Latymer Prep is an independent, co-educational preparatory day school for girls and boys aged 7 – 11 years old. Situated on the banks of the River Thames, along the Upper Mall, a sought-after location to live, Latymer Prep has become one of the most highly regarded independent preps in the area.
Latymer Prep is a ‘through school’ with Latymer Upper, one of the country’s leading co-educational schools for children aged 11-18 years old, located in Ravenscourt Park.
In our latest ‘Talking Heads’ interview, we spoke with Andrea Rutterford, Principal of Latymer Prep in Hammersmith, to learn more about the school, the admission process and opportunities available to the pupils.
ABOUT ANDREA RUTTERFORD
Andrea Rutterford was born in the North East of England, educated at a local comprehensive school and has a Degree in Education and a specialist diploma in Special Learning Difficulties.
Andrea became Principal of Latymer Prep in 2017.
ANDREA’S BACKGROUND IN TEACHING BEFORE LATYMER PREP
Andrea’s first position was at the co-ed school, Hornsby House, in SW London.
After qualifying as a Dyslexia Specialist, she taught all year groups in KS1. She said, “I loved teaching the children in the early year’s group. After several years I was keen for a new challenge and moved to Highgate School as a Form Tutor for a class of Year 5 boys.”
In Andrea’s second year working at Highgate school, the school became co-ed. She stayed for 10 years becoming Head of Humanities and Head of Year 5 during her time there.
When a new challenge beckoned to become Deputy Head, she moved to Devonshire House School, another co-ed school, in Hampstead. She said, “I loved being part of the senior team, responsible for bringing the strategic vision to life. It was this experience that cemented my readiness for Headship, and when the post came up at Latymer, I jumped at the opportunity to apply. On my first visit to Latymer Prep, I knew I belonged here, and the rest, as they say, is history.”
NUMBER OF PUPILS AND STAFF AT LATYMER PREP
Latymer Prep is a two-form entry from Years 3 – 6, with 22 pupils per class, making 176 in the School.
There are 19 members of teaching staff, 3 members of support staff, a School Counsellor and a School nurse at Latymer Prep.
Given that it is a small school, staff know all of the children and their families well.
DURING ANDREA’S HEADSHIP
When asked this question Andrea answered, “there are so many wonderful memories, I may have to write a book before I’m too old to remember!”
She mentioned “watching the children perform with such joy in their annual productions, seeing their enthusiasm bubble over as they follow their teachers into the playground to continue talking about something really exciting that just happened in a lesson, having the children regularly wandering into my office to tell me their news and/or to show me some of their work which they’re really proud – it’s these day to day interactions which mean so much and are some of my fondest moments.”
Transitioning to a ‘through School’
Andrea said “I am especially proud of the way we’ve transitioned to becoming a ‘through School’ with Latymer Upper School. We have become entwined with each other, not just physically, but in our connections with our colleagues and subject departments; through our relationships between our pupils and the older students in the Upper School; in our passion for bringing a forward-thinking, global education to our young people with their wellbeing at the heart of it. Bringing commonality to our shared values. I’m excited to be part of this next chapter at Latymer.”
Andrea mentioned that she is often overwhelmed with pride over the pupils’ engagement with charitable causes, often through their own initiative.
At the time of the interview, the Year 6 pupils were organising a bake sale to raise money for the victims of the Syrian Turkey Earthquake, which she was pleased to report was a huge success.
She recalled the whole community gathering together in response to humanitarian crisis in Ukraine to donate food, clothes, bedding, equipment and to raise thousands of pounds for the victims. She said “we welcomed Ukrainian children into both Latymer Upper and Latymer Prep School and everyone – the staff, the children and parents were so kind and considerate, making sure that these families who’d been through so much felt welcomed and safe and part of our community and we’re proud to have them with us today.”
She is proud of the passion the children have for environmental issues. Last year the Year 6 pupils, as part of DT Club, built and raced a fully ‘green car’ at Greenpower’s Goodwood Gathering of Goblins.
Andrea co-chair’s their Eco Committee in which they are aiming for a Green Flag Award this year. They’ve already been awarded a Gold Award in the STARS (Sustainable Travel: Active, Responsible, Safe) schools accreditation scheme run by TfL.
Reopening Latymer Prep after lockdown
Reopening the School after Covid lockdown was an incredibly special moment for Andrea.
She recalled: “whilst the staff were so dedicated at keeping the children virtually connected throughout the lockdown, bringing the whole school community – children, staff and parents, back together in person was a very emotional moment for us all. I will never forget that first morning, standing at the gate, welcoming our children back and seeing parents. One could not have imagined how powerful that feeling was to have the School being back in person again.”
Grow a Fiver initiative
One of Andrea’s favourite memories is their ‘Grow a Fiver’ initiative. The initiative required the children to become entrepreneurs for a week – creating their own small businesses, and selling goods and services to raise money for the Latymer Prep Bursary Appeal.
On the last day, they took the Latymer Prep children to the Upper School during their break time to sell the last of their goods. Andrea said “it was incredibly heart-warming to see Year 11 pupils queuing up to buy ‘Match Attax’ cards and Sixth Formers helping the children to sell their cupcakes! I am proud that our children are growing into responsible global citizens who care about the world beyond the School gates.”
SPORTS ON OFFER AT LATYMER PREP
Staff at Latymer Prep believe fitness and physical activity are central to a healthy lifestyle. They are committed to providing a curriculum that encourage well-being and good, healthy habits and inspire pupils to try something new.
Andrea said “we encourage them to learn about sportsmanship, endeavour and effort in an environment that encourages friendship and mutual respect and enables every pupil to shine. This sporting ethos defines and shapes everything we do through sport at Latymer and helps us to keep our momentum and balance in ensuring experiences through sport provide the right challenge, at the right time, for every pupil. “
There are five timetabled sports lessons: one for swimming, one for PE and three for Games. The PE and swimming lessons happen on-site in their state-of-the-art Sports Hall and Swimming complex, while the Games lessons are at the University of Westminster Grounds in Chiswick, a short coach ride away.
During PE lessons, pupils can try gymnastics, dance, basketball, mini tennis, badminton, goalball, climbing and athletics, as well as fun and modified games such as rob the nest, continuous cricket, diamond cricket, football cricket and rounders. Danish longball and bench ball are also available to help develop the pupils’ game understanding, awareness, coordination and balance.
For Games, they offer several team sports across the academic year: netball, hockey, rugby (tag and contact for older children), football, cricket and athletics.
Lessons are co-educational right from the beginning of Year 3, meaning that girls and boys play the sports together.
Every pupil is given an opportunity to represent the school at competitive fixtures throughout the school year. The school seeks to provide opportunities to engage all pupils through a diverse, challenging, multi-sport experience for all ages across all abilities, from complete beginners to performance level.
Andrea mentioned that “we want every child to feel that there is something for them – something that they can take part in, enjoy and get involved with – and that they develop a love of sport that lasts them their whole life through.”
Alongside the sports listed above, a wide variety of clubs and societies are on offer, including karate, dance, chess, fencing, tennis, rounders and gardening. Each pupil is encouraged to try new activities, be it one term or longer.
ART, MUSIC AND DRAMA
Latymer is well known for its outstanding performing arts provision. The annual Prep Art Exhibition has just taken place, where the children created works around the theme, ‘Breaking Barriers’, influenced by American artists who have overcome adversity in different ways.
They have informal music concerts for each year group in the Autumn term to get the children used to and confident about performing in front of each other and their parents. They then have Instrumental concerts and performances throughout the year, both at the School and at charity events.
Andrea said “we are very proud of our Latymer Singers – the only school choir invited to perform at the prestigious annual Nordoff Robbins Christmas Carol Concert.”
Each year, pupils perform in Year Group productions. “Our Year 3’s gave a magical performance of ‘Twas the Night before Christmas’ just before Christmas,” said Andrea, “and our Year 5s have just given a brilliant performance of ‘Shakespeare Rocks’.”
Andrea mentioned that “Year 4 are currently rehearsing for ‘Mystery at Magpie Manor’ and the final Year 6 leavers’ Summer Term performance, is always such a well-kept secret that not even I know what it is yet!”
LATYMER PREP CHARITABLE CAUSES
Latymer Prep School is committed to supporting local charities, including The Upper Room, the Children’s Book Project, and the Children’s Trust.
We asked Andrea to explain more about how Latymer Prep supports them and other charities in the local community.
“The Prep Charity Committee meets half termly to choose the charities that the Prep would like to support and to plan fundraising activities throughout the year for national events like Red Nose Day, Children in Need and Save the Children Christmas Jumper Day,” Andrea said.
“They also participate in book drives for the Children’s Book Project, perform in an annual concert in aid of the Children’s Trust supporting children with brain injury, and enter lots of teams in the annual Restless Development Triathlon, raising money to deliver health, education and employment skills to young people across Africa and Asia.”
The Latymer Uganda Project
When Latymer Prep became a ‘through school’ with Latymer Upper, as with other aspects, they decided to align their international charity fundraising.
They focus on supporting The Latymer Uganda Project, which was established in 2013 and supports M Lisada, The Mummy Foundation and Hidden Treasure Primary school in Kampala, as well as Soft Power Education, a forward-thinking charity based in Jinja.
Andrea said “The Latymer Uganda Project is a fantastic cause, of which Edward Latymer would be proud and it remains hugely popular with their pupils, staff, parents and alumni who fundraise tirelessly with non-uniform days and cake sales, sponsored cycle rides, concerts and lots more.”
The money fundraised is used to pay for the children’s school fees, school uniform, school trips, books, stationery, toilet rolls and brooms. “An essential item for any school child in Uganda!”, Andrea mentioned. “It is always lovely to receive their termly reports and read of their great progress in school.”
When the children are in Latymer Upper School students they are given the opportunity to go on a trip to Uganda, to see the impact these projects are having in their communities.
The Upper Room
Latymer Prep have just had their annual Food Appeal for The Upper Room supporting those who need it most in our local community. When discussing this Andrea said that “as in previous years, our families give so generously, and our Year 6s sort through it all and put packages together. They love to form a human chain from the Prep to the van outside which takes all the donations to the Upper Room’s storage facility.
Latymer Upper School and Prep also give their facilities over to the Upper Room for them to run fundraising events like their Quiz night.
We recently had an interview with CEO of The Upper Room, Iain Cooper to find out more about the charity, the work they do for the local community and how we can get involved and support.
LATYMER PREP OPEN DAY
The next Open Day is on Saturday 10th June 2023 for families whose children are now in Year 1 and are considering sitting the 7+ assessment for entry in September 2024. Booking is now open.
The visit will last around 90 minutes and includes a talk from Andrea, a tour of Latymer Prep’s facilities and an opportunity to chat with our Registrar, Mrs Lees, and other members of the Admissions team and the Prep School, over light refreshments. They will be able to answer any questions about the admissions process and discuss the next steps.
APPLICATION AND EXAMS
Children sit a 7+ exam which consists of three papers: English Comprehension (45 minutes), Creative Writing (35 minutes) and Mathematics (45 minutes).
Latymer Prep writes its own papers and shares exemplars once the registration process has been completed.
The comprehension paper is a combination of multiple choice and written answers; the writing paper is an expressive piece connected to the comprehension piece, and the mathematics paper incorporates topics covered at the top of KS1 and early KS2 curriculum and includes puzzles and problem-solving as well as number/shape/space/measure and time.
Those children who perform well in the academic papers will be invited back to the school for a shared activity session and group interview. No preparation is necessary or possible for this stage.
When the children are invited for an interview, Latymer Prep write to their current schools requesting a confidential reference. They recommend parents discuss their plans with the current schools in advance of the request being made.
Offers of places consider all the information gathered during the selection stages.
Each place is earned on merit, and due to academic selection. Latymer does not have a sibling policy.
Andrea said “we are very proud of our bursary programme which offers financial support for academically able children from modest backgrounds who, without financial assistance, would be unable to come to the school.”
Latymer Prep aims to provide two bursary awards for entry to the Prep in Year 3 each year. The bursary programme is supported and sustained by present and former Prep families who endorse their aim of widening access to a Latymer education by donating to the bursary fund. For example, just this week, children in the Prep are involved in a Swimathon raising funds for the Prep Bursary.
Parents wishing to apply for bursary support can indicate their interest when they register. They will be asked to complete a form providing details of their financial situation. This allows the school to determine the level of support available.
A family’s financial statement remains confidential to the Director of Finance. Historically, most bursaries have provided between 95% and 100% of annual fees. In addition, support is available for additional costs like school uniform and sports kit, lunches and trips and activities. Assuming satisfactory academic progress, just as expected of every Latymer pupil, the bursary support will continue through to A levels.
ETHOS OF SOCIAL INCLUSIVITY
The Latymer Foundation funds access to a Latymer education for those who qualify for a place at the Upper School or the Prep. It has a long history of promoting social mobility through education, going all the way back to the 17th century. As well as the extensive bursary provision, Latymer is well known and well regarded for the array of partnership programmes and activities, which reflect the school’s social ethos.
When discussing the other ways in which Latymer Prep maintains the ethos of social inclusivity Andrea said:
“Whilst holiday hunger and digital poverty predate the pandemic, sadly these issues have been exacerbated by the disruption to education and services resulting from the lockdown. Thankfully, due to the work done by the Latymer Foundation over the years and the incredible generosity of our community, when the pandemic hit, we were able to increase the number of bursaries across the whole School.”
1 in 5 Upper and Prep School pupils are here on a significant bursary (average award offers are for more than 80% fee remission) – that’s double what it was 10 years ago and we remain on course to make that 1 in 4 pupils by 2024 (the 400th anniversary of the Latymer Foundation). When we reach our target, that will make us one of the most socially inclusive, independent schools in the country.
Bursary applications are increasing, but the school are mindful that not every child can come to Latymer, and are focused on complementing their bursary programme with their partnership activity.
In a typical year, Latymer works with nearly 250 local schools (primary and secondary), charities and community groups and impacts around 2,500 local children. During the pandemic, they adapted activities, focusing support on what was most needed, co-designing programmes to best meet the immediate needs of partner schools: whether tackling digital poverty with donations for laptops; or opening their School as a hub, a safe place for children in the local area to come to eat and study.
Holiday camps with ‘Let Me Play’ and Hammersmith & City Council have been a huge success, and they are continuing with them as demand for places has doubled.
Through the camps, Andrea said ”we have been doing what we can to tackle the issue of ‘holiday hunger’ by running these activity camps for local children who’ve been most impacted by the lockdowns every half term and school break, where they get to have fun, eat and play healthy outdoor activities.”
Partner school and organisations
Pupils at partner schools and local organisations use the school’s world-class facilities.
At the weekends, the cacophony of sound coming from Triborough Music Hub’s students in the music rooms rebounds around the piazza; the swimming pool is available for every level of swimmers, from those new to the water to Olympians training for their next competition; local schools and community groups use the Wood Lane playing fields.
Last year, thanks to a donation from an alumnus, Robert Myers, they launched a new project, the inaugural Maths Challenge, which their keen student volunteers from Year 10 ensured was a great success. Andrea said that “they hope to repeat this year after year, as we have with our other programmes like Primary Debating, which now enters its fourteenth year and Saturday School which has been running since 1995.”
TRANSITION FROM LATYMER PREP TO LATYMER UPPER SCHOOL
Prep pupils automatically transition to the Upper School in Year 7 without the need to spend valuable learning time preparing for the 11+ entrance exam. Instead, staff focus on teaching across and beyond the curriculum, ensuring a deep and more educationally fulfilling final year at the Prep for their Year 6 pupils.
In the Summer Term, a large proportion of time is focussed on preparing the Year 6 pupils for the transition to Upper School. Form Tutors deliver a collaborative programme to pupils with well-being at the centre, and they work alongside Upper School colleagues to prepare pupils for the move to Year 7.
The Summer Term is a celebration of their time in the Prep School, with a host of activities such as the overseas residential trip to Spain, the Year 6 play and the leavers’ celebration assembly and afternoon tea with their families. Andrea said “it is such a joyful time for us as we prepare our children for life on the other side of the underpass!”
During their four years at the Prep, pupils fully engage in Latymer life, sharing school values and attitudes to learning, as well as world class sports and arts facilities. Each year the Prep provides Latymer Upper School with around 40 fantastic Latymerians who not only excel academically but also make a valued contribution to the whole school community in terms of sport, music, drama and leadership.
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