History & PhilosophySummer Term 1922

Holmwood House School was founded in 1922 by Mr and Mrs E F Duggan 'to develop the individuality and abilities of each child, to make him self-reliant and adaptable and to help him face reality'.   Except for wartime evacuation, the school has remained on the same site, two miles from the centre of Colchester, and it continues to pursue the same aims, but now, since 1985, in a truly co-educational environment.  Having started with just three children, the school now has a thriving Nursery, Early Years, Pre-Prep and Prep departments set in beautiful grounds, giving over 400 boys and girls, up to age 13, access to a huge range of academic, sporting, creative and scientific facilities.

The 5 Rs - Our Learning Philosophy

PDF icon  Please click here to read our Learning Philosophy - The 5 Rs.

Academic accomplishment and a sense of self-worth suitable to individual ability are the priorities for every pupil in the school.  Throughout its activities, Holmwood aims to enable its pupils to discover true satisfaction, which results from giving their personal best in the pursuit of excellence.

In the Pre-Prep, children are organised in classes of up to 18 with a class teacher supported by assistants and specialist subject teachers to ensure a rich and vibrant experience results for all children. The Prep School is arranged by academic year groups which are divided into three or four classes or sets.  There is normally a maximum of 18 in each class.  In placing a child in an academic year group, we take account of both ability and age.  The system allows great flexibility and individuality so that we can provide for each child's strengths and weaknesses; stretching each pupil without undue pressure.

The syllabus is designed to introduce every subject in a way which will both stimulate interest and give a full understanding of the basic principles involved.  All the syllabuses are in line with the National Curriculum, except where we start subjects earlier than expected - such as French at the beginning of the Reception year and Latin in Year 6.

Of the 25 acres belonging to the school, around 18 are sports grounds.  They provide, according to the season, up to 9 pitches for combinations of soccer, rugby or hockey, or 5 cricket pitches, 4 rounders areas and an athletics track, adjoining jumping pits, jumping areas, and high jump area, in addition to a floodlit hard court for 4 tennis or 3 netball courts and a further floodlit tarmac area for minor games.  Also within the grounds stands a tremendous sports hall (2010) with 4 ECB standard cricket nets and courts for badminton, indoor hockey, football and netball, and an onsite associate Rackets and Fitness Members Club boasting 5 squash courts, 2 indoor tennis courts and a multi-gym (gym for adult use only).

As in the academic arrangements, the purpose is to enable each child to make the most of his or her potential and to increase enjoyment. There are frequent matches against other schools of all ages and ability levels and on some days, a dozen or more teams may be representing the school. 

Many children take part in a number of tournaments and competitions; in recent years the school has featured especially strongly in athletics, rugby, cricket, netball, swimming and hockey.

Art, Music and Drama all form an important part of the education of every child in the school.  In addition to the regular lessons which occur in the academic timetable, there are a great many Arts activities which take place at a variety of times throughout every week.   The presentation of completed work in the Arts is given considerable and professional attention. 

The regular monitoring of a child's academic and other progress is in the hands of his or her tutor. There are several timetabled sessions each week when a child sees his or her tutor, who takes an interest in all that he or she does, keeps a record of achievements and helps to solve any problems the child may have. The Tutor also keeps in close touch with the child's parents, including sending them a half-termly report, in addition to the regular reports sent through the year.

The extended day for all pupils in the Prep School enables them to form bonds of friendship and feelings of belonging to the extent that, more often than not, it is the child who initiates the very easy transition from day pupil to boarder.  Most children will board in their final year.

At Holmwood, a prominent part of the school's policy is to teach each child to organise some of his or her leisure time for himself or herself.  We provide opportunities for our pupils to receive further instruction on activities which particularly interest them through our varied activities programme.  This programme offers the children a wider and richer range of activities than is available during the normal school day.  It provides not only the opportunities for our pupils to expand their interests, experiences and expertise, but also a stimulating environment in which children can discover new interests.  The programme is reviewed on a termly basis in order to ensure that we continue to introduce new activities whenever possible, and make full use of our facilities.  Click here for details of our current Activity Programme.

It is always our aim to increase a child's self-discipline and judgment rather than give him or her a false sense of security through a highly regimented routine.  We believe that this is best achieved by the combined effect of allowing a child a considerable amount of freedom in the use of leisure time yet surrounding this with a clear set of enforceable rules. Based on common sense, these rules are designed to provide a reasonable framework of limitations within which a child can learn to develop his or her own individuality without causing offence or becoming self-centred.  They form a code of behaviour applicable on all occasions, not just within the confines of school life, and it is as such that they are introduced to the children.

 Manners Maketh Man!

William of Wykeham (1324-1404)