#StudentTakeover: "Happiness is key" as Golders Hill School celebrates 110 year anniversary
PUBLISHED: 11:56 23 March 2018 | UPDATED: 11:56 23 March 2018
College of North West London student Tadhg Ormond delves into the history of a school which has been serving the community since before the First World War
“Happiness is essential” for a successful school, according to a headteacher who has been a vital part of the fabric of a Golders Hill institution for more than 40 years.
It is a year of celebration a Golders Hill School, which caters for co-educational pre-prep students in the leafy suburb off Finchley Road and is marking its 110-year anniversary.
Over the years, the school has become a secret favourite of parents keen to gain access to schools such as Highgate School, North London Collegiate and University College School, Hampstead.
The official motto for the school is “a happy, secure and rich learning environment”, and student wellbeing is of the upmost importance to headteacher Amanda Eglash.
“We are all so excited to be celebrating our 110 Year anniversary,” she said.
“Golders Hill has been opening its doors to local children since before the First World War, when Edward VII was on the throne.
“Our school has always strived to be a happy, nurturing school, as well as a successful one. I am often told by ex-pupils that they hold precious memories their time here.
“I am delighted to see children join the school now, whose parents I once taught.”
And there a plenty of ex-students hitting the headline.
Abe Tolley won a prestigious award for devising a new way to diagnose cancer. He was part of a team of seven science students from City of London School to be awarded a gold medal and four prizes at the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition — described as the world cup of molecular biology. The team was honoured for developing a genetic circuit that can diagnose cancer easily, cheaply and, they claim, at a “curable stage”. Abe, now 17, travelled with his team-mates and teachers to the iGEM finals in Boston to present their discovery.
Entrepreneur Joshua Browder is the founder of DoNotPay, the first chatbot that allows motorists to appeal their parking tickets automatically, while fellow ex-pupil, Tommy Bard is featuring in the West End production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Vanessa Kerner Wolfowitz, 45, grew up in Hampstead, and spent her early years as a pupil at the school. She said: “I was there pre-Amanda, but I remember my time there being particularly happy.
“That said, I do remember having soap put in my mouth once as a punishment for indulging in a spitting competition with my friend, but I guess they did things differently then.”
Pupils who sat the 5+ and 4+ assessment gained places at schools including Channing and South Hampstead High School, but Amanda makes it clear that she doesn’t believe in hot housing.
“I strongly believe that happiness is essential to the acquisition of knowledge, and that learning should always be fun.
“Competition may be tougher now, but we still do our best to buck the trend and achieve good results without undue pressure.
“I also try to ensure all our pupils will feel unique and special, regardless of their academic ability.
“These are their early years and they should be happy ones. We also encourage them to think of others and take part in charitable activities as much as they can.”
Amanda added: “We are so proud of all our pupils. We were particularly thrilled that this year, each one of our pupils who sat the 7+ assessments managed to gain a place at either Belmont, Highgate or University College School.
“This is a great achievement, for things have changed quite a bit over the years.
“When I first started at the school, there was a significantly higher ratio of places to applicants, so the pressure and competition to get places at these kinds of schools wasn’t nearly as harsh as it is today.”