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Over our tasty beef curry at lunch, one senior girl stated that 'I want to stay to year 11 because I will miss my friends'; another gave approval to iPad based lessons which are 'quite cool' and to an assembly where the head tucked into a tin of dog food in order to explain that one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. And then there is chess. Uniquely, in our experience, this has a designated room, the Ruy Lopez Room, named after a 16th century Spanish chess-playing priest. Boards are at the ready: the school’s own chess YouTube channel has over…

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What the school says...

Yateley Manor offers pupils an inspirational educational journey that will prepare them for their chosen senior school and provide them with the tools to build successful adult lives.

Innovative, enthusiastic and committed teachers provide the framework for your child’s educational, cultural and social development. Nurtured in a warm, friendly and safe environment within a unique and supportive family atmosphere, children are given new experiences to explore, building confidence and resilience, stimulating their desire to learn.

A full programme enriches the educational experience giving every child the opportunity to find talents and strengths. Chess is an important part of Yateley Manor’s programme with children learning to play from an early age. There are many activities to try, including modern dance and ballet in the specially equipped Studio and music technology in the Music School. Horse riding, masterchef and photography in art are also very popular. Sport is enhanced by impressive facilities. The profile of drama has recently been increased with a new outdoor stage and masterclasses, along with LAMDA classes which are proving extremely popular.

At the heart of the school is the importance of strong relationships between children and adults. In a community that embraces a breadth of cultures where all relationships are based upon respect, children learn to appreciate the need to be courteous, considerate and to use common sense. They are encouraged to be creative and courageous as they develop into confident individuals, with a strong foundation for a happy and balanced life. Pupils can only achieve this once they have been given the tools and the self-belief.
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What The Good Schools Guide says


Since 2015, Robert Upton – an individual in the full bloom of his middle years. Astute, visionary and, as his staff observed ‘a stickler’, he deals with the complexity of headship with the sort of stylish professionalism that is bound to appeal equally to parents and children.

A graduate of the University of Greenwich, where he took a degree in estate management, completing a series of property management placements. Consequently, unlike many school leaders who have spent their lives in the bubble of academia, he has a grasp of the kind of futures that his pupils will encounter and that Yateley Manor parents live. He gradually came to the realisation that a teaching career made more appeal than dealing with mortar, and has gone on to acquire a breadth of experience of both the maintained and independent sectors that few of his contemporaries possess. After an opening six year spell in a primary school, during which he completed an MA in education, two primary headships in Sussex (the second of which saw him lift a school out of special measures within a year) were followed by a move to Bede’s Prep in Eastbourne as director of studies, before his transfer to Yateley Manor. This, he proclaims is 'the best school I’ve worked in, because the staff are fantastic.'

He is only the third headmaster at Yateley Manor since the late 60s and has been shrewd enough to maintain the traditionalism of the head, who was in post for more than 40 years, whilst building rapidly upon the reforms instituted by his predecessor, who remained for six. And so, he has left his spacious and elegant study, that could feature in Homes and Gardens, largely untouched: bookshelves are wide, some filled with hardbacks from decades ago, furnishings are soft and tasteful. The tone is calm. But this all belies the modernist that the head is and the energy he displays.

Going against the widely held, and myopic belief, that it is best for a new head in his first year to stand back and just observe before implementing change, he has done what he brushes off as 'a fair amount'. This is to understate the difference he has made, especially in the technological sphere, where every member of staff, for example, has been given an iPad: not to prove that the school is somehow ‘up to date’ but because the head believes in both the power and the potential of interactivity. Unlike some schools who might make this investment and then let their teachers develop e-teaching and learning in their own way, he has introduced a programme of training, in conjunction with his staff development manager, which has ensured, as he says, that 'nothing has come as a shock.'

He has established a new website – a major advance on the former one - and, like many a head now, he blogs. His weekly articles are headed, rather like concept albums of yesteryear, with titles such as Giving Sleep the Blue Light and The Poison that is Stress.

Despite teaching one maths set he has still found time to develop ideas such as The Hub: a room in the heart of the school which is now a centre for parental coffee and chat. Above all, he wants to maintain and develop the strong family values that run, as he states, 'like a vein' through the school. To this end, parental ambassadors (two or three in each year group) have been appointed to define a social pattern and supply added strength to Yateley Manor’s strapline that although it is ‘your child’ and ‘their journey', it is ‘our focus’.

Unsurprisingly he dismisses, with a wry shrug, the notion of any kind of term time work/life balance, although he is an early morning weekend cyclist, zipping on the lycra at 7am for his 40km surge. A large fundraising event, involving staff and parents, saw the completion of a cycle challenge from Yateley Manor to Paris in 24 hours. Very much a believer in the life truth that to stay balanced there must be movement, he leads his school with élan.


Non-selective. Partly as a result, around 38 pupils from a roll of approximately 400 receive some form of learning support. This is provided by the head of LS and her team of four; assistance is given in class, in small groups and individually.


Most popular destination by far Salesian College, followed by Farnborough Hill, Luckley House, Lord Wandsworth College and Royal Grammar School, Guildford. Smaller numbers to Bradfield College, Reddam House, Guildford High, Sir William Perkins’s, Charterhouse and Eton. Normally Yateley Manor’s leavers would be expected to secure around 15 scholarships/awards. The school’s academic reputation is therefore high, whilst the prefects whom we met at their regular Monday break time briefing with the head, could not have been more impressive.

Our view

Yateley Manor sees itself at the forefront of curriculum development in the independent primary sector. This conviction is in great part rooted in its adoption of the Prep School Baccalaureate, a scheme that is designed to give pupils a more effective preparation for senior school life than the narrower pathway of common entrance or scholarship study. The PSB includes all core subjects but also incorporates a record of achievement in all other disciplines such as humanities, classics, art, design and sport. In addition, pupils are instructed in life skills which, for example, stress the significance of good communication and self review. As one of the four founder schools that began this scheme, the school is well used to hosting visiting teachers who wish to gain from Yateley Manor’s experience. There are now 27 PSB schools.

For a school situated on the fringes of suburbia, it has a welcome degree of space and benefits from its design whereby both the nursery and the pre-prep are housed within the main building. On-site playing fields are well appointed and on the edge of the estate is a separate teaching block which used to house a state school. This has recently been purchased from the local authority. Located within it are an admirable suite of music and practice rooms, art & design centres and modern languages. There is a stand alone drama studio and most recently a new outdoor stage, climbing wall and aeroball.

There are four choirs, an orchestra and numerous ensembles. The art and design is stunning; we especially liked the photographic projects and the collection of giant educational crisp packets with slogans such as Obesity Guaranteed emblazoned on their sides. French runs throughout the school and Spanish is taught in the senior years.

Drama features strongly and is taught to all pupils from year 4 upwards. A recent play for years 5-8 was Olivia! which contrasts well with Shakespeare in a Week productions - recently Macbeth and A Midsummer Night's Dream. There is a comprehensive club and activities programme too, including Photography in Art, Quirkle Club, ballet and Masterchef. And then there is chess. Uniquely, in our experience, this has a designated room where boards are at the ready.

In the drop zone, is the indoor swimming pool that might ideally be somewhat longer.

New changing rooms have recently opened providing modern facilities including solar panels on the roof.

The trinity of pupils, staff and parents are notably enthusiastic about all that the school provides. Over our tasty beef curry at lunch, one senior girl stated that 'I want to stay to year 11 because I will miss my friends', whilst another gave approval to iPad based lessons which are 'quite cool' and to an assembly where the head tucked into a tin of dog food in order to explain that one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Some teachers apparently 'really enjoy silence', whilst there are the normal jibes about 'loads of homework' in the final year.

The staff feel a great loyalty to the school, somehow finding the time to put on a biannual Christmas panto, and clearly feel intimately involved in its development. There is a daily staff briefing and parents receive rapid attention if they email in with problems. One senior member of the management team was especially complimentary about the innovative leadership of the school provided by headmaster and governors (profiles of the latter can be viewed on the website) who are 'always keen to move things forward'. Many schools trot out trite phrases which claim that 'pupils will be prepared to face the challenges of an ever-changing world'. At Yateley Manor this is not a pretence but a reality.

Unsurprisingly, then, the school is popular with parents. They talk of its 'friendly, family feel' and that their sons and daughters are 'super comfortable in their own skins'. Kept very well informed by the weekly multi-paged newsletter, curiously titled Inamos (an acronym that will defeat even the most determined Googler but stands for In A Manor Of Speaking), they clearly feel that the school lives up to its promises. The FYMS – Friends of Yateley Manor School - is a well-established support group and organises quiz nights, termly discos and a biannual ball. A full coachload of parents goes on an annual Harrods shopping trip.

The Yateley Manor day can start with a full English breakfast at 8am, whilst prep supervision is available until 6.30pm, hence providing the sort of structure that working parents require. The plethora of activities that comprise the school’s holiday clubs extends its appeal still further, as does the transport network which serves from, amongst many other places, Camberley, Farnborough, Hook and Odiham.

Money matters

There are means-tested bursaries, typically giving financial assistance to one family in each year group (applications are assessed by an independent company). Parents benefit from the fact that the Yateley Manor fee is all-inclusive. There are no additional charges for lunch, snacks or residential trips.

The last word

It is fitting that the school’s logo, which appears on every item of literature, the website and the coffee mugs, is a symbol of advancement: a ship. Some might see it as a Drake-ish galleon, but it is in abstract form, a clever combination which interlinks the past to the present. With a clear sighted head at the tiller, and his crew well ready to surf the educational waves on the horizon, there is not a better time to jump aboard.

Special Education Needs

The role of Yateley Manor School’s Learning Support Department is to identify and support those pupils within the school who have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and to ensure that provisions are made to support pupils’ learning and progress as part of a whole school approach to SEND. Parents, staff and pupils are included in all decisions regarding their SEND and the school adopts a person-centred planning approach to ensure that support meets the individual learning needs of each pupil with SEND. Pupil progress and provision is monitored and reviewed by teaching staff and the SENCo. The Learning Support Department will liaise with external support agencies where appropriate and support parents in sign-posting appropriate assessments and SEND needs. Learning support policy is available to view on the school’s website.

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

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