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Best private schools near Bishop’s Stortford

Best private schools near Welwyn Garden City

Special Educational Needs

Bishop's Stortford CollegeEast Hertfordshire is home to a number of popular private schools. Maybe not the same quantity and variety as in the west of the county but more than enough pre-prep, prep and senior schools, not to mention all-throughs, to provide parents with genuine choice.

Private schools near Bishop’s Stortford

Prep schools near Bishop’s Stortford

For many parents it’s a toss up between Felsted Prep School (about 20-minutes away, in Essex) and Bishop’s Stortford College Prep School. Felsted suits lively, curious types from quite a wide ability range. This friendly school has a rural setting and masses of extracurricular. Bishop’s Stortford College Prep, based in town but still with a country feel, is more selective, with teaching described as ‘outstanding’ by parents. With both preps, over 90 per cent go on to the respective senior schools. We also rate the all-through school, St Edmund’s College, in Ware. The oldest Catholic school in England, it’s a charming, traditional school set in 400 acres.

For standalone preps, the large Heath Mount School in Hertford turns out sparky kids. ‘Every year, it gets better and better,’ attests one parent. In Bishop’s Stortford itself, there is Howe Green House School, which offers a gentler start and is good on extracurricular.

If you’re prepared to travel further, favourites include all-through schools St Nicholas School, in a rural spot close to Old Harlow, and the smaller Coopersale Hall School in Epping. Stephen Perse Junior School Dame Bradbury’s in Saffron Walden is a friendly, prep combining rural charm with forward-looking educational opportunities. Mainly feeding into Stephen Perse Senior School, the facilities would be the envy of many a senior school.

In Cambridgeshire but within fairly easy reach, favourites include King’s College School Cambridge, St Faith’s, St John’s College School, Stephen Perse Junior School Fitzwilliam Building and St Mary’s School Cambridge (girls, all-through). For the best Essex preps besides Felsted (eg New Hall Prep) see our guide to Essex.

Secondary schools near Bishop’s Stortford

Just as at junior level, Felsted School (Essex but close to east Herts) and Bishop’s Stortford College bring in big numbers from Bishop’s Stortford. Bishop’s Stortford College is the more academic of the two, with a work hard/play hard ethic and excellent pastoral care. At Felsted (further out of town), the broad approach to education is particularly suited to sporty types.

St Edmunds College in Ware is a solid option,  also popular at both junior and senior levels. There’s an excellent school bus service, and good diversity too. Other all-through schools popular at both junior and senior levels are St Nicholas School in Old Harlow and Coopersale Hall in Epping – both in Essex, but again nearby.

Haileybury is the best-known boarding school in the area. Vibrant, busy and forward-thinking, it attracts more academically able applicants than in the past and has a cracking IB programme. Around 30 per cent are day pupils.

Some families living in east Herts decide to venture into Essex and greater London. You won’t find as many private schools as in some home counties, but many have glowing reputations eg New Hall School in Chelmsford and Brentwood School, with Chigwell School a bit further away, and Gosfield School, Forest School and Bancroft’s School. See our guide to Essex for further details. Cambridgeshire also draws some families in from east Herts eg Stephen Perse Senior School, The Leys School, The Perse School and St Mary’s School Cambridge.

Best primary schools in Bishop’s Stortford

Best state secondary schools in Bishop’s Stortford

Best nurseries in Bishop’s Stortford

St Edmund's College, WarePrivate schools near Welwyn Garden City

Prep schools near Welwyn Garden City

For standalone preps, Hertford is seen as the local mecca. The delightful Duncombe School is a small, outdoorsy prep with good results – families say they feel very involved here. St Joseph’s in the Park, an even smaller prep in Hertford, brims  with sport, music, drama, outdoor ed and an inspiring academic curriculum. As one parent told us, ‘They are happy, and happy children learn.’ For a larger prep, Heath Mount School is set in splendid Grade 1 listed grounds, with fabulous music and art and a creative approach to teaching.

Also big, although not as pretty, is Lochinver House School, a boys’ prep in Potter’s Bar where parents say they really ‘get’ boys (lots of fresh air). Harpenden’s Aldwickbury School is another large, boys only prep, which also has boarding. ‘Sport’ was the quick reply when our guides were asked the best thing about school, but it’s the leavers list alone is proof of its academic rigour. Occasionally, children from Welwyn Garden City go to Kingshott School in Hitchin, a large, ambitious prep set in 23 acres.

On the all-through front, St Columba’s College in St Albans is a mildly selective co-ed all-through school, with an informal yet purposeful vibe, while closer to home there’s Sherrardswood School. Once the go-to local traditional private school, it is now better known for coping with a wide range of individual needs, including children who have struggled elsewhere. Co-ed and all-through, it is a nurturing school with small classes and a low pupil/teacher ratio. St Francis’ College in Letchworth also attracts some girls from Welwyn Garden City.

A number of schools in Hertfordshire and North London run bus services to and from WGC although these do change as demand comes and goes. Best to check with individual schools to find out what they offer.

Secondary schools in Welwyn Garden City

For the right child, the progressive St Christopher School in Letchworth is worth moving for. Students wear their own clothes, call teachers by their first names, have an exploratory approach to learning; there are no bells between lessons, little noise and a great sense of purpose. Queenswood School, a girls only school in Hatfield, also stands out from the local hothouses - parents call it ‘a breath of fresh air’, with one telling us her daughter ‘gets good grades but without undue pressure and with a lot more time for activities outside the classroom’.

The more traditional Haileybury is a popular local choice. Although a boarding school, 30 per cent are day pupils. A famous name in public school education, but not as selective as some, it has a stunning location and offers the IB.

Hard hitters on the academic front include St Albans Girls’ School and, for boys, St Albans School. Popular all-through options include St Columba’s College in St Albans (good for all abilities), Bishops’s Stortford College (more academic) and, in Welwyn itself, there’s Sherrardswood School (pastoral focus). Some girls also head to Roman Catholic St Francis’ College, Letchworth.

Within 40 minutes there are also a couple of specialist options: Purcell School for musicians and Tring Park School for the Performing Arts.

Best primary schools in Welwyn Garden City

Best state secondary schools in Welwyn Garden City

Best nurseries in Welwyn Garden City

Private schools for children with special educational needs in East Hertfordshire

As is the case across the country, places at private special schools are often sought through and funded by the local authority. St Elizabeth’s School in Much Hadham is a centre of expertise in supporting and educating young people aged 7-19 with moderate or severe learning difficulties (MLD/SLD), profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD) or other complex neurological conditions potentially caused or complicated by epilepsy. Set in 60-acres of stunning countryside, it has Catholic roots, with day and boarding places.

Among the mainstream independent schools with good learning support, we recommend St Joseph’s in the Park, where staff (including an educational psychologist) provide tailored support using a multi-sensory approach. St Edmund’s College stands out for both the quantity and quality of individual help available. At Heath Mount School, staff include an occupational therapist, plus two learning support assistants to support all kinds of issues such as processing problems, dyslexia etc. There is also a visiting educational psychologist and speech therapist. While selective, Bishop’s Stortford College ensures a lot of help within the class as well as individually or in groups. And at Haileybury all pupils are screened on entry ‘to understand how they are as a learner’ and as such, learning support is an integral part of education, with around 50-80 youngsters with a diagnosed SEN (mild to moderate) getting additional support on top.

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