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What says..

‘A lot of schools talk the talk but Wycliffe really delivers’, say parents. Gifted children are stretched, those who find the curriculum challenging are supported and all are nurtured and encouraged to fulfil their individual potential with exceptional value added across the many and varied activities on offer. The eclectic group of international pupils bring a diversity and richness to the school - opposite of trend to recruit from...

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What the school says...

Pupils at Wycliffe College enjoy life in a safe and secure countryside campus set over 52-acres on the outskirts of Stonehouse in Gloucestershire, just 90 minutes from London.The college successfully blends the traditional and the modern, not only with its striking architecture but also with its broad curriculum and forward-thinking ethos. It offers co-educational day, flexi and full boarding options and caters for pupils with a wide range of abilities from diverse backgrounds. Wycliffe is a pupil-centric environment where individuality is encouraged and respected. It fosters a pioneering spirit, developing independence of thought and deed in every pupil’s approach to learning and life. ...Read more

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All-through school (for example 3-18 years). - An all-through school covers junior and senior education. It may start at 3 or 4, or later, and continue through to 16 or 18. Some all-through schools set exams at 11 or 13 that pupils must pass to move on.

Sports

Polo

Equestrian centre or equestrian team - school has own equestrian centre or an equestrian team.

Rowing

Fencing

Shooting

What The Good Schools Guide says

Head

Since 2015, Nick Gregory (50s). Attended Ipswich School where own 'inspirational' father worked for 47 years, 28 as deputy headmaster. Graduated in French and Spanish from Nottingham, having spent time in Argentina fine tuning language skills and pursuing twin passions for rugby and cricket. Not wanting to be ‘predictable’ and follow in father’s footsteps, accepted a job with Barclays where linguistic talents enabled him to return to Spain and qualify as a banker.

On reaching the milestone age of 30, he acknowledged he had ‘an itch he couldn’t scratch’ and supported by wife Helen, abandoned banking for teaching. Spotting potential, Barnard Castle School engaged him while he completed a PGCE. Knowing leadership and management was the end goal, and to enhance credibility, his next post was at Merchant Taylors Northwood, followed by a stint as housemaster at Old Swinford Hospital where he was ‘humbled’ to work at an establishment that has such a ‘profound impact on people’s lives’. Thence to Mill Hill, London where he spent seven years, rising to deputy head (pastoral).

For the Gregorys, Wycliffe College is a family affair. Mr Gregory is frequently accompanied by Helen to recruit international students from Hong Kong, Nigeria, Russia, and Europe. ‘They want to speak to her – what it is like to be a mum, the practicalities of living away from home.’ Back at school they visit boarding houses together regularly for a meal or cup of tea, chatting to pupils informally ‘in their own environment’. Two of their three sons have attended the school, giving a fully rounded perspective.

In the headmaster’s wood panelled study an antique grandfather clock strikes each quarter as it surveys the cricket pitches through mullion windows. The room has a timeless quality which could evoke any era in the College’s 139 year history, but its current occupant is anything but ‘old school’. Mr Gregory is effervescent, loquacious (in his own words) and enthusiastically on brand; he even wears the Wycliffe purple, both tie and (we noticed) socks. Commenting on a fragrant wisteria clambering the Cotswold stone walls he declared, ‘It has flowered in the school colour just in time for your visit!’ Clearly building his school’s profile is a mission, ‘We want the Wycliffe purple recognised on sports pitches and at events.’ Thus the new Astro is flanked in purple and according to one sixth former, ‘even the squash court lines have been re-painted purple.’ Another conjectured that the headmaster, ‘would probably love it if I dyed my hair purple!’ Amused, we suggested that might be a step too far.

Looking over the grounds Mr Gregory observed, ‘Our layout is such that you could put your arms around and hug it.’ This epitomises his approach: ‘Personable’, ‘professional’, ’visible’ and ‘aware of his market’, say parents, but fundamentally he ‘cares deeply’ about his school and pupils. One boy summed up the fine balance, ‘I’ve never seen it, but he is strict when he has to be.’ Another noted, ‘He is always smiling, comes to talk to you and remembers everyone’s birthdays!’ No timetabled teaching but will step in if needed. ‘I have watched as other heads have taught and never seen it work; children always get short changed.’ So far in his tenure Mr Gregory is proudest of the, ‘Much improved culture where pupils’ best interests come first and aspiration, high expectation and drive are the norm.’

Entrance

Automatic admission from Wycliffe Prep accounts for majority of year 9 entrants. Recent 30 per cent upturn in day pupils thanks to increasing interest from local state, grammar and preps. Headmaster attributes this to Gloucestershire ‘word of mouth in response to our achievements, and our ethos.’ External applicants (including to sixth form) sit exam and interview to assess requirements and award scholarships.

Exit

Some natural fallout after GCSE, majority continue to sixth form. School has excellent international university programme. Most head to UK universities, a number to US eg Harvard. Others to Canada, Australia, Europe. Occasional Oxbridge places; one medic in 2020.

Latest results

In 2020, 49 per cent 9-7 at GCSE; 42 per cent A*/A (68 per cent A*-B) at A level. In 2019 (last year exams took place), 35 per cent 9-7 at GCSE; 34 per cent A*/A (63 per cent A*-B).

Teaching and learning

Headmaster keen to stress that while the school's academic bar has been raised, this has been achieved without compromising pastoral care or breadth of extracurricular activities. The gifted are stretched, those who need it are supported; all are nurtured and encouraged to fulfil individual potential. Results speak for themselves, 2017 and 2019 respectively saw the best GCSE and A level grades in school’s history. Number of parents praise schools remote provision during lockdown, one pronouncing it, ‘exceptional - straight off the starting blocks teachers worked hard to engage the children and kept them fully engaged throughout all lockdowns’.

Pupils can progress from nursery to sixth form without entrance assessments or exam. Parents applaud this, both practically, when accommodating several children, and for prioritising welfare and development over league tables. ‘A lot of schools talk the talk but Wycliffe really delivers’, said one. ‘You could have three children with different interests and abilities and all would be well catered for’, said another.

Classes small, usually no more than 14, often fewer. We like the way one parent put it: ‘Big enough to create interest, small enough to be personal.’ Streaming in core subjects begins in year 9. One teacher explained, ‘Setting and class sizes are decided by subject, ability, individual needs and year group.’ An approach to be applauded but we feel for the person in charge of timetabling.

At GCSE, geography, sciences and languages are best performers - latter not surprising with significant international presence. We thought the labs looked a little worn, possibly in need of updating in near future.

A level choice impressive with art, maths, psychology and business most popular. There are BTEC options too in business, digital media and sport. EPQ uptake has grown significantly, headmaster sees this as more evidence of school’s raised academic aspirations.

Pre-A level ‘development year’ to tutor international students in English or GCSEs is thriving and around 30 enrol annually. Sharing rooms with existing pupils improves English, forms friendships and gives valuable insight into other cultures. Around 20 or so stay on for sixth form.

Headmaster sees room for improvement in career provision across his and all schools. ‘It is not good enough to tell pupils they’ll be doing jobs that don’t yet exist. More needs to be done to help explore careers and alternatives to university.’ We agree and will be watching to see how this develops.

Learning support and SEN

Some 50 SWANs (students with additional needs) receive tuition, mentored by five learning support staff. Situated in the eaves of main school building, a parent qualified that the ‘characterful’ attic space with beams and sloped ceilings has, ‘a lovely atmosphere’. Each child has bespoke provision created with parental and staff input. ‘Together we choose a subject from the curriculum to replace rather than take children away from recreation or lunchtimes,’ says head of learning support. Headmaster expands, ‘The key is not just extra provision, but the culture that every member of staff makes adjustment for pupils in their classroom.’ Teachers have ‘identified additional needs profiles’ with strategies to help individuals who require extra assistance.

Experience assisting dyslexia, autism, ADHD and dyspraxia. ‘As long as the child can access the GCSE curriculum, we will support them as they progress,’ head of learning support explains. Wycliffe is accredited by CResTeD; headmaster member of their council of trustees.

The arts and extracurricular

Art, drama and music creativity is in abundance under their enthusiastic and talented department heads. Walls of the large, lofty, light filled art studio evidence pupils’ talent and inspiration. Tutors are professional artists in their own right. Outstanding A level results. Music department hosts ‘live lounges’, ‘gigs’, ensemble groups, a 45 strong choir and the invitational Vox choir. Several take music A level each year. Head of drama fondly describes the school's Sibly Theatre as, ‘Our mini National Theatre’, by virtue of its 1960’s design. Growing number take drama GCSE, encouraging more to consider A level. Pupils involved in every element of ambitious school productions, ‘a real showcase of our talent.’

Extensive cocurricular activities – beekeeping, drone flying, fencing, debating, and more. CCF and DofE too. Exciting programme of tours including: Costa Rica, hockey and netball trip to Sri Lanka, Europe for languages.

Sport

Wycliffe's strong reputation for sport is, headmaster confesses modestly, ‘Probably more than we deserve.’ Pupils suggest this may be because school is adept at championing and facilitating many ‘niche sports’. Talent regularly shipped off-site to train with local academies, GB squads (currently sailing, rowing, equestrian, polo) and compete in national and international competitions.

Prospective families enticed from across the world by outstanding squash and rowing programmes. There was an unprecedented sweep of national titles in squash for boys U15, U17 and U19s in 2019. Rowing boasts one of top female sculling programmes in the country and recent highlights include first place in national head of river, quarter finals at women’s Henley regatta and more silver and bronze in British and national competitions. Boys’ rowing reputation also growing fast. Netball 1st VII enjoyed unbeaten seasons in both 2018 and 2019 and girls’ hockey A teams were recently U16 and U18 recent regional finalists. Boys’ rugby not top-flight but ‘good standard’ and a handful are taken up by Gloucester rugby academy each year. Fencing produced county junior and senior champions in 2018 and 2019. Pistol shooting boasts regional and national medalists. Tennis U18’s and cross country both reached national finals in 2019.

Director of sports encompasses senior and prep. Overview ensures younger players are not disillusioned or intimidated by contact sports, so, ‘Post growth spurt they make balanced choice.’ Sees role as helping those not in the top tier, ‘the great majority’, to find a sport they enjoy – not just at Wycliffe, but for life, harnessing ‘health and mental benefits.’ Pandemic taught benefit of paring back sport to skills. ‘For example, A squad play contact, B team touch, building confidence, focusing on fun.’ Years 9 and 10 follow traditional: rugby, hockey, football, netball, athletics, years 11-13 choose from a wider variety: yoga, fencing, strength and conditioning and Zumba.

Sports facilities are excellent, particularly for girls. Girls’ cricket pitch sits alongside boys’. Two indoor netball courts plus Astro. Plans for viewing pavilion overlooking rugby and football pitches. WASP (Wycliffe advanced sports prog) for scholars includes one-to-one coaching, strength and conditioning. Pool on prep site – recent IAPS success. Options well balanced between genders. Girls’ football and rugby options. ‘If there’s a sport they’d like to try, we’ll give it a go.’

House sports competition ‘tribal’ and ‘great fun’ - flags and face paint daubed for keenly contested cups. ‘Friday Night Lights’ becoming regular event, showcasing sports. ‘Creates buzz and excitement while inspiring younger pupils.’

Boarders

Eclectic group of international pupils brings diversity and richness to school. Houseparent says school, ‘teeming with activity at weekends.’ Day pupils frequently stay late and welcomed to join at weekends. One chirpy boarder went so far as to say they ‘prefer being at school than at home’. Regular cohort of forces children continues long tradition.

Eight houses comprise seven boarding with a mix of full, flexi and some day pupils (three girls', three boys’, an a coed sixth form) and one coed day. Perhaps not surprisingly, our tour arrived at the newest, award winning boarding house, Wards-Ivy Grove, accommodating boys downstairs and girls above. Each floor has vast common room with table tennis, pool table, flat screen TV, plus kitchen and laundry area. There’s also an outdoor terrace with seating and pizza oven. Younger pupils share, older pupils occupy single rooms. All are high-ceilinged, many ensuite and some enjoy outstanding Cotswold views. The tight itinerary of our tour did not take in any of the remaining seven houses, so we can only wonder if they compare favourably?

A parent or two expressed sadness at lack of sixth form bar, often considered a ‘perk’. Sixth formers confirmed they are permitted, ‘a couple of drinks at socials’ and can visit Stroud, Gloucester or hop on the train to London on a Sunday - curfew 6pm. Little in the way of alcohol and related issues. Pupils sanguine, ‘It’s not a problem. If we want to go out, we stay with day pupils offsite,’ - all prearranged with parents and school, of course.

Houses host array of events - singing, drama, quizzes, barbecues, sport etc. ‘House song is the best time of year - and the Christmas meal,’ enthused one pupil.

Ethos and heritage

Leaving behind the busy dual carriageway of Bath Road, the visitor is drawn in by Wycliffe’s immaculate green cricket pitches fanning out ahead. At the centre of a horseshoe of buildings in a parade of styles is Georgian Haywardsfield House. Beyond, the glorious Cotswolds seem to enclose what feels like a tranquil Wycliffe bubble.

Founded by the Sibly family in 1882, school was named after pioneering Christian John Wycliffe. This pioneering ethos has clearly rubbed off on pupils who espouse, ‘taking advantage of all opportunities’ and ‘trying everything you can’. School has been fully co-ed for more than 30 years and according to parents has ‘got the balance just right’. Notable former pupils include Mark Blundell (Formula One driver), Jamie N Commons (musician), Ananda Coomaraswamy (philosopher and artist), Mark Porter (TV doctor) Charlie Stayt (BBC Breakfast), Jun Tanaka (chef and restaurateur).

Pastoral care, inclusivity and discipline

Parents praise ‘exceptional pastoral element’. Pastoral deputy comments, ‘We believe that a child can only achieve their potential if they are fundamentally well adjusted and happy.’ Pupils say problems sorted ‘often between us, just talking’, or through timetabled tutor time.

Pupils are smart, polite and well mannered, yet clearly relaxed and happy as they mill around campus. During our visit the headmaster remarked on a pupil he had reprimanded, for a second time that day, for failing to tuck his shirt in. ‘He knows there will be consequences if we speak again, I’ll be keeping an eye out.’ Later on, headmaster spied offending pupil and raised an eyebrow. In lovely display of respectful jocularity said pupil smiled and flashed open his blazer to display a neatly tucked shirt.

Boarding and teaching staff liaise ensuring flow of information, enhanced by online system for safe sharing, reporting and updating welfare of pupils, increasing opportunity for early intervention. Students say there is little or no bullying, ‘It’s just not what we do and absolutely not tolerated.’ None of the sixth formers we met were aware of ‘Everyone’s Invited’ or similar websites, and eschewed the notion that such incidents happen at Wycliffe. Headmaster affirms that he and the governors are, ‘acutely aware and working together to ensure we continue to educate and have systems in place should such behaviours emerge.’

Pupils united during lockdown with early-morning ‘tea and toast’ chats and afternoon house quizzes online. Communication cited again and again by parents as ‘first rate’. ‘I feel at ease with approaching staff or going straight to the head’, one commented. Boarding staff regularly contact parents via WhatsApp or email. Serious problems initiate immediate parent discussion, ‘This way issues dealt with quickly and nipped in the bud.’

We observed that international pupils, boys, girls and year groups seem to integrate well, demonstrated by the general mix kicking a football, playing tennis or relaxing at breaks. During a delicious lunch in the unusually serene dining room (head attributes serenity to carpet installed to muffle dining din), an engaging and smartly attired group of sixth formers, a mix of international, day, boarders, forces pupils, chatted openly, respectfully engaging with each other’s viewpoints. ‘It’s a small school so we keep an eye on each other’, ‘really your house is your family‘, ‘there’s always someone to talk to’ they told us. Peer mentoring is formalised with coaching and safeguarding training, providing opportunities for pupils of all ages to help and support each other.

Global citizenship is embraced at Wycliffe. Teachers say whenever possible opportunities sought to explore multiculturalism and to, ‘hold up a mirror to themselves’ appreciating similarities and differences. School is candidate for Round Square membership to develop.

Chapel, the ‘heart and soul of Wycliffe’, is where whole school comes together several times a week. Rebuilt after World War II by pupils and staff, all feel genuine connection to this beautiful and atmospheric building. Open and inclusive – all faiths catered for.

Pupils and parents

With international and forces families, boarders and day pupils, parents are ‘eclectic mix’. Headmaster notes increasing ‘relocators to Cotswolds’, sending children to flexi-board, citing excellent train links for families around Cirencester and Gloucestershire. Parents’ association ‘not about parent socials, there’s no pressure to be involved,’ we heard. Local parents told us they enjoy hosting boarders, some extending invitation to visiting families, ‘There’s no air of entitlement at Wycliffe; the boys and girls are refreshingly down to earth, kind and supportive of each other.’

Money matters

Scholarships available at 13 and 16 for academia, art, music, DT, ICT, drama and sport (10-20 per cent). School offers three Royal Springboard bursaries and ‘significant’ support is available in exceptional circumstances.

The last word

As GCSE and A level results rise, the College is increasingly gaining a foothold over academically selective local grammars and a grip on the UK and international boarding market. Sporting facilities are top notch with more in pipeline but some other departments require a bit of TLC. What with the Gloucestershire parent grapevine and the current London relocation trend increasing day pupil intake, we wonder whether the 50/50 day boarding balance will tip? Small but mighty, Wycliffe College is raising its head above the parapet, newly confident that its balance of academic, pastoral and cocurricular provision is the key to successful growth.

Please note: Independent schools frequently offer IGCSEs or other qualifications alongside or as an alternative to GCSE. The DfE does not record performance data for these exams so independent school GCSE data is frequently misleading; parents should check the results with the schools.

Who came from where

Who goes where

Special Education Needs

Wycliffe College is a CReSTeD accredited school (category DU), with a highly regarded Learning Support Department, delivering specialist support to dyslexic and dyspraxic students on an individual or small group basis. The Learning Support Department is located at the heart of the College's Advanced Learning Centre, with a suite of four rooms for individual and group tuition. The Department is well resourced, with a wide range of teaching materials and textbooks, as well as networked ICT facilities and specialist software. SEN at Wycliffe is very much a whole school issue. Our experience shows that students with dyslexia can and will achieve, if taught according to their learning preferences and strengths. The Learning Support Department aims to enable students to develop their skills to a secure level in order to emerge as confident, independent learners with a high sense of self-worth. To ensure this, we have set in place clear procedures to identify students with SpLDs - including dyslexia - at the earliest possible stage in their education, and to distribute detailed information and advice which informs all teaching of these pupils. Whilst some students need additional learning support within the department, others achieve with differentiation within the classroom. Close and continuous monitoring ensures that their needs are met. Staff are very aware of the needs of dyslexic pupils and are responsive to SEN advice. Staff consult the SEN Department very frequently, to ensure the students’ needs are met. Good use is made of SEN information in the planning of the curriculum, which has been adapted specifically to meet the needs of SEN pupils, for example in science, English and modern languages. Departmental Schemes of Work all include a Differentiation Policy. Although our main provision is for students with mild to moderate dyslexia and mild dyspraxia, we have supported children with mild Asperger's syndrome and one partially paralysed student. We have also provided for students with mild tic syndromes and epilepsy. Our SEN admission policy is to consider the needs of each child on an individual basis, and following this, determine whether the College can meet that child's needs, without prejudice to the needs of others.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia Y
Dyscalculia
Dysgraphia
Dyslexia Y
Dyspraxia Y
English as an additional language (EAL)
Genetic
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class
HI - Hearing Impairment
Hospital School
Mental health
MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty
MSI - Multi-Sensory Impairment
Natspec Specialist Colleges
OTH - Other Difficulty/Disability
Other SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
PD - Physical Disability
PMLD - Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulty
SEMH - Social, Emotional and Mental Health
SLCN - Speech, Language and Communication
SLD - Severe Learning Difficulty
Special facilities for Visually Impaired
SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty Y
VI - Visual Impairment

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