Another slightly delayed journey to this school visit, this time thanks to resurfacing works on the main Langton Green road. However, despite being a few minutes late, I quickly found the signing in arrangements in the smart new Collins block of junior classrooms, and Connie Cherrett, the newly appointed Admissions Registrar, cheerfully came to meet me and escort me back to her office in the main house. Aaah. …now these are the original surroundings that I remember from the days of my brothers attending the school in the 1970s!
Once we had made our introductions to each other from the comfort of the armchairs in Connie’s office we commenced our tour of the school. It was a bright and sunny afternoon and the children were mainly occupied in lessons in their classrooms before the afternoon activities and games sessions of later in the day. So my only contact with any students was a small group of enthusiastic young naturalists noting and recording observations around the school with their teacher – all were engrossed in their task, but greeted us cheerily as we passed.
A £4.4 million development project, called ‘The Cloisters’ is due to complete in the Spring Term 2017. This will house a new library, as well as new eight classrooms and two IT suites, plus administrative offices. The Cloisters will lead out onto the South Lawns, which form part of Holmewood’s 30 acre site, and will be a fabulous addition to current facilities. The main building, the old country house at the hub of the original school, will continue to house support staff and entertain visitors, as well as provide the dining hall and boarding facilities as required. Although primarily a local day school, there is boarding available for all, from full boarding for overseas pupils to the popular ‘flexi’ arrangement for locals. Indeed, the boarding staff will often accept requests at the beginning of a week in which the overnight stay is required. Families are predominantly from Tunbridge Wells and surrounding villages, although often originally from London having moved out as schooling is required.
Holmewood is a non-selective school achieving excellent academic results, and its children are well rounded, happy individuals. With a central Tunbridge Wells location, there are some children who move on to the high calibre grammar schools in the area, but in the main it is the local private senior schools that leavers head for as day pupils. Strong relationships exist with Tonbridge, Sevenoaks and Mayfield amongst others. 21 Scholarships and Exhibitions were awarded to leavers from their chosen senior schools in 2016: 8 Academic, 6 Sport, 4 Music, 1 Art and 1 Drama.
The extra-curricular facilities are superb and the outlook over the surrounding grounds and beyond is breathtaking. Not only are the traditional girls and boys games offered, and a strong reputation on the sports field maintained, but the school also prides itself on the comprehensive activities programme that it also offers. On two days a week, at the end of the school day, children can choose from further sport or other activities such as cookery, pottery, IT or climbing. Holmewood has an impressive record in Gymnastics competitions, runs a strong swim squad at all levels, is one of the few remaining Prep Schools in the country to have its own squash courts (and a large following), and even has its own shooting range. There is certainly something for everyone here.