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Latest News – October 2017
Canford gifted and talented art workshop.

This week a selection of girls from Knighton House were chosen to attend a gifted and talented workshop at Canford School. On arrival the eight girls were set to task creating a dry point acrylic printing plate. They selected their starting point from a variety of photocopies of animals and these were used as a base for their individual composition. Working with a dry point needle to scratch the image and a variety of sandpapers they inscribed their printing plate exploring the texture and form of the animal.

These were then inked up using traditional printing techniques and a printing press. The outcomes were fantastic, extremely professional and of a very high standard due to the level of concentration they had applied to the task. The girls worked with enthusiasm and energy throughout the whole workshop and should be proud of their achievements.

A huge thank you goes to Canford art department, especially to the three sixth form students who faultlessly led the activity. The original prints will be returned to school in due course and I look forward to displaying them in a prominent place for all to admire.

Kim Walker

Performance Sport Programme at Bryanston

On Monday 16th October 13 girls from years 5-8 went to Bryanston School to participate in their Performance Sport Programme. The session was led by Alex Fermor-Dunman (Director of Sport) and James Morris (Head of Hockey) using their fantastic new facilities.

The girls started by taking part in a number of different stretches to prepare them for the activities. They then explored different running techniques to discover the best way to achieve their maximum speed. The first test was to discover their speed over 10m and 20m and to compare that to Usain Bolt’s times! We were not too far off…….

The next test was performed on a bike and tested their power. Then they went into the sports hall and took part in a T-Test which measured the speed at which they can change direction.

The last activity was a game of touchball which gave them lots of ideas about the effective use of space in invasion games. The session was completed with a well deserved, delicious lunch in Bryanstons canteen. The girls all worked incredibly hard and we look forward to returning next year to gather some more results and knowledge about our fitness.


Year 5 visit Godolphin Literary Festival

B1 went to the Godolphin Literary Festival this morning.  Author of ‘The Girl of Ink and Stars’ Kiran Millwood Hargrave explained the process of writing her first book and showed photos of people and places that inspired her. Many Knighton girls brought their own copies of the book to the talk or purchased copies at Godolphin and Kiran kindly wrote a personal message in each book.  An interesting and inspirational morning.

B1 at Godolphin Literary

Year 8 Geography field trip to Durdle Door

Alpha had chance to put their classroom learning into practice today with a trip to Durdle Door. A fabulous field trip where they tested their coastal erosion hypotheses. Will pebbles be smaller or larger on the exposed Durdle Door beach? Sharper or smoother on the sheltered Man ‘o war cove beach? Which will have the steeper profile and why? 

The girls will use the data to complete their projects for their senior schools. Thanks to Louise from Leeson House for leading the session and answering everyone questions.

durdle door 1b
durdle door 2
durdle door 1
The Orchard had a visit from the dental nurse Katrina and Mr Chomper. The children enjoyed learning about healthy eating,  looking after their teeth and how to brush them and why it is important to visit the dentist. Apples and Pears also had the opportunity to dress up as a dentist and a patient. Mr Chomper certainly left with sparkling teeth as the children  each had a turn at brushing them with a toothbrush.  
orchard dentist
orchard dentist 2
B1 enjoy high ropes adventure.

B1 travelled to Kingston Maurward on Saturday for their High Ropes Adventure. They had a fantastic time playing games, climbing and supporting each other. Lots of girls overcame their fears and achieved something they might not have thought possible from the ground.

The hugging of the tree trunk was to try to stop it wobbling for the person at the top!! 

It was a great, team building experience which left them all wanting to go back again! 

B1 Church Assembly : Resilience

B1s church assembly was on the theme of resilience.  They acted out real-life examples of famous people who have succeeded only because they were resilient – JK Rowling, Thomas Edison and the Beatles.  B1 know that success is not straightforward, but they always have a go! 

Knighton pupils play in the SATIPS Orchestra at Bryanston

On Tuesday six of our more advanced orchestral players joined an orchestra of 85 players (of about grade 4-8 standard) from nine prep schools to make music together for the day.

They had three hours to learn a new piece in sectional groups: the Strings learnt Prelude to the Holberg Suite by Grieg, the flutes, oboes and clarinets learnt Windmills of your Mind by Legrand and the Saxophones learnt a traditional air. They also had an hour to put together the full orchestra pieces: The Sweetheart Tree by Mancini and the traditional tune Down by The Salley Gardens. The day culminated with a fifteen minute concert to an appreciative audience of parents.

It was a wonderful opportunity for our girls to play in a large ensemble at a high level but with local children of a similar age. Being in the middle of a huge sound like that is a thrilling experience, akin to being on a vast boat going at full speed, and is what professional orchestral musicians experience in their working life.

Latest News – September 2017
Learning Disposition Day at Knighton House: Resilience

Learning disposition days are a termly feature at Knighton House School; collaboration, communication, mistake making and resilience have all been chewed over and looked at from many perspectives, enough we hope for the girls to have learned valuable skills and to be developing great ones for their future places in the world of relationships and careers. In our fast changing environment where the quantity of your Likes and your online persona is becoming almost all that matters, particularly for girls, we believe resilience to be the most valuable of all learning dispositions for children to develop.

On the day, we divided the girls by tutor group. The thinking behind this was to encourage the tutor group to bond closely, strong friendships being a key component of the conditions required to develop your resilience skills. Girls played a game designed to winkle out new information from people they see every day: ‘If you knew me well you would know…’ was the statement they were asked to complete.  ‘If you knew me well you would know that my pets have funny names’, (Badger and Scully), ‘If you knew me well you would know that I love music’ (we didn’t), ‘If you knew me well you would know that I don’t have a television’ (cue stupefaction in the tutor group when they heard this from their teacher), but this simple game strengthened group dynamics and the knowledge that in a crisis, it isn’t just your B.F. on whom you can rely..

The Red Cross website has fantastic education resources on resilience and much thanks to them for the hard-thinking hour we spent deciding what to do in various hypothetical scenarios: Accidental Half-Marathon, Blown Over and Overcoming Overwhelm, helped girls evaluate their normal reactions to difficulty and then using a list of ‘resilient behaviours’, to challenge their default settings. ‘I always cry’, ‘I panic’ and ‘I become frozen’, were common themes in discussion but new possibilities presented themselves: ‘Calling on past experience, your own or other people’s, of similar situations and using that as a guide or help.’, ‘Being creative with resources’ and ‘Not necessarily doing the first thing that comes into your head’ made ‘bouncing back’ seem absolutely do-able.

Resilience is a skill which we develop over time and life tests how well we are doing, regularly; in assembly, girls were asked to visualise an elastic band and to go forward from the ‘day’ thinking of themselves as made of the same properties; stretching to their fullest extent when tried, but always having the capacity to snap back.




resilience wall
resilience 2
resilience 3
resilience circles

A2 sing at Milton Abbey

Our ten A2s joined with over 200 prep school singers in the beautiful building of Milton Abbey to sing together yesterday. They learnt four songs (jazz, pop, spiritual and African) in up to five parts under the guidance of professional tenor/ beat box artist/ music technician/ singing teacher Oli Vincent. We all thoroughly enjoyed making a big joyful noise  in the exquisite 13th century Abbey.




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Year 3 pupils use eggs for experiment – with rather smelly results!

B3 have been looking at the effects of different liquids on tooth enamel and have been observing five eggs during the last week – pretending that the shell is the tooth enamel.

We opened them today – they were pretty stinky – and discovered the damage caused by each liquid.

The blackcurrant juice and vinegar did the most damage and we will now all be choosing water or milk from now on!


B3 eggs 2
B3 eggs

Orchard Harvest Lunch

What a fabulous three course meal the Orchard children prepared and then enjoyed eating in the autumnal sun. There was home made soup, pizza and crumble (using our own Orchard fruit and hand picked blackberries) as well as home pressed apple juice – delicious!


Harvest display
Pears Pizzeria
Blackberry picking for crumble
Apple pressing
Inter Schools RPL and Grass Roots Show Jumping Qualifier at Leweston

Knighton House School girls took part in the National School Equestrian Association’s qualifier held by Leweston school yesterday. In the 50cm the Knighton teams came 1st and 2nd also getting individual 1st. In the 60cm Knighton teams came 1st, 2nd and 3rd again getting individual 1st and a best rider and finally in the 70cm Knighton came 2nd. Knighton also had another individual placing with a first in the 80cm. Well done to all the girls who took part.

group 1
One Day Event

The sun shone as over 20 girls took part in Knighton House School’s annual One Day Event on Saturday. The girls tackled the daunting dressage test, rode brilliantly round a challenging show jumping course and leapt and raced around the school’s cross country course. Well done to all those that took part but especially to Christina, Madeline and Daisy who won their classes and a thank you to the new riding committee for helping the younger girls with their ponies.

LAMDA success at Knighton.

In our weekly Celebration Assembly on Friday eleven girls were awarded their LAMDA certificates with all the Grade 1s and 2s achieving Distinctions. Congratulations to the girls and a big thank you to their teacher, Mrs de la Poer, for preparing them so well.

Lacrosse training

On Wednesday 13th September Alpha and A1 girls took part in a lacrosse taster session at Knighton run by Sherborne Girls School. This is part of a series of training sessions to prepare the girls for playing lacrosse at their senior school.

Luckily the sun shone all the way through as the girls learned how to pick up the ball, cradle and throw to each other. It was made even more exciting by the challenge of building a bonfire and putting the ball on the top!!! The girls thoroughly enjoyed themselves and have asked for more sessions if possible. Particular mention should go to Portia and Katie who caught the coach’s eye and were praised for their attitude and hard work.

Many thanks to Sherborne Girls school for coming along and giving the girls such a great time.

lacrosse 1
lacrosse 2
lacrosse 3
Knighton House School – a leader for educating girls.

We have a wonderful opportunity to move Knighton forwards following a glowing piece in the Good Schools’ Guide and being judged excellent by the recent ISI Inspection Report. Knighton is undoubtedly in a good place. However, we can’t afford to rest on our laurels and be complacent.

The question I have asked myself since arriving at Knighton in the summer is whether the girls are intellectually and emotionally prepared for the world in which they will be a part of in the future and expect to be contributors to; a world which will have undoubtedly changed substantially in ten years’ time by the time many of them reach adulthood. Are we really forward thinking enough? Are we brave enough to steer the school away from its traditional course whilst retaining so much of what is special about Knighton? I feel the timing is perfect to look at how we are teaching and what we are teaching with a view to designing an academic curriculum and co-curricular programme to make sure Knighton is a leader in its field. We are a prep school which educates girls and we should be proud of this.

Additionally, Knighton has an opportunity to move with the times with the senior school admissions landscape changing as an increasing number of them now pre-assess children in Year 6, sometimes early in Year 7. Senior schools in London and the south-east of England have been adopting this practice for years now. It’s reaching the ‘shires’ as well so we need to adapt our approach to make sure our girls are suitably prepared for what’s ahead of them.

In today’s world the pressure on young people to get a job which suits their skills remains as challenging as it has always been, if not tougher in 2017. In the younger generation’s modern world fixated by celebrity culture, the unrealism of some TV docu-drama programmes (so far from reality it isn’t true), and a desire to instantaneously communicate every minutiae of their lives to each other, many employers rightly lament the lack of skills being learned, particularly “soft skills”. Education it could be argued has evolved very little: Exams are still taken at different points in a child’s schooling; they continue to be taken on paper despite the availability of technology; schools focus on results (those who protest otherwise are kidding us all); and children still learn in classroom spaces which haven’t changed very much at all over the years.

Knighton feels ready for what lies ahead. The Good Schools Guide’s commented: “Is there magic in the air (at Knighton)? Yes”.

Robin Gainher, Headmaster – September 2017

head welcome
New Headmaster at Knighton House School

Knighton House School was thrilled to welcome pupils and staff back to start this new academic year this week. As well as many new pupils we also have our new Headmaster, Robin Gainher and his wife Ali, starting their time at Knighton. Robin and Ali are a formidable team with significant experience; most recently Robin was Head at Beeston Hall in Norfolk and as parents of three girls there is not much they don’t know about building confidence in girls.

Robin Gainher says “As the new Head at Knighton I’ve been given a wonderful opportunity to take the school forward into the next phase of its history. Building on the recent ISI report of ‘Excellent’ in all areas I believe Knighton can become a leader for educating girls. I can’t wait to work alongside the fantastic team of teachers here to start building an innovative exciting academic curriculum fit for the 21st Century and a co-curricular programme to excite and inspire the girls. This means road testing our current provision and asking two key questions: Is it fit for purpose? Does it match our ambitions for the girls? If not, then we have to be brave enough to make changes. Exciting times lie ahead for Knighton”.

Knighton House School, near Blandford in Dorset, is a prep school for girls aged 7-13 and a pre-prep for boys and girls aged 3-7.  Come and meet our new Headmaster Robin Gainher and see the school by booking an appointment through Alternatively come along to one of our Working Open Mornings, Wednesday 4th October and Wednesday 22nd November and see the school at work.

Robin and Ali Gainher web