Bassett House School - Our headmistress

Headmistress's Welcome

Welcome to Bassett House

I’ve yet to meet a child who isn’t naturally curious. Sometimes this instinct lies dormant, but it’s always there. Our job is to develop this curiosity so it becomes a lifelong love of learning. We achieve this through a regime of creativity, encouragement and reward; but firstly we need to make sure every child feels safe, secure and welcome. I would say Bassett House School’s outstanding characteristic is its warm and nurturing atmosphere.

I believe a teacher’s enthusiasm is infectious, and can safely say we’re not lacking in that department at Bassett. Through an enticing mix of lessons and activities we inspire all our pupils to be inquisitive about the world and to recognise its endless possibilities. I would like to invite you to visit Bassett House, where you can meet me and some of the teachers but, most importantly, see the children in action: their confidence and enthusiasm is something you need to experience for yourself.

To obtain a prospectus, have a chat or arrange a visit, please do telephone the school office 020 8969 0313 or contact the school by email at

Philippa Cawthorne

Read our ISI report


Tatler 2019

Tatler Schools Guide 2019

‘A hidden gem in Notting Hill that was founded with the aim of providing an environment for children to learn through self-discovery. Leavers from this non-selective school not only have a real zest for life, but they also care about their table manners (a golden spoon is awarded to the more polite eaters). Bassett House does well academically and saw unbeaten seasons in netball last year, but may we also draw your attention to the clubs: a barbershop group called the Bassettones, Strictly Scottish Dancing, Artrepreneurs (where children create imaginative objects that are sold for charity), a radio show, Cooking by Numbers, which caught the eye of both Nigella Lawson and Nadiya Hussain on Twitter. Bassett House is quickly becoming one of the most nurturing and creative prep schools in west London’.




Our Ethos

Every child can learn to fly

Our outstanding results repeatedly show that all children can learn to fly, regardless of early learning ability.

Great minds think for themselves; nurturing individuality is at the heart of our teaching. We believe tailor-made teaching opens up young minds to endless possibilities, and that a growth mindset approach encourages children to think creatively and form their own ideas.

Our pupils mostly call it having fun.
We call it being the best they can be.

A full statement of the school’s ethos and aims is available here.




Bassett House School two children with ipads

And every day, everywhere, our children spread their dreams beneath our feet. And we should tread softly

Sir Ken Robinson

Ethos in Action

Close relationships nurture individuality

Bassett House School Boy with iPad

Bassett House School was formerly a family home and retains a happy, welcoming atmosphere, starting at the front door where the headmistress or a senior staff member greets each child by name every morning.

Currently we have approximately 200 pupils and 39 teaching staff, allowing each child a great deal of individual attention. It is very rare there are more than 20 pupils in any class, and in the early years there are three teaching adults in attendance. Small group and 1:1 sessions are commonplace.

Teachers take lunch with the children and our extensive extra-curricular activities allow teachers and pupils to interact in a more informal atmosphere.

Our school is a place where every child feels valued and gains the confidence to fly.

Cultivating a growth mindset

School philosophy

‘Do what you love, and don’t stop until you get what you love. Work as hard as you can, imagine immensities…’ Debbie Millman

A ‘can do’ attitude and growth mindset are in our DNA. They are embedded in every aspect of school life from our curriculum, classroom, staffroom and sports fields to the playground and outside school activities.

If you were to say ‘I can’t do that’ to one of our pupils they would inevitably bellow back ‘I can’t do that YET.’  This mantra is often repeated at assemblies and has become a shorthand for understanding that resilience and perseverance pay off, which in turn feeds a passion for learning rather than a hunger for approval. 

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts

Sir Winston Churchill

Bassett Bear and the Tree of Mastery

Throughout the school you will see our Tree of Mastery. This features our school mascot Bassett Bear facing a challenge, engaging with it, persevering when the going gets tough then successfully reaching the top of the tree having mastered the challenge.

Our children are taught to recognise that learning can be a struggle, even for the brightest minds, and that this is a natural part of life. It means they can tackle new tasks without fear of failure, giving them the confidence to persevere.

Following in the footsteps of Bassett Bear they understand the need to be resilient, determined and inventive to overcome difficulties. They know, without a doubt, that reaching the top of the Tree of Mastery rarely comes without sustained effort; the sweet taste of success beckons!

We show our children that we too are willing to climb the Tree of Mastery.  Many of our teachers have taken up new challenges as diverse as learning to play the oboe, cooking Indian food and yoga. Importantly they openly share their trials and tribulations with the children (often much to their amusement).

‘In one world, effort is a bad thing. It, like failure, means you’re not smart or talented. In the other world, effort is what makes you smart or talented.’ Carol Dweck

Praising attainment alone can lead to children becoming approval-seekers and risk-averse out of fear of failure.

Too often effort is the unsung hero. At Bassett House effort is rewarded first and attainment second. 

Recognition and praise of effort, on the other hand, foster a ‘have-a-go’ culture which is how children learn and develop a healthy relationship with achievement.

Bassett’s approach relies on our teachers being perfectly in tune with the child, paying detailed attention to their every effort. Our pupils are given individual and meaningful feedback rather than a smattering of non-specific ‘well dones’.

Prime accolades in the school are the Growth Mindset Prizes for Endeavour, Perseverance and Resilience. These are awarded to the children who have demonstrated outstanding effort in all areas of school life, academic and social. The only criterion is that each child has successfully overcome several personal challenges.

A Programme of Enrichment

‘I don’t praise a small child for doing what they ought to be able to do, I praise them when they do something really difficult – like sharing a toy or showing patience.’ Charlotte Stiglitz  

The Enrichment programme is Mrs Cawthorne’s brainchild (one of a growing family) in which the whole school participates.

Children are invited to explore novel activities and find out how they cope with new, unexpected experiences. Hidden talents are discovered. Or not. The brightest child may find they are not so hot at Zumba (some of us can identify with that one).  Lessons are learnt, character is formed.

The smorgasbord of subjects typically include philosophy, origami, scientific experiments, debating, children’s fitness, outdoor learning, board games, construction, Star Wars, paper craft, plasticine modelling, film-making, martial arts, pop dance, Lego engineering, coding, rock-climbing, rock band, country dancing and textile design using recycled clothing. The list goes on.

“We keep moving forward, opening up new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” Walt Disney