Durston House and Harvington Prep School to merge in 2023

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Durston House & Harvington Preparatory School to merge in September 2023

In April 2022 we announced that Durston House and Harvington Preparatory School in Ealing are to merge, creating a new and exceptional co-educational offer for West London families.

As close neighbours, the schools already share deep roots within the local community, and have in common a time-honoured commitment to delivering a high quality, holistic and values-led education that has provided generations of pupils with the foundations for future success.  Harvington Prep will join the Durston House family, to strengthen these ties and cement community links in a school that will continue to offer the highest standards of pastoral care, excellent academic preparation, and support each child to achieve their best and gain entry to their senior school of choice – including top schools in London beyond.

Led by Durston House Head Giles Entwisle, the two schools will operate independently – with some sharing of facilities – until September 2023, when they will merge fully as a single, co-educational school.

“It will be an honour to lead these two outstanding schools into the future, as we build on our successes and come together to offer pupils a rich, outward-looking, co-educational experience founded on diversity, inclusion and respect. “We have an exciting opportunity to develop a premier academically rigorous co-educational school in Ealing, where pupils will be offered every opportunity to thrive in a caring, enriching and aspirational setting – regardless of their ethnicity, gender or faith”.

Giles Entwisle, Headmaster

FAQs

  • What are the plans for the new school?

    Our vision is to build on our shared heritage to develop a premier, academic co-educational school serving all children, regardless of their ethnicity, gender or faith. Our new school will be a happy and academically ambitious environment where girls and boys are happy and nurtured to achieve their best and benefit from a rich, outward-looking, co-educational experience, founded on equality, diversity, inclusion and respect. The co-educational school in September 2023 will be called Durston House.

  • Who will lead the new school in 2023?

    Giles Entwisle, Head of Durston House, will be the Head of the new school from September 2023, and lead both schools during this transition period. Mr Entwisle is an experienced leader, who was previously Head of Bede’s Prep School, a thriving co-educational prep school in Sussex; and before that, Deputy Head of Highfield School, another successful co-educational prep school in Hampshire.
    From September 2023, the combined school will have a combined SMT and single governing body, with representatives from both Durston House and Harvington Prep. Governors of both schools are committed to ensuring the strongest possible leadership and over the coming months we will evaluate what is needed, defining the essence of the school and its future requirements.

  • What will the school’s ethos be?

    Our schools have each built strong reputations for delivering a high quality, holistic and values-led education. We respect the history of the schools and we remain committed to these values. However, as the new school grows and develops, through sharing of ideas and approaches, new traditions will evolve to mark this next chapter in its history. There is an exciting future ahead for pupils who will be members of a school founded on equality, diversity, inclusion and respect, whilst maintaining the unswerving commitment to excellent academic performance for all pupils.

  • Why co-ed?

    Many schools, and their communities, are attracted to the benefits of co-education and there is a growing trend towards this in the independent sector, particularly at the preparatory stage. Both schools pride themselves on offering a diverse and inclusive education – that we can now strengthen, by educating boys and girls together. In the new school from September 2023, pupils will see both their male and female peers excelling academically across a variety of subjects, and understand that no one gender is better at a subject than the other. They will grow to respect and appreciate the opinions and attributes of both genders, understanding that even though they may not be the same, they are still equal. They will have the opportunity to work in mixed-gender groups in the classroom, and same-sex groups during sports and other activities. This varied experience means that both female and male perspectives are constantly explored and the varied modes of communication amongst the genders are better understood. We believe this will help give our pupils the rounded experience and preparation they will need to form positive relationships in later life and to become a force for good in the world.

  • Why have the schools decided to merge?

    As close neighbours, the schools already share deep roots, similar values and ethos. Becoming one school, within the Durston House family, offers an exciting opportunity to strengthen these ties and come together to provide an exceptional educational offer to the families of West London.

    As a distinct and independent co-educational prep school, we will continue to enjoy the freedom to make decisions in the best interests of our pupils; while retaining the small-school, close-knit and family character our communities prize.

  • How will this benefit my child?

    We believe the new co-educational school will give pupils a richer, outward-looking educational experience that is founded on equality, diversity, inclusion and respect. Under Mr Entwisle’s leadership, a working party of experienced staff, drawn from across both schools, has already begun to develop detailed plans, considering every aspect of the pastoral, academic and wider opportunities the move presents. Pupils will be firmly at the heart of these plans.

    As is the case now, the new school will offer girls and boys every opportunity to thrive in a caring, enriching and aspirational setting. We will continue to deliver excellent preparation to support each child achieve their best and aim for entry to their senior school of choice in London and beyond.

    As ‘one school’, pupils, parents and staff will have many opportunities to benefit from new investment, shared knowledge, and greater access to expertise and facilities; backed by a dynamic, energised and highly experienced combined senior management team and governing body.

  • How will this benefit staff?

    We feel incredibly fortunate to be now leading a combined staff body with such broad experience. We are excited about the opportunities for staff to continue to learn, develop and further their careers within a larger team of professionals. Staff will have the opportunity to work within a co-educational environment, a greater sharing of expertise and resources and input into curriculum development for the school in September 2023.

  • When will the merger happen?

    We are extremely excited to welcome Harvington Prep to the Durston House family. The formal transition was completed over the Easter holiday, but this is something the two schools have been discussing and planning for some time. While the schools will operate independently until September 2023, we will come together to share expertise and facilities more quickly where this will benefit pupils. Our joint working party is looking at every aspect of the merger, to support the transition and get us ready for September 2023, when Harvington Prep will fully join the Durston House family, as we become a co-educational prep school.

  • Who are the key people preparing for the change?

    Between now and September 2023, our transition working party will consist of governors and senior leaders of both schools who will consult widely and will steer the development of our plans.

  • During transition how will you mitigate any potential disruption to teaching and/or impact on staff and pupils?

    To clarify, the majority of the transition work will be completed behind the scenes through the working party and governing body. Pupils will not notice that it is taking place and should not see any impact to their day to day experience at school. Any structural or building works will be scheduled to take place during school holidays, ready for the pupils when they return to school.

  • How will the schools operate until 2023?

    Until September 2023, the schools will operate independently, and pupils’ day-to-day educational experience will continue largely as now – though as you would expect, we are excited to begin making the most of our shared facilities and expertise, and where there are opportunities to enhance the children’s education, we will introduce them immediately. Importantly though, the quality of pastoral care, and academic teaching and learning will continue, and be enhanced through new, shared opportunities.

  • Who will lead the schools until 2023?

    Giles Entwisle, Head of Durston House, will lead the two schools during the transition period up to September 2023, supported by each school’s senior management team. The senior management teams at both Harvington Prep and Durston House will report to Mr Entwisle.

    The Durston House Board of Governors will remain in place governing Durston, with the addition of Mr Manjeet Mudan and Mr Philippe Carpentier, from the outgoing Harvington board of governors who will also be joining the Durston House Board. The Harvington Board will be made up of Andrew Armstrong and Julia Honigsberger, two current Durston governors. They will be joined by Ros Reece, who has previously served as a governor for both schools. We believe this will give a range of experience and knowledge of the schools across both boards, and provide strength of leadership to steer through this change.

  • How will the schools share facilities & expertise?

    Both schools offer excellent and complementary facilities, and first-rate teaching and learning expertise. We are excited about how we can begin sharing these to maximise pupils’ educational experience.
    For example, Durston pupils will benefit from Harvington’s performing arts, drama and dance provision; as well as access to specially equipped onsite playground. From September 2023, there will be opportunities for Durston’s existing lunch offer to be enhanced through use of Harvington’s purpose-built, in-house kitchen.

    Harvington pupils will be able to enjoy an outstanding sports offer, playing fields, games coaching, specialist subject facilities, as well as the experience of joining a larger community of children with whom they can enjoy their prep years.

    Durston House has an excellent reputation for academic teaching and learning, and for supporting pupils to aim for the very best senior schools; this will be enhanced through the new, shared opportunities the merger presents, and embedded across our new school in the future.

    Over the coming months, the working party and governing bodies will be exploring the best way to develop, reconfigure and refurbish our joint estate for the future, with significant capital investment available to enhance the teaching and learning environments for all pupils.

    It should be stated from the outset that both groups of pupils will continue to receive a stimulating, enriching and nurturing preparation, to support their application to their senior school of choice – including the top academic schools in London and beyond.

    We have already begun looking at opportunities for pupils to meet with each other during the course of next year in order to smooth the integration of boys and girls into the new school. Where it is in the best interest of pupils we are able to share staff expertise and one of the facilities we are able to make use of is Castlebar fields.

  • Do you still plan to build a new school at Castlebar?

    It remains our ambition in due course to pursue planning permission to allow for the consolidation for our current buildings into a new school on Castlebar Playing Fields. While our planning application was supported by the Planning Committee at Ealing Council in January 2020, regrettably the GLA declined the application later in the year. Undaunted by this, the school continues to explore how best to achieve its ambition for the new school and revised plans are in development.

  • Will there be any changes to the current curriculum? How and when will these changes be implemented?

    Yes, but not immediately and not without consultation from various stakeholders including staff and consulting with parents where appropriate. This is such an exciting opportunity for us to conduct a thorough review of the curriculum including the subjects that are taught to ensure it is fit for purpose for a forward thinking, co-educational prep school in the 21st century. These changes will not happen overnight and not without consultation. As and when we have developments, particularly as part of our engagement exercise with RSAcademics which begins after half term we will share regular updates on any developments.

  • What are the expected class sizes of each year group and composition/ratio of girls to boys both on day 1 and going forwards for the new school?

    Class sizes are to remain as they are with a maximum of 16 pupils per class. Our new school will have a total capacity of 400-420 pupils. As we begin taking girls in to Reception the ratio of girls to boys will inevitably evolve towards what we hope will be an even split by 2027.

  • How big will the new school be?

    We know our communities really value being part of a family school and a central aim of our strategic plan will be to have around 400-420 pupils enrolled in the new school; this is a similar number of pupils currently on roll at the two schools. Through our planned growth and supporting investment we aim to ensure that every year group/class has an appropriate number of pupils to facilitate excellent teaching and learning in a co-educational setting. Nurturing and supporting every pupil will remain important to us, whilst ensuring that the school is large enough to provide optimal choices of activities and pupil numbers to enable the investment in infrastructure, resources and staff.

  • Will the school’s charitable statuses change?

    The merged school will continue to hold charitable status (albeit as one entity). We are now beginning the process of this change with the Charity Commission.

  • Why weren’t we consulted?

    We are sharing this news with you at the earliest practical time. The governors of both schools, as the trustees of the charities, made this decision together following a lengthy period of assessment, analysis and due diligence, which has involved the support and advice from professional advisors. Harvington Prep joining with Durston House had to be right for both parties and the governors have taken the time to ensure that the best decision was made about each school’s future. Now the period of due diligence is complete we are able to share the news with you. As you will appreciate, due to the sensitive nature of such discussions, it was not possible to share the news prior to the completion of this process. As we progress, we will seek to involve parents and the wider community in the combined school’s future plans.

  • Will you be combining year groups?

    We plan to have co-educational year groups from September 2023, as we believe this is the best way to integrate the pupils and begin to realise the benefits of being part of the new, single school. Our joint working party is looking carefully at the best way to combine the year groups, with a number of options to work through, to ensure pupils feel positive, happy and settled.

  • How will you safeguard the needs of the girls/boys?

    Each school places the highest priority on the welfare and happiness of its pupils: that will not change. And indeed, as schools, we have shown great commitment to tailoring our teaching and learning for pupils as individuals, regardless of their gender. While the experience of learning in a co-educational environment will represent a change, many pupils will be used to learning alongside children of the opposite gender from out of school clubs and activities. Many staff at both schools are experienced in teaching in co-educational environments and everyone will be focused on supporting the children to settle quickly and to meet their needs as individuals.

  • How will you ensure equality for the girls?

    We recognise that initially there will be fewer girls than boys. Staff will be particularly sensitive to ensuring girls feel safe, empowered and happy. We will be proactive in providing opportunities for all pupils, and especially girls, to tell us about their experiences in these early weeks and months, so we can truly become a school in which all children thrive. Alongside this, we fully intend for girls to take visible, leading roles in school – for example, as mentors and members of the School Council. Our vision is of an inclusive, happy, flourishing co-educational school built on equality and respect – that, over time, enjoys similar numbers of girls and boys. We are confident that together we can achieve that aim.

  • Will any subjects be taught separately within the new co-ed school?

    As a co-educational school, all subjects will be taught together with a few exceptions, where appropriate. For example, in line with National Curriculum guidelines, aspects of the Relationships and Sex Education will be taught separately from year 7. We will continue to coach a number of sports separately for Games.

  • How will you help the children settle?

    Our joint working party is developing detailed plans to help pupils prepare for the change, and settle quickly. This will include group activities; opportunities to come together for enrichment, sport, performing arts and shared outings for older pupils. We will listen to pupils, and parents, to shape plans and activities that help pupils to feel positive and excited about the change and the opportunities it will bring.

  • With the school going co-ed, how will the specific ways that boys learn be accounted for and maintained in the teaching methodology?

    Our body of staff across both schools have experience of teaching boys and girls. The focus of excellent teaching and pupil progress within a co-educational school is on the individual irrespective of gender. Careful consideration is given to the design of the curriculum to ensure it addresses gender equality. Continual professional development is a cornerstone of school improvement and ensuring that we attract and retain the very best cadre of teacher at Durston House School.

  • How will you support girls to move to senior school?

    Mr Entwisle has considerable experience of working in partnership with parents over future schools, including as Head at Bede’s Prep School, where he guided parents of girls on their choice of senior school. He is a well-known, well-respected local head, with a wide network of relationships – which already encompass the great range of co-educational, 11+ and 13+ senior schools within London and beyond, to whom Durston House feeds – and is well placed to support current Harvington pupils take positive next steps. Current preparation in place for senior school entry will remain unchanged and will be overseen by the Director of Studies, Ms Harmandeep Sehmbhy and supported by Mr Entwisle.

    In London girls tend to transition to their senior school aged 11+ with some boys also choosing to join their senior school at this time. The majority of our boys will continue to be prepared for 13+ entry to their chosen senior school.

  • Durston House is known for its strong sporting curriculum. Is that likely to be scaled down due to the merger?

    Boys at Durston enjoy their sport. They are equally enthused by their participation in the orchestra as well as in the choir. Sport for all is equally important for every pupil as part of a full and rounded education, as it sets up habits for an active life into adulthood. We will continue to be equally ambitious to provide the very best sporting provision for boys and girls.

  • Will girls be able to stay at the school until 13?

    Yes, from 2023, we plan to offer a fully co-educational offer in the new school, from Nursery to the end of year 8. Any current pupil at Harvington Prep who chooses to stay until the end of year 8 will be welcomed, offered a stimulating and enriching education, and supported to move on to the right senior school for them.

  • For girls with a quieter demeanour we are concerned the merger may have a significant impact on girls, what measures will be put in place to address these concerns?

    At Durston there is a wide range of personalities and we have many boys of a quieter demeanour too. Nevertheless, it will be critically important for the working party to ensure that the very best support and pastoral systems are in place to make certain that every individual child is looked after with the highest possible pastoral standards. We will ensure that the integration of the girls who are inevitably fewer in numbers at this stage feel equally valued as the boys, this will be of primary importance.

  • Can current Harvington boys from Reception move to Durston?

    We will support parents to make the best decision for them – whether that is to keep their son at Harvington Prep until September 2023, when the schools merge; or, if they prefer, to move to Durston House sooner. Boys will be made very welcome, and helped to settle quickly, whenever they make the move.

  • My daughter has a place secured for entry into Nursery 2022 at Harvington, can we be reassured that Nursery admission is unaffected by the merge?

    Places that have been offered for admission into Nursery 2022 will remain unaffected.

  • Will fees, bursaries and awards change?

    For the remainder of this academic year and for 2022/2023 fees, bursary and scholarship arrangements will continue as previously published by each school. These will then be harmonised with effect from September 2023. We will honour existing scholarship and bursary arrangements for current pupils at both schools and the terms and conditions of these existing awards will be unchanged.

    We continue to prioritise quality and value for money for parents and will consider future policies in line with this aim. Furthermore, we remain committed to ensuring the widest possible access to our offer.

  • At Harvington, parents currently benefit from the sibling discount. Will this now be extended as children move from Harvington to Durston this September?

    The current arrangements for siblings joining Durston and Harvington will remain unchanged for the forthcoming academic year.

  • Will the uniform change?

    Until September 2023, when the schools merge, pupils in both schools will wear their current uniforms. Following the merger, we propose introducing a single uniform, to help instil the new ‘one school’ identity that will benefit pupils. We appreciate that uniform changes can be challenging for parents – we will be mindful of this and aim to make the introduction of the new uniform as flexible and affordable for parents as possible. We will endeavour to incorporate an element of the Harvington uniform.

  • Will you provide hot lunches on-site post-merger?

    It is our intention to provide hot lunches on site post-merger.

  • Would it be possible to share the new teaching staff qualifications?

    Please be rest assured all professional qualifications applicable to teaching positions will be posted on the website for the new school.

  • How will you ensure Harvington lives on?

    We are honoured to welcome Harvington Prep to the Durston House family and we want to ensure its legacy lives on in our new, shared school. Each of the buildings will have names, with the current Harvington site to be known as the Harvington Building. The Phyllis Mary Norris Award will be retained and continued to be awarded.

  • Why has the merger happened?

    Harvington Prep was founded in 1890 by two sisters, and has been through many changes in its 130+ year history. Now, the school’s board has decided that the time is right for Harvington Prep to join with a larger, local school, with the opportunities for greater investment and development this will bring. We thank the Harvington Board for entrusting us with their school and we are excited about all that we can achieve together in the future.

  • Is Harvington Prep in difficulty?

    Harvington Prep prides itself on being a forward-looking school and its ethos is underpinned by the drive to secure the best future for its pupils. As such, the school’s board continually evaluates the environment in which the school operates and has, over the past year, considered in detail the local market conditions from the perspective of pupils and their families.

    Bearing in mind the school’s current strengths and traditions, whilst also looking to the future, after considerable thought and reflection, the governors have decided to merge with Durston House to create a co-educational prep school. This will secure the future of the education of pupils currently at Harvington Prep whilst also aspiring to create an even stronger provision for pupils in the local area. The merger has been supported by the governing bodies of both schools, who are very positive about the mutual benefits to be gained from the merger.

  • Why did Mrs Evans leave?

    Following the transfer of control of the The Harvington Educational Trust to The Durston House Educational Trust, Anna Evans will no longer be serving as headmistress of Harvington School. The governing boards of both Harvington Trust and Durston Trust would like to thank Anna for her many years of service and stewardship of Harvington School and we wish her well for the future.

  • Will staff be made redundant?

    We aim to ensure that the new school has the very best staff to support the teaching and learning and general operation of the school for the benefit of all of its pupils. We have no immediate plans to make any redundancies but, as can be the case when two organisations merge, there may need to be some rationalisation of roles and responsibilities. Our working party will look carefully at staffing for September 2023 and ensure plans are well communicated, in advance.

  • What are the next steps?

    Our joint working party is already working hard to prepare for the move, and we will continue to keep this page up to date as plans develop.

  • How will parents’ views be considered?

    We want parents to feel involved in the merger and we welcome your views on how best to make it happen. We will be conducting an engagement exercise of parent interviews to gather views. In addition, we have set up a dedicated email account questions@durstonhouse.org – we hope you will share your views here too, and they will be considered by the working party as they develop our plans.

  • Will parents have access to the integration plans proposed by the working party?

    We will keep parents up to date how plans are developing and there is an absolute commitment to ensure there is full and open consultation.  

  • What is the engagement exercise?

    We are working with RSAcademics, an experienced education consultancy, who will be supporting our engagement exercise. They will interview a representative sample of parents from both schools. During the interviews, which are scheduled to take place after the summer half term, RSAcademics will explore parents’ views on key areas about the merger, pastoral and academic opportunities and considerations. These will be shared with governors and the working party to help shape plans.

  • As a parent, where can I find out more?

    We appreciate you may have questions about this news. Alongside the FAQs, Mr Entwisle and the schools’ leaders will be holding a number of meetings for parents. These will be advertised via the schools’ newsletters and emails in the usual way. If you have a more personal question about the move, and what it means for your child, please do not hesitate to get in touch – Mr Entwisle or a member of the team would be delighted to speak to you directly, or to meet you in person to discuss this.

  • As a prospective parent, where can I find out more?

    If you are a prospective parent of either school, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Durston House Registrar, Caroline Ferns, at admissions@durstonhouse.org with any questions, or to arrange a tour or meeting with Mr Entwisle.

  • Are there any significant investment decisions in the pipeline? How will this impact teaching?

    Any future investments in the buildings will be designed to have a positive impact on the teaching environment and the outcome for pupils. The investment opportunity for the buildings will be investigated and considered by the working party. There are obvious areas where we will ensure that any facilities that need adapting for the education for both boys and girls will take absolute priority such as the obvious areas of bathrooms.