From pioneering headmasters to outstanding cricket coaches, the winner of Tatler annual school awards have been announced.
The winners were chosen across seven categories from a shortlist of nominees decided on by a mix of public and school votes and revealed on Instagram.
Taking home the prize of Best Public School is Reigate Grammar School, in Surrey, which costs £19,350-a-year and counts Sir Keir Starmer among its alumni. Best Prep School went to Cottesmore School, West Sussex, where fees cost £29,200 a year.
Brilliant headmasters and headmistresses were also recognised – as were the best school dinners.
Beating out a shortlist that included Cheltenham Ladies’ College and Millfield was Benenden, Princess Anne’s alma mater, which won with its mouth-watering menu made with fresh ingredients.
Here, a closer look at the schools and staff members that took home the prizes.
BEST PUBLIC SCHOOL
Reigate Grammar School, Surrey
Term fees: £6,450
Best Public School: Just a stone’s throw from Reigate town centre, Reigate Grammar, pictured, prides itself on its pastoral care and has a dedicated wellbeing centre for students
‘Parents are delighted with this co-ed ex-grammar school (it went independent in 1976) that’s known for producing down-to-earth yet high-achieving all-rounders,’ Tatler noted in its Schools Guide 2021.
The breadth of talent possessed by its students is certainly reflected in Reigate’s famous alumni, including Sir Keir Starmer, comedian Romesh Ranganathan and Norman Smith, better known as Fat Boy Slim.
Just a stone’s throw from Reigate town centre, the school prides itself on its pastoral care and has a dedicated wellbeing centre for students. It also boasts a music school, indoor swimming pool, fitness suite.
In addition to the main school sites, the school benefits from a sports ground at Hartswood which provides some 32 acres of playing fields, outdoor cricket nets and a floodlit all-weather pitch.
Commenting on the win, the school said: ‘We are delighted to announce that RGS has been announced as School of the Year in the prestigious Tatler Schools Awards 2020.
‘The review is in this month’s Tatler magazine. It is a lovely review that is testament to the hard work, dedication and talent of our staff & students, and to the support of our parents.’
PREP SCHOOL OF THE YEAR
Cottesmore School, West Sussex
Term fees: £9,741
Best Prep School: Parents of Cottesmore will be delighted to learn of the success of their children’s school, given the almost £10,000 they pay in school fees each term
Parents of Cottesmore will be delighted to learn of the success of their children’s school, given the almost £10,000 they pay in school fees each term.
Situated in picturesque Buchan Hill, Pease Pottage, Cottesmore has just 155 boarding pupils, with an additional 43 day pupils in pre-prep.
But it is really animals who rule the roost at the impressive countryside school, notes Tatler. ‘Dogs are in almost every classroom and a corn snake, bearded dragon, Atlas moths and the obligatory guinea pigs take centre stage at Animal Care club.’
One parent described the school as ‘magical’ and noted there is a ‘remarkable alchemy of tradition, support, freedom, energy and challenge’.
In recent months the school has worked hard to adapt to ‘the new normal’ in the age of Covid-19, inviting all prep school aged pupils accompanied by a parent to join their ‘Talk It Out’ webinar before the start of school.
It also divided the student body into ‘households’ and is encouraging pupils to try out paddle boarding, rowing and fishing on the lake in the absence of sports fixtures and matches against other schools.
BEST FOOD AWARD
Benenden School, Kent
Term fees: Day: £9,850, Boarding: £13,124
Best Food: Girls at Benenden, in Kent, are encouraged to go out and ‘seize every opportunity’ – and are well fed with a delicious menu of locally-sourced food
With a team of chef on-hand during the week to serve up delicious food, the staff create innovative and nutritious menus. Pictured, a delicious meringue dessert
It’s easy to see why Benenden was a good fit for its most prestigious alumni, Princess Anne.
Its pupils parachute out of planes, trek to Annapurna base camp, play rugby, race self-built cars and team up with its partner school John Wallis Academy to build microlights.
And headteacher Samantha Price ensures they’re well fed for every outing, with the school serving up freshly-prepared and locally-sourced food every school day.
With a team of chef on-hand during the week to serve up delicious food, the staff create innovative and nutritious menus from home-cooked favourites to the most sophisticated dining.
Lunch options for hungry pupils include a Hot Smoked Salmon, Chive, Parmesan Soufflé, while others may be more partial to the Stir-fried Chard, Ginger, Soy and Garlic noodles.
Meanwhile pupils can also dine out on Slow Braised Beef Ragu and Lamb & Oregano Meat Balls for supper.
BEST HEAD OF A PUBLIC SCHOOL
Jane Lunnon, Wimbledon High School, London
Term fees: £6,578
Best Head of a Public School: After five years at Wimbledon High School, pictured, Jane Lunnon is leaving to take up the headship at Alleyn’s School in Dulwich
During her time at Wimbledon, Mrs Lunnon worked to encourage young women who are well-rounded. The teacher is ending her tenure at Wimbledon with the Tatler School Award
After five years at Wimbledon High School, Mrs Lunnon is leaving to take up the headship at Alleyn’s School in Dulwich – with her new Tatler School Award in hand.
During her time at Wimbledon, Mrs Lunnon worked to encourage young women who are well-rounded.
‘A typical pupil knows who she is, is comfortable in her own skin, knows where she fits in and will stride out to make a difference,’ the headmistress said of the girls at Wimbledon High, adding: ‘She is also fun’.
The school, which has 680 pupils, certainly has something for everyone, with an Anime Club, Robotics Club and Women of Wimbledon feminist society all on offer.
The school also excels in sports, music and drama.
Accepting the award, Mrs Lunnon said: ‘I can’t tell you how delighted, honoured and absolutely flabbergasted I am to win the award. Tatler, thank you so much for this.
‘Even to be among the luminaries nominated for this, let alone, with those who’ve won it in the past, is genuinely incredible.’
BEST HEAD OF A PREP SCHOOL
Jeremy Banks, Caldicott School, Buckinghamshire
Term fees: Day: £6,573, Boarding: £9,690
Best Head of Prep School: Situated in 40 acres of magnificent grounds and pitches, Caldicott is known for its sporting prowess, with cricket and rugby particular strong points
Headmaster Jeremy Banks oversees 251 boys at charming red-brick Caldicott, in Farnham Royal, Buckinghamshire, which prides itself on its traditional values
Headmaster Jeremy Banks oversees 251 boys at charming red-brick Caldicott, in Farnham Royal, Buckinghamshire, which prides itself on its traditional values.
‘The boys call their female teachers “ma’am”, uniforms are checked in the lunch queue (those with scuffed shoes are sent off to polish) and the boys’ manners are impeccable,’ writes Tatler.
Situated in 40 acres of magnificent grounds and pitches, Caldicott is known for its sporting prowess, with cricket and rugby particular strong points.
Away from the sports, Caldicott has a 100 per cent pass rate on the Common Entrance exam, sending pupils off to top UK public schools including Eton, Harrow, Radley and Wellington.
Accepting the prize, Mr Banks said: ‘I would like to thank my family of course, but indeed the Caldicott community too, because it has been a team effort in 2020. I would like to pay tribute to other Heads of schools out there, all of whom are in unprecedented waters, and I wish them the best of luck. ‘
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Patrick Derham OBE, Westminster School, London
Term fees: Day: £10,497, Boarding: £13,896
Lifetime Achievement Award: Westminster is one of the most expensive and elite schools in the country and alumni include Andrew Lloyd Webber, Dominic Lawson and Nick Clegg
Westminster is one of the most expensive and elite schools in the country and alumni include Andrew Lloyd Webber, Dominic Lawson and Nick Clegg.
But departing head Patrick Derham has been a leading light in widening access.
During his time at Westminster, he was behind fundraising drives for the Westminster School Campaign, which aims to make the school needs-blind.
Pioneer: Departing head Patrick Derham has been a leading light in widening access
He also helped run sister school Harris Westminster, which is free, and says he is just as proud of the 44 Oxbridge offers its students received as he is of the 80 offers made to Wesminster.
In 2003, in his previous post as headmaster of Rugby School, he helped set up a program called the Arnold Foundation, which provided free boarding places for teenagers recruited from disadvantaged communities.
He also forged links with a London club for black youngsters, called the Eastside Young Leaders’ Academy.
His own personal story shows the dramatic effect that a private education can have on a poor but bright student.
Mr Derham was born on a Glasgow council estate to an alcoholic father who has since died. He attended eight schools before the age of 12 until a scholarship to attend Pangbourne, the naval school in Berkshire, changed his life.
He won a place at Cambridge where he studied history and began a career in teaching.
Mr Derham said that he has tried to pay back the faith put in him by giving the same opportunities to children who were in his position when he was young.
UNSUNG HERO AWARD
Gary Steer, Bedford School, Bedfordshire
Term fees: Day: £6,614, Boarding: £11,186
Unsung Hero Award: The winner of the award is Gary Steer, Director of Cricket at Bedford School, pictured, who was described by Tatler as ‘hugely popular’
Tatler’s Unsung Hero Award recognises the ‘enormous contribution’ made by staff behind the scenes. Nominations included school nurses, groundsmen and governors.
Mr Steer is head of cricket at Bedford
But the winner of the award is Gary Steer, Director of Cricket at Bedford School, who was described by Tatler as ‘hugely popular’.
Former county cricketer Mr Steer spent 13 years at the youth section of Warwickshire cricket before joining the school.
Accepting the award, he said: ‘ I’d just like to say a big thank you to the Tatler Awards for this fantastic award. It’s a real honour to receive this and a huge thank you to everyone who voted on Instagram.
‘Huge thank you to Bedford School, in particular the cricket staff. They’ve been a massive support in setting up the programme that we run for the boys, and also to the external coaches who support the work that we do here.
‘It’s an absolute joy to work at Bedford School in the cricket programme, the boys love their school, particularly their cricket.’
Tatler School Awards 2020: Winners and shortlisted nominees
BEST PUBLIC SCHOOL
WINNER: Reigate Grammar School
PREP SCHOOL OF THE YEAR
WINNER: Cottesmore School
BEST FOOD AWARD
Cheltenham Ladies’ College
WINNER: Benenden School
HEAD OF A PUBLIC SCHOOL
Mark Turnbull, Giggleswick School
Douglas Robb, Gresham’s
Emma McKendrick, Downe House
Antony Wallersteiner, Stowe School
WINNER: Jane Lunnon, Wimbledon High/Alleyn’s School
HEAD OF A PREP SCHOOL
Sophie Green, Godstowe
Sarah Knollys, Notting Hill Prep School
Martin Barker, Westbourne House School
WINNER: Jeremy Banks, Caldicott
Henry Knight, Belhaven Hill
UNSUNG HERO AWARD
WINNER: Gary Steer, Bedford School
Sister Gill Nurse, Godolphin School
Amelia Brooks, Brambletye
Sarah Wood Matron, Oundle School
Terry Stickney, Saint Ronan’s
Julie Robinson ISC, chairwoman
Professor Bailey, St Paul’s School
WINNER: Patrick Derham OBE, Westminster School
Phil Ward, Thomas’s Clapham
Richard Foster, Windlesham House School