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What says..

Pupils are charming, considerate and articulate – a little less polished and streetwise than at other schools, in the best possible way. Parents are friendly, full of humour and, importantly, grounded. More Volvos than Range Rovers kicking up the gravel driveway. Roughly half are Catholic, the rest from all and no faiths, the latter groups feeling genuinely included. Parents claim teaching is ‘superb’ - ‘They really know their stuff’. Exceptional sport, led by a new director described by parents as a ‘powerhouse’. There is a sport-for-all ethos, with all ability levels get...

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What the school says...

A leading co-educational IAPS boarding and day Prep School for children aged 3-13 situated in 70 acres of beautiful parkland in the Test Valley of Hampshire, just over an hour from London. Boarding and day pupils alike benefit from excellent teaching and pastoral care of the highest standard in a warm, welcoming and inclusive atmosphere, supported by a large number of resident staff. The school's Catholic identity, which is caring and values each and every individual, encourages enquiry and produces confident, open and thoughtful young people. The broad and stimulating curriculum is complemented by extensive opportunities for sport, music, drama and art. Farleigh pupils thrive in an environment where they begin to discover who they are, develop interests and find their talents. ...Read more

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Equestrian centre or equestrian team - school has own equestrian centre or an equestrian team.

What The Good Schools Guide says


Since 2004, Father Simon Everson, previously the school’s chaplain for five years. Educated at Caterham School. When veterinary aspirations derailed, he worked for a year as a mental health auxiliary nurse, then studied theology at Leeds Collegiate, followed by a three-year certificate in theology at Oxford. After 13 years as an Anglican curate and vicar in south London, he became chaplain at Hurstpierpoint College. Found ‘joy, colour, light, generosity and warmth’ among Sicilian friends and says it was this – along with a visit to Westminster Cathedral – that inspired his and his wife’s conversion to Catholicism. He lives on site with his wife (immersed in school life and a wizard with cricket teas, we heard); they have two adult daughters.

Parents say he is the school’s ‘DNA’ and that ‘he isn’t a showman’, trusting the ‘ethos of the school to shine naturally’. ‘If you want the big sale, you’re looking in the wrong place,’ said one. Pupils are ‘in awe’ of him. We saw this first-hand - it’s a brave head to share shortcomings but pupils were spellbound when he shared a story about a childhood event featuring a lack of virtue (‘doing the right thing when no one is watching’). His spirited love of music (especially opera) and art benefits the school and his ‘raw passion for life’ (as he describes it) is infectious. So too, a ‘pulsing message to look away from ourselves’, mainly by way of charity work.

‘It’s a privilege to be part of a child’s education,’ he told us from his homely study filled with art, religious icons, books, personal knick-knacks and even a crystal ball. He describes the pupils as ‘like hot air balloons… they fly away filled up’.


The school describes itself as academically non-selective, but there's a pre-prep taster morning where learning support complete a phonics, reading, language and basic number recognition check. For entry in year 3, reading, writing, spelling and maths assessment to understand the pupil’s profile – no ‘pass mark’. Entry in other years, depending on places. Priority given to Catholics, boarders and siblings.


Majority move from pre-prep to prep. A few occasionally leave at 11 for independent senior schools that have a year 7 entry point. At 13 they transition to a range of schools. Marlborough, Radley, St Mary’s Ascot, Winchester, Sherborne, Sherborne Girls, Eton, Bryanston, Godolphin and Wellington recently popular. Impressive number of scholarships – 22 in 2023.

Our view

Set in 70 acres of sweeping Hampshire parkland, the school appears like an oasis, the soft Clipsham stone of the main Georgian house the perfect backdrop to the children we saw busy in play and learning throughout the day.

Pre-prep has a purpose-built hub with everything they could wish for, including the Nest, a sensitively designed ELSA room to support emotional literacy. We waded through glitter in reception from Make It! (DT) to Number Wall (active maths) to the Cottage of Dreams (home corner), gate-crashing a boys’ frog party on the way. Emphasis on writing throughout – years 1 and 2 were crafting advent prayers and Christmas stories when we visited. Specialist teaching in French and games from reception. Superb outside area – pupils (bubbly and relaxed, even in their smart uniforms) keen to tell us about planting their spring bulbs, as well as the barn, where they have construction play. Cosy, weatherproof all-in-ones are hung up, ready for all-weather forest school.

From year 3, pupils are taught in classroom blocks positioned around a quad, moving around for every subject from year 5. Parents claim teaching is ‘superb’ and that ‘they really know their stuff'. Setting in maths and spelling from year 3, English from year 4, science from year 6. Streaming from year 7 by way of scholars’ classes. French is continued from pre-prep, with Latin or Spanish added from year 6. Heavy on science, taught in first-rate labs (where we watched a lively scholar lesson on law of moments) or even outside (where we saw year 6s demonstrating food chain energy transition with the help of holes in cups). Debating is big – in geography, a COP 28 discussion showcased impressive global and politics knowledge, as well as the excellent relationships between teachers and pupils. All use iPads. Good on IT, say parents, with ‘brilliant’ digital leaders, but pupils would like more coding (in the pipeline). Shoes off for the well-stocked library managed by the full-time librarian (and pastoral care aficionado) where creative initiatives promote reading, eg Millionaires’ Lunch, a competition to read a million words, supported by the Accelerated Reading scheme.

Year 8 get their own hub, with its own cinema! Enrichment on curriculum for these pupils, eg debates on how 9/11 impacted the relationship between the West and the Middle East, as well as Dragons’ Den type projects and a financial awareness course, Save your Acorns, organised by parents.

SEN provision ‘inclusive’, with ‘no taboo’ attached, say parents. A few pupils even said their friends ‘are a bit envious’ of the extra attention they receive in the learning support department, which gets its very own floor. Support for a range of conditions: ADHD, autism, dyslexia, minor hearing, visual and physical disabilities. The SENDCo leads a team of seven, who provide one-to-ones (included in fees), with a particular focus on emotional literacy support, play and Lego therapy. Speech and language therapists and occupational therapists visit as required (costs extra). Two EHCPs when we visited. Gifted and talented also access this area, eg via code-breaking sessions or debating club.

Exceptional sport, led by a new director described by parents as a ‘powerhouse’. There is a sport-for-all ethos, with all ability levels getting weekly input from senior sports teachers, who often take the lowest-ability team. ‘I’m not a sport nut but I love it here,’ said one pupil. Core sports are rugby, hockey, netball, tennis, cricket, football and athletics, with lacrosse, archery, table tennis, golf and cross-country widening the offer. We enjoyed watching a year 6 gymnastics lesson, where boys and girls worked collaboratively on routines. The school is big on swimming – not just laps in the superb 22-metre pool (although house comp swim to Paris is just that) but lifesaving, synchronised swimming and water polo too. Bundles of success at county and national level – most recently in cricket (girls and boys) and hockey (girls). Parents reckon the provision for girls gives the school ‘an edge over local competitors’, the boys clipping at their heels!

Drama on curriculum until year 5, with pupils exploring abridged versions of Shakespeare, among other things – then it’s extracurricular only with whole-year shows in years 6 and 8. The recent year 8 production, Footloose, was ‘like a West End show’, say parents –showcasing mature and confident performers, with no expense or effort spared. Drama ambassadors in years 6, 7 and 8. Pleas for house drama – watch this space.

‘Outstanding’ music, say parents. ‘I don’t know how they do it.’ Facilities include 12 practice rooms, a rock room (for percussion), recording studio and two classrooms. Parents praise the commitment of staff, who oversee ‘masses’ of ensembles, with 22 rehearsals per week for the four choirs, three jazz groups, two guitar, three rock and one concert band. The names tickled us - Pick Perfect, Highly Strung, Vinyl Tap. Around 80 per cent learn an instrument. Annual summer concert is ‘Glastonbury meets Glyndebourne’, we heard, with Battle of the Bands a highlight. Themed house singing hotly contested. It’s not just about shining a light on talented pupils, we were assured – apparently they really go to town for the informal concerts for beginners and less accomplished. Curriculum music kept creative - year 8s were learning hooks and riffs, inspired by Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams; year 4’s graphic score compositions also impressive.

Faces light up at the mere mention of art, and it really is everywhere – from a ceramic totem pole to funky Union Jack mural. The large art studio wouldn’t look out of place in a senior school, with talented scholarship portfolio work in progress when we visited. Year 5s were beavering away on animal paintings – maturely standing back and examining work before plunging back in. Startlingly life-like ostrich head sketches (of all abilities) caught our eye too – ‘Break it down into parts and anyone can do it,’ assured the teacher, optimistically. DT popular – we saw creative and precise candlestick making in action.

Pupils report a good balance of sport, music and drama clubs, along with more niche offerings like bushcraft, yoga and cookery – the latter having become a victim of its own success as it’s now full. Good take-up for trips, none more so than the annual ski trip to Serre Chevalier.

Parents say pastoral care is ‘at the heart’ of the school. Current families are paired with newbies, known as shepherd families, and there are two trained therapeutic active listening assistants (TALA), plus emotional literacy programmes. Weekly PSHE. Lots of engaging displays, eg healthy lifestyle posters.

Pupils are charming, considerate and articulate – a little less polished and streetwise than at other schools, in the best possible way. Just jolly good sorts who appreciate a good cord trouser (they love their uniform!). Must be the first school we’ve visited with an olive and feta festive tree – a measure of the excellent food here, with next-level salad bar, whose eager queues suggest it is doing the trick. We enjoyed fish and chips, with homemade tartare sauce. Boarders’ breakfasts equally enticing– smoothies in trendy jars a fave.

Parents are friendly, full of humour and, importantly, grounded. More Volvos than Range Rovers kicking up the gravel driveway. ‘The Farleigh network is phenomenal,’ we heard – drinks parties aplenty, plus charity events such as the summer ball. Hockey and netball parent groups train on a Saturday morning, with impressive numbers. Families include military, local farmers and many professionals and business owners. Most live within a 20-minute radius, many working in London (grateful for the wraparound care from 7.30am to 7pm and flexi boarding). Roughly half are Catholic, the rest from all and no faiths, the latter groups feeling genuinely included, although all need to be on board with the expectation for pupils to attend a service once a week in the school’s lovely bright chapel. Catholic symbols are all around the school and prayer is a part of daily life.


Around half the pupils board. Full, weekly and flexi options from year 3, and there’s a good mix of all three. In year 8, the vast majority board – ‘It’s just what you do,’ said one pupil, ‘everyone looks forward to it, it’s so much fun.’ Flexibility appreciated by parents, with school accommodating ad-hoc weekend stays or sleepovers. With everything from den building to BBQs, ‘What’s there not to like?’ said one. The annual Boarding Bash gives day pupils a taste of boarding life and is surely the school’s best boarding marketing tool.

Juniors enjoy magnificent views from the main house in large, bright and homely dorms (up to six beds). Could be a scene from anyone’s home - hockey sticks piled in the corner, tennis racquets at the ready. Evening routines important: prep in the library after a snack and music practice, then down time, eg playing in Fortress Farleigh and making s’mores, plus eight chosen activities running through the week. All look forward to Wednesday tuck lockers. Senior houses have ‘funky’ washrooms and more privacy (comfortable single or double rooms). ‘No Tech Thursdays’ are a hit (yes, really), with seniors enjoying good old-fashioned hanging-out time instead. After Saturday school, it’s sport for all then a variety of weekend activities for the roughly 50 happy campers, eg bowling, theatre trips, BBQ parties, dodgeball, cooking comps, Farleigh X Factor or cosy takeaway nights in.

Money matters

Means-tested bursaries for existing parents, plus at least two 100 per cent bursaries a year awarded to new pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The last word

A joyful school nurturing compassionate, reflective and hardworking children, well prepared for top-notch senior schools and a meaningful life beyond. No place for brashness or arrogance, but for have-a-go pupils, who are encouraged to 'take it all!’ as one put it. True community spirit.

Special Education Needs

Due to the nature of learning, all pupils require support at some time in their school life, whether it is educational, social or emotional. Support for our young learners includes literacy, numeracy, study skills, gross and fine motor skills, access to word processing, support with organisation, ELSA for years 1–5 and FEIPS (Framework for Enhanced Individual Pastoral Support) for year 6 upwards. In school, the learning support team works with the staff, both individually and through INSET, so that they too feel informed and supported in working with all aspects of special educational needs. Our support for learning includes the use of educational psychologists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, plus a child psychotherapist and a play therapist who work in the areas of social and emotional development. The ISI inspection report of 2013 remarked, ‘Pupils with SEND benefit from excellent support. Identification of their additional needs is efficient with prompt screening and appropriate help provided. Where necessary, pupils are provided with an up-to-date individual education plan. The school keeps track of all their progress through careful monitoring and record keeping. Support for pupils with SEND, those with EAL and those who are gifted and talented is excellent. Pupils with EAL or SEND make a high rate of progress.’

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
Dyscalculia Y
Dysgraphia Y
Dyslexia Y
Dyspraxia Y
English as an additional language (EAL) Y
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class
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 Y
SLD - Severe Learning Difficulty
Special facilities for Visually Impaired
SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
VI - Visual Impairment

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