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  • Sunny Hill Preparatory School
    Bruton School for Girls
    Sunny Hill
    Bruton
    Somerset
    BA10 0NT
  • Head: Mrs H Snow
  • T 01749 814427
  • F 01749 812537
  • E [email protected]
  • W www.brutonschool.co.uk
  • A mainstream independent school for girls aged from 2 to 11 with a linked senior school; takes boys aged from 2 to 7
  • Boarding: Yes
  • Local authority: Somerset
  • Pupils: 50
  • Religion: Non-denominational
  • Fees: Day £8,505 - £13,116; Boarding £21,300 - £23,880 pa
  • Open days: October, November, March, May
  • Review: View The Good Schools Guide Review
  • Linked schools: Bruton School for Girls

What says..

Sunny by name and sunny by nature, the prep school sits at the top of the Bruton School site, a short walk from the senior school. Though very small, it benefits from the facilities and specialist languages and games staff of its big sister, whilst retaining its own cosy atmosphere. We loved the wall frieze of This Little Piggy captioned by the Latin club - ‘Vii vii vii usque domum’. ‘Whatever the ability of the girl, we’ll do jolly well by her’, as the head says. Day girls are free to join in with weekend activities and intermittent sleep-overs...

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What the school says...

Day places are available for boys aged 2-7.

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Other features

All-through school (for example 3-18 years). - An all-through school covers junior and senior education. It may start at 3 or 4, or later, and continue through to 16 or 18. Some all-through schools set exams at 11 or 13 that pupils must pass to move on.

What The Good Schools Guide says

Head of prep

Since 2010, Helen Snow BEd (50s), previously deputy head. A breadth of teaching experience preceding her arrival at Sunny Hill (elementary teaching in the US, secondary in the UK, a stint in Berlin – some occasioned by her husband’s job moves) means she truly knows that primary is where her heart lies. ‘I’ve taken the best bits of the national curriculum and left the rubbish’, she says: outdoor learning and bushcraft are big here and the school is a forest school (there’s a nature reserve on site in a former railway cutting), leading on naturally to the rigours of DofE in the senior school.

Warm and cuddly (we imagine), one father described her as ‘everything you would want in a prep school headmistress’, with the sort of compassion and vision which led her to set up an office in the school for a father whose child had broken her leg, but who wanted to be in school. A lover of the outdoors, Mrs Snow has two black labradors (and a teenage daughter); she is currently learning to ski – ‘It reminds me of how it feels to learn something from scratch,’ she says. She also enjoys less hearty delights such as gastronomy and theatre and possibly (though not necessarily) her current training to be an ISI inspector.

Entrance

Non selective from nursery upwards; meeting with head and maths and English assessments for entry into prep. Scholarships (academic, music, art, all-round) are on offer.

Exit

Boys leave after year 2; the majority of girls to the senior school by means of verbal and non-verbal reasoning tests, for diagnostic purposes only.

Our view

Sunny by name and sunny by nature, the prep school sits at the top of the Bruton School site, a short walk from the senior school. Though very small, it benefits from the facilities and specialist languages and games staff of its big sister, whilst retaining its own cosy atmosphere. ‘In and of itself, the prep school is none too impressive, but its alliance with the senior school makes up for a lot,’ was the cool appraisal of one father – but even he would surely have been impressed with the dissection of a cow’s heart (from an obliging local butcher) we saw in a year 6 biology lesson. (The squeamish were taught from a 3D model by a kindly TA.)

Non-selective it may be - very strong value added - but there is no shortage of scope or range (or fun) in the academic offering, which caters equally well for the brightest little sparks. We loved the wall frieze of This Little Piggy captioned by the Latin club - ‘Vii vii vii usque domum’. ‘Whatever the ability of the girl, we’ll do jolly well by her’, as the head says.

Plenty on offer after school too: ‘My daughter would stay until 5.30pm every day in some club or other,’ said one mother: ‘folk club, netball, judo, viola…’ Wrap around care from 7.45am-6pm. The pastoral side and the immense care the school takes over every girl in it are hugely appreciated by parents, too. ‘The staff really get to know the children and don’t just tell you the things you want to hear, they tell it how it is’, added the same mother, who had no notes of criticism whatsoever. Sports provision is good, though small year groups inevitably mean mixed aged teams.

Boarding (officially from year 4, but occasionally younger in the case of one small girl we met whose elder sisters all board and who was determined not to miss out) takes place in the cosy old vicarage where all junior boarders (just a handful from the prep) up to year 9 are housed. Day girls are free to join in with weekend activities and intermittent sleepovers. In short, Sunny Hill can be summed up in the words of one exacting father, not given to hyperbole: ‘The school can cope with the whole dynamic range academically, but it will get your girl where she wants to go. My daughter is just blissfully happy there’.

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