As we come to the beginning of another school year, we are delighted to announce an exciting new chapter in our history.
The Governors and Senior Leadership Teams of Northwood Prep and Merchant Taylors’ School have decided to unite to offer pupils a superb, all-through experience of education in a single school. Northwood Prep will merge with Merchant Taylors' School; it will be named Merchant Taylors’ Prep. Pupils will gain from a cohesive and seamless curriculum from the ages of 3 to 18.
Northwood Prep has for many years enjoyed a shared ethos, shared history, shared community and shared ambition with Merchant Taylors’ School. Our geographical location has meant that we already enjoy close cooperation. For example, Northwood Prep’s nursery has been located on the Merchant Taylors’ site since 2008. We share a strong academic tradition and together, we combine an outstanding academic record with a commitment to helping our pupils achieve their full potential.
This alliance is being forged from a position of financial and operational strength. We are making it because we believe it will give our students a richer, broader and more personalised learning experience.
Working with Merchant Taylors’ School, we will reshape the curriculum so that it better reflects the needs of each pupil. Our boys will benefit from Merchant Taylors’ fantastic 250 acre site, its swimming pool, new Design Centre, four lakes, language laboratories and sporting facilities. They will be able to join Merchant Taylors’ School’s excellent performing arts programme and be considered for MTS sports teams. Merchant Taylors’ boys, in turn, will be able to make use of our New Barn Theatre. Working together, we will be as responsive to our boys’ pastoral needs as their academic ones.
The year ahead will be an exciting one. We want to reassure all our parents that it will be a time of evolution rather than revolution. These changes will be introduced gradually, with the full involvement of you, your sons, and our teachers. We will continue to run our school in the same way as we always have, but with the added support of our colleagues at Merchant Taylors’ School. We will also nurture the relationship we have with other schools in the area and will continue to support students who wish to pursue their education outside the Merchant Taylors’ family of schools.
Merchant Taylors’ School is proud of its historic links with its sister school, St John’s, and the shared historic links with the Merchant Taylors’ Company. It is also proud of its strong relationship with St Martin’s, amongst others. It will continue to develop and grow its existing programme of support and partnership with these schools, ensuring that their pupils benefit from ties to Merchant Taylors’ and that those pupils continue to aspire to join Merchant Taylors’ School.
We understand that you may have a number of questions about this alliance and how it will affect you and your son. We have provided a Q&A below which aims to answer a number of those. We are also delighted to invite you to two Question and Answer sessions which we will host at Northwood Prep on 11 September at 4.30pm and 6.00pm. Mr Simon Everson, Head Master of MTS, will also be present at these sessions. Please contact the school office of Northwood Prep to indicate if you would like to attend one of these sessions. If you are unable to attend, there is an alternative session at MTS for their parents on Tuesday 15 September at 6.30pm. Northwood Prep parents would be welcome to attend this meeting instead of the sessions on 11 September (places can be booked via NP office).
We look forward to seeing you and we do hope you will share our excitement at the potential this alliance offers our students.
Dr K McNerney, Head of School
Dr T Lee, Principal
Mr Everson, Head of MTS
Questions and Answers
What is the purpose of this alliance?
We are seeking to create a ‘through school’ experience for pupils from 3 to 18 and this will be the only 3-18 boys’ school in Northwood. We believe that this will create an opportunity to deliver an enriched and seamless education for your sons.
Will this change my son’s options at 13+?
No, not at all.
The purpose of this alliance is to enhance our pupils’ and parents’ options, not limit them. We will continue to support fully the applications of all boys who want to pursue their post 13 education at schools other than Merchant Taylors’ School.
Is the alliance related to the change in leadership with Dr McNerney and Dr Lee?
No, not at all.
As the Governors announced in June 2014, Dr Trevor Lee has been invited to become Principal. He will continue to provide mentoring and support to the leadership team but will not be involved in the day-to-day running of the school. Dr Lee has, however, been an integral part of the team responsible for developing the alliance and we thank him for the continuing, significant contribution he has made to the school.
Dr McNerney, as Head of School, will be responsible for leading the day-to-day teaching, learning and pastoral care in the school. She has been an important member of the steering group that has developed the alliance over the last few months. She will work closely with Simon Everson, the Headmaster of Merchant Taylors’ School, to manage the transition effectively and ensure we take advantage of all the exciting opportunities the alliance offers.
Will the school fees increase?
As has always been the case, school fees will be reviewed on an annual basis. As usual, the Governors will inform you in the Summer Term of the fee increase for next year, which will be in line with previous years’ increases.
Will the uniform change?
There will be changes to the uniform but these will be phased in gradually over time. We are working with our uniform supplier, to ensure they are able to support parents as any changes are made.
Will the curriculum change?
We will take a step back and work out what is best for pupils regarding the curriculum. Any changes to the curriculum will be developed by and agreed by both schools.
As part of this, we will:
- Align the curriculum between the two schools giving reassurance of continuity of education and ensuring a seamless transition for our students.
- Focus on how we broaden and enrich each pupil’s learning experience, shaping an exciting curriculum that stimulates intellectual curiosity.
- Coordinate with each other to mould our teaching around the needs of each pupil and create a common assessment framework to better track their progress through the schools.
I wanted to send my son to a prep school, not a through school. Will the Prep school continue to operate on its current site?
The two schools will continue to operate on separate sites, with the same teachers they have always had. Where the alliance will make a difference is in the enrichment of the curriculum, in the pooling of resources and facilities and in the better extra-curricular experiences and opportunities we can offer students.
For those boys who do not wish to progress to Merchant Taylors’ School, we will continue to fully support their applications to other schools at 13+.
What if Merchant Taylors’ School is not the right school for my son?
We anticipate for the majority of children that this will be a seamless transition.
However, we will also be able to identify earlier those pupils who we do not think will reach their full potential at Merchant Taylors’ School. The common assessment framework we will develop will enable us to spot in year 5 those pupils who would not benefit from continuing to Merchant Taylors’ School, so we can explore options with their parents much earlier than in the past and ensure they are given all necessary support to reach their potential elsewhere.
Can I send my son to Merchant Taylors’ Senior School campus at 11?
No. The focus of this alliance is on enriching what both schools have in place already, rather than making any fundamental reforms.
We will not be changing the entry age for Merchant Taylors’ School. We believe it is beneficial, both from an academic and a pastoral perspective, for students to stay at Northwood Prep until the age of 13. The extra two years gives them the chance to take on more responsibility in the school, to start managing projects on their own and to prepare themselves for their next school experience.
Will the older boys interact with my son?
A key driver for the alliance is the opportunity we will gain to enrich our pupils’ learning experience by sharing facilities. These include the design centre, sports facilities, the New Barn Theatre and Merchant Taylors’ School’s four lakes. The students from the two schools will have opportunities to work, play sport and perform together, but these opportunities will be done in a structured way and always supervised by teachers. Moreover, the two schools will be retaining their own sites as part of the alliance.
Will the admission system change?
Parents of pupils at the Prep School will be given an assurance at the end of Y5 as to whether their son will be able to progress to Merchant Taylors’ Senior School at the end of Y8. This decision will be based on using the Prep School’s internal data gained from school assessments and formal examinations. Pupils who are currently in Y6 and below at Northwood Prep will no longer be required to sit the 13+ examinations in order to progress to the Senior School. Pupils who are currently in Y7 will still apply to MTS via the 13+ system.
However, it should be noted that Merchant Taylors’ School will also continue to welcome pupils from neighbouring schools in the area, such as St John’s School (which already is part of the MTET), St Martin’s and York House.
Will there be any scholarships for MTS?
Continuity scholarships will be awarded to pupils in the Prep School in Y6. These scholarships will commence at the beginning of Y7 and will continue into the Senior School. These continuity scholarships will only be available to pupils at Merchant Taylors’ Prep School. There will also be an opportunity for other pupils at the Prep School to apply for 13+ scholarships, alongside external candidates.
Often schools merge due to problems in one or other school. Is this the case for MTS and NP?
No, this is the alliance of two schools that both have financial, operational and teaching strengths. The sole motivation behind the alliance is to offer a through school experience (3-18) so that our students have richer, broader and more personalised learning opportunities, in order to encourage curiosity and excellence in equal measure.
What about our family link with Terry’s?
The link with Terry’s will continue to remain strong. Northwood Prep was founded by Francis Terry in 1910 and as the school has grown, the original ethos of the school has been maintained. This will not change as a result of the alliance and, furthermore, the traditions such as the school’s link with the Francis Terry Foundation will remain in place and remain strong.