While academic excellence is rightly a key indicator that a school is performing to a high standard, it’s no longer enough to produce top grades to be deemed as a top choice for parents.

To find out more on choosing the right option for your child we speak to Head of Chigwell School, Damian King, who explores the variety of ways the school is creating the best environment for its pupils.

Q: What sets Chigwell School apart from the rest?

Chigwell School is a co-educational school catering to pupils from Reception to Year 13, so pupils can enjoy a consistent education all the way through without needing to move.

“We have 1,100 students, and with a warm, homely atmosphere and an international touch, we are ‘big enough to matter, but small enough to care’,” Damian says.

“We are proud of our 100-acre campus located at the end of London’s Central tube line, providing a unique blend of urban and rural experiences.”

This Is Local London: Damian King, Head of Chigwell School.Damian King, Head of Chigwell School. (Image: Chigwell School)Q: What are the core values of Chigwell School?

“At Chigwell, our values revolve around happiness, kindness, and lifelong learning,” Damian explains.

“We prioritise creating a community of kindness, fostering lifelong learning, and instilling the idea that finding a way is as important as making one. The wellbeing of our pupils is at the forefront of our efforts, especially in navigating their emotional, physical, and spiritual health, thereby preparing them for the world beyond school.”

Q: Could you elaborate on the school's approach to wellbeing and the support provided?

Wellbeing is a cornerstone at Chigwell, spearheaded by their Head of Wellbeing who has joined them from the medical profession.

“Our school invests significantly in pastoral support and the overall wellbeing of our pupils,” Damian tells us. “We have developed a comprehensive programme, including resources for our pupils, parents, teachers, and all our alumni,” he says.

“Our commitment extends beyond the school gates, with events around the country, at universities, and we are dedicated to making sure those that have recently left the school are still well supported.”

Q: Tell us about Chigwell's plans for its 400th anniversary in 2029 and your 5-year plan.

“We are excited about our upcoming 400th anniversary in 2029, and as part of our 5-year plan, we are focusing on preserving the school's legacy,” says Damian.

“The original building, part of which is now a library, serves as a testament to our rich history. We are a forward-looking school, and as such we've recently developed an outstanding Sport and Wellness Centre. The Centre has revolutionised Chigwell’s sporting provision and is driving our sports agenda forward by enriching the learning experience for pupils, increasing the breadth and flexibility of our co-curricular offer, and catering to pupils of all sporting abilities. It is also a centrepiece of our wellbeing provision, understanding that physical wellbeing is a critical part of supporting pupils' overall happiness. The Centre is also open to the local community.

In addition, we are implementing a sustainability strategy, and engaging with pupils and parents.”

Q: How does Chigwell School contribute to academic excellence and personal development?

“Chigwell places a strong emphasis on excellence both inside and outside the classroom,” Damian explains.

Our extra-curricular activities, ranging from sports and music to drama and community service, contribute to a holistic education.”

The school encourages pupils to excel not just academically but also in areas they are passionate about, creating a diverse and supportive environment.

Q: Can you elaborate on Chigwell's involvement with the local community and sustainability initiatives?

“Of course - our commitment to the local community extends to sustainability initiatives,” Damian says. “With 100 acres of green space, we incorporate Forest School activities, orienteering, and Duke of Edinburgh programmes.”

The school is developing a St John's Ambulance unit on-site, embodying their commitment to giving back to the community.

“Arup is assisting us in developing our sustainability strategy which has started with a wellbeing garden, emphasising a long-term commitment to environmental stewardship. We are actively engaging in understanding ideas around field-to-fork practices, and are looking to begin animal husbandry with bees, chickens, and perhaps alpacas in the future.”

Q: What can you tell us about Chigwell School's extra-curricular activities?

Damian tells us about the school’s offering which includes a wide range of extra-curricular activities, from traditional sports and music to unique opportunities like building go-karts and Dungeons and Dragons.

“Pupils lead clubs here at Chigwell, which really fosters a sense of independence and teamwork,” Damian says.

Q: How does Chigwell School balance academic excellence with a broader, more holistic education?

“Chigwell prides itself on being academically excellent while providing a holistic education. We encourage pupils to discover their passions whether through scholarly pursuits or extra-curricular activities,” Damian tells us.

“Our approach allows pupils to explore various interests and change their minds, fostering personal growth and a well-rounded education,” he says.

Chigwell School stands as a beacon of academic achievement, community engagement, and holistic wellbeing, embodying our commitment to being ‘big enough to matter and small enough to care.”

For more information on visiting or registering your child at Chigwell School, visit chigwell-school.org/.