Set in 52 acres of idyllic Berkshire countryside, Lambrook School gives its pupils ‘feathers to fly’ and a ‘delicious sense of freedom’.
Its new royal charges, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, will enjoy a nurturing education at the wholesome, co-educational independent day and boarding school for three to 13-year-olds near Ascot, just a 10-minute drive from their new home in Windsor.
The Good Schools Guide describes it as a ‘classic prep school’ with a ‘heart of gold’, and tells of how youngsters get to ‘run and run’ in the vast grounds with ‘total freedom to explore, provided you’ve got your wellies on’. Lambrook boasts of ‘first-class teaching and superb facilities’ which include a 25-metre swimming pool, a nine-hole golf course, an astroturf, hard courts, a squash court, cricket and other sports pitches.
It has a Diamond Jubilee performing arts studio, dance studio and sports hall, and a new £6 million Queen’s Building for ICT and academic learning. The prospectus quoted one parent as saying: ‘It’s the most magical place for our children to spend time, and they can often be seen rosy-cheeked and perfecting handstands, throwing balls or racing to the tree stumps.’
There is school on Saturday mornings followed by an afternoon of sports fixtures for pupils in Year 5 and above which includes nine-year-old George.
Lambrook offers weekly and flexi-boarding for boys and girls aged seven onwards, with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge having the option to let George and Charlotte stay as little as one night a week on an ad-hoc basis, with the sleepovers booked online. George and Charlotte will be day pupils for now.
‘Weeknights sound like a hoot; think Harry Potter evenings and lashings of hot chocolate,’ Talk Education said in its review of the school.
Fridays are the most popular night for one-off boards, leaving parents free to host dinner parties and nurse hangovers, the Telegraph reported.
Fees cost £4,389 a term for Reception to Year 2 pupils such as Louis, £6,448 per term for Years 3-4 like Charlotte, and £6,999 per term for George through Years 5-8, with an additional £1,481 per term for boarding for Y3-8. It means William and Kate will be spending in excess of £50,000 a year on their children’s private education.
The bill amounts to £53,508’s worth of fees in 2021-2022, not factoring in any potential sibling discount if available, fee increases or the cost of uniform or trips. Boarding for the older two Cambridge children would cost an additional £8,886 a year if chosen at a later date.
Lambrook, a Christian school, prides itself on its high academic standards, with a pass rate of 100 per cen for the Common Entrance exam – taken by private school pupils as part of the selective admissions process at age 13. With 620 pupils, it is a larger than average pre-prep and prep school but billed as not as pushy as its London counterparts, with some of its intake being bussed in from west London and Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Surrey.
Year 8 leavers join prestigious schools such as William’s alma mater Eton, Wellington College, Marlborough College, where Kate went, and Charterhouse among others.
Headmaster Jonathan Perry is known for his charm, and performed a rock-and-roll dance and jumped on chairs to cheer up pupils during lockdown. His wife Jenny works with the pastoral team, with the pair praised for their focus on emotional wellbeing, perfectly in line with William and Kate’s campaigning on mental health.
Mr Perry says on the school website: ‘We give our pupils the ‘feathers to fly’ so that when they move on to the next stage of their educational journey, they will spread their wings and will take flight; leaving as confident, happy, engaging, mature, considerate and thoughtful young adults who are outward-looking global citizens.’
Lambrook’s on-site orchard is home to pigs, chickens and rabbits, available to cuddle during tutor time wellbeing walks, bees with hives, and visiting lambs, and George and Charlotte will have an enrichment afternoon every Monday to complement their academic studies.
They will be able to draw from a huge range of activities for this including farming, bee-keeping, chess, mountain biking, ballet, tap, jazz, mini-masterchef, polo, podcast-making, scuba diving, skiing, as well as life-saving, survival, debating and public speaking.
Louis, who will be in reception, will enjoy ‘Forest Fridays’ and be ‘taken on a journey of discovery in the beautiful outdoors’, the school’s prospectus says, mirroring the Duchess of Cambridge’s philosophy of the importance of outdoor play and spending time in nature.
Talk Education said there is a ‘sense of delicious freedom’ while the Good Schools Guide said one mother was ‘mystified by how they get pupils back for lessons, but like clockwork they tumble in, ruddy-cheeked and full of fresh air’.
And parents enjoy the benefit of not having to deal with muddy PE kits. Games clothes are handed in at the start of term and remain there to be laundered by staff, before being sent home at the end of term. Every item must be named but only sewn-on tags are permitted.
The main school building is a large white 19th-century country mansion. Lambrook was founded in 1860 and two of Queen Victoria’s grandsons, Prince Christian Victor and Prince Albert of Schleswig-Holstein, attended, with Victoria travelling from Windsor Castle to watch them in plays and at cricket matches.
Uniforms consist of blue and green tartan kilts for girls and and navy corduroy trousers for boys, plus check shirts, navy pullovers and blue and green ties.
William and Kate can also immerse themselves in the school’s busy social life amid reports of plentiful Lambrook get-togethers and helpful WhatsApp groups. Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Range Rovers apparently fill the car park.
But one Mumsnet user wrote: ‘I have been rather put off by the size of Lambrook, and the reputation of ‘Lambrook’ parents. We are not super wealthy, nor are we city people or country landholders!’
Overseas school trips include jaunts to France, Italy, Iceland and South Africa. But Year 7 students preparing to embark on a canoeing trip in Sweden must each first fundraise £500 to help an underprivileged child do the same through the Teenage Wilderness Trust.
Sustainability – no doubt a hit with eco-conscious William – is also key with the children planting 400 saplings to create a new woodland.