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Steephill Independent School and Pre-School

‘Pupils are at the heart of everything we do’

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Steephill Independent School and Pre-School

‘Pupils are at the heart of everything we do’

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History

History of Steephill School

 

Steephill School was founded in 1935 by Miss Eileen Bignold. The school premises consisted of the house and grounds only.  The first classes took place where the staff room is now. Originally the school had only a few children aged five to seven years old. When the second world war came in 1939 some of these children boarded with Miss Bignold and slept in the room that is now the library.

 

After the war, the school grew and started taking children until they were eleven years old. Lessons took place in various huts and in the house. The kitchen was where the children’s toilets are now. Miss Bignold was famous for her sausages and cooked lunch for the children every day. Ex-pupils and staff who remember her and the school are asked to talk about her at the Founder’s day service held at St. Mary’s church every July. They remember fondly the small huts where lessons took place, the animals kept by Miss Bignold, especially the dog, and of course her sausages.

 

When Miss Bignold died in 1989, the parents of the children then attending were keen to save the school from closing. Some of these parents came together and formed a group to buy the school from Miss Bignold’s heir. There were about fifty children here then and parents of eight of them, Nicola Kiley, Viv Hyndman, Sandra Scotting and Doreen Page, approached Edward Oatley, the headteacher of Sevenoaks Prep, to help them.

 

With huge support in terms of good will and financial contributions from the parents, the School was made into a charitable trust. Owing to the uncertainty of the school’s future not all the children remained and the new school started up with twenty-three boys and girls aged up to nine years old. The headteacher was Jenny Smith-Spark who stayed with the school until 1996.

 

During this time, the school was extended to accept children up to eleven years old. The classrooms for classes V and VI were then added. Mrs Bramley was the headteacher from 1996 to 1999 when Mr Peter Stradling took over for one year. The number of children had now grown to about eighty.

 

In September 2000 Mrs Caroline Birtwell became the new headteacher. Over the following years the school joined the Independent Schools Association, built a netball court and added four classrooms and an ICT suite with wireless internet access. In 2010, the school numbers were one hundred and twenty and the school was taking sixteen children per class.

 

Throughout this time, the Chairman of the Board of Governors has remained Edward Oatley and two of the original four parents are actively involved in the school.

 

 
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