FOR 175 years, Rose Hill School has been educating young children, and for the last 12 months staff and pupils have been celebrating its achievements and looking back at its history.

"The majority of pupils and parents were unaware of the school's origins and understandably made the assumption that the Rose Hill they know and love in Alderley is relatively unchanged," said headteacher Paul Cawley-Wakefield.

In fact, it has undergone many changes since Rose Hill School was established in Tunbridge Wells in 1832.

The school started under the name Romanoff House and was a classical school established by a Mr T Alfree, once tutor to the sons of Czar Nicholas I.

It began as an all-boys school where it was built on land known for its rose bushes. One of the boarding houses was called Rose Hill, which later became its name.

In 1903 a Mr Browning, the then headmaster, moved the school taking most of the pupils, then only boys, the school colours and school name to a much bigger building in Banstead, Surrey.

However, in 1939, with the outbreak of war, the school was moved for a third and last time, to its current home in Alderley.

The grand country property Rose Hill occupies today is a Grade 1 listed building, once a private residence built in 1865 on the site of a Jacobean house from 1630.

Visitors to the school can still see its roots both as a house and as a boarding school.

The top floors, once providing accommodation to the servants of the house, became dormitories and despite there now being no boarding at Rose Hill, they remain as bedrooms for when the house is let for weddings and private parties.

The rooms on the middle floor have changed from bedrooms to classrooms and have recently been renovated to accommodate the school's dance studio and drama department.

Downstairs the drawing room, music room and dining room are used daily by pupils, while part of the hall is a gallery for the children's art work. The House also still has functioning cellars, complete with bats.

Rose Hill School is classified as a co-educational preparatory school for pupils aged three to 13.

Along with the core subjects like English, maths and science, Rose Hill is also able to offer subjects perhaps more associated with private education such as fencing, classical studies and ballet.

Rose Hill also maintains the traditional house system, which includes the Greeks, Romans and Trojans.

However, Mr Cawley-Wakefield said he is keen for the school to move with the times and recognises that independent education has to be accessible to all.

The school is now a day school, with the majority of pupils living within a short drive.

He said: "Traditionally, private schools are thought to be elitist but I don't want Rose Hill to be seen as competition to the many excellent state schools.

"Rather, we offer something different, from which our pupils benefit hugely, and I would simply encourage those who feel that for whatever reason the maintained sector does not suit them, to visit Rose Hill."

Mr Cawley-Wakefield is also establishing links with businesses and encourages visitors to the school, sports clubs to use the facilities and pupils to help in the community.

As well as numerous fundraisers during the year to mark the 175th anniversary, Rose Hill unveiled tiles specially designed for the occasion in November.

The tiles are hand-painted self-portraits and will be a lasting legacy of Rose Hill School in 2007.

"They are a wonderfully modern addition to this very traditional old building," said Mr Cawley-Wakefield.