History & Ethos

Providing outstanding education for over 75 years


“The school’s provision for the pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is outstanding and the pupils’ behaviour and attitudes to learning are excellent.” (SIS report 2014)

Our Ethos

Our school is a place which promotes the education of the whole child in a nurturing and safe environment.  We teach our children that the way they behave can make a difference to all our lives.


Our Values

  • Educate the whole person, promoting respect for Christian values but recognising and respecting beliefs, needs and achievements of others in our multi-cultural society.
  • Provide a structured and happy environment where each member of the community is valued and secure, and where there is a commitment to encouraging individual development.
  • Promote high standards in all areas of life
  • Encourage self-discipline, self-motivation and self-respect through promoting competition against self and each other.
  • Provide each child with a broad and balanced curriculum that encourages children to realise their full capabilities.
  • Foster a lively and varied learning environment, adopting teaching styles relevant to each child’s learning.
  • Work in partnership with parents encouraging dialogue in the best interests of their child.

Our Vision

To be the first choice Nursery and Prep School in Hertford.
As the only outstanding independent school in Hertford providing education from 2 to 11 we have a strong reputation for making aspirations real.



Our History

1939

Duncombe School was founded 76 years ago by local teacher Lily Taylor, who opened with just eight pupils.

1951

The school quickly outgrew its premises in Pegs Lane, Hertford, and moved to a larger building in Westfield Road, Bengeo. In 1951, we moved to our present Palladian-style mansion and extensive grounds in Bengeo, just outside Hertford.

1973

The then-owners decided to close the school and sell the valuable site to property developers. The decision enraged parents – among them Sir Peter Davis. Led by Reg Davies, who became chairman of governors, they raised the large sum needed to buy the site and ran the school themselves.

2006

The trustees relinquished control and sold the school to the leading schools group Cognita. “These glowing reports for both the Prep School and Duncombe Treetops have vindicated that decision and are a tribute to Cognita and Jeremy Phelan, the Headmaster,” Reg Davis says.