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A breath of fresh air - a welcoming prep that builds confidence in the shy, empowers the gifted and is equally ideal for the imaginative, rumbustious child who can turn a tree into their castle. A tad Boys' Own (precious children would hate it), but those who are happy to...

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What the school says...

Bilton Grange will prepare your child for 13+ entry into the country's leading senior schools. In recent years pupils from Bilton Grange have gone on to many such schools, including Rugby, Eton, Oundle, Uppingham, and Wycombe Abbey. Sixty-six scholarships have been awarded by senior schools to Bilton Grange leavers in the last four years. ...Read more

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What The Good Schools Guide says

Headmaster

Since 2013, Mr Alex Osiatynski (30s), previously director of music of the Loughborough Endowed Schools foundation. Educated at Dulwich College and Oxford; PGCE at Roehampton. Has also taught music at Gresham's, The British School in the Netherlands, Smithdon High and Oakham. Married to Freya, with two young sons.

Entrance

Non-selective but placement test and interview for candidates – academic potential looked for (aim is to find something at which each child can excel). When spaces available children can enter at any time. Typically two form entry in pre-prep and three forms in older years, roughly 60:40 boys to girls.

Exit

Majority to senior boarding schools. Popular destinations include: Rugby (about 50 per cent), Uppingham, Repton, Oakham, Bloxham and Oundle, with typically some 10 scholarships a year, including Foundation ones to nearby Rugby School. Odd grumble that school is not well disposed to those who flee Bilton at 11; school's defence is that early leavers miss out on scholarships, responsibilities and the excitement of the final year, including cementing life-long friendships. Plus side is that occasional places appear for those from schools that finish at 11.

Our view

Main school, decorated and extended by Pugin in the 1840s, consists of an elegant mansion complete with grand entrance bordered on two sides by high red-brick walls, stunning Pugin chapel used almost daily (all children, irrespective of faith, expected to attend) and superb, uninterrupted views across the Warwickshire countryside. Inside, the trappings of 21st century classrooms and teaching blend seamlessly with classic wood panelled halls (teeming at break-times with earnest youngsters playing chess and snooker), acres of windows, tiled floors and creaking floorboards.

Looks, feels and is a traditional 24/7 country prep, with good old-fashioned values, frequent assemblies and, in line with its boarding ethos, full Saturdays (from Y4). Pitches, playing fields, a nine-hole golf course, large sports hall and well-maintained swimming pool make this a haven for the sporty, yet even the most studious child would be hard-pressed to dismiss the Bilton outdoors. Intrepid explorers are free to investigate the 100 acres of grounds and woods, grow their own veg in the organic garden, participate in outdoor crafts or toast marshmallows on the fire pit – even an outdoor classroom complete with log benches and swings – all duly risk-assessed.

Sport and the open air are a major constituent of school life, but the arty are abundantly catered for. The director of music is boosting quality and quantity of music (most play at least one instrument but aim is to involve all) – choirs, concerts, bands and orchestras perform regularly; drama is consistently strong and popular, with the creative arts and DT abiding favourites. Activity weeks are emphatic highlights of the school year; our guides jabbered enthusiastically about the posse of daredevil activities – climbing, canoeing, 24-hour survival – and jolly japes: mud diving, arm jousting and mandatory dorm raids.

The work hard, play hard ethos is tangible, but pressure isn't. Even in the final year prep is completed in school, a conscious move by the school to keep a lid on what can be a difficult and demanding time. Small classes, some setting in prep and wide curriculum for all – even tinies are treated to drama, dance, ICT and French. All try Latin. No weak lessons. RE popular (do ask about WOW), maths divides, reading is ably supported by good teaching, knowledgeable librarian and well-stocked library. We were treated to two science lessons (loved the lively informative posters, the work of artistic scientists, adorning the modern labs), a lively whizz and bang session and a traditional chalk and talk, perhaps typifying the breadth of approaches and styles. Indeed, we were reliably informed, by our young tour guide, 'Teachers look at the type of learner you are such as audio [sic], visual etc and try to teach you in that way'.

No BG mould - former pupils include humorist Miles Kington, actor Alexander Hanson, composer Sir Arthur Bliss (organ on which he learned to play fully restored and in regular use) and film star Rupert Evans, but BG children are easily identified by their impeccable manners: they ask to be excused from the table, shake your hand, look you in the eye ('We practise that,' say staff), stand when an adult enters the room and speak with confidence, interest and knowledge but no tinge of arrogance. Universally good rapport between staff and pupils; school exudes warmth. It's a lovely, cosy environment to grow and be a child in and, 'regardless of ability, they get best out of them,' say parents.

Can cater for a range of needs, particularly the dys-strata and ADD, but nothing heavyweight - 'My child is dyslexic but I always felt they were delighted to have him, no sense they were doing us a favour'. Takes a genuinely broad church, celebrates diversity, welcomes and looks after all. 'Learning support staff are so fab, so lovely and so helpful,' said one delightful, delighted youngster, but odd parental mumble that knowledge of SEN across core teaching staff is patchy.

Parents praise pastoral care, 'Staff are good at setting boundaries and stamping on transgressions before they become serious'. Boarding houses are light, bright and comfortable. Communal areas offer TV, gaming, board games and jigsaws. Facilities and rooms (up to nine per dorm) clean and cosy but not clinical (encourages youngsters to decorate with posters and teddies). Atmosphere in boys a little formal, more relaxed in girls. Mixed reports in recent times about both quantity and quality of girls' boarding (do ask how many full, 11+ girl boarders), but new housemistress a unanimous hit. 'She has transformed things for the girls. I try to persuade my daughter to come home during the week but she never does'.

Eclectic parent body - new money, old and those with very little who work long and hard to pay the fees. Plenty happening socially and just as friendly, inclusive and welcoming to parents as they are to pupils - even a Saturday parental networking breakfast complete with bacon butties and croissants.

Aims to offer a truly rounded education where all are encouraged to try out new things, have a go, take part. Staff say, 'We let children explore the ox-bow, not just row down the river. We want them to take a risk, make mistakes, work out the rules.' Parents agree, 'BG children are enthused by life and learning.' One added, 'Thanks to Bilton, my daughter has had two extra years of childhood and a relatively untroubled path to adolescence - that's worth thousands to us.'

A breath of fresh air - a welcoming prep that builds confidence in the shy, empowers the gifted and is equally ideal for the imaginative, rumbustious child who can turn a tree into their castle. A tad boys' own (precious children would hate it), but those who are happy to join in, with a little rough-and-tumble along the way, should have the time of their lives.

Special Education Needs

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Aspergers
Aspergers Syndrome [archived]
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders [archived]
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
Delicate Medical Problems [archived]
Dyscalculia
Dysgraphia
Dyslexia
Dyspraxia
English as an additional language (EAL)
Epilepsy [archived]
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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