Frequently Asked Questions

What are your GCSE results?

The GCSE grading has changed in most subjects from a scale of A*, A , B, C,.. to numerical grades 9-1 with 9 as the highest and 7 as equivalent to an A.

HCH topped both the league table of small independent schools and the table of all independent schools in the Independent Schools Association with its proportion of A*-A/9-7 grades at GCSE in 2018.

Although the percentage of A*-C grades is usually the headline figure in the state sector, higher standards are expected in the independent sector, so the percentage of A*-A is much more interesting. 85% of grades awarded at GCSE were A*-A/9-7 last year at HCH, nearly four times the national average of circa 22%.

The full report to parents is available here.

What are your class sizes?

Early Years
In the Early years, children are taught as one group with a form tutor and assistant. There is a maximum of 16 children in Nursery class and 18 children in Reception class. With a ratio of 1 teacher to every 8 or 9 pupils children settle into their school routine and teachers are able to work with individual families more effectively.

Lower Years
Class sizes remain at 18 until the end of Year 4, the last year of the Lower Years and our immersive bilingual programme. In Year 1, children will have a native French speaking form tutor and a classroom assistant. From Years 1 to 4 children will be taught by their form tutor or another subject specialist teacher as a group of 18.

Middle Years
In /year 5, pupils progress into the middle years of the school and there is a maximum class size of 20 to 25 in Years 5 and 6. Years 5 and 6 are sometimes split for lessons. From year 7 to Year 9 there is a maximum of 28 in a year group but the students are split into two groups for most of their lessons.

Upper Years
In years 10 and 11 students are split into their GCSE subject groups and come together as a year group for lifeskills and sports.

Sixth Form
In Years 12 and 13 students are split into groups for their A level subjects and come together as a year group for lifeskills.

Is HCH a ‘hot house’?

We do not aim to ‘pressure cook’ children. The world is filled with joy and wonder, and the potential for limitless exploration and learning. Learning is one of the most natural and fulfilling human experiences. The Latin root of the word education, educare means ‘to lead out’, and our goal is to lead students through the discoveries and thoughts of those who came before us and to enthuse them with a lifelong love of learning and thought that will carry them through whatever changes and challenges life brings.

Why is it bilingual from Reception – Year 4?

In the Early Years, the children are exposed to lots of different experiences including instruction in different languages, (Spanish as well as French).

The bilingual programme starts properly in Year 1, with the subject based curriculum. The children have a French form tutor and lessons taught in French including mathematics, humanities and drama. Other lessons are taught in English including sport, science, art and music.

The bilingual programme ends at the end of Year 4 when they enter the Middle Years. In the Middle Years the children take on more subjects including the analytical study of language through the introduction of Latin, alongside a new modern foreign language: Mandarin. The instruction from Year 5 upwards is in English by subject specialists, many of whom teach right up to A level.

At this stage the children are rapidly beginning to think more like adults; their expectation about their understanding is increasing and they are becoming more self-conscious. This makes a bilingual programme less practical for new students going into Year 5 or above, and for those who have come through the school, the goal will have already been achieved; at the end of Year 4 the children are functionally bilingual and speak French with ease.

Reading, writing and mathematical skills are taught systematically from Nursery onwards and, by the end of Year 2 and Year 6, standards are very high. From Years 1 to 4, the bilingual curriculum is constructed around a mix of lessons taught in French and in English that successfully builds pupils’ competence in both languages and their knowledge and skills across all subject areas. Secure foundations are laid in the primary department to develop pupils’ reading and writing skills, with a deliberate emphasis on grammar, spelling, comprehension and the acquisition of a broad vocabulary.
—Ofsted Report 2013

Bilingual lessons – how does this work if my child does not speak French?

Young children have a natural facility for learning languages. They deduce the meaning of words from the context without consciously thinking about it. They do this all the time to learn their mother tongue. They do not learn English at home because they are being directly taught it, but rather because they want to communicate about something.

In fact we also do this as adults too, just not quite as well. It is a commonly quoted fact that 93% of communication is non-verbal, but we find that hard to truly accept. As adults that missing 7% matters a great deal to us; it undermines our confidence as our expectation of understanding is higher. Children have a lower expectation as they are constantly surrounded by experiences that they don’t yet fully understand and ask questions freely in order to learn.

The process is done without pressure. The explanations and questions are posed in French but the children can answer in English if that comes more naturally. As the children’s fluency increases it becomes more natural for them to answer in French. This process of content integrated language teaching takes the pressure off the language learning, which is and should be a natural process, and focuses on the content of the subject in hand. As a result the language flows fluently and the students’ understanding is deepened by applying their knowledge in context.

Does having half the lessons taught in French affect the children’s progress in English?

Not at all. The children make rapid progress in both languages and an understanding of one language complements the other.

From the Nursery to Year 4, pupils develop excellent speaking, reading and writing skills in both English and French, owing to the bilingual curriculum and the expert support of multilingual staff.
—Ofsted Report 2013

What other languages are taught?

In addition to French, we teach Latin from Year 5 to underpin the grammatical and analytical understanding of English and French. Latin is also a superb language to study in its own right, second only to mathematics for improving analytical reasoning. We also teach Mandarin to all students from Year 5 to Year 9. Mandarin brings with it a fundamentally different way of viewing language and our students do extremely well in this subject as they have very high expectations for themselves about what it means to learn a language.

Spanish is an option from Year 9 upwards. A good background in French and Latin gives the student an excellent base from which to learn Spanish and other romance languages.

What is your approach to discipline?

We are not keen on the words ‘discipline’ or ‘rules’, and focus instead on values and behaviour. Everybody makes mistakes and when a pupil does behave badly the efforts are focussed not on punishing them for breaking the rules, but rather on ensuring the pupil understands why the behaviour was wrong, what they could do to put things right and what they would do differently in the future.

Pupils’ behaviour and personal development are outstanding. This is the result of extremely well planned and well-coordinated whole-school strategies aimed at creating a nurturing ethos that places pupils’ emotional well-being at the centre of pastoral care. The staff create an orderly, yet relaxed, learning environment based on mutual respect in which pupils are treated as unique individuals and can flourish. Pupils are expected to regulate their own behaviour to conform to the school’s code of conduct. They value the sense of freedom this gives them and develop high levels of self-discipline and a strong sense of personal and social responsibility. Their behaviour is exemplary in and out of lessons. They combine high levels of attention and cooperation with a lively approach to learning, often buzzing with excitement.
—Ofsted Report 2013

What about bullying and cyber-bulling, do you take it seriously?

Of course we do, anything the students take seriously we take seriously. Children do occasionally fall out and say mean things to each other. The most important thing to do is to nip it in the bud and to do this relies on open dialogue between children, teachers and parents.

Pupils know what constitutes bullying and feel free from harassment. They are taught to keep safe when using computers and other types of information and communication technology and are proud to be trusted to ‘do the right thing’.
—Ofsted Report 2013

What facilities are there for sport?

We have 8 acres of grounds which are used freely by the students. The grounds include a multi-purpose hard court for netball and tennis, and a turfed football pitch and athletics track at the back.

Children in Nursery to Year 4 use the swimming pool at Imber Court.

Why is there no uniform?

We do not have a school uniform because we believe that learning to dress appropriately is an essential part of a well-rounded education. We hope that our children will develop a sense of style that suits them and suits their environment, and prepares them well for professional life. To that end we have a dress code which we believe sets an appropriate tone without being too prescriptive. We expect students to stick to the spirit rather than the letter of the ‘rules’.

Is there a parents’ association?

There are two parents’ associations: ‘The Friends’ which is open to all parents, and ‘Little Friends’ which is a smaller organisation aimed at the parents of younger children (Nursery to Year 4).

Is there a minibus service?

Yes there are several routes and these are reviewed annually depending on demand.
Click here for our current routes.

What are the termly fees?

Our termly tuition fees and other costs are available here.

Do you have waiting lists?

Yes, for entry into Nursery or Year 7. Entry at other points depends on the availability of spaces.

What is the entrance procedure? What do I do next?

If you haven’t already visited the school, you really should arrange to do so. Schooling is a very important decision and you have to know the place feels right for you and your children.

Once you have decided that Hampton Court House is the right place to apply you need to complete the registration form that is included in the prospectus or can be downloaded from the school website. For entry into the Early or Lower Years, the registrar will then arrange a trial morning for your children and a meeting with the Headmaster for the family. For entry into Year 5 and above, the children will need to do assessments in maths and English and an interview with the Headmaster will be scheduled after these exams (unless for immediate entry).

What languages are you using for coding?

We start coding in Year 5 – using Scratch (a graphical programming environment). We then move onto Python (a text-based programming language) in Year 7, and HTML/CSS in Year 8. Students also have the opportunity to be exposed to other programming languages such as Javascript and C through the programming club which will take place at lunchtimes starting after half term.