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Exceptionally talented at inspiring children and setting them at their ease; they positively bubble with delight at his arrival, and are reluctant for him to depart. His office boasts masses of impressive artwork with a stunning pencil portrait of him done by a pupil. His ‘persona' is emphasized by a lurid collection of over 200 ties, which are the source of endless discussion and delight to pupils. Though he does not teach, he is very much in evidence around the school at all times.  The main campus is an amazing hotchpotch attractively united by some remarkably well-designed gardening and wonderful views...

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What the school says...

Wycliffe is committed to fostering individual learning in all areas of the curriculum and pupils benefit from small class sizes with a high teacher to pupil ratio. One of Wycliffes aims is to cultivate each pupils unique talents and to bring out the best in its pupils by creating a supportive learning environment which promotes individual achievements in all fields. Specialist teachers ensure outstanding teaching delivery across the curriculum and a wide variety of extra-curricular activities enable the school to offer a fully-rounded education designed to develop confidence and self-esteem. Wycliffe enjoys excellent academic traditions and offers both academic and non-academic scholarships at 11+ for academic excellence, art, drama, music and sport. There are generous bursaries available for HM Forces families. ...Read more

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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


Since 2003, Adrian Palmer BA (rapidly approaching 60 but with no intention of retiring). An ex-maths and PE teacher, he had a spell as head at Warminster Prep then moved to Rendcomb, where he started the junior school and built up numbers rapidly before moving to Wycliffe. Works closely with the senior school head but has complete control of development in the prep. Married to Julie, a lynchpin in the school, managing SEN and, as author of The Write Path, assisting everyone to develop legible handwriting; they have son and a daughter who both went through the prep and the college.

Exceptionally talented at inspiring children and setting them at their ease; they positively bubble with delight at his arrival. His office boasts masses of impressive artwork including a stunning pencil portrait of him done by a pupil. His lurid collection of over 200 ties are the source of endless discussion and delight to pupils. Though he does not teach, he is very much in evidence around the school, showing round every prospective parent and aware of the individual needs of every child. His efforts grading system, based on skills like persistence, cooperation, organisation etc, may account for the confidence with which one pupil told me that coming top was less important than fulfilling potential and achieving a personal target grade. End of year exams for the top three years are intentionally tough with ‘opportunities provided‘ for revision, so that children can learn to deal with this situation.

Utterly pupil-centred, Mr Palmer - and hence the school - believes in pupils enjoying their education. Responsibility appointments, prefects etc are made ‘when children are ready for it’ throughout the final year, and head boys and girls hold the post for part of the year only so that leadership is shared out. He runs the school with a light and humorous touch; the hanging model of a bee in the dining room was left after a food info project ‘because it was fun’. While his approachability is clearly appreciated by pupils, staff and parents, his professionalism is evident everywhere. Everything runs like clockwork.


Many join the nursery across the road, and move up seamlessly; pupils applying other schools take a cognitive ability test and attend a taster day (or skype interview for international pupils). Moderate learning difficulties can be given appropriate help. An increasing number comes in at 11+, when scholarships and awards in music, drama, dance, sport and art are available. Fleets of buses from all over the place.


Most pupils (some 85 per cent) move up to the senior school, with exams for setting purposes only and early warning of any problems. Pupils heading elsewhere are prepared for CE etc. Destination schools include Cheltenham College, Marlborough and Wynstones.

Our view

The campus is divided by a main-ish road with the nursery, boarding and massive playing fields over a bridge to the north, the rest nestled tightly but comfortably on the smaller southern area. Teaching facilities include bang up to date Etheridge Hall, an attractive modern and spacious class and subject room centre with latest high-tech facilities, and large common room for year 8 pupils (tea and toast making facilities). In contrast the largely unreconstructed original house, with its high ceilings and steep stairs, houses the library and lower forms. It’s not very accessible, though the school will switch what’s taught where to accommodate anyone‘s needs. The main campus is an amazing hotch-potch, attractively united by some remarkably well-designed gardens and wonderful views. Little sheltering pagodas with blue roofs harmonise the haphazard older buildings, which include a hugely impressive art room, full of deconstructed cubist guitar paintings and occupied on our visit by a class learning to make Egyptian cartouches.

The nursery is next to the boarding houses, surrounded by little secure areas for digging, outdoor play and exploration. More log-clad portacabins make a light-filled flexible space with all the nursery equipment imaginable. It is filled with small children absorbed in play activities or books, dressed in cheerful red tops or cardies with bright gingham dresses for girls, quite different to the smart jerseys and girls' kilts of the older pupils. Good library - ‘the nursery eats books,’ said one teacher. It all feels happy and purposeful, provides after-school care and has terms which are much longer than school ones to provide a consistent service. There are even beds available for occasional rest time.

Gym and good sized indoor pool are serviceable but undistinguished, and there's a really state of art modern theatre building, much used for really exciting performances – Hairspray, The Lion King etc. Stunning sensory garden with open-air pavilion for either teaching or just sitting and thinking.

Sport is really important, with the usual rugby/soccer/cricket for boys and netball/hockey/tennis and rounders for girls, and there are some distinguished athletes – one girl reached national biathlete standard, and other talented children are taken to local clubs in the evenings and get top coaching, with some spectacular results. Masses of other activities after school, and day pupils can go home at 4.45pm or stay later for prep and activities.

Everywhere is well equipped. Two IT lessons a week in the prep. Good labs, French taught from tinies on and German and Spanish from year 8. The school accommodates a wide range of abilities, demonstrated by its affiliation to both CResTed, which confirms its good SEN provision, and NAGC, which accredits work for gifted and talented pupils.

Pupils genuinely believe that there is no bullying and that any potential problems can and will be sorted out by sympathetic but firm pastoral staff. Parents confirm that the merest sniff of trouble is dealt with well. A zero tolerance of bullying and a real sense in older pupils of their responsibility to take care of younger ones make it ‘a bit like a family,’ one said. A boarder explained that there was no need to be homesick because some members of staff were really like another mother.

Lots of Forces' boarders and a few from abroad – occasionally short term visitors like it enough to want to stay on for the rest of their prep years. Weekends great fun and, though boarders are allowed out, there tends to be an inflow of day pupils staying for special activities rather than a general exodus. The boarding houses (one each for boys and boys and girls of all ages, with a connecting lobby) are at the top of the site and have splendid views. The large dormitories have been split into rooms taking two to four pupils with loos very near and showers – some definitely catering for privacy and some less so - and baths downstairs. Boys and girls are allowed to visit each other's common rooms under supervision. Lovely touches abound, like the heart-shaped ‘memories’ collage of photographs. All prep is done in school so work doesn’t come home, but mobiles and computers are allowed during waking hours in the boarding houses – handed in at night and during lesson hours. It’s all feels very secure, homely and not too tidy, with the inevitable bunk beds which children seem to like.

Food is ‘pretty good now’, especially breakfast with croissants and pain au chocolate. Dining is informal with a separate round table area for little ones. Early bird day children welcomed into boarding houses and taken down to breakfast by helpful prefects. At weekends boarders go up to the college for Sunday lunch – one parent said this was the only feature of the school she had reservations about, but not a serious one. Noticeably kind and motherly kitchen staff. Saturday morning school (for years 6, 7 and 8) was one of the few things pupils could think of that they didn’t like - but then they decided that actually it’s fun 'on the whole’.

Parents get a chance for input via parent forum groups, and one noted that several suggestions had been taken up and were working well. Those stationed abroad are particularly grateful for a parent community prone to scooping up boarding children with absent parents and ensuring they get to birthday parties etc, and being on hand to offer visiting parents a bed for the night.

The key feature of Wycliffe Prep is its happy atmosphere. Children and parents enjoy their experience of the school as well as getting second to none opportunities in sport, music and drama, combined with some exceptional teaching. Its atmosphere, creativity and endearing quirkiness are typified by an extraordinary portrait of Mr Palmer, done in string on the wire-netting fence to the tennis courts – smiling, as usual.

Special Education Needs

See Wycliffe College entry for details. School is registered with CReSTeD, for the teaching of children with dyslexia.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia Y
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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