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In a nod to childhoods of yesteryear, year 4s go on annual Pioneer Camp and learn to put up tents, tie knots and stalk. Bushcraft weekends for seniors involve building shelters and campfires, as well as catching, gutting and cooking their own fish. However, atmosphere is nether old fashioned nor very strict (no standing for visitors). Our two student guides were polite, confident and very honest in their answers to our questions. ‘It’s a great school if your child is confident and outgoing and...

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What the school says...

At Chafyn Grove we expect a lot from our pupils and we offer a lot in return. A huge variety of extra-curricular activities, a committed staff, excellent facilities and small class sizes combine to allow us to aim high in every field of school life. At the same time, a friendly environment; supportive parents and a relaxed atmosphere make for happy days at school. It is this combination that makes Chafyn Grove special. ...Read more

What the parents say...

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What The Good Schools Guide says

Headmaster

Since September 2016, Simon Head, previously headmaster of Moreton Hall School in Suffolk. He held a short service limited commission with the Royal Green Jackets before studying classics at Cambridge, where he also acquired his PGCE. He has taught at Dulwich College Prep and Pembroke House in Kenya, and was then deputy head at St John’s Beaumont in Windsor before becoming head of Moreton Hall. He is married to Sarah, also a teacher and they have two young sons.

Entrance

Children join at all ages and stages and from all over the area. Entry is non-selective. All are invited to spend a day at the school the term before they begin. Scholarships of up to 15 per cent are available in year 6 (academic, sport, music, art and drama). Forces discounts (normally 10 per cent day and minimum 15 per cent boarding) and sibling discounts from five to 15 per cent available. Means-tested bursaries typically range between 10 and 40 per cent of the combined tuition and boarding fee.

Exit

Dauntsey’s, Sherborne and Warminster top the list of ‘next schools’. Sixteen scholarships offered in 2018, eight of them for sport. Around 10 leave at 11 each year for the Salisbury grammar schools and independents.

Our view

A 1914 school photograph shows just 17 boys and three members of staff sitting in the grounds of a large Victorian building. Today, that solemn handful of Edwardian scholars would be very surprised to find nearly 300 pupils at Chafyn Grove, including over 100 girls. Founded in 1876 as Salisbury School and changed its name in 1916 following an endowment by Lady Chafyn Grove.

They have taken the unusual step of dropping history, geography and RS from the CE syllabus to focus on maths, English, science, French and Latin. The subjects still feature but lessons can be more flexible: early history topics such as the Crusades and geography lessons on South America. French is taught from year 1, Spanish in years 4 and 5 and Latin from year 6. Latin is strong and some pupils get to near GCSE standard. The odd truly hopeless linguist is allowed to drop languages rather than self-destruct in CE. Maths is set for everyone from year 3, top sets are streamed for all subjects from year 5 and lower sets in the last two years. Scholars aiming for the likes of Eton are educated separately with extra lessons and lots of practice papers. This is certainly a change from times past, when ‘Eton, Winchester and Harrow were not Chafyn’s remit’.

Sessions in thinking, presentation, research and current affairs freshen up the timetable. Year 8 also studies business skills, involving Dragon’s Den-style pitches and advertising campaigns. Teaching body is very stable, with several married couples and long-standing staff members. ‘You only realise how well they’re being taught when they get to the next school.’ At the time of our visit, there were 42 pupils on the SEN register. Taught by five members of staff in two dedicated rooms, there is a broad sphere of activity which includes study skills, spelling and learning support alongside help for dyslexia, dyspraxia, EAL etc. One-to-one sessions once or twice a week are free and the school is honest about which conditions it can support.

School has the strongest sport in Salisbury, inducing fear in opponents. Everyone plays in a team and with so many – up to 20 on match days - school can send its top teams further afield to other seriously sporty schools. All the usual sports on offer plus archery, riding, sailing, cross-country and steeplechase. There is an equestrian and a sailing team, both of which compete successfully. Outdoor swimming pool used in summer. All four first hockey teams reached the national final recently, which school promptly won. Lots of individual success in athletics, eg U13 Hurdles National Prep Schools Champion. A team of coaches fosters everyone’s talent (not just the superstars) on school’s pitches and Astroturf which spread out behind the school up to the (distant) railway embankment. There’s enough space for a gym and squash and tennis courts. Phone app keeps parents abreast of sports fixtures. ‘I try to tone down sport a bit as the children do win a lot – they have to get used to the fact that it isn’t all about winning,’ said a parent. Saturday school (from year 4) is often taken up with matches.

Art department is roomy and light, with plenty of quality work on display including some excellent papier-mâché creations. We noticed a good reference library for art and DT. Drama has long been of a high standard and parents rave about the quality of the annual spring production. Years 3 and 4 put on their own play in the summer term. For music, we’d award a merit. One third of pupils learn an instrument and school teaches up to grade 6. Some parents feel this isn’t enough but we consider that, given the excellent sport and academics, school does a pretty decent job since many serious musicians are more likely to head for the Cathedral School. Singing is very popular and there are three choirs, as well as a school orchestra, training orchestra and jazz band. Large performance hall has good acoustics, a grand piano and an organ. Practice rooms are small but masses of space for storing instruments and music.

Lots of trips, including the usual, eg Normandy, London, the theatre and skiing, and the less usual – a visit to a Sikh temple. Activities during the last two periods on Monday and Thursday are intended to ‘give children room to breathe’ and include gardening, cookery, golf and Mandarin. In a nod to childhoods of yesteryear, year 4s go on annual Pioneer Camp and learn to put up tents, tie knots and stalk. Bushcraft weekends for seniors involve building shelters and campfires, as well as catching, gutting and cooking their own fish. Chafyn Challenges for all age groups range from 'make a paper boat' to 'climb a mountain' to 'be good company at table' to 'deliver a lamb'.

Boarding accommodation is comfortable and homely; parents speak very highly of houseparents and matrons. ‘They are totally on top of who, where, what and why.’ Rooms are shared (6-8 per room) and boarding life is well organised. Year 8 girls have an ensuite shower room which, though clean, is crying out for new tiles. Boarders have a sitting room and green room where they can Skype parents. Mobiles are allowed in free time but must be handed in at night. At the time of our visit, there were 26 full boarders and 40 to 50 part-time per night. One third stay in on weekends and there is a full programme of activities, eg bowling, shopping, cycle rides in the woods and trips to London and the beach.

The original Victorian building is still home for the boarders, but most of the teaching takes place in modern buildings which seem to flow into one another on school’s compact site. Children were engaged and interested in academic lessons; traditional classroom seating with everyone facing forwards. ‘Children like their teachers and don’t want to disappoint them.’ However, atmosphere is neither old fashioned nor very strict (no standing for visitors). Our two student guides were polite, confident and very honest in their answers to our questions. ‘It’s a great school if your child is confident and outgoing and knows who they are,’ said a parent.

Pupils feel comfortable about reporting any problems to teachers, who do their best to resolve unkind behaviour. ‘They name names and know exactly who is doing what.’ Likewise parents feel that they can turn to the staff. ‘They are very likeable and approachable and they’re always in the playground at pick-up times.’ School will summon parents and children and rap heads together if a situation appears to be escalating. There is a seven-point system to discourage bullying and extra mentoring sessions in place for girls in years 5 and 6. Every pupil belongs to an Eight (house) with appealing names - Wasps, Frogs, Birds and Knights. Food is prepared in-house by the chef and served cafeteria style; meal times are informal and children sit where they like. We enjoyed our lunch with plenty of fruit and veg. Day children can arrive at 8am if parents work and stay on for supervised prep until 7pm.

Lovely modern pre-prep with bright, spacious classrooms, own hall and play area. Reception starts small, after which numbers gradually increase. Children in pre-prep can stay until 5:30pm and have their own after-school club and activities including paper craft, football, netball and hockey.

Like most Salisbury schools, there is a mix of local professionals, Forces, business and London commuters. Only a handful from abroad, mostly Spanish and a few English with parents working overseas. ‘We can’t distinguish parents’ wealth and professions.' Parents confirm that atmosphere is ‘not snooty or overpowering’. A quick snoop along Bourne Avenue at pick-up time confirms that cars are mostly common or garden.

A busy, happy and academically sound school which still retains a friendly, family atmosphere. Will suit confident children who are happy in their own skin. Needless to say, sporty children are in their element here, although parents of the very talented might need to keep small feet firmly planted on the ground. Is, without a doubt, the go-to school for sport in Salisbury.

Special Education Needs

Pupils with learning and speech difficulties are identified as early as possible and are then assessed within our department. If further investigation is recommended, pupils may be assessed by either an educational psychologist or speech and language therapist. If help is needed, pupils are supported within our Learning Support Department and class support may also be given. There is no charge for Learning Support lessons. 10-09

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
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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