Tell us about Pastoral Care

The happiness, personal development and wellbeing of our pupils comes before all else and we have been recognised by TES and ‘The Week Independent Schools Guide’ for the high standard of our pastoral care. Experienced Form and Deputy Tutors, Heads of Year and Assistant Heads of Year offer comprehensive, tailored and nurturing support across every year group.

Pupils are cared for in a pastoral group of about 13 or 14 to ensure that the member of staff can get to know them well. Two pastoral groups make one form of around 27 pupils.

Excellent communication with parents, and within the staff body, is pivotal so students know there is always someone available to listen to them. Pupils see their tutor twice a day. Pupils in Years 8 & 9, 10 & 11 and in Years 12 & 13 usually have the same Form Tutor who is responsible for their care and welfare. They are alert to their different needs and personalities, ensuring every pupil can thrive.

Pupils entering Year 7 are allocated a buddy from a higher year and start off in form groups with peers who live near to each other, where possible, so that friendships can develop outside school and when travelling to and from school. We also have many events before the pupils join the school so that they will already know many of their form before the first day of term.

Pupils are encouraged to develop self-confidence and a sense of self and are valued members of a warm and democratic community. Every student has a Progress Mentor – usually their pastoral group leader, who they meet with frequently – to reflect on and plan their overall personal and academic development.

The Positive Schools Programme forms part of PSHE, teaching the skills and awareness to navigate the teenage years. This includes health, online safety, relationships, sex education and citizenship as well as study skills and careers planning.

Is the school open before and after school?

The Senior School Library is open from 7.30am until 5pm every school day. Some clubs also run before and after school.

What Computing and Coding do you offer?

Computer Science with an emphasis on computational thinking and problem-solving skills is embedded in the KS3 curriculum. Students are encouraged to think creatively about technology and its positive impact on the community through app design and cybersecurity competitions. At Year 7 they are also introduced to basic programming techniques to acquire problem solving strategies and practise their logical analysis and critical thinking abilities. The programming tasks grow in complexity through Year 8 and 9 to ensure that, by the time they choose GCSE optional subjects, the students have sufficient understanding of software development techniques to be equipped for the modern world.

All pupils are issued with their own iPads. To aid their research, collaboration and presentation of their learning, we also use Apple Pencils and the latest wireless technologies. Our new Innovation Centre offers a learning hub where students can explore the applications of AI and robotics. The school’s secure virtual learning environment means that girls have access to their school email and learning resources across campus and from home.

Do you set for any subjects?

Pupils in Year 7 are not set for any subject so they have an equal opportunity to develop regardless of material covered in their previous school, with plenty of opportunities for extra stretch and challenge.

In Years 8 and 9, pupils are set for Mathematics.

How big are class sizes?

Currently in Year 7 pupils are in forms of 27, split into pastoral groups of 13 or 14. Science and Maths are taught in smaller classes along with some other subjects.

The average GCSE class size is 16.

For the Sixth Form the average class size is 8.

Do pupils study all three sciences or are they combined?

Science is combined in Year 7.

In Year 8, our Natural Sciences tripos enables students to make connections between concepts in Biology, Chemistry and Physics, as well as developing the underpinning practical techniques and problem-solving skills necessary for success at GCSE.

In Year 9, all students begin the AQA GCSE curriculum in all three separate sciences.

What languages do pupils study?

In Year 7 pupils study either French or Spanish AND German or Mandarin – two hours per week in each.

Latin is introduced in Year 8 and pupils in Years 9, 10, and 12 may also join a GCSE course in Ancient Greek which runs outside of the timetable.

From Year 9, students continue their two modern foreign languages and choose a third option from Latin, ab initio Italian or ab initio Spanish. For GCSE, students choose at least one of the Modern Foreign Languages they have been studying (although they may choose more).

NB. In order to study French, German or Mandarin at GCSE and beyond, you MUST have studied these languages during Years 7, 8 and 9. These languages cannot therefore be started after Year 7, whereas Italian and Spanish can be started in Year 9.

What provision do you have for bilingual students?

We have a programme for speakers of French, German, Spanish, Italian or Mandarin.

In Years 7, 8 and 9, bilingual pupils do not attend normal lessons in the relevant language, instead receiving tuition from a native speaker within their timetable.

In Year 10 tuition continues outside of the timetable so that this extra GCSE can be sat a year early, at the end of Year 10.

How much homework should pupils expect?

In Year 7, pupils are given a maximum of four subject homeworks each evening. Each is expected to take around 20 minutes. Not all homework will be expected the following morning and teachers may give homework to be completed over several weeks. We also encourage pupils to take advantage of the rich extra- and co-curricular opportunities on offer.

What about Music at Putney?

Music is a classroom subject for all students in Years 7 to 9, with an emphasis on practical music-making. It is a popular GCSE choice and every year students taking Music A Level go on to study at leading universities and conservatoires. Classes for theory and aural in preparation for music exams are always on offer. There are three orchestras, a jazz band, brass group, wind band, five choirs, a parents’ choir, a host of a cappella groups, as well as a thriving chamber music scene. Popular music groups are actively encouraged and equally participate in school events. Over 350 instrumental and vocal lessons are taught in school each week, with a visiting specialist staff of over 30. Approximately ten students also study at Junior Conservatoires and others are members of regionally and nationally auditioned choirs and orchestras. The Chamber Choir embarks on a foreign tour in alternate years, and every year all Year 7 pupils are involved in a Freshers’ concert, all Year 9 pupils perform a musical, and GCSE and A-level students give performance concerts.

There are also many joint events with the drama department, including a fully staged musical occurring every February. Each term various concerts and recitals, featuring all styles of music, take place both in school and beyond. The Carol Competition in the Autumn term, the Putney Young Musician of the Year Competition in the Spring term and the Arts Festival in the Summer term are notable highlights of the year.

When do students have Music lessons – do they have to miss other lessons or is it during break times?

Lessons are 40 minutes long and are available for the full range of instruments, including drums and voice.

In Years 7–9, these are scheduled on a rota basis throughout the day (7:30am to 5.30pm) to ensure that part of the same lesson is never missed frequently.

In Years 10–13, Music lessons do not clash with any academic classes. There are special arrangements for students taking two or more sets of lessons.

What sports do pupils play?

Pupils in Years 7 to 9 have lessons in netball, lacrosse, trampolining, table-tennis, gymnastics, cricket, volleyball, badminton, dance, tennis, football and athletics. These are all supported by co-curricular clubs throughout the year.

Pupils can join the rowing club in Year 8 with rowing becoming a curriculum sport from Year 9.

In Years 10 and 11, PE options include dance fit, self-defence, strength and conditioning, yoga and spinning sessions.

The Sixth Form Centre has its own Fitness Suite. The school has achieved particular success in lacrosse, rowing, tennis, gymnastics, cross country, athletics and netball.

Tennis coaching is available during PE lessons or at lunchtime.

Do pupils have swimming lessons?

Not currently.

Where do pupils play sport?

We have a large sports hall with recently installed cricket nets, tennis and netball courts on-site. A new Fitness and Conditioning Suite is also available on-site as is an Astro sports pitch for lacrosse and athletics.

Off-site Lacrosse lessons and matches take place at our home ground, Wimbledon Rugby Football Club, which is a ten-minute coach ride away.

We also use Roehampton Playing Fields, Wimbledon Athletics Track and Wimbledon Cricket Club.

We have our own boathouse on Putney Embankment and the school has membership of the Barn Elms Rowing Club.

Do you offer scholarships and/or bursaries?

At 11+, all applicants are automatically considered for an Academic scholarship. Music and Sports scholarships are also available.

At Sixth Form, current pupils are eligible to apply for an additional Academic Travel scholarship in Languages or Science to conduct a university-level research project overseas. For internal and external students at 16+, Academic, Art, Design, Drama, Music and Sports scholarships are available.

We are keen to offer the opportunity of a Putney education to applicants regardless of their family’s financial circumstances and offer a number of means-tested bursaries. An award can be up to 100 per cent of school fees dependent on individual circumstances, with joint household income and assets taken into account.

Do you have a House system?

There are four Houses: Beryl Burton, Kathleen Ferrier, Audrey Hepburn and Freya Stark. We hold regular House assemblies where students make friendships across year groups through regular House competitions in sport, drama and debating.

Is there a school bus service?

A school bus service for Junior and Senior pupils operates to and from school.

We currently have four bus routes in operation: Kensington via Hammersmith and Fulham; Richmond via Barnes, East Sheen and Mortlake; Raynes Park/Wimbledon via Southfields; and Sloane Square via Chelsea and Fulham.

We are also well-served by public transport.

What trips do you offer for Year 7?

Year 7 take part in a team building activity early in the school year, as well as trips to support the subject curriculum. There is a week ‘off timetable’ for trips and workshops in the summer term and the option of participating in residential team-building trips from Year 8.

What extension activities do you offer?

Everything from History Society and Coding Club to Debating Society, Scrabble and Medical Society. In a typical year, there are trips to Iceland, Costa Rica, New York and Berlin, to name a few (travel restrictions allowing). The Putney Ideas Exchange (PIE) gives students the chance to listen to and ask questions of inspirational speakers, from eminent scientists to entrepreneurs and artists.

What Careers and University guidance do you offer?

Our award-winning Careers Programme offers support on subject options, work experience and career paths, as well as helping to develop real-world skills for the future. There is an annual careers week, a biennial Careers Fair and careers talks with alumnae, business experts and leading entrepreneurs.

Dedicated Oxbridge and US University specialists work in-house to guide and support students through their applications.

Alumnae lunches link students with current and recent Putney undergraduates, giving them insight into university life.

What are your students’ most recent destinations?

School’s class of 2022 have gone on to study at top universities in the UK and around the world. Among them are a research fellow heading to Columbia University, USA; international ice skater, sailor and diver, and a host of medics, scientists, linguists and other scholars reading subjects from Neuroscience with a Modern Language to Law with Criminology.

Students are heading to Oxford and Cambridge on courses from Human, Social & Political Sciences, to English and History; whilst medics are off to universities including UCL, Edinburgh, Queen Mary’s and Newcastle.

Five students are off to the USA: one on a Research Scholarship to Columbia University, two on athletic scholarships to Duke and Richmond Universities, with others to Pennsylvania and Fordham. Offers were also received from Caltech and Johns Hopkins.

One student earned a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, another is heading to the prestigious Oxford School of Drama (whose alumnae include Claire Foy) with other students embarking on creative courses including Art Foundation at Kingston University and City and Guilds of London Art School.

Tell us about the new Athena Centre

Our new Athena Centre for Science, Music, Drama and Debating is now open, providing state-of-the-art teaching, learning and performance spaces including cutting edge science labs, acoustically engineered music rooms, a debating forum and ‘fringe feel’ drama studio.

Do you accept applications from international students?

Whilst we welcome applications from pupils that are overseas at the time of applying, they must have a permanent status in the UK when they join Putney High School. Putney High School is a day school, therefore we are unable to offer boarding arrangements and applicants must have a parent, education guardian or legal guardian living within a reasonable distance of the school with whom they can reside.

In order to cope with the high academic and social demands of the school, applicants must be fluent English speakers (we have a programme to support bilingual students who are speakers of French, German, Spanish or Mandarin). It would help if the applicant is already following the British curriculum, however, this is not a prerequisite.

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