Tatler Schools Guide review

Pembridge is, ‘proof that you can be academically ambitious without being selective’

Happy 40th anniversary to everyone at Pembridge Hall. As well as hosting celebratory parties for the parents, staff, pupils and alumnae, Pembridge has launched a fund-raising campaign to increase the allocation of full-fee bursaries. This forward-thinking prep prides itself on its non-selective admissions process (there’s a monthly lottery that whittles down the five applicants per place). As ‘caring’ Head Henry Keighley-Elstub says, Pembridge is, ‘proof that you can be academically ambitious without being selective’. Come rain or shine, the girls let off steam in Pembridge Square gardens, and younger years enjoy either Forest School or Woodland Adventure days on Hampstead Heath.

 

The forward-thinking Head Henry Keighley-Elstub wants girls to ‘be resilient, take risks and, when things don’t necessarily go to plan, dust themselves off with a smile and try again’. The school, in the centre of Notting Hill, has an impressive bursary and scholarship fund and prides itself on being ‘proof you can be academically ambitious without being selective’. Pupils move on to choices such as St Mary’s Ascot and Wycombe Abbey. The U11s reached the IAPS netball finals last year, and pupils founded an origami club. Many of the girls’ brothers attend Wetherby Pre-Prep just down the road, adding to the familial feel.

We like Pembridge Hall’s Head Henry Keighley-Elstub enormously, as do his pupils. ‘He’s supportive and helpful – my daughters love him and I have a lot of respect for him,’ a mother tells us. And there’s no question that his school is as popular as ever. Send in your application form from the delivery suite: places are allocated by calendar month. Some girls hop off to Bute House at 7+ but most stay on until 11+. They’ve seen a marked increase in girls opting to go on to boarding schools in recent years, and their senior-school fair, in association with the GSA, was one of the best we’ve attended. Girls are encouraged to get stuck in on the cricket pitch and football field as well as the netball court.