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150 Years Of Lockers Park School In Hemel Hempstead


Absolutely Hertfordshire speaks to Gavin Taylor, Head of Lockers Park School, on a fast approaching special anniversary, historic events and academic success

Could you give us a potted history of Lockers Park…

Lockers Park School celebrates its 150th anniversary next year and our archives are simply bulging with stories and fond memories of our long, proud history of boys’ only education. Founded in 1874 by Henry Montagu Draper, Lockers Park is one of the earliest purpose-built prep schools, expressly created as a foundation for preparing boys for Rugby School. The school soon established itself as one of the top prep schools in the country, sending boys to a range of the top senior schools including Eton, Harrow, Winchester, Rugby and Haileybury. This is a tradition and honour we are proud to maintain.

Lockers Park is built on 23 acres of parkland surrounding a significant Georgian house called The Lockers, which still exists. We have a distinguished list of Old Boys, including members of the Royal Family as well as Saif Ali Khan and his father, Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi.

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Lockers Park School Headmaster, Gavin Taylor

How long have you been Head at the school for and what has kept you at Lockers Park since 2008?

I have been Headmaster at Lockers Park for two years now, having made the transition from Deputy Head. It has been a wonderful opportunity to lead a school which I have seen deliver outstanding education to the boys for the past 15 years. The school continues to evolve and I have such a wonderful group around me working together to provide boys with a premium education with an abundance of opportunities inside and outside the classroom.

Lockers Park is an incredibly special school and every year the excitement of new ideas helps us to remain at the forefront of education. This drives the outstanding academic programme and pastoral care we offer, which in turn helps the boys establish a strong set of values, making every day enjoyable to teach these young men. I see our leavers go on to leading public schools knowing they are fully prepared to succeed. 

Throughout the year there are events that have stood the test of time, from Dark Tower, to The Feast, through to the termly Headmaster’s Celebration Teas and weekly ‘Slatter’ (sweets given on a Friday to boys who have earned them), which are integral to the fabric of Lockers Park. These activities set us apart from other schools and being able to participate in these activities as a teacher and now Headmaster, continues to be a privilege that I embrace.

Today, what does Lockers Park offer?

Lockers Park is an academically-focused prep school with a tailored approach to education that enables our boys to achieve excellent results alongside celebrating an enthusiasm for life. Boys study with us from Reception to Year 8, but carry the positive memories of Lockers Park with them for life.

We offer a diverse curriculum, including English, maths, science, French, classics, history, geography, design & technology, art, computing, drama, and music, with sport every day of the week.

Being a school where classes are 16 or less creates a thriving community, where each teacher and every member of staff from matrons to cooks knows each pupil and helps him to make the most of his full and active school life. Lockers Park is a place where excellent results are achieved, abundant opportunities enjoyed and where pastoral care excellence, family spirit, camaraderie and kindness thrive. 

For busy parents, we offer wraparound care that is second to none. Boys can arrive from 7.30am and stay until 7.30pm, receiving three high quality meals at school and enjoying the abundant range of teacher-run afterschool activities. This fully flexible offer is included within the school fees at no extra cost. 

Do you offer anything that you believe makes you stand out?

Our grounding principle is that our boys achieve excellent results. This absolutely influences the fabric and ethos of Lockers Park. Being a purposefully small school allows us to know each individual pupil, and so enable him to achieve his potential and build an enthusiasm for life that will support him in his Senior School and beyond. 

Offering an optional Saturday School academic programme, for our Years 3 to Years 8, gives boys access to lessons that will stretch their interests, or allow them to build a greater understanding of core principles in areas where they may need more support.

We believe that adopting a practical, hands-on approach to learning allows boys to be boys and helps increase concentration in the classroom. School days are deliberately longer than normal as this allows the pupils the time they need to recharge their batteries through well-considered breaks throughout the day. Sport for all and on a daily basis is a cornerstone of what is on offer, as is a wide range of academic subjects and co-curricular activities. 

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Lessons are interactive

If we chanced upon a typical classroom scene, what would we find?

Every day is different and the whole curriculum is set to benefit boys’ education with fast paced, interactive lessons. The teaching is designed to help all challenge theory and use existing knowledge to solve problems and answer questions. There is a common language used across the classrooms, as boys understand their processes to attempt problems and obtain answers. All classes are well resourced and technology supports and enhances learning across all areas of the curriculum.

How would you sum up the teaching ethos at Lockers Park?

Lockers Park has long been known as a school that enables boys to achieve excellent results and to progress to a wide range of senior schools. The breadth and strength of our curriculum allows boys to explore their academic interests whilst developing their abilities.

Habits of Mind are at the heart of our curriculum and we celebrate the process of learning as much as the outcomes. We continue to use educational theory to adapt our teaching, developing boys’ skills with a strong problem based approach. This is a rich opportunity for our students to deepen their knowledge, expand their repertoire of technical skills, and enhance their appreciation of thinking tools, processes, and strategies. There are many different aspects to this including metacognition where we assist in helping the boys understand their own thoughts, strategies, feelings and actions and their effects on others.

We pride ourselves on excellent Common Entrance results (100% pass rate) and recent leavers have joined Eton, Harrow, Bedford School, St Albans and Berkhamsted School with a wide range of scholarships. 

What opportunities do you offer outside of the classroom?

We place huge emphasis on educating the whole child. We provide our boys with lots of opportunities beyond the classroom – whether it’s our very own Lockers Park Cubs and Scouts Troop, LAMDA, chess, debating, Lego Club, fly fishing, cricket, skiing or participating in our music ensembles, there are numerous clubs for every boy to discover new passions. We offer 27 different clubs which take place every week. 

As a boarding school, we also offer special boarding weekends and evenings from ‘The Feast’ and ‘Dark Tower’ to ‘House of Hogwarts’, ‘Battle of the Boys’ and lots of other activities in between. 

Our flexible boarding provision remains popular with boys and their families. It allows the boys to grow in confidence, independence and boost their self-esteem in a friendly and supportive environment. We encourage boarding in Years 5 and 6, building up to regular nights with us in Years 7 and 8 as preparation for their Senior Schools.


Do you make full use of the woodland around you?

The woodlands are used on a daily basis for both education and play. Our introduction of Shrub School (Shrubs being the name of the woodland within the site) last year has seen specialised teachers provide hands-on experiences in the natural environment. This is completed through a range of activities including shelter building, campfire cooking, nature art, woodwork, sensory walks and so much more. There are so many recognised benefits from this style of education and it supports our values promoting resilience and self-belief whilst keeping practical problem solving at the heart of its teaching. Boys in Reception to Year 6 have Shrub School every week.

At break times, each year group has a special area of the school grounds that they can explore and play in, with the shrubs being the focus for many adventures. By allowing the boys the freedom to explore the wonderful natural world around them as part of their breaks, we are teaching them independence as well as encouraging their natural curiosity.

What have been the highlights of this school year to date?

This is an incredibly difficult question to answer, as all events at Lockers Park are special for so many of our community. 

The boys have particularly enjoyed the Set (House) Competitions and we have already seen very competitive contests in maths, poetry, singing, dancing, football and basketball. Winning the Set Competition earns the boys an invitation to an end of term amazing themed supper full of tasty treats. Not only does this reward the boys for their hard work and contribution to their Set’s success, it also spurs on the rest of the boys to triumph next term! 

Dark Tower and Halloween Havoc are part of our history and any Old Boy will share the fun that occurs during these special nights. My personal highlight has been the Christmas Carol Service which we held at St John’s Church, Boxmoor. This brings the whole Lockers Park community together which has been sorely missed over the last few years. 

And what are you looking forward to in 2023?

The summer is my favourite term for many reasons. The weather always makes the grounds look spectacular and it is lovely to see the boys playing cricket. We are excited about some of our cricket prospects and a good season will put them in a great place for our tour next year to South Africa. The summer term is also full of celebrations and it is a pleasure to share this with the boys when they collect their results and receive their trophies at the end of the school year. 

I am also excited by the prospect of celebrating Lockers Park’s 150th anniversary in 2024. Preparations are well underway and we begin our celebrations in September with a programme of special events for current pupils, Old Boys and all their families. I am proud to be Headmaster of the school as we honour the achievements of our history, whilst looking forwards to what Lockers Park will accomplish in the next 150 years.

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Mark Kebble

Mark's career in journalism started in 2001 when he landed a role on a small lifestyle magazine in Angel, North London. Soon enough, the magazine was purchased by a larger organisation and Mark found himself promoted to editor at the tender age of 23. He later became group editor, working on magazines for Angel, Crouch End, Muswell Hill and Highgate. He was also involved in a launch in Hadley Wood and a major new group website, later becoming Group Hub Editor. In 2021, Mark joined Zest Media Group and oversaw the launch of many Absolutely titles across the UK. To date, Mark has launched in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Sussex, Essex, Yorkshire and Cheshire. When he does have some free time, Mark is also the Chairman of an amateur football club in Surrey and is also a fully qualified FA football coach.
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