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A dynamic and energetic school, with a long established, successful IB diploma programme.  Co-curricular activities are very much part of Haileybury’s raison d’etre and the school has an outstanding reputation for both sport and choral music. Not a grand school in atmosphere. ‘It’s cosy and terribly, terribly happy,’ says one parent. ‘You could not think of a better place to have your teenager running around.’ Though Haileybury is ethnically and religiously diverse (with a fair number of…

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What the school says...

Haileybury is an independent co-educational boarding school which offers a fully-rounded education for boys and girls aged 11 to 18. Haileybury is located between London and Cambridge, set in 500 acres of beautiful rural Hertfordshire.

Founded in 1862, Haileybury is proud of its history, tradition, community and values, taking the best from the past while looking to the future. Academic achievement and outstanding co-curricular provision are at the heart of the school, offering Haileyburians a truly all-round education and ensuring they leave as confident, tolerant and ambitious individuals who are leaders and life-long learners.

Boarding continues to be popular at Haileybury which The Master, Joe Davies, attributes to the fact that the College provides its boarders with a fulfilling, happy experience. 63% of the pupils board across the thirteen Houses within the campus grounds where more than 90% of our teachers also live.

We offer a dedicated Lower School (Years 7 and 8), a unique Year 9 curriculum, a wide range of I/GCSEs and the choice of IB Diploma or A Levels in the Sixth Form. Haileybury is consistently rank highly in The Times’ IB League Table. Our aim is to get every pupil into their first choice university.

Haileybury offers a range of Academic, Music or Sports scholarships which are measured as a percentage of the school fees. Bursaries are available to applicants according to need and are not reserved only for those who have been awarded scholarships.
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2016 Good Schools Guide Awards

  • Best performance by Boys taking ICT at an English Independent School (Cambridge Int Certificate Level 1/Level 2)
  • Best performance by Girls taking Classical Civilisation at an English Independent School (GCSE Full Course)

Curricula

International Baccalaureate: diploma - the diploma is the familiar A-level equivalent.

Sports

Rowing

Sailing

What The Good Schools Guide says

Master

Since 2009, Joe Davies MA (Cantab) PGCE (50s). Educated at Christ College, Brecon, then St John’s College, Cambridge, where he read history. After graduating, he worked in the City for a year but ‘hated every second,’ so returned to Cardiff (where his father was an academic) to do a PGCE. ‘I’d wanted to be a teacher from the age of 14, but thought it was too drippy to go straight back to school.’ Teaching clearly in the blood, since two brothers and three of his four grown children are also in the profession.

Taught at Tonbridge, where he became a housemaster, then deputy head of St John’s School, Leatherhead, before taking on his first headship at Sutton Valence. Stills teaches history to the higher level IB. He feels his achievement at Haileybury has been to increase the emphasis on academic performance, while placing ever more significance on the extracurricular. Sets a good example. A keen cyclist and marathon runner (who recently completed the Venice marathon with his wife and two of his children), he also enjoys cryptic crosswords and reading history.

Retiring in July 2017. His successor will be Martin Collier MA, currently head of St John's School Leatherhead. He read modern history at St John's College Oxford, followed by PGCE from London University. His first 10 years of teaching were in the maintained sector, at the 'fantastic' Thomas Tallis in south London and the 'tough' Weavers School in Wellingborough. He then moved into the independent sector and Oundle School, where he worked through roles of head of history, director of studies and second master. He also has many years' experience as an examiner with different boards, has been involved with the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency and has appeared as an examinations expert before the House of Commons select committee on education. In short, he has a broad experience and detailed knowledge of all things educational. Married with three older children.

Academic matters

A famous name in public school education, Haileybury has in recent years become equally well known for its enthusiastic participation in the IB. ‘We began in 1998 because it promised a broader curriculum and a boost to boarding, but we’re now totally idealist,’ says the head. Today about 110 sixth formers follow the diploma programme, with about 40 arriving each year specifically to do so. A levels, however, are still very much on offer and the school does very well in both sets of exams, with 37 average IB points in 2016, and pleasing results at A level (45 per cent A*/A in 2016). Biology, chemistry and history notably strong. Though not the easiest thing to run a school with a dual set of qualifications, this is managed by highly-qualified staff (including a hefty sprinkling of doctorates), who generally teach across both systems. The ISI commended the ‘often outstanding’ teaching.

Lower down, IGCSEs in just about everything, with 66 per cent A*/As in 2016. Here, all do a compulsory core of maths, English language, science and RS (‘because of its philosophical and ethical bent’). Languages include Italian, French, Spanish, Latin and classical Greek, with German also taught to the 15 or 20 native speakers taking the IB. New IGCSEs are computer science and positive psychology. Pupils are set in maths and languages from year 7, science and English from year 9. Reasonable numbers who require some type of learning support (typically 50-80), with two teachers to address their needs, one a specialist in language, the other in maths. A small number, too, have extra help with English as a second language. Overall high aspirations, with sane expectations. ‘They work hard, but it’s very unpressured,’ said a parent. ‘They expect you to try your very, very best.’ Relationships with staff particularly good, both in and outside of the classroom.

Games, options, the arts

Co-curricular activities are very much part of Haileybury’s raison d’etre and the school has an outstanding reputation for both sport and choral music. Sport compulsory for all throughout, with games afternoons twice a week and matches on Saturday. Plenty of teams too, often from A-D, so everyone gets a chance to show their mettle. Those who aren’t fans of the playing field can do ‘something less taxing,’ with options including aerobics, badminton, trampolining, rowing, rackets, golf and sailing (which currently boasts one girl who sails for Great Britain). Though boys triumph in hockey and football (where the school plays in the Boodles Cup) and girls in tennis, hockey, netball and lacrosse (competing at county and national level), rugby (boys only) and cricket (mostly boys) remain the ‘communal sports.’ ‘Boys’ rugby is the main thing,’ said a girl, and the whole school turns out to cheer on rugby matches played on the front field. Facilities can only be described as superb, with a bright, modern pool, two Astroturf pitches and a professionally operated tennis club in the grounds. The rackets court is also considered one of the finest in the world and plays host to the world rackets championship. High Performance Programme (including training and lectures) aims to help talented sportspeople raise their game.

The school has a 30-year tradition of exceptional choral singing and won the BBC Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year some years back (it has reached the semifinal twice since then too). ‘One of the things I enjoy most about the school,’ said one parent, ‘is the Christmas concert. It’s just magnificent.’ Chamber choir of about 30 (‘very intense,’ said one member) plus larger chapel choir of about 90. Wide range of other musical opportunities, from jazz bands to concerts and musical theatre. Twenty peripatetic music staff. ‘You potentially can do any instrument,’ said a teacher. ‘We currently have pupils studying the steelpans, jazz piano and the organ.’ New 'associated composer' will compose music for school events and lead class projects. The stand-alone music building, which already enjoys a charming beamed concert hall, has recently undergone a £1m refurbishment.

Art taught in its own large, light, purpose-built building, which not only caters for those doing GCSE or A level, but for leisure enthusiasts, seven days a week and in the evenings. Offers 2D and 3D, print, ceramics, photography and textiles, with exams tailored to individual interests. Dance lessons on offer for about 100 keen participants in jazz, ballet, street and tap, plus an annual dance show. ‘Fantastic drama,’ said a pupil, listing an energetic range from house drama to full-school musicals, which take place in the well-equipped studio theatre.

An abundance of trips. Sport (South Africa) and music (Slovenia, Prague and Venice), plus charity and subject specific (Uganda, Tanzania, Vietnam, and Sinai), as well as more modest outings to battlefields and cultural events.

Wednesday afternoons are devoted to community service, D of E and CCF for years 9 to 11, broadening out in the sixth form to take in activities like photography and web design. One extended weekend each term devoted exclusively to D of E and CCF (which flourish in equal numbers). Plenty of societies and lectures. Model United Nations particularly popular and the school recently played host to a world conference with 800 delegates. The head, who feels strongly that co-curricular activities build up life skills, has devised a specific year 9 programme which includes such fundamentals as outdoor pursuits skills and life saving.

Certainly you wouldn’t enjoy the school if you weren’t happy with a busy life. ‘Everyone encourages everyone else and invites them to get involved. It’s very full on,’ said one pupil. ‘You do have to learn to plan your time to fit in all your commitments, but you go to bed feeling fulfilled.’

Boarders

From year 9, about 70 per cent of pupils board, with a sizeable chunk of weekly boarders who leave late on Saturday and return on Sunday evening (except for five or six weekends annually, when all remain). Boarding ethos even for day pupils, who stay till 6.30pm and have their own beds at school. Seven boys’ houses, five girls’. Four recently built, with light, bright rooms, the rest older but updated. All sit amongst pleasant greenery and house 55 boarders, overseen by a housemaster or mistress, plus a resident tutor. In the early years, eight to 10 pupils share a large, subdivided space; from year 11, single or shared rooms.

Girls do their own laundry, boys have theirs done for them. ‘They think girls prefer that arrangement,’ justified one pupil. Active inter-house social life and plenty of weekend activities for full-time boarders, with Saturday film nights and Sunday trips. Plus ‘a lot of people have flats in London’ or visit local pupils (with beneficent parents). Parents (‘my son’s housemaster is just wonderful – warm, jolly, intelligent, everything you could hope for in a male role model’) and pupils (‘my housemistress is the most reasonable woman’) praise the boarding care.

Background and atmosphere

The school was designed in 1806 for the East India Company by William Wilkins (also responsible for the National Gallery and Downing College, Cambridge) as a training college for civil servants bound for India. In 1862, after the closure of the college, it was taken over by Haileybury, to be transformed into a public school for families in the professions and services, amalgamating, in 1942, with the Imperial Service College. The first girls were admitted in 1973. Today the school continues to occupy an impressive 550 acres of rural Hertfordshire, complete with magnificent neo-classical university-like buildings constructed round a traditional quadrangle. Later additions are sympathetic and well designed, with most subjects benefiting from purpose-built space. Beautiful, well-stocked and well-used library. ‘If they don’t have a book, they will get it for you.’

The school remains a Christian foundation with an Anglican chaplain who officiates in a domed chapel of cathedral-like proportions. Though Haileybury is ethnically and religiously diverse (with a fair number of Muslims, Jews and Hindus) everyone must attend services four or five times a week. ‘It’s here they learn the values that hold the school together,’ says the head.

Charity work is taken seriously and the Haileybury Youth Trust, first set up in the East End in 1890 by old boy Clement Attlee, has been working with impoverished Ugandans since 2006. It has been commended by the UN as a model of a small-scale charity, patenting a brick now used for buildings schools, kitchens and water towers.

Two further Haileybury branches now operate in Kazakhstan, the first British public schools to be opened in Central Asia. These help underwrite bursaries for UK-based students.

Pastoral care, well-being and discipline

The school essentially operates as two schools, a more-or-less self-contained lower school, running as a day prep from 11 to 13; and an upper school, from 13 to 18, which is very much a boarding school, with a full day of lessons and sport on Saturday.

Not a grand school in atmosphere. ‘It’s cosy and terribly, terribly happy,’ says one parent. ‘You could not think of a better place to have your teenager running around.’ Food comes highly commended. ‘It’s one of the things people rave about,’ said a sixth former. Three compulsory meals a day (plus an optional snack on games days), but with plenty of choice. The new Costa Coffee, a latter-day tuck shop, is ‘the’ place to congregate. Manners are formal (new pupils jump to attention, teachers are addressed as Sir) but not stiff. All pupils wear uniform, tartan skirts and blazers in the junior school, plain navy suits in the sixth form.

Discipline runs the usual gamut from detention to permanent exclusion. Drugs dealt with firmly. First offenders are suspended for a week, and regularly drugs tested thereafter, second-time offenders are expelled – though the head ‘can’t remember excluding someone.’ Strong prefect system, with 30 to 40 college prefects given additional responsibilities and privileges (more flexibility in uniform, better rooms, pub visits).

Pupils and parents

Largely from the surrounding counties – Hertfordshire, Essex, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire. In general parents are ‘City folk, business people, successful professionals’ and as most live reasonably nearby, more involved than usual at boarding schools. Large numbers from Europe for the sixth form, particularly Germans and Italians; a trickle from Haileybury’s sister schools in Kazakhstan. Pupils seem happy, confident, friendly and balanced.

Entrance

Fifty in year 7, a further 60 in year 9. Unusually, also a healthy intake (10 to 20) in year 10. Typically 50 new pupils enter the sixth form, including about 40 from overseas. At this juncture the school is heavily oversubscribed, with about three applicants for every place. Entrance tests at all levels in maths, English, verbal and non-verbal reasoning. Year 9 entry pre-tested by negotiation with the prep school 12 or 24 months in advance and CE used for setting. ‘We are looking for somebody who wants to do their best, is B+ to A* academically and will throw themselves into the co-curricular,’ says the head. Wide range of feeders includes Heath Mount, Edge Grove, Lochinver House and Keble.

Exit

About 10 to 20 leave after GCSEs, often for local day schools. Post A levels and IB, it’s mainly to Russell Group universities (most popular choices include UCL, Warwick, Durham, Nottingham, Leeds, Bristol and King’s College London), and increasingly, to Europe and the US. Three to Oxbridge in 2016 and seven medics. Good range of specialist advisers, for Oxbridge, medical school and North American universities. Three or four to art college.

Money matters

Music, sport, art, and all-rounder scholarships of up to 30 per cent of fees, plus a range of (generous) means-tested bursaries.

Our view

A dynamic and energetic school, with a long established, successful IB diploma programme. Haileybury actually achieves what many boast about, a well-rounded education. Great fun for those who want to be involved in everything it has to offer.

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Special Education Needs

We are a small, fully qualified team which can provide specialist teacher assessments and specialist teaching for specific learning difficulties. Pupils are withdrawn from subject lessons once per fortnight for individual tuition which often focuses on spelling rules, writing skills, reading skills, comprehension exercises, memory trainers, study skills and exam and revision strategies. Each child has an individually-designed learning programme. Some pupils receive weekly tuition and this may involve supporting them with classwork and prep. We liaise with parents directly to discuss and review the support programme. Overseas children are able to have individual or group EAL teaching which normally takes place at the times pupils are not taking a Modern Foreign Language. Parents are required to pay an extra charge for all tuition.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
Dyscalculia
Dysgraphia
Dyslexia
Dyspraxia
English as an additional language (EAL)
Genetic
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class Y
HI - Hearing Impairment
Hospital School
Mental health
MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty
MSI - Multi-Sensory Impairment
Natspec Specialist Colleges
Not Applicable
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
VI - Visual Impairment

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