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Pupils revel in their surroundings and ’swimming in the pool and looking up at the trees‘, ’playing outside on summer evenings’, and ’the view from the dormitories’ were all mentioned as special. Learning support is for all with a drop-in centre open all day and into the evening. ’They spotted that my son needed some help without me having to ask and ask,’ we were told. Den building in the spinneys and copses together with a genuine assault course in the woods provide plenty of opportunity to run free...

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What the school says...

In a magical setting, boys and girls, day pupils and boarders, experience a unique childhood at Orwell Park as well as a first class education. Pupils benefit from small classes, excellent teaching, and pastoral care. Wonderful facilities include 110 acres of grounds, specialist teaching rooms, a full range of sporting activities and an excellent tradition is maintained in both music and drama. ...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 2011 Adrian Brown MA (Cantab) PGCE. Early 50s. Previously spent 20 years at Ipswich School where he taught French and German before being appointed deputy head (pastoral). He thinks, ‘It has been invaluable, as a prep head, to have taught in senior schools. I know what they are looking for and expecting. Being “in the know” is something parents can depend on for guidance in choosing senior schools and entering for scholarships.' Wants all pupils to ‘discover their strengths and develop skills that will stand them in good stead throughout life’. Believes in allowing pupils to experience the sometimes-uncomfortable feeling of 'not getting things right first time': ‘We are becoming risk averse as a society and sometimes we learn best by our mistakes.’ Strong advocate of collaborative learning and developing resilience and good communication skills, which are ‘essential for life no matter what career path they follow’.

Continues to teach his own subject (French), usually in year 6, and remains a dedicated sportsman; he was a Cambridge blue and played professional cricket at county level (Essex). His wife, Nicole, also a trained teacher, concentrates on organising major events such as the Leavers’ Ball and dealing with design and decoration throughout the school. Strong approval from parents for the way the head and his wife greet all pupils as they arrive at school in the morning. ‘It is so welcoming for the children and makes it so easy, as a parent, to have a quick word.’ They have three grown-up children who have all flown the nest.


Main entry points are at 4+ and 7+ but places continue to become available throughout. Year group sizes increase year on year. Nursery and pre-prep places are non-selective (taster mornings in class and a home visit). At 7+ and 11+ tests in maths, English and reasoning plus a report from current school and an interview. Not overly selective but as school only offers learning support for mild difficulties pupils must be able to follow the curriculum.


At 13+ post CE. Excellent track record for winning scholarships; usually over half the year 8 cohort win an award, some several, and to a range of senior schools throughout the country, including to the top-drawer ones (23 scholarships in 2020). No well-trodden path to favoured schools – fewer than five pupils go to the same school. Current destinations include Ampleforth, Benenden, Cheltenham Ladies’, Culford, Eton, Felsted, Framlingham, Gordonstoun, Gresham’s, Haileybury, Harrow, Ipswich, King’s Canterbury, The Leys, Marlborough, Malvern, Millfield, Milton Abbey, Oakham, Oundle, Radley, Repton, RHS, Rugby, Shrewsbury, St Mary’s Ascot, Stowe, Tonbridge, Tudor Hall, Uppingham, Wellington, Westminster, Winchester, Woodbridge and Wycombe Abbey.

Our view

The splendid Blenheim Palace-style wrought-iron gates open to reveal grounds of outstanding beauty with sweeping lawns, wisteria-draped pergola, a ha-ha and the River Orwell glistening in the distance. A Georgian mansion, with significant additions (including an observatory) made by the Victorian philanthropist who then owned the estate, forms the core of the school. Many Downton Abbey features have been retained, including the orangery (now used as an assembly hall), panelled walls, French windows and a roaring log fire in the entrance hall. Pupils revel in their surroundings and ’swimming in the pool and looking up at the trees‘, ’playing outside on summer evenings’, and ’the view from the dormitories’ were all mentioned as special; all seem aware of their good fortune. The recently built pre-prep department is a one-storey building in its own grounds close by.

Stepping through French windows from the head’s study (size of a small ballroom) onto the terrace is an ageless experience, but the school is thoroughly 21st century. ‘We want to prepare pupils for the uncertainties ahead and a job market that we do not yet know.’ A recently appointed head of digital strategy oversees the introduction of interactive panels in every classroom, the adoption of Firefly (virtual learning environment) and individual iPads. Use of mobile phones, however, is strictly limited to off-duty times. Each day begins with a tutor period or assembly and a service is held in St Martin’s church, close at hand, every week. Serious emphasis on academic attainment with pupils’ individual strengths encouraged and targeted support where needed. In the middle school (years 3-5), pupils mainly class-taught with specialists for music, DT, art and languages. Seniors (years 6-8) taught by subject staff and in sets according to potential. Classics continue to have status with Latin taught from year 6 and Greek, for scholars, in year 8. A notice on the classroom door says ’Mistakes welcome here!’ and pupils confirm this: ‘You learn best if you can say if you don’t understand.’ There's even a growth mindset co-ordinator to make sure it sinks in. French continues as main MFL.

Learning support is for all with a drop-in centre open all day and into the evening with plenty of help available, including typing courses, interactive revision sessions and assistance with speech and language development from trained therapists. ‘They spotted that my son needed some help without me having to ask and ask,’ we were told; and ‘there is such an atmosphere of acceptance and support and no stigma attached to receiving extra help.' Those who require more formal support can be withdrawn for one-to-one help and this is charged as an extra. Communication with parents considered vital, as it is with any outside agencies involved such as educational psychologists. Real focus on study skills with pupils encouraged to take responsibility for their learning and personal organisation, particularly in years 7 and 8 as preparation for senior school.

Potential scholars are identified and streamed in year 7 and go on to form the ‘scholars' group’ in year 8. School well aware of risks in labelling pupils too early as gifted and talented and the enrichment programme laid on to nurture scholars is open to all pupils, parents and the wider community. This programme includes a series of ‘Orangery lectures’ given on a range of subjects plus scholarship preparation for music, art, sport and drama. Pupils take part in off-site initiatives such as the Uppingham skills day and the Gordonstoun challenge. Debating workshops, musical soirées, plays and careers talks all nourish and support pupils’ motivation and widen their horizons. For the same reason a link has been developed with Mayo college in India with exchange visits to take place annually.

Performance culture well established in verse, singing and public speaking, usually as inter-house competitions or with other local independent schools. Grounds perfect for letting off steam at break and play times, the ha-ha providing a natural boundary. Den building in the spinneys and copses together with a genuine assault course in the woods provide plenty of opportunity to run free and exercise as well as more formal games provision of rugby, cricket and hockey. Girls all play cricket these days, there is a nine-hole golf course, squash and tennis courts, outdoor swimming pool and an equestrian and ski racing team. Art scholars have specially allotted areas for their work in the studio which they can continue with in spare time. Extracurricular activities include clay pigeon shooting and a stargazing club run from the school’s own observatory.

The recent introduction of the OPS challenge, a sort of mini DofE with long hikes, camp-outs, bushcraft and outdoor pursuits holidays to Normandy in year 7 and the Ardèche post-CE provide opportunities for learning leadership skills – as well as enormous fun. Senior pupils are selected for the responsibilities of prefect, dorm captain, head boarder and house captains and the school has a head boy and a head girl, as well as two senior prefects.


Boarding increasingly popular, particularly in top two forms when it is seen as good preparation for senior school, but care is taken not to assume every child is on the path to boarding school. ‘My son decided he did not want to board at senior school and we were supported fully in that decision.’ Many begin with flexi boarding, later becoming full boarders, even when they live close at hand to the school. ‘I like being with friends and we have so much fun.’ Dorms, for six to 10, have recently been updated to a high standard.

The last word

In a spectacular setting overlooking the River Orwell, it is difficult to picture more idyllic surroundings to grow and learn in. Top notch academics and so much more besides.

Special Education Needs

The Learning Support department at Orwell Park runs throughout the school, supporting children across all ages and abilities. We carry out an 'In-House' assessment prior to recommending individual programmes for each child on the Learning Support Register and work closely with children, staff and parents. Children may need to be withdrawn from lessons with one of our team (including a Maths Specialist) or may find that in-class support offers enough help for their specific learning difficulties. We run study skills groups and revision sessions prior to exams for years 7 and 8. We also have early morning spelling groups, paired reading groups and children may follow a typing course, if it is considered beneficial. We work closely with all outside agencies such as SALTs, Physios, Ed. Psychs etc. Gifted and talented children are recognised as having specific needs, and pupils who are identified are well served. Orwell Park offers the following areas of support: scholarship sets in Years 7 and 8; differentiated programmes of work within the classroom throughout the whole school; a Thinking Skills club; opportunities to take part in academic challenges with other schools; and opportunities to study a second foreign language or Greek. The Headmaster has recently introduced a Young Einstein’s Club. Speakers will be invited on a weekly basis to talk on thought provoking subjects, such as: philosophy, logic, history of art, how medicine has affected the course of history, to name but a few.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
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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