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What says..

Pastoral care is excellent. Parents and pupils cannot speak highly enough of the attention to detail the staff give. Moorfield has much more than the standard primary classroom fare. We saw reception doing lessons on ‘where does pooh come from?’ before moving seamlessly into a discussion on the war with Ukraine and the refugee crisis. Many of the young people are very articulate. All years have one…

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What the school says...

At Moorfield we achieve the rare balance between academic rigour and creating a fun, friendly and caring environment where boys and girls can thrive. Pupils are nurtured as individuals and develop the personal confidence to be successful. All pupils proceed to their first choice of senior school. In a recent inspection (Jan 22) educational quality and personal development were both rated at 'excellent'.
Set at the foot of Ilkley moor, we make good use of our beautiful location whilst also having the benefit of being an easy walk from the centre of town.
Outstanding teaching from a vibrant and committed staff goes hand in hand with a broad and rich curriculum including exceptional music, plenty of sport, cookery and outdoor learning.
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What The Good Schools Guide says

Head

Since 2019 Tina Herbert (50s). Has taught at Moorfield since 2011, becoming deputy head in 2017. Read English and theology at York before completing her PGCE at Bristol where she also taught in state primaries before returning home to Yorkshire in 1999. With both a daughter and husband who teach (he is also on the staff at Moorfield) she is an educator through and through. Calm, warm and welcoming, it is immediately apparent that this is someone with a deep understanding of children, how to nurture them in a safe environment yet still provide real challenge.
Hers is a no-nonsense approach that recognises the need to develop the whole child and – some might say – provide a bit of an antidote to the snowflake tendency. Having risen through the ranks, she knows the school inside out - what works and what doesn’t. As such, her appointment was widely welcomed by parents and staff alike. Past pupils still refer to her as ‘my favourite teacher of all time’. She has a real knack for talent spotting teaching staff, many of whom bring experience of other careers and secondary subject specialism. This provides an exceptionally strong specialist curriculum offer almost unique in a relatively small primary school. She is passionate about the place of IT in the curriculum, with coding club sitting comfortably alongside the writing club. Clearly a very collegiate leader with a strong belief that ‘success comes through nurture, identifying every child’s individual needs and talents, helping them out of their comfort zone and nurturing parents as much as the children.’

Many schools talk the talk about being a family, but this one genuinely seems to walk the walk - and at Moorfield the Leeds United FC supporting head has also coached the football team.

Entrance

Moorfield is the biggest of the three local independents and is in stiff competition with them as well as the very strong state primaries in the area. There is no entrance test and the head is clear that it would be very unusual to say no to a child. Single form entry with up to 20 in a form. Most pupils progress from nursery through to the main school quite seamlessly with another half a dozen or so joining in reception and then a trickle of migrants from state primaries in other years. The school isn’t full yet but it is growing and some forms could not take more pupils. Annual open day, but school is open to visitors most days by appointment.

Exit

Pupils move on to a much wider range of schools than in the past. Ilkley Grammar (non-selective and next door) is the most popular. For parents hankering after selective schools, Moorfield offers free extracurricular tuition for entrance exams. These include the Skipton grammars, Bradford Grammar, Sedbergh, Harrogate Ladies College, Giggleswick and Ashville in Harrogate. The school is proud that it is rare for a pupil not to get their first choice.

Our view

Much wider offer than you might expect, with a carefully constructed curriculum throughout. All starts in nursery, which has two lovely rooms with their own dedicated play space. Here children do phonics and get a good grounding ready for moving up to reception. The focus on the individual child starts early with parents full of praise – one for the way a teacher took her unsettled son all round school to find what would spark his interest rather than forcing him into an educational box he didn’t fit.

Moorfield has much more than the standard primary classroom fare. We watched a digestive lesson on ‘where does poo come from?’ seamlessly move on to sensitively discuss the war with the Ukraine and the refugee crisis. Many of the young people are very articulate. All years have one IT/technology lesson a week in a well-equipped computer suite with 3D printer and plenty of chance to work on coding, electronics and graphic design with an inspiring subject specialist. We saw a cracking French lesson where years 3 and 4 were singing ‘I can sing a rainbow’ in both French and English while at the same time using British Sign Language. The quality of the French was strong and the BSL is a standard part of the curriculum.

A small number of pupils have SEN, mostly dyslexia and autism. One-to-ones available where needed. Impaired mobility is not so easy to accommodate due to the nature of the building.

Music is part of the life blood of the school. As we arrived pupils had swept the board at the Skipton Music Festival. School has a lovely specialist music room with three practice spaces all in use when we visited with the string band practising furiously for an upcoming performance. The school was buzzing with auditions for Moorfield’s got Talent as well as beginning rehearsals for The Wizard of Oz. Every child learns recorder and to read music. A parent commented, ‘Learning is fun, they do so much extra that other schools don’t offer and it all adds to the basics.’

The PE specialist brings a link to the Ben Rhydding hockey Club and there are plenty of competitive fixtures with other schools to stretch pupils and add to the fun. A fairly new all-weather pitch is tucked into the craggy hillside site and the school makes full use of its position on the edge of Ilkley Moor for cross country running. ‘We are a running school,’ states the head and several of the pupils agreed enthusiastically about running across the moor in the rain. Just don’t tell the music department who we suspect might have them all singing Kate Bush as they plough through the heather. On top of all of this the school site is used very creatively for bushcraft lessons for all pupils. Complete with yurt classroom, tented outdoor eating area with bush kitchen and fire pit the children learn to use tools, cook, scramble and abseil as well as having great fun on the two mud slides, what more could a child ask for? It’s Swallows and Amazons on Ilkley Moor.

Moorfield is housed in a Victorian gentleman’s house complete with panelling and stained glass with a nice 1980s addition of classrooms and sports/assembly hall. There’s a well equipped library where children work through a staged reading scheme and then on to free choice reading once they’ve reached a certain level. This also houses the quiet corner where pupils can come for some down time if needed. There is a pleasant dining room where staff know every single child and are more than happy to make separate meals for those with allergies or intolerances. One parent said she liaises with catering staff by email regularly and we felt that all the support staff were as much part of the family of the school as anyone else – ‘We all chip in wherever needed’ one said proudly.

Pastoral care is excellent. Parents and pupils cannot speak highly enough of the attention to detail the staff give. Parents say they can email before school about any issues and the problem is sorted out by registration which means the child can get on with the learning and fun of school. There’s a worry box for any concerns children might have but it is rarely used as the pupils feel confident to speak to any member of staff. Children say bullying and misbehaviour is rare but that when it does happen the school deals with it in a sensible way. Everything feels very measured, nothing heavy handed. There is a prefect system and year 6 take have various responsibilities across the school including supporting younger pupils.

Parents miss the more regular face-to-face contact they had before Covid but say that the fantastic email communication from the school has helped make up for this. They appreciated the online lessons all co-ordinated from the head’s dining room. Uniform is very smart and very traditional. Green and red blazers for all, shorts and trousers for boys, skirts and pinafore dresses for girls. Girls say they would very much like the chance to wear shorts and trousers.

Parental background is broad. ‘There are all walks of life here and plenty without a big income who choose to spend their money on this because it’s so good,’ said one parent. We spoke to a couple of families who had moved their children to bigger schools and then come back. ‘Once you leave Moorfield you realise how lucky you were - sometimes it’s tough financially but it’s worth every single penny’. The school is now fully co-ed but with more girls than boys especially at the top end. Some boys might that find limiting but parents said the quality of what’s on offer more than compensates for this. School provides a bus which picks up from the Keighley and Skipton areas.

Money matters

Fees include lunches and any teacher led extracurricular activities, of which there are many. Peripatetic music lessons are extra, along with holiday clubs and termtime clubs where outside staff are brought in.

The last word

Moorfield is a gem. This is what education should be all about - broad, challenging, nurturing and above all fun. They get the recipe right here and as such, produce some charming well-rounded young people in the process.

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