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Small But Perfectly Formed - Do Class Sizes Really Matter?

For many parents choosing a school for their child, class size is one of the fundamental features that they look at when making their decision. However, many people are not aware of the benefits of small class sizes (typically less than 18 pupils) and the positive effects they can have on learning.

Small class sizes are essential for good learning and can hugely influence the level of academic excellence achieved by pupils. A report by Professor Peter Blatchford of the Institute of Education, University of London, found that "in both reading and maths, pupils in small classes performed significantly better than pupils in regular classes."

This academic success came from teachers being able to spend more one-to-one time with pupils as well as having more time to spend planning and marking work - two key opportunities which are not easily accessible for teachers of regular sized classes. As a consequence of small class sizes, pupils are also better behaved and are more engaged in the learning process. Pupils in small classes ask more questions, discuss subjects with teachers and are more inquisitive than their regular class size peers.

The evidence in favour of small class sizes combined with exceptional teaching is overwhelming and as a result, there is no better place for your child to flourish than at The Phoenix. Small class sizes are at the core of our philosophy and always have been, for a child being a member of a small class can be fundamental in early learning and development and forms a solid foundation for their future.

Our small class sizes allow teachers to spend more time with children individually and with small average class sizes throughout the school - you can be sure that your children will receive the attention and high standard of education that they deserve.

We want our pupils' questions to be listened to and answered, and in a small class, no hand goes unseen and no voice unheard. No child goes without the opportunity to take the lead in a sports activity or in a school performance and this allows their confidence to flourish in preparation for their move into secondary education. They leave our school fully prepared for the challenges a larger class environment brings with the confidence to be heard and seen amongst their peers.

Our small class sizes allow children to thrive in a productive learning environment where any negative behaviour or educational issues are spotted and resolved quickly. Children can play safely together and learn how to interact with various age groups with no fear of bullying or being scared of the other children.

Every child knows every other child at the school and as a result learns to interact and communicate with different age groups giving them another essential life skill. Younger children are inspired by the older children, whereas the older children learn how to care and be responsible for younger children.

We believe in maintaining small class sizes from nursery level all the way through to prep school, meaning that your child will receive a consistently excellent standard of education throughout their entire time at our school. Every child is known and is loved at The Phoenix and therefore your child will never disappear into the crowd.


A case study written by one of our parents:

'My painfully shy son joined St Colette's and was with it's successor, The Phoenix since opening in 2010. Seven years ago he wouldn’t even let go of the teacher’s hand at an Easter Bonnet Parade and refused to wear the bonnet itself. He was at The Phoenix from the moment it opened until he left in Year 6 and everyone who knows him cannot believe the remarkable change that has happened over the time he has been at the school. Due to the small class sizes, my son was given the attention he deserves, he was listened too and was encouraged in every way which has helped build his self-esteem and confidence. As his classes never exceeded 8 children, he was taught at a speed to suit his own capabilities and thrived academically as a result.

Parents sometimes wonder if a small primary school can prepare children for the much larger environment of the secondary school, well please be reassured, my son and his best friend both left the Phoenix this year and both of them have started at their first choice secondary schools, Kimbolton and Stephen Perse respectively, are so happy, have made friends really quickly (neither having friends from the Phoenix at their new schools) and have settled in very well. My son's first report from Kimbolton is exceptional.

He never stops chatting with adults and children alike, loves learning (even out of school!), is very outgoing and we have The Phoenix team to thank for this transformation.'

Registrations Being Taken For 2018

We are now taking September 2018 registrations for all years from Nursery through to Year 6 so if you are looking for an excellent school for your child, are unhappy with your child's current school, are relocating to the area or are looking for an exceptional top up your child's education before they start secondary school/apply for independent secondary school places we would love to meet you and your child(ren). (Please note: Our transition children do get priority for Reception class spaces so why not secure your child a place earlier? We offer up to 15 hours of Early Years funding and accept employer childcare vouchers subject to scheme conditions. We take children in the term they become 3 years old.)

EYFS and Childcare Vouchers Accepted By The Phoenix

Unusually for an independent school, we offer Early Years Funding (previously NEF) and accept employer childcare vouchers from a number of different schemes, subject to terms and conditions. Please ask the school for further details of both schemes when you visit. 

Parent Testimonials

At The Phoenix School Cambridge, we are unique in the independent sector in that we run by likeminded parents in close partnership with the teaching team and our external Governors. We are a small school who achieve great things with our pupils and that is why parents choose The Phoenix for their children. We are very proud of this fact and make no excuse for our size, this with our loving ethos is a key ingredient of our success and our parents agree. Our 2016 parent testimonials follow:

My son is in Reception and my daughter is in Year 3 at The Phoenix:

'The Phoenix School has had an enormous impact on our children’s self confidence and capacity for learning. The combination of small classes and dedicated, enthusiastic and nurturing teaching staff has enabled them both to get the very best from their education.

We transferred our eldest from a state primary school during year 1. The primary school was a good school, but our daughter was struggling to keep up, and with the large classes she quickly lost confidence.  She would find anything a distraction. Two years later she has confidence and the self esteem to persevere when faced with a challenge. She doesn’t give up and convince herself she’s a failure any more and she’s doing really well.
Our youngest started school at The Phoenix and he loves to learn. The learning environment is so supportive and encouraging and he has thrived!
Phoenix School has a friendly, intimate and informal feel and as parents we had the opportunity to get involved and feel part of a team from the beginning. It’s not stuffy at all and any preconceptions we had about independent schooling were very quickly dispelled. The staff and parents are all very down to earth and there’s a shared sense of commitment to providing the best possible education for our children.
We would strongly recommend this school.'
My son is in Year 6 at The Phoenix:
'At 3 years old my son was very introverted and scared of his own shadow and we as his parents, were very worried about him. We knew he would become invisible in the state system or a larger independent school. However all of our worries have been dispelled as he has been completely transformed by The Phoenix. He has been taught and nurtured by Mrs Cooke and her team at both St Colette's and now The Phoenix for 7 years and is now regarded as one of the most confident, polite and responsible pupils at the school by parents and staff alike. He excels academically, has a desire to do his very best at everything he does and has the confidence to speak in front of large audiences and on a 1:1 to both adults and children alike. Being at a smaller school has enabled him to interact with different ages of children and with the increased adult interaction it means he converses confidently in any setting with any generation. We no longer have any doubt that he will go on to achieve anything he sets his heart on in life, we could never have dreamt that this would be the case 7 years ago.
Please don't be put off by the smallness of the school, the teaching and pastoral care are second to none and remember great oak trees do grow from small acorns. As our son comes to leave the school this year as a Year 6 pupil and moves onto our first choice independent school, we are confident that he will have the academic strength and self belief to flourish no matter what challenges he may be presented with in life. We can't recommend this school enough, it has been life changing for our family.'
Post testimonial note: 'Within a month, my son has settled remarkably well at his secondary school, making new friends almost immediately, dealing incredibly well with the much larger school environment and his first report consists of mainly top grades already. We can't thank you enough for preparing him so well, he wouldn't have got there without you, Phoenix!'
My son is in Reception and my daughter is in Year 2 at The Phoenix:

'We moved our children to the Phoenix School this year. Our daughter had spent 2 years in the state system and whilst she did well academically, she did not adjust well to the class composition changing every year. We were concerned that the Phoenix classes might be too small but both she and her brother have settled in incredibly quickly and integrated with the other children. Mrs Cooke and all the staff engage with each pupil individually regardless of age or year group. They develop each child according to their individual capability not just academically but also socially.  The school includes a varied curriculum including dance, drama, music and languages within the school day. The class sizes mean that the personal attention given to each child is second to none.  My children now enjoy going to school and I feel much happier leaving them in a stimulating and nurturing environment, where not only are they cared for but they learn to care for others.'


My son is in Year 5 at The Phoenix:

'Choosing a new school was not an easy decision to make for us, with so many factors and considerations to balance it felt extremely confusing. On our first visit to the Phoenix School there was an instant click. A real affinity with teaching style, opportunities for individual learning plans, obvious evidence of high academic standards on the walls and bundles of creativity everywhere. We saw very happy children, well engaged with their learning and evidence of brilliant teaching. It was a good feel or vibe if you like. Our son felt the same as his first comment after his taster day was "mummy, I've found my jigsaw".
Making the move to the Phoenix was a great decision, as our son has thrived and gone from strength to strength. Educationally, on arrival he was on shaky ground but he is now sitting on solid foundations and has grown tremendously, both as a pupil and as a person. He has developed his own opinions on a good range of subjects, mostly sensible ones! He can negotiate, debate and even mediate! He has achieved academically, musically and in sport. We think that the Phoenix School is really top soil to grow in.
Our advice would be that if you are looking for a small school that will truly value your little person, grow them educationally, breakthrough boundaries, relish individuality, celebrate achievement and foster that fine balance between strength of character and mindfulness towards others - then The Phoenix School Cambridge should be at the top of your list too.'
My son is in Year 6 at The Phoenix:
'The Phoenix School has been life transforming placement for our son where he fully engages in every aspect since joining the school in year 2. He initially lacked confidence and generally avoided engaging with others but quickly became confident and enthusiastic trying everything on offer. This could only happen because the school worked very hard to give him the assurance he needed and put individual learning plans for him to accomplish and progress. He is in year 6 now and is able to contribute in every aspect of school life from academic work to sports despite all the challenges he faces being partially sighted. It was amazing to observe how many staff were able to accommodate his needs and adapt his work to ensure he is able to fully access the curriculum and enable him to type his work on his computer. The best school for any child to achieve their full potential and build confidence! Fantastic staff with loving and caring attitudes and would recommend this school to anyone without hesitation.' 
My daughter is in Year 3 at The Phoenix:
'Since we chose The Phoenix for our daughter when she was 3 we have not looked back. We had not initially intended to send her to private school but she was so shy and uncomfortable in groups that she was not happy at pre-school. She was also ready at that age for learning to read and write and do simple maths, something that wasn't offered at the local pre-school. 
As soon as she walked into the early years classroom at The Phoenix she was taken by hand by another girl and immediately felt included. Since then she has thrived both personally and academically. To look at the confident 8 year old she now is, you would have no idea how timid she was when she first joined. At The Phoenix, she has been valued for her individuality and supported by teachers who genuinely care about her, and she has well and truly come out of her shell!
Academically she has benefited enormously from the individual education plans that can be used in smaller classes. She is able to work at a level that is right for her and has thrived in all areas. She is never held back to wait for others if she is ready to move on and explore something in depth, she is actually encouraged to do so. As a result, she loves school and learning and seems to become more enthusiastic as time goes on. Her teachers have made learning fun using lots of interactive activities that can be done with smaller classes.
Even though the school is small compared to others, she has been able to experience and come to enjoy new sports like Rugby and Cricket and has been developing her acting skills in school plays. We feel that there are so many advantages to the size of the school and the difficulty we now face is finding a senior school that can live up to the expectations we now have because of the experience we have had at The Phoenix!'

Exciting New Swimming Pool Development Project

The Phoenix is pleased to announce that we are currently preparing a planning application for an indoor pool complex working in close partnership with Elite Swimming to develop this exciting new facility. The aim is to have the new pool and building works done during the Summer holidays (subject to planning consent) to minimise disruption to the school and the pupils. This exciting new facility will be used by both the school for its pupils and during non school hours by our partners, Elite Swimming to offer swimming lessons for children in the local area. We will keep you posted on this exciting new development as we know more.

School Closure - 2nd March

Dear Parents


Hopefully this will be the last email like this we will have to send to you!  I am sorry but yet again the weather has defeated us.  It is not safe for the minibus to collect and deliver your children to and from school, and the untreated side roads are treacherous.  We have been advised by the Police to avoid travel and therefore for safety reasons the school will not be open tomorrow (Friday 2nd March).


Please all stay warm and we expect exciting stories and pictures from the children on Monday.


Thank you for your continued support and have a safe weekend.

Mrs Cooke
The Phoenix School