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What says..

A number of parents who have moved children out of the London pressure cooker told us that while Bilton Grange is less in your face, academically pushy than its London counterparts, it does get children to the best schools. We visited as academic scholarship exams had finished, and one group was busy designing Bilton Grange’s own Cluedo whilst another was making a trebuchet.  The children love the fact that they can do sport more or less every day and they like the fact girls play cricket...

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What the school says...

Bilton Grange will prepare your child for 13+ entry into the country's leading senior schools. Bilton Grange is part of the Rugby Group of Schools and around half of our pupils progress to Rugby School each year. Bilton Grange pupils have also gone on to Eton, Oundle, Uppingham, and Harrow often with academic, art, DT and sport scholarships. ...Read more

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What The Good Schools Guide says


Since September 2021, Gareth Jones, previously head at St Andrew’s Prep, Eastbourne for six years. Before that, he was at Dragon (Oxford), where senior roles included director of sport and housemaster. Read English and history before doing his PGCSE in primary education and a master’s in educational leadership.


Two or three form entry. Slightly more boys than girls (particularly amongst boarders) but it’s not obvious looking round. Non-selective, though the school says they are looking for children who can access what is, in an age appropriate way, an academic curriculum. A number come in from London at 11+ for the final two years, to get the boarding experience or just to get away from the London hothouse. School became part of the Rugby School Group in 2020, but the admissions process remains the same.


Parents felt very well advised by the school about appropriate choices at 13+. A few leave to go to grammar schools at 11 but mostly it's senior boarding and around half to Rugby, with which the school merged in 2020. Others to Repton, Oundle, Benenden, Uppingham, Shrewsbury, Princethorpe and some overseas to Spain. A number of scholarships each year – 18 in 2021. As you might expect, the focus is on 13+ and the head is not keen on 11+. ‘It puts a lot of pressure on children much too young,’ says school. ‘They lose out on years of childhood.’

Our view

Set in 90 acres of countryside and woods, the Pugin designed buildings stand as a symbol of stability, tradition and British cultural heritage. The children can’t but be reassured and uplifted by the glorious wooden panelling and carvings of chapel, library and staircases, the huge windows, the period wallpaper sourced from the Houses of Parliament. Within this, modernity in the form of ongoing building development sits comfortably. Not all the 20th century builds are as stunning as the Victorian heart but buildings are being adapted and renovated.

Academically Bilton Grange does very well both by its high flyers and by those who are not going to get the big public school scholarships. A number of parents who have moved children out of the London pressure cooker told us that while Bilton Grange is less academically pushy than its London counterparts, it does get children to the best schools and even more importantly, it creates highly motivated and self-driven children who succeed well beyond 13+.

The school works positively with those who might be considered to have a mild learning difficulty. Small class sizes (around 12 to 16) allow for a lot of individual support within lessons and the increasing setting as they get older gives further tailoring to meet specific needs. Where difficulties are identified, specialist staff develop an individual learning plan which may involve a range of strategies – one-to-one sessions, in-class support, Saturday literacy enrichment, for example. The school identifies high flyers who might be heading for senior school scholarships during year 7 and is about to look at year 6 as well. The children are offered various opportunities and teachers watch how they respond to the stretch and challenge. We visited as academic scholarship exams had finished, and one group was busy designing Bilton Grange’s own Cluedo whilst another was making a trebuchet scaled up from some carefully worked out computer calculated designs. Others were writing policy papers for a forthcoming election in school to mirror the June general election manifestos.

While the curriculum is fairly traditional, the focus is on encouraging what the head calls ‘flexible’ learners. The school now teaches the three sciences together rather than separately with an emphasis on the applied aspect of science - the children had a talk from a Jaguar Land Rover designer recently and have been creating their own rocket-propelled cars. DT is a real strength. Even young children work on serious machinery and love it. The options and curriculum enrichment programme, which runs after school and on Saturdays, is extensive.

The school is also traditional in terms of its values and behavioural expectations. There is an emphasis on courtesy, respecting one another and the community, but this in no way inhibits the children's enthusiasm, which is celebrated round every corner of the school. Parents, too, are expected to uphold the school values and the head has very little time for those who don’t.

The school runs a lecture series for years 7 and 8, their parents and the wider community three or four times a year that aims to bring in leaders from a wide field to help the children become aware of the vast number of opportunities now available. There are other forms of outreach going on - one success is the Scout group, started and still run by the head. It is now the biggest in the district and gets together very regularly with other packs for scouting activities. School welcomes parents in and considers their needs thoughtfully. This is regarded as a huge strength. There is a lounge area in a charming stone-slabbed Victorian conservatory for parents who are waiting to pick up a second child, or just want to chat or browse the senior school brochures, with a little play area for tinies. Talks that are regarded as important for parents to hear are videoed and sent to parents who can’t make it. ‘The school really understands working parents,’ one family told us.

Saturday mornings are optional for year 4s, with an exciting new programme called the BiG Saturday that should tempt many back before afternoon sports matches. By year 6, there are some Saturday lessons for everyone as well as the vibrant enrichment options. In years 7 and 8, everyone is in for academic morning lessons and games in the afternoon. If you are not actually in a match, you are in a training session.

We enjoyed the food, which caters for various special diets as well as providing keenly anticipated treats such as roasts and steaks. Matron is on the door to ensure plates contain a variety of colours. Pastoral care is high on the school’s priorities. PSHE programme aims to tackle the issues that start to cause anxiety as the children head towards the teenage years. No-one was worried about bullying; yes, normal friendship ups and downs, but nothing the school isn’t highly experienced at resolving.

Although it is a school where masses seems to be going on all the time, staff are conscious that children also need quiet times and these, too, are built into the day. Sports facilities are good and school encourages non-team sports (golf, clay pigeon shooting, Zumba, trampolining) though the school also wants everyone to experience the community values playing in a team can bring. The children love the fact that they can do sport more or less every day and they like the fact girls play cricket. One family, whose children are clearly sporting stars, felt a bit more of the ‘winning at all costs’ drive wouldn’t come amiss, but that was not a general view, most going along with the sport for all approach. In fact the school does do well in matches and the top players compete at county and, indeed, national level.

The grounds lend themselves to a vigorous relationship with the outside world. Some of this is formalised – a science garden, a gardening club - but probably more important is the tearing about outside that goes on around lessons. Drama thrives and much use is made of the theatre. ‘Being able to participate in plays has really given my son the confidence he lacked before coming to Bilton Grange,’ one father told us. The head is a musician by training and keen to develop music facilities. Lots of the children play instruments (about 80 per cent have individual music lessons each week) and there is a wide range – the harp as well as the mainstream orchestral instruments. There are many performance opportunities for the various ensembles and choirs, both in the school and outside.


Most don’t start boarding until year 4. The school is very careful to try to ensure that boarders are emotionally ready for it – and indeed that their parents are. Weekly boarding available but by year 8 most are full boarders. There is deliberately gradual transition.

Boarding accommodation is refurbished on a rolling programme and the rooms, most of which house about six, are fresh and unregimented. Day children are very welcome to join boarders for prep and boarders are encouraged to invite their day friends in for the odd sleepover at weekends.

Money matters

Scholarships and funded places which are now processed in conjunction with Rugby School.

The last word

Bilton Grange is unpretentious despite its splendid buildings. ‘Not posh enough for some,' the school told us, with some pride. It has been co-educational for many years and there is none of the alpha male feel of some prep schools. It has a genuine child-centred core – children are not there just to fulfil parental expectations and not allowed to be mini-teenagers plugged full time into the cyber world – they are there to experience and enjoy childhood.

Special Education Needs

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
English as an additional language (EAL)
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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