Princess Charlotte to begin attending 'kind and gentle' London nursery with all-female staff from January

Danny Boyle
Princess Charlotte, pictured in a family photograph that features on her parents' Christmas cards this year, will join Willcocks Nursery School from January - Kensington Palace

Princess Charlotte will begin attending a London nursery from January, her parents have announced.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge revealed on Monday that their two-year-old daughter will join Willcocks Nursery School from 2018.

The school, which is close to the family's Kensington Palace home, charges up to £9,150 a year for children who attend morning sessions.

Described by parents as "kind and gentle", the school has an all-female staff and its stated ethos is "for high standards, excellence and good manners".

Princess Charlotte will be at first be invited with the Duke and Duchess for a short "stay and play" session, the nursery's website suggests.

The Royal couple will then be asked to leave to see if their daughter, who will be encouraged to bring a photograph or toy from home, "is happy to be left".

Willcocks Nursery School is based in the church hall of Holy Trinity Church in Kensington Credit: Kensington Palace/PA 

Meanwhile, the Royal couple have also released a new family photograph of themselves and their children that features on their Christmas card this year.

The photograph shows the Duke with his son, Prince George, standing immediately in front of him, while Charlotte stands with her mother, who is pregnant with the couple's third child.

The image was taken at Kensington Palace earlier this year by Chris Jackson, royal photographer for Getty Images.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George and Princess Charlotte in a picture that features on their Christmas card this year Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty 

The school charges fees of £3,050 per term for children attending what it calls morning school for 32 youngsters, aged almost three to five years old, who are in class five days a week for three hours.

On its website, Willcocks says pupils experience "a fun and structured morning with lots of free play where children embark on the first stages of learning to read, write and to understand simple numbers with the minimum of pressure".

Princess Charlotte might be enrolled in the afternoon school, which has fees of £1,800 per term and is less structured than the morning session but provides a similar wide range of activities including art and music.

It is tailored for younger children, aged two to three years old, and is run three days a week.

The entrance to Willcocks Nursery School, next to Holy Trinity Church, in London Credit: Philip Toscano /PA

Willcocks was last inspected by Ofsted in 2012 when the nursery was rated as "outstanding", with the report stating: "The educational programme is outstanding. Children actively participate in activities that relate to all areas of learning.

"Topic themes include outings in the local community and visitors to the nursery. This enables children to gain first-hand experiences that effectively consolidate their learning."

A page on the school's website entitled "settling in" said it wants "the transition from home to nursery school to be a happy time for your child".

Sometimes separation can be upsetting and we ask you to be patient

Willcocks Nursery School advice

It adds: "We ask you to fill in Registration Documents, Medical Forms, Permission Slips and a questionnaire 'All About Me' to aid transition prior to your child starting so that we can have your child’s favourite toys and equipment ready for their arrival. 

"You and your child will be invited for a short 'stay and play'. Once settled, you will be asked to leave for a short period to see if your child is happy to be left.

"As your child becomes more able to cope, the session will be gradually extended to the full morning or afternoon.

"Sometimes separation can be upsetting and we ask you to be patient. Each child is an individual; a toy or photograph from home or a picture of their Key Teacher to take home can link home and nursery and be very helpful.

"As your child builds a rapport with the teachers, we will ask you to stay in the vicinity for the first few sessions so that you can return if needed."

An example timetable of morning sessions at Willcocks Nursery School

Tatler, the society magazine, described the nursery school as a "hidden gem" that "flies under the radar", claiming that it is attended by British children and "chic foreigners" alike, some of whom register their children at birth in order to ensure them a place.

A mother described it to the magazine as "gentle, which is what you want for young ones". 

The nursery has an all-female staff and is run by headmistress Lavinia Taylor. The school's ethos is "for high standards, excellence and good manners".

Video: A princess at two - Charlotte's story so far

It has a timetable full of singing and dancing, which will suit Princess Charlotte who, according to the Duchess of Cambridge, "already loves to dance".

Children can expect to have time dedicated to exploring the great outdoors, looking at local swans and cygnets and being taught a variety of skills including poetry, band and cooking. There is a large focus on art and music.

The nursery is also perfectly located for inquisitive young minds. Tatler says: "They're just by the Royal Albert Hall, so expect jaunts to the museums and the park, as well as captivating talks on things like Shackleton, archaeology or the environment to keep things lively and fun."

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One former pupil, Alexander, said: “I just love all my teachers because I just do. They are beautiful, they are kind and they all just love me."

A mother, Nicoleta, sang the praises of the nursery, writing: “Alexander the Great once said about his teacher Aristotle: ‘I owe my life to my parents, but I owe my good life to my teacher’. This statement certainly applies to all the teachers at the Willcocks Nursery School.

"A big thank you to all of you for everything you offered to Alexandra and for creating happy precious memories that will be part of who she is for the rest of her life.”

A Willcocks spokesman said: "We are delighted that The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have chosen the Willcocks Nursery School for Princess Charlotte.

"We look forward to welcoming Charlotte to our nursery in January."

The nursery was founded in 1964 by Diana Willcocks and has been at its current location in the church hall of Holy Trinity Church in Kensington since 1984.