind to display the magnificence of British manufacturing post industrial revolution.
Today, this half-mile stretch of “shared space” – which means that pupils can walk along it blissfully free of traffic, bar the odd Black Cab or two – is home to some of London’s most striking and world-renowned galleries, museums and academic institutions. From the Victoria & Albert to the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, Royal Albert Hall and Imperial College, these are first-class resources that less centrally located schools simply cannot access, and which provide stimuli for inspiring independent, creative and collaborative learning projects that bring together science, technology, engineering, the arts and maths.
Prince’s Gardens Prep, a co-educational preparatory school for pupils aged three-11, will benefit from all that London has to offer on its doorstep, giving its pupils an outwardlooking global perspective: an outlook that is crucial in a world that has so many challenges.
Many of the careers that we know today will disappear thanks to artificial intelligence and a fast moving, changing jobs market, and many will be created in industries that don’t yet exist. It’s this sense of impermanence, and of uncertainty, which means that today’s children must be prepared for the world of tomorrow. “We want our pupils to develop the skills they need to thrive in every situation,” says Headmistress Alison Melrose. “A great education prepares children for the world. It gives them the options and choices, not just for immediate next steps, but for life. Quite simply, our pupils will be prepared for everything,” she adds.
So how will this all work?
Samantha Gibbon, Deputy Head, says that highly focused weekly visits to the nearby attractions on Exhibition Road will allow pupils from nursery to Year 6 to relate their classroom learning to the world around them.
For example, a Year 6 visit to study the Supermarine Seaplane S.6B at the Science Museum looks at the racing seaplane that in 1931 became the fastest vehicle on the planet. Its ability to take off and land on water presents a fascinating concept for pupils to explore key concepts.
Back in the classroom, pupils learn about gravity and air resistance.
Huge windows that maximise the natural light, high ceilings, original cornicing and ceiling roses, complete with grand sweeping staircases. In short, beautiful surroundings in which pupils begin their educational journey. These may well seem like an echo of the past but they belie the modern and unique learning spaces that have been specifically designed for pupils of the 21st century.
There are state-of-the-art science labs, creatively devised music and art studios where teachers will deliver inspiring lessons. There’s a Maker Space, a cutting-edge learning zone where pupils can develop creative projects using both the latest and traditional technologies; the Innovation Lab is the ICT suite of the future. Here pupils will be able to use the latest augmented reality technology so that children can go anywhere in the world, and the Library will be a quiet yet exciting place for pupils to develop a lifelong love of literature across many types of media.
And just because the school sits right in the middle of this hive of creative and academic activity doesn’t mean it compromises on sport and green spaces. On the timetable are lessons in football, rugby, cricket and netball to be held in Hyde Park, and where match fixtures against Eaton House and Gems Hampshire will take place.
Next door to the school, pupils can take advantage of Ethos, Imperial College’s sports facilities which house a pristine 25-metre swimming pool and several sports halls. And of course, there is the garden where pupils can play or enjoy a lesson sitting among mature trees and rose bushes – and all under the gaze of the majestic Royal Albert Hall in the near distance.