Hurst Lodge School
|Staff||20 full-time, 24 part-time|
|Gender||Girls to 18 and younger boys|
|Houses||Stainer (blue), Fonteyn (yellow), and De Valois (red)|
Hurst Lodge School, established in 1945, is a small non-selective independent school at Ascot, Berkshire, England, for girls and boys aged three to eighteen, with about 160 children of all ages. The school specializes in teaching performing arts, and all children take dance classes.
Miss Dorice Stainer, of Hurst Lodge, founded the school in the aftermath of the Second World War as a course of "Dancing Classes". A sister of the film star Leslie Howard, and also of Irene Howard, the London casting director of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, in the 1920s Stainer had been a partner in 'The Misses Stainer and Sinclair, Dancing Teachers', of 39, Onslow Square, South Kensington, London S.W.7, and after 1928 had continued the business alone at the same address. Immediately before the War, she had been a travelling dance teacher based in Ascot, teaching classes at Camberley, Godalming, Guildford, Sunningdale, Virginia Water, and a variety of schools around England.
The actress Juliet Stevenson, a pupil of Miss Stainer's at Hurst Lodge in the 1960s, has described her as "a progressively educational woman who had been a prima ballerina and who believed the arts were fundamental to a child's education".
According to an article in The Times published in 1986, when Sarah Ferguson, future Duchess of York, was about to leave the school in 1977, she observed a tradition by diving into the swimming pool naked at midnight on the eve of her last day. The Duchess paid an official visit to her old school on 13 March 1989. In 1992, writing of Sarah Ferguson's time at Hurst Lodge, the journalist Valerie Grove called it "an expensive boarding school that turned out jolly chalet girls with lots of bounce but not too many O-levels". In that year's school performance tables, the proportion of girls sitting GCSEs who gained five passes at grades A to C was given as 50%, by comparison with 98% for Wycombe Abbey and 97% for the Dame Alice Harpur School. In 1998 only four pupils were entered for two or more A-levels, but their examination results were slightly better than the average for schools in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. In 1999, the school entered only one pupil for A-Levels, but as the result of her excellent results it appeared in the list of Top Independent Schools published in The Times on 25 November.
In 2001 The Daily Telegraph reported that Hurst Lodge was the third most expensive prep school in Great Britain, coming just after Colet Court, the junior school of St Paul's, and the Dragon School, Oxford, but before Horris Hill, Papplewick, St John's Beaumont, Cheam and Ludgrove, all eight of which then charged more than £13,000 a year.
The school continues to occupy Hurst Lodge, a large Victorian house with a number of outbuildings set in twenty-two acres at Bagshot Road, Sunningdale, Ascot. It is currently owned by the Smit family, including Tim Smit, creator of the Eden Project, who was a director of Hurst Lodge School from 1999 to 2005. The present headmistress, Kate Leiper, is a graduate of the London College of Music and was appointed in 2011, having previously taught at Fyling Hall School and Ampleforth.
Of 160 children at the school in 2011, 26 were boys and the remainder girls. A small number of girls are weekly boarders, returning home at weekends. The Sixth Form is unusually small, with eight girls and no boys. As well as taking A-levels, sixth formers can follow Business and Technology Education Council diploma courses in performing arts.
Continuing the school's long tradition of teaching the performing arts, all pupils take dance classes. Girls are divided into three houses (Stainer, Fonteyn, and De Valois, all named after dancers), whose members compete for the House Cup. For good work and successes individuals receive stars or credits for their house, while poor work and misconduct results in negative D-Marks, meaning that points are lost. The best house is awarded the cup in July, at the end of the academic year.
In partnership with the Eden Project, the school operates a carbon-reduction programme and also grows its own vegetables.
- 1945– c. 1970: Miss Dorice Stainer
- 1973: Mrs D. A. Carter
- 1974– c. 1980: Mrs Celia Merrick
- 1987: Mrs A. M. Smit
- 2006 - present: Miss V. S. Smit
Notable former pupils
- Felicity Dean, actress
- Emma Forbes, television and radio presenter
- Jenna Randall, Commonwealth Games silver medallist in synchronized swimming
- Juliet Stevenson, actress
- Belinda Stewart-Wilson, actress
- Sarah, Duchess of York
- Hurst Lodge School at isbi.com, accessed 16 May 2012
- The Times, issue 50336 dated Saturday, December 29, 1945, p. 1
- Hurst Lodge School at guidetoindependentschools.com, accessed 17 May 2012
- Richard Stayton, THEATER: Truly, Madly, Deftly: Juliet Stevenson, a 'national obsession' in England, is making her American stage debut dated March 21, 1993, p. 2 of 3 at articles.latimes.com, accessed 17 May 2012
- Frank Muir, A Kentish Lad (New York: Bantam, 1997), p. 53
- London Gazette dated 22 May 1928, p. 3611
- Dancing Times, issue dated June 1939, p. 31
- Alan Hamilton, 'Love on a wing and a smile' in The Times (London), issue 62516 dated Wednesday, July 23, 1986, p. 9
- 'Today's royal engagements' in The Times (London), issue 63340 dated Monday, March 13, 1989, p. 18
- Valerie Grove, 'And they all lived sadly ever after', feature article in The Times (London), issue 64285 dated Friday, March 20, 1992
- 'School Report' in The Times (London), issue 64494 dated Thursday, November 19, 1992, p. 62
- '6th Form' in The Times (London), issue 66373 dated Tuesday, December 1, 1998, p. 6 (S)
- 'A level: Top Independents' in The Times (London), issue 66681 dated Thursday, November 25, 1999, p. 3 (S1)
- 'Ball' (in Official Appointments and Notices), The Times (London), issue 65408 dated Thursday, October 26, 1995, p. 20
- John Clare, Roedean, 154th for results, tops the school fees league, from The Daily Telegraph dated 24 Nov 2001 online at telegraph.co.uk, accessed 18 May 2012
- Adam Nicolson, Brave New Worlds, from The Daily Telegraph dated 24 February 2001 online at telegraph.co.uk, accessed 18 May 2012
- ‘SMIT, Timothy Bartel’, in Who's Who 2012 (London: A. & C. Black, 2012)
- The House system at hurstlodge.co.uk, accessed 16 May 2012
- The Education Authorities Directory and Annual (School Government Publishing Company Ltd., 1973), p. 565
- Independent Schools Yearbook (London: A. & C. Black, vol. 97, 1987) p. 739
- The Independent Schools Guide: A Fully Comprehensive Directory (Gabbitas Educational Consultants, 2006), p. 75
- Felicity Dean at you-tab.com, accessed 16 May 2012
- 'Relative Values: Emma Forbes and Sarah Standing' in The Times (London) dated 1 December 2002
- Sarah Potter, 'Randall and flexible friend plumb the depths in search of Olympic heights', in The Times (London), issue 68824 dated Friday, October 6, 2006; p. 99
- Alan Franks, 'Freeing the Spirits' feature article in The Times (London), issue 65176 dated Saturday, January 28, 1995, p. 8
- Belinda Stewart-Wilson: Celebrity Interview and Paparazzi at ovguide.com, accessed 17 May 2012
- Andrew Morton, Duchess: an Intimate Portrait of Sarah, Duchess of York (Contemporary Books, 1989), p. 25
- David Banks, Sarah Ferguson, the royal redhead (Dillon Press, 1987), p. 14: "From Daneshill School, she went to a private girls' boarding school called Hurst Lodge."