It’s a very big day for little Prince George. The four-year-old started school at Thomas's Battersea on Thursday morning, looking slightly apprehensive as he arrived with his proud dad Prince William by his side. But what's in store for the future king as he embarks on his academic journey? HELLO! takes a closer look at his brand new preparatory school.
Prince George was greeted on his first day by Head of Lower School Helen Haslem, who made a point of shaking the little boy's hand – a gesture that is encouraged at Thomas's. Every day starts with a handshake, and good eye contact is also important, with children expected to be "unfailingly courteous and polite". Emphasis is also placed on the need to 'Be Kind' – the school's most important rule, according to its website.
The young royal, who is joining reception where he will be known to his classmates as George Cambridge, will have the chance to experience a range of subjects, including ballet, which is compulsory for both boys and girls up to the age of seven, and is accompanied by music from a live pianist.
Children in reception will start learning French, while Latin is compulsory from year five – homework, however, is optional up to year four: "Like everything else in moderation, boredom is good." Should William and Kate chose, George can also partake in some of the 24 after-school clubs on offer; from Italian, fencing, community gardening and golf, to songwriting, debating and pottery.
There will be 21 pupils in George's class, one of three classes in the reception year, with each child given their own desk and peg with their name on. Ben Thomas, who was headmaster of Thomas's Battersea for 18 years, and is now Principle of Thomas's London Day Schools, said of the Prince's first day: "He is going to be focusing on his classroom. He will be introduced to his form teacher and his teaching assistant. It will be a very gentle introduction to the school. It will be over almost before they know it. It will be a half day today. All parents will probably have just enough time to get home and recover, have a cup of coffee, before they are back to pick them up."
He added: "They start with half days and then the moment comes when they get to stay for lunch, which is a really big deal trying to balance their lunch on their trays. And then they will be here eventually for full days and then we start to introduce them to the breadth of the curriculum. But the emphasis is on making sure they feel safe, they feel secure and they feel happy. If we get that in place, then they'll start to explore."
There is an emphasis placed on sport and the arts at Thomas's Battersea, with physical activity taking up about 20 per cent of the time table from year three upwards. George, who will start in one of three reception classes, will also be able to play in the "imaginative rooftop playground" while outdoor activities are also held at nearby Battersea Park, Barns Elms and the Wandle Centre. Sports on offer at the school include gymnastics, swimming, cross country, athletics, tennis and dance.
In conjunction with physical activity, the school also offers a healthy and refined menu for pupils. George will dine on dishes including an authentic lamb ragout with garlic and fresh herbs, poached haddock with a poached egg, and a Lancashire hotpot. There are daily fish, vegetarian and soup options, while desserts include individual apricot tartlets, and chocolate and courgette sponge. According to the website, Thomas's "recognises that a balanced diet stimulates the brain, improves concentration, helps the children to study and assists with memory".
The school accommodates boys and girls between four and 13; prospective two and three-year-olds are called in for an assessment to determine their suitability, although the test relies on natural intelligence rather than academia. Fees are set at £5,868 per term at age four, and increase from £6,628 from the age of seven. The school uniform, meanwhile, is available from John Lewis, with prices starting at £36 for a waterproof jacket, £25 for a jumper, £23 for shorts and £10 for a red polo shirt.