IT’s a new era for staff and children at St John’s-On-The-Hill in Chepstow, as they welcome a new owner and look forward to a bright future.

The independent prep school, which sits in extensive grounds on the outskirts of Chepstow, is now known as St John’s-On-The Hill Dean Close, having been taken over by Dean Close School in the summer.

Headmaster David Griffiths, who is relishing his role at the helm ten months into his headship, said it is a very exciting time for in the history ofthe co-educational day and preparatory boarding school, which has 180 pupils.

“This is a very exciting time in the history of the school as we join the Dean Close family of schools and begin what promises to be a very bright future.

“I have been here for ten months and they have been the happiest of my career.

“It has been a whirlwind with ups and downs along the way but it has been incredible and I have found something very special in St John’s.

“The momentum is certainly picking up and we are excited about future plans.

“We don’t want to change it but make it the best it can be.”

Mr Griffiths explained said that the school, which caters for children aged from three months to thirteen years, old is a close-knit, family orientated school where children are treated with care and respect and as individuals who all have talents that need nurturing and developing.

“We focus on providing the very best academic and pastoral care that we can offer and strongly believe in the value that a breadth of experiences adds to children as their characters develop.

“Every child at the school represents us in sport in some capacity and every child takes part in music and school productions to develop their confidence, team ethic and communication skills.”

Mr Griffiths, who has taught in a number of independent schools prior to this post, adds that St John’s has an ‘infectious warmth and charisma’ and is a very special place.

“Our aim is to give our pupils the best possible start for the best possible future.”

Arriving at the school, which boasts panoramic views across the River Severn and Chepstow Castle on a clear day, it is evident that the school provides a calm, friendly and happy environment.

Learning is fast-paced with pupils eager to perfect their skills in a range of subjects and sports from science, to rugby practice, music lessons, technology, art and reading.

St John’s-On-The Hill is a vibrant and active school with pupils whose enthusiasm for learning is infectious.

“Not only do we have an excellent reputation for our academic achievements, we also offer lots of sport, music, drama and art opportunities.”

Every Wednesday the school closes academically so that the children can take part in sports. This year St John’s has introduced cricket for the girls.

“Every child has a chance to show their talents and takes part in sports and performing arts, giving them opportunities they don’t get elsewhere.”

The children enjoy an enriched curriculum with a range of after-school clubs including ballet, fencing and judo.

They are involved in fundraising projects and have the opportunity to go on an annual exchange trip to South Africa.

The three-week exchange trip has been running since 2005 and sees the children visit Cape Town and East London.

The walls and corridors are adorned with photographs of school trips, eye-catching artwork and project work.

The main part of the school is housed in a Georgian building with more classrooms the coach house and sports facilities in separate modern buildings.

There is a pre-prep school which is separate from the main school which has boasts its own school hall.

Mr Griffiths said there has been massive financial investment in the school with a new Astro-turf, resurfaced tennis courts and major plans to upgrade the school library and swimming pool as well as the IT equipment.

“It is a very exciting time.

“The school has been acquired by Dean Close and we are now part of that school which has brought stability so that we can invest and takes us to a whole new level.

“This will not take away our family ethos, which includes small class sizes.

“We are not going to suddenly become a feeder for Dean Close but will continue to deliver the academic standards that we are known for,” said Mr Griffiths.

The strong sense of community at the school is evident and one Mr Griffiths feels strongly about.

“We have generations of the same family that have attended St John’s. There is a real sense of community here.

“The staff and parents are incredibly supportive. We don’t have rules as such, but instead a brief and general code that all children are encouraged to follow. The ‘St John’s way’ encourages children to be the best that they can be in all that they do.”

When asked what he hopes his pupils leave the school with he replied: “We want them to go on to to do well academically. It’s about the breadth of opportunity that they had that has made them into mature and independent people who will succeed in anything they do.”


St John’s On-The-Hill, Castleford Hill, Tutshill, Chepstow

Headmaster David Griffiths

Deputy head: Jason Dobbie

Chairwoman of Trustees: Kathryn Carden

Warden of Dean Close Schools's: Jonathan Lancashire

Pupils on roll: 180 aged between three and 13.