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From learning groups named after famous scientists and astronomers to the beautifully designed TED centre opened in 2017 (all glass, steel and daylight) equipped with a laser cutter, 3D printers, a vacuum former and other kit more usually found in secondary schools, the enthusiasm for science and technology is palpable. Connections with the local motor industry are fully utilised - a Formula One fan on the staff and parent in the trade jointly run the Goblin Car Club, for example, in which year 5s and 6s design, build, wire, market and race an electric car. How could any child resist? The five-year plan now is to…

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What the school says...

For over a century Beachborough has provided a dynamic environment in which children can develop a real love of learning. The schools idyllic 30 acre grounds give children space and freedom to grow into confident individuals, who are prepared for senior school and life beyond.

Academic excellence is rewarded at Beachborough and our inclusive approach ensures children of all abilities are inspired and challenged. The childrens horizons are further broadened by an extensive range of musical, artistic, dramatic and sporting activities.

With our traditional moral values, excellent pastoral care and outstanding academic and sporting achievements, Beachborough enables all children to flourish.
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What The Good Schools Guide says


Since September 2023, Simone Mitchell, previously head of Swanbourne House School. Did her training as English teacher at Exeter University, followed by a master’s in educational leadership at University of Buckingham, where she has been an external tutor and lectured on their PGCE courses.


Entry is usually in nursery or reception, with years 3 and 5 other natural points of entry, if there is room (and sometimes there isn’t). Every applicant comes for a taster day and children with learning support needs will be assessed against their cohort ‘to decide if we can meet a need or not,’ says the learning support deputy.

School describes itself as ‘broadly non-selective, but we do some light touch assessment’. This includes written assessments for any child applying to join in reception or above.


Vast majority to Stowe and Bloxham. Others to Rugby, Uppingham and Millfield – and, in the past, to Repton, Akeley Wood, Marlborough and Sibford. Secondary schools in this part of Britain offer good numbers of scholarships and awards involving financial assistance, and Beachborough is very good at landing them – 22 in 2023.

Our view

The key item of uniform at Beachborough is not a blazer (they don’t have them, to keep uniform costs down for parents) but their trademark blue ‘boiler suits’. Boys and girls pull one over their uniform with a pair of wellies to enjoy the playing fields whatever the weather - a much-loved feature of this beautiful 35-acre school. ‘That’s one of the first things we saw, and my husband just said, “I’m sold!”’ said one parent. Rarely have we heard parents so consistently talk about ‘us’ and ‘we’ when discussing their children’s school – there is immense loyalty: ‘I’m always very proud to be a Beachborough mum,’ and ‘It has a beating heart. My daughter calls it her second home.’

Beachborough’s marketing is certainly slick. Its prospectus is packed with graphics, its cover – like the website – adorned with pupils beckoning you in, as does a personalised poster by the door, greeting by name any visitor or prospective parent.

Northamptonshire is actually the fourth county this school has inhabited. Originally founded in 1910 in Surrey, it landed here after various moves, through Kent (at Beachborough Park, from which the school then took its name), and Hampshire when its Kent home was requisitioned by the MoD in WWII.

The Elysian first impressions of lawns and pitches extending from the charming sandstone manor house (a definite draw for many parents) are backed up with an impressive focus on science – here described not as STEM, but STEAM, to include the arts in the acronym. From learning groups named after famous scientists and astronomers to the beautifully designed TED centre opened in 2017 (all glass, steel and daylight) equipped with a laser cutter, 3D printers, a vacuum former and other kit more usually found in secondary schools, the enthusiasm for science and technology is palpable. Connections with the local motor industry are fully utilised - a Formula One fan on the staff and parent in the trade jointly run the Goblin Car Club, for example, in which year 5s and 6s design, build, wire, market and race an electric car. How could any child resist? The five-year plan now is to join the F1 in Schools programme. Pupils study in the TED centre from year 3, with a range of clubs (eg tech club and engineering club) also using its DT workshop, CAD suite and more. Beachborough’s tech focus is destined to grow further – a digital music composition suite is opening shortly, with an augmented reality system for the science labs, and video and image manipulation software planned for the art department.

A child’s journey through the school begins in the separate Boardman building (named after a former head) which houses the nursery and pre-prep. Classrooms are set around bright shared central spaces, with excellent gardening, exploring and play areas outside. Some lessons also take place in a well-established forest school with adjacent wetland area – inhabited by two new ducks – ideal for pond-dipping and other ecological (and boiler-suited) investigations.

A commitment to the ACE learning approach (standing for active, creative and exploratory) has led to the development of different zones within each classroom, eg for reading, creativity and wellbeing. Mondays may be used for a scene-setting discovery day from which the whole week’s activities unfold, and the system helps children to learn in an enduring way through first-hand experience. The resulting picture is one of utterly engaged, happy children with enthusiastic teachers: ‘We’ve learnt far more about these children through this – it is so much more child-centric.’ Certainly we’ve never seen a cosier scene than one form enjoying snack time to background music and a fire crackling on the giant screen behind them. Also striking is the uniformly excellent handwriting almost everyone seems to have by year 2 – ‘a big focus, along with politeness,’ attests one parent. Years 3 and 4 are next to the Boardman but begin to take some of their lessons in the manor house, before moving there completely from year 5, when they will also be streamed in English, maths, French and science.

Once in the prep school there’s a house system – but here they are called clubs (again named after former heads) – with termly and annual points tallies. Every child from year 5 has a tutor (not their form teacher) they will meet in small groups twice a week, once with a wellbeing focus. Parents and pupils find this creates a strong pupil–teacher bond: ‘You’d liaise with your child’s tutor before their form teacher – they get to know the children very well.’

Though the school day does not finish until 5.05pm for year 5s and above, there is well-used after-school care until 6.45pm from year 3. This incorporates a period of self-directed time in which children may ‘pause, disengage and just let off steam on the lawns’ before the familiar mix of tea, clubs, homework or one-to-one assistance if needed from a teacher.

There are three full-time and three part-time learning support assistants in the school who offer small group sessions or provide individual support in class. Termly and annual standardised testing from year 1 helps flag any issues – and any learning support assistance is included within the fees. There is also a wellbeing counsellor who visits two days a week.

Beachborough's reputation – alluded to by parents interviewed – as not the most academic of prep schools is something the school explains by saying, ‘We are quietly proud that we are not an academic hot-house but that we are “excellent in all areas” of teaching and learning and pupil welfare as cited by our ISI inspection in 2018.’ Yet this same reputation in fact attracts many parents, as does the school's skill in helping children fulfil their potential in a less pressurised way – such as the awarding of effort grades, rather than achievement ones, each lesson. As one teacher puts it, ‘Achievement is very important but effort comes first.’

Class sizes are between 16 and 18, with two or three classes per year group. There is a scholarship set from year 7, its recent successes certainly indicating plenty of achievement besides effort. Parents feel the teaching is consistently strong, and no one would or could fail to be gripped by Tudor history in the history classroom decorated floor to ceiling in the style of a castle interior.

Enrichment weeks – at least once a year – are another highlight at Beachborough, with pupils and staff jointly choosing the themes which then direct studies (and dressing-up opportunities) throughout the week. ‘They’re a chance to turn away from the obvious – eg how do you light a fire when you have no matches? – and take children out of their comfort zone,’ says school. 
Beachborough has also for some years run its own junior DofE-type awards – increasingly common in prep schools – here called the Beachborough Endeavour award. Offered from year 3, roughly half the pupils pursue it all the way from bronze to gold.

The very smart school theatre affords every child a performance opportunity at some point in the year – for year 7s this is Shakespeare, while the year 6s put on a musical and the year 8s a leavers’ showcase. Not quite half the pupils – a smaller percentage than in many preps – have private music lessons, but no one misses out: all year 1s and 2s study an instrument for nine weeks and all year 3s and 4s sing in the junior choir. Senior choir is optional but enjoys 90 per cent uptake, with a chamber choir too for which pupils must audition, and which does concerts, festivals and tours – including a memorable performance at the last post service at the Menin Gate in Ypres. There is a school orchestra, two big annual concerts, and 12 different instrumental ensembles run by visiting music staff, with the Beachborough Rockers particularly popular.

On the sporting front, rugby and hockey are perhaps the highest profile games, with numbers of pupils playing these outside as well as within school (hockey being huge in the Midlands). An active partnership with the Northamptonshire Saints rugby club enables the school to enjoy some of their coaching and match tickets, and the best players may try out for the Saints’ junior academy. The netball courts have been newly resurfaced, there is a large Astroturf and a really vast indoor sports hall to accommodate PE, gymnastics, basketball and more.
 Everyone gets to play in away matches and triathlon has lately taken off, driven by a former GB veteran on the staff. Beachborough also hosts various contests, from an equestrian event at Stowe (there are no on-site facilities but plenty of keen riders at the school), a triathlon (also run from Stowe as Beachborough does not have its own pool), and – within its own grounds – two annual cross-country runs, including one for local primary schools. Some parents comment that they’d like to see more team buses organised for weekend tournaments, however, and less reliance on them to chauffeur.

On the top floor of the manor house is a relaxed hang-out zone for year 8s, and a thoughtfully laid out and furnished wellbeing room – part library, part-lounge – for everyone’s use (all teaching staff are being trained in mindfulness).


On the top floor of the manor house is Kites, the boarding house which accommodates some 45 children a night, Monday to Thursday. Sometimes almost an entire year group opts to stay on a given night – a sure sign of approval – with two to three nights a week the more usual commitment.

Children from up to two different years may share dorms, the time before bed usually spent in the sports hall or fields, or playing manhunt through the manor house – a perennial favourite. The dorms themselves avoid the slightly impersonal feel of most flexi-boarding rooms, having been beautifully decorated by a range of secondary schools, Bloxham’s black and white design, and the Narnia-inspired dorm designed by Malvern (alma mater of CS Lewis) being particularly striking.

Money matters

There are some bursaries available from year 3, of up to 100 per cent, which are means tested and anonymous.

The last word

‘Watch out robots, children in training,’ says a notice in Beachborough’s impressive TED suite, a building which houses so many great clubs and scholarship projects it must be a great recruitment tool in itself. Indeed, the school is working hard to relegate to history its reputation as the destination of choice for the less naturally academic, and to be recognised instead as a place that helps children to prepare for the future and fulfil their potential. Our experience was of cracking, expressive pupils brimming with confidence and happy to interact, even beyond a teacher’s earshot. ‘I hope you enjoyed your visit!’ shouted one girl from the playing fields as we headed back to the car. We absolutely did.

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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