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The Good Schools Guide

Review of Lord Wandsworth College

What The Good Schools Guide says:

The ones who showed us round were a real pleasure to be with. Lots of hearty folk, but you don't need to be robust to flourish: we heard several parental stories of shy kids, or loners even, the ones who 'always end up at the bottom of the rugby scrum', who have been picked up by the school, set challenges, helped to make friends and generally brought out of ...

Headmaster

Since September 2015, Adam Williams (40s). Born Down Under, he went to Bradfield then Durham University. Previous job was deputy head of Glasgow Academy; has also been head of geography at Bradfield and Oakham. A neat man with an open face and the hint of a twinkle, he honed impressive cricketing and golfing skills, making it into national teams at schoolboy and university level. Out of school, he still keeps his skills up to scratch, preferably on some windswept Scottish course more easily reached from his last job. His Australian start may have led to his love of travel and he rather endearingly admits to having used his geography classes as an excuse to bring out the holiday snaps. Feeling that his first task on taking over was to thoroughly understand the school staff from groundsmen to departmental heads, he shed the suit and successfully donned the overalls. He was also pretty sharp over his pupil homework: one Ieaver last year was 'bowled over that he knew my name the first time he met me'. Described as an 'absolute legend' (a term more usually handed to brilliant steeplechasers), he plans to set this down-to-earth, country school firmly in the educational firmament, an approach that is steadily gaining appeal with local parents and is endorsed by his regular, witty, self-deprecating letters about life as a headmaster.

Married to Karen, a busy medic who tries hard to be on tap as much as possible; three children -the eldest offspring is soon to join LWC.

Academic Matters

They work hard at the three Rs and it clearly pays off with GCSE results (46 percent A*/ A) ranking in the top 250 on the Guardian independent schools list in 2016. The results at A level were also solid but not stellar by independent school standards, 35 per cent A*-A and 60 per cent A*-B. However, bright children feel sufficiently stretched: for some Oxbridge is a definite possibility not a dream and the remainder speak confidently about reaching the next step, whatever it may be. The 60:40 boy:girl split may partly account for maths and science having tended to be the school's forte, and the new building for the former backs up the quality of the teaching. One sixth former said he was so well taught that he'd moved from a doubtful pass at GCSE to a predicted A * at A level. A concerted move to change this bias is in progress and parents report that arts-orientated children are flou rishing.

All pupils take one or two languages at GCSE and a new outing to France takes place 'pour encourager les autres'. Latin is compulsory for the first two years and either this or classical civilisation is taken by 35 per cent at GCSE. Language numbers at A level are quite small (19 last year) but in a French oral class a valiant attempt to explain why the French are so French was being combined with politics in the shape of Marine Le Pen.

Screening for dyslexia takes place in the first and third years and again in the lower sixth. All teachers are aware if there is a problem and the nine per cent who need it have weekly one-to-one sessions. Strong encouragement to hand in original work and not to succumb to the temptation of Wikipedia is given to pupils and parents. There is also a popular tutorial system ('they become friends when you're in the sixth form and even stay friends after you've left'). Across the board, the staff training budget has been doubled and the slight tendency to have brilliant sportsmen/women who can teach a bit is being reversed by sourcing teachers who are also sporty.

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