‘Don’t hire tutors to get children into private schools’, new head of independent Hampstead junior school says

Joanna Hockley, the new headteacher of North Bridge House Nursery and Junior School. Picture: Nigel

Joanna Hockley, the new headteacher of North Bridge House Nursery and Junior School. Picture: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

The newly appointed headteacher of an independent nursery and junior school has echoed calls for parents to stop tutoring their children to get them into private schools.

Joanna Hockley will take over from Robyn Allsopp as head of North Bridge House Nursery and Junior Schools in Netherhall Gardens, Hampstead, in January at the start of the next academic term.

She has added her voice to a chorus of independent headteachers, including Channing Junior School headteacher Louise Lawrance, who have spoken out against the practice of hiring private tutors for young children in preparation for admissions tests.

Mrs Hockley, who lives in Ealing with her husband, said: “[Tutoring] is absolutely not necessary and I would not advocate anything like that.

“Children are only young once and we feel that they should learn in comfortable and secure surroundings at this age.

‘‘You don’t need to have all this tuition. We do so much with them. After all, they are children.”

Mrs Hockley worked in hospitality before falling in love with teaching when a friend asked her to come in three days a week as a teaching assistant at Manor House School in Hanwell.

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She soon became a full-time member of staff and re-qualified as an early years teacher in the 1990s at the University of North London, which later merged to become London Metropolitan University in Holloway.

Mrs Hockley spent 12 years at the independent school, leaving as head of early years, before moving on to the private preparatory Clifton Lodge School in Ealing.

In more than 10 years at the mixed school, she went from head of early years, to deputy head, to acting headteacher last year.

She now hopes to continue Mrs Allsopp’s “legacy” at North Bridge for boys and girls aged between two and six, but will also be putting her own stamp on things.

“My last school was very much developed by me over the years but to have fresh eyes is always a good thing,” she said. “I would like to continue Robyn’s legacy. I think North Bridge House Junior School is a fabulous school but, inevitably, there will be elements of me in there as well.”

Mrs Hockley said that when the children leave North Bridge they should be “experienced and confident readers, writers and mathematicians” as well as being “exceptional, confident young learners”.