Just Like A Family- The Penarth School With Community at its Heart

At Westbourne School, the essence of the educational journey lies in the warmth of the community and the embrace of individuality. Mr Ken Underhill, the school’s Executive Principal, tells us more.

When students are asked to describe what they most value about their experience at Westbourne, resoundingly, their answers focus on the warmth and support of our school community, our smaller school approach, and our family feel. Alongside academic results, the strength of our school community is what defines us, and what continues to drive our success as one of the country’s leading independent schools.

Westbourne’s approach to academic excellence is rooted in the understanding that students thrive in an environment where they are seen, heard and valued as individuals, and where they feel secure and comfortable. This commitment to inclusiveness not only shapes our school’s culture but also significantly enhances the educational experiences of our students. An average class size of 15 in the Prep and just 16 in our Senior School means that students are guided more closely by their teachers, and have the space to develop their own ideas. We see learners of all ages quickly grow in confidence and skill, as they discover their own distinctive voice.

Executive Principal, Ken Underhill with his family

My career at Westbourne began when I started teaching in Westbourne House Prep School in 1975, for boys aged 5-13. It has been my delight and privilege to be involved in the development of this great school over the years. I was particularly honoured to be involved with introducing the IB Diploma to our Sixth Form back in 2007, as an alternative to the traditional A Level. The gold standard in education, the IB Diploma’s academic rigour gives students a clear head-start in university admissions. Since its introduction, we have developed a reputation as one of the best places in the country to study the IB- and, with the launch of academic sister schools in Sydney and Singapore, the world.

“It is a small, very friendly school. It’s somewhere you can believe that your children will have the best brought out in them. Not just academically, but emotionally, socially and physically. The teachers are always looking for ways to develop them in as fully, and as rounded a manner, as possible.”

– Mr Haberfield, Parent

Values of inclusivity and global mindedness, which are central to the IB Diploma, run deeply throughout the whole school. From Reception up, pupils are encouraged to develop the key competencies of the IB Learner Profile, namely, to be risk takers, principled, confident communicators, inquirers, open-minded, reflective, empathetic global citizens- an educational programme which produces impressive young people.

It is the sense of shared responsibility that enriches school life at Westbourne, as students gain the skills to become not just national but international citizens in professions that make a global impact. The diverse opportunities that we offer- from our stimulating STEM provision and innovative education technology, to engagement with the wider world through our vibrant international networks- demonstrate our commitment to developing well-rounded individuals ready to take on global challenges.

I chose to become a teacher because I wanted to inspire the next generation, and, even to this day, the students in my care provide the greatest motivation. The nurturing of students means that our staff team gets to know every student very well, and that’s so important. We are proud to forge great relationships, over many years, with both pupils and parents- we are like an extended family. Our staff send their children here, my own grandson is a pupil here, and my daughter is our Office Manager and Examinations Officer. I am a firm believer that quality of relationships is a key characteristic for successful teaching and learning, and we have this in abundance.

“The truth is that Westbourne is a school like no other. The community is incredible. The relationships you build and the connections you make, the fact everyone is here for each other when you most need them, is something I will truly remember forever.”

– Dharani, Student

As we look to the future, Westbourne will continue to be a place where the individual is celebrated, where everyone is welcome and respected, and where each student’s educational journey is carefully tailored to their individual ambitions and talents. We are driven to ensure that our students leave us not only with the very best qualifications, but with memories, friendships, opportunities and a sense of belonging that last a lifetime.