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What says..

Whilst year 1’s computing lesson might focus on coding and older children can expect lectures from the likes of Professor Matt Jarvis from Oxford University on black holes, you’ll also find display walls throughout the school celebrating the efforts of the less academically inclined. Sport is central, with some pupils at regional or national level in sports such as trampolining and cricket. Every child is involved in team games and team photos displayed around the school are of the C, D and E teams too...

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What the school says...

For over a century Beachborough has provided a dynamic environment in which children can develop a real love of learning. The schools idyllic 30 acre grounds give children space and freedom to grow into confident individuals, who are prepared for senior school and life beyond.

Academic excellence is rewarded at Beachborough and our inclusive approach ensures children of all abilities are inspired and challenged. The childrens horizons are further broadened by an extensive range of musical, artistic, dramatic and sporting activities.

With our traditional moral values, excellent pastoral care and outstanding academic and sporting achievements, Beachborough enables all children to flourish.
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What The Good Schools Guide says

Headmaster

Since September 2018, Christian Pritchard, previously head of Ranby House, the prep school of Worksop College. Degree from University College of Ripon and York St John and a MA in education from Oxford Brookes. A keen musician with a background in computer science. He has also worked internationally as head of the British School in Amsterdam and head of the junior school at Taipei European School. He is married to Zoe and they have two daughters.

Entrance

Non-selective. An informal ‘taster’ day, with teacher-led assessments, gives the school some idea of a child’s strengths and weaknesses; applicants for year 3 upwards assessed in English and maths. Some means-tested bursares.

Exit

Around half of year 8s leave with scholarships. Nearby Stowe and Bloxham most popular, with other destinations including Oxford High, Abingdon, Akeley Wood, Tudor Hall, Magdalen College School, Oundle, Millfield, Mount Kelly and Headington. A few leave at 11 for grammar schools eg Royal Latin.

Our view

Set in an impressive rambling country mansion with a range of modern blocks surrounding it, the newest a huge sports hall that many senior schools would be proud of. Others include a very good sized school theatre, science block that usually has Bunsen burners in full swing, and a smart Boardroom Building, where children from nursery up to year 4 are based. There’s also staff digs, where many of the 40-strong teaching staff live. All the classrooms are light, airy and inviting.

Whilst the reception areas have the typical ‘smart hotel’ look of many rural private schools, there’s a refreshing emphasis on displaying children’s artwork and practical touches like the fridge (albeit hidden behind tasteful built-in cupboards) by the front door so pupils can collect anything they’ve made in cookery lessons on their way home.

Total of 30 acres of lush countryside for pupils to enjoy – and they really do. We happened to visit on a sunny April day and at break time children were running and jumping all over the front lawn, but on rainy days they simply don boiler suits and wellies. School has a farm and sells its own sausages, and there are plenty of gardens dotted around, including the nursery sound garden and early years vegetable garden. Forest school means you’ll often see pupils taking classes outside, and when we visited there was even a replica of a trench in one field. This formed part of the school’s ‘enrichment week’, where teachers can focus all subjects on a single topic, in this case World War I.

Three sets for English, French, maths and science from year 3 upwards, subject specialists from year 5. Average class sizes of 14 to 18.

Not traditionally regarded as an academic school, it now prefers the description of ‘happy, ambitious and challenging’ – a combination that pupils and parents agree pretty much sum up the focus of the greater academic emphasis. So whilst year 1’s computing lesson might focus on coding and older children can expect lectures from the likes of Professor Matt Jarvis from Oxford University on black holes, you’ll also find display walls throughout the school celebrating the efforts of the less academically inclined.

Good provision for those requiring extra help (dyslexia, dyspraxia), via the learning support department. No charge is made for this - nor, incidentally, for tea and prep time after school; before- and after-school care; or most residential school trips, which include a year 2 trip to Amersham, whilst older year groups go to PGL, HMS Belfast, Spain, Paris and the Lake District. There’s also a focus on gifted and talented via the school’s able child programme. Self-assessment and peer-assessment are priorities and there’s a big push to encourage children (especially the gifted and talented) to take greater intellectual risks.

Sport is central, with some pupils at regional or national level in sports such as trampolining and cricket. Every child is involved in team games and team photos displayed around the school are of the Cs, Ds and E too. Boys and girls play football and cricket, which one parent said reflects ‘how Beachborough isn’t a boys’ prep school with girls, but a proper, genuine co-ed school,’ where incidentally there is pretty much a 50/50 gender split in every year. Swimming club every week at Stowe School’s pool, four miles away, and the newest sport in the school is triathlon, in which 30 children take part every Saturday.

Music is big here, with around two-thirds playing an instrument ranging from piano to bassoon. Year 1s and 2s get to try out the violin, recorder and percussion keyboard for 20 weeks before deciding if they want individual lessons. Two choirs, chamber choir and junior choir, for all year 3 and 4 children. Music tours to eg Bruges.

Each year group performs a play every year - a Christmas play for the younger ones, Shakespeare for year 8s, with other recent examples including Treasure Island and Pirates of the Curry Bean. Art – which is overseen by not just a head of art but professional artist - is imaginatively displayed throughout the school, and other activities include Young Enterprise, golf, Mad Science, tennis, archery, craft clubs and dance.

USPs include no Saturday school and a flexible approach to boarding. This includes up to four nights a week, and nearly half the children aged 7+ stay over at least once a week. This is no sleepover, though, with organised activities for boarders, a clear boarding school culture and all the strict rules you might expect, such as bedtime for oldest pupils at 9.15pm and silent reading before lights out. Dorms, which are located on top floor of main school building with girls' rooms on one side and boys' on the other, are well kept, welcoming and cheerful, with stunning wall art (Narnia for girls; war planes for boys). Long-serving school matron is based here.

Food is popular, with one pudding known as ‘bird seed’ (Rice Krispies coated in custard) easily the best loved course. Children eat calmly at long wooden tables, with teachers sitting at each end, and grace is said before and after each meal.

The code of conduct is clear, including ‘being friendly is easy and it can make the world of difference’ and ‘always do your best, whatever the challenge.’ By and large, the children seem to live by them, with pupils (and indeed parents) saying the school feels like one big family. Bad behaviour taken seriously, with a naughty bench for the younger children (although it’s not called that), but the focus is on prevention and there's a new well-being programme. School says that whilst it’s natural for children to fall out from time to time, they don’t allow this to descend to bullying, which they put down to an anti-bullying policy, great pastoral care, a focus on rewards for friendly behaviour and the fact that little problems don’t grow due to positive interventions. Parents and pupils agree. Active school council, which had just voted in increased choice in school meals when we visited.

The pupil body is almost exclusively white and, besides the 10-15 per cent Americans, almost all English. The majority of children are local, with some coming from Towcester, Bicester, Banbury and Milton Keynes. Parents mainly from farming industries, motor racing employees (Silverstone is round the corner) and hedge fund managers. Lots of family events, with the Beachborough Association putting on murder mystery evenings, coffee stops, quiz nights and an annual camp-out on the front lawn, for which tents were starting to appear when we visited.

This is a happy, nurturing school, set in beautiful surroundings. We found the children to be confident, polite and animated and completely lacking in arrogance. ‘I’ve done things I’d never have thought of – like archery,’ said one pupil. ‘I love the fact that we’re always celebrating people. I’ve learned that everyone is good at something,’ said another.

Parents talk about the ‘special atmosphere’ and ‘emphasis on inclusivity’, as well as the ‘individual attention that each child gets.’ ‘This place is a hidden jewel,’ said one. ‘The children are encouraged in whatever direction they want to go and the staff have a way of getting the best out of them.’

Special Education Needs

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Aspergers
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders
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
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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