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More carrot than stick means more rewards and less sanctions – ‘hardly anyone gets detentions,’ said a pupil. Anti-bullying award means staff and pupils are trained ambassadors – ‘they are absolutely on it with kindness,’ confirmed parent. Some parents make up their mind as soon as they get down the drive, notable for its ferocious speed bumps that would wake even the sleepiest policeman. ‘You see all that space and know that’s it!’ said one. Upon asking, as we always do, what pupils would improve about their school, one presented us with…

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What the school says...

Welcome to a nurturing school with a big personality.

Giving a child the best possible foundations for a bright future is a true privilege. Our fantastic facilities give pupils tremendous scope for achieving the academic, sporting and creative excellence that we encourage. Just as important is the safe, secure and caring framework that we provide, giving children the support and self-belief they need to make their own individual strides forward.

I get huge satisfaction from seeing each one cross barriers and shine in a way that is uniquely theirs and with two children myself, I know the pride parents feel when they see their child thriving.

I look forward to helping your child thrive too.

Gareth Hughes,
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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 2009, Gareth Hughes (50s). Previously assistant head for four years, though association with RGS family of schools goes back to 1996, when he was appointed head of rugby at the senior school, subsequently becoming director of sport, then assistant head (head of lower school). He recalls, ‘In an appraisal meeting, I said, “What next?” to which the response – which I’ve never forgotten – came, “I can see you as prep school head.”’ Even after all these years, he still seems touched by what he calls ‘a leap of faith on their part, as well as mine.’

A West Walian, he was educated at Llandysul Grammar School where he was head boy and captained the 1st XV. Sports science degree from University of Greenwich, then straight into PE teaching at a state secondary school in Kent. Has been fly half for a range of clubs including London Welsh, Saracens and Worcester. Still gets out on the sports field most weeks, either teaching, coaching or refereeing. On the school gates daily and goes on residentials with pupils when he can. Loves nothing more than a whole-school assembly, though admits he was ‘terrified’ about doing them online during lockdown only to find he couldn’t get rid of the children who would ‘take at least three minutes saying goodbye – I had to pre-record some in the end!’ Gently spoken, with huge sense of fun (‘I’m just a big kid really’), parents call him ‘amazing’ and ‘inclusive’. ‘He’s pretty special – I’ve never in my life met a headteacher quite like him. He mucks in with everything and is so involved,’ said one. Knows the RGS ethos and structure inside not just professionally but as a parent - son and daughter both went through the prep and senior school.

Periodically zips on the lycra to pedal the Worcestershire countryside and enjoys the theatre. His wife is a music teacher at a local school.


Taster day for places in year 2 and below – decision lies mainly with parents at this stage, though school looks for any obvious gaps. At year 3 and above, assessments in English, maths, and VR. Lots of latecomers, often mid-year. Usually a year 5 influx, result of local middle school system; year 4 also increasingly popular. Often means the three class entry rises to four higher up the school.


At least 95 per cent to senior school. Unlike external candidates, pupils only have to sit papers in VR and NVR with school record also taken into account, though scholarship hopefuls (academic, music, drama, art and sport) can opt to take additional papers in English, maths and VR – pupils normally scoop a dozen or so awards each year. Remainder to less academic options, and it is expected that some girls will opt for the all-girls option of RGS Dodderhill, a relative newcomer to the RGS family of schools.

Our view

A school with the best of both worlds – a rural feel, yet just three miles from central Worcester. Pupils don’t take the 50-acre site for granted – how could they with a ‘16-acre field’ to tear about on and an extensive Forest School complete with wild garden, mud kitchen and outdoor classroom? ‘Forest School is the best!’ bellowed one of our guides as he jumped from tree stump to tree stump before giving us a demonstration of the tyre swing while explaining the rules of Predator (‘You hide and don’t move a muscle’). We lost count of the number of large playgrounds and free-flow areas with everything from climbing wall to tables packed with Mr Men books flapping in the breeze. On the sunny day we visited, young cricketers were out in force and who knew a mound of grass could cause such excitement – ‘the setting for our outdoor performance of The Tempest next week,’ explained a year 6.

Some parents make up their mind as soon as they get down the drive, notable for its ferocious speed bumps that would wake even the sleepiest policeman. ‘You see all that space and know that’s it!’ said one. Though the late Victorian farm and farmhouse evoke centuries-old tradition, the school was founded in 1996, starting with just six pupils. One of its charms is that it remains a single entity, a one-stop-shop incorporated in the original block and new extension. The generously sized atrium houses reception which leads seamlessly into open plan library and there are two floors of classrooms and break-out spaces, plus multi-purpose hall, specialist rooms for science, ICT, French, DT and music. And because nursery and pre-school is housed in the connected original building, these younger pupils – known as Ladybirds, Caterpillars and Butterflies – all feel part of it. The school is also visually exciting – jam packed with colour (even the fences are multi-coloured) and things to touch and feel, no more so than in this early years area - a feast for the senses.

Academic standards are high, backed up by an imaginative curriculum that starts off largely topic based, with remaining touches of cross-curricular further up. Much of the learning is outdoors, with Forest School for all. Even inside, for every classroom we saw with heads down there was another with these sparky pupils on their feet. We happened upon children singing stirring battle songs in history and doing number tennis in French. Even boring old fractions has a catchy rhyme with actions, as demonstrated by year 4s. Enrichment afternoons for year 4 upwards involve sculpture, philosophy, Spanish and Forest School in six week blocks.

Embedded digital learning with iPads supplied up to year 5, at which point parents have to fork out for their own. ‘Oh yes, we love our tech!’ said one of our guides when we remarked on the use of them alongside exercise books in most lessons we saw (like all RGS schools, it’s Apple Distinguished). ‘Wait until you see the ICT room,’ she smiled – a hub of tech, we liked the display of semi-built computers. School is Worcestershire hub for computing, hosting sessions for county’s teachers to share best practice. All did the school no harm during the pandemic, if the rave parent reviews of online learning are anything to go by.

Specialist teaching in French (the only language taught), music and PE from nursery plus computing and IT from year 1, with DT added from year 3. Setting in maths from year 3. The number of applications for teaching roles has risen significantly in recent years – three were joining from the maintained sector when we visited and two have left in recent years to become heads. Combination of emphasis on pedagogy, autonomy, room to grow and friendly employer all cited as key attractions. Average class size of 15, max of 20.

New and well-liked SENCo coordinates team of 12 TAs who provide in-class (and small groups where necessary) for the 15 per cent of pupils with SEN. Around 35 pupils have one-to-ones – be warned they cost extra. Pre-teaching works a treat for some – these short sessions give pupils a head start by covering eg vocab they’ll be using in upcoming science lesson. Flourish and Fly offers social and emotional support in small groups.

A school known for its sport. ‘They get all the children involved no matter what their ability – I know because my daughter is useless at sport and never side-lined,’ said parent. PE staff go spreadsheet mad to ensure nobody is missed in the regular fixtures for years 3-6. Pupils we had lunch with (jacket potato – slightly disappointing for us and them as Wednesday is apparently roast day) were excited about their afternoon match. Rugby, football and cricket for boys while girls have hockey, netball and cricket - some parents would like to see ‘a less gendered approach,’ though school points out there is athletics for all on curriculum, cricket is now taught as a mixed sport and there are clubs whereby boys can play hockey and girls can play football. Along with the vast pitches, there is a pavilion and twin-pitched Astroturf. In fact, the only facilities that the school lacks are a separate sports centre and – high up on pupils’ wish list – a swimming-pool.

On the music front, there are inclusive orchestras and ensembles plus a chamber choir that recently attended the National Choir Festival. Drama is embedded into English rather than being its own curriculum subject, though year 5 and 6 do productions. Annual Performing Arts Week in January, and years 3 and 4 have Creative Connections in October, the latter involving pupils producing and performing in a play. When asked what the art is like here, one of our tour guides spun dramatically around to point to a stunning display of ceramics. Voila! We were suitably wowed, with plenty more such displays with everything from mosaics and stained glass windows, both cited as favourite projects among pupils. Clubs include jewellery making, pottery, boogie bounce, Judo, fencing and the head’s popular sailing club, among others. Plentiful trips – pupils had just returned from bushcraft camp in Northamptonshire when we visited.

More carrot than stick means more rewards and fewer sanctions – ‘hardly anyone gets detentions,’ said a pupil. Anti-bullying award means staff and pupils are trained ambassadors – ‘they are absolutely on it with kindness,’ confirmed parent. School is admirably keen not to push Everyone’s Invited type issues under the carpet and constantly adapts age-appropriate messaging accordingly. Head is also unfazed by girls wishing to wear boys’ uniform (one did recently) and boys increasingly wear Alice bands to keep their hair out of their face. More ethnically diverse than it once was, though still reflects the area in being largely white British. Four houses (Cash, Cornwall, Goodrich and Perowne – all former Bishops of Worcester) contest for supremacy not just in sport but everything from coding to mug design. Drum rolls await in the assembly where the head dons his famous jacket featuring all four house colours to announce winners. Uniform practical but smart – younger girls’ sailor-like summer dresses a nod to a bygone era.

Upon asking, as we always do, what pupils would improve about their school, one presented us with his student council notebook. New football goals, a summer BBQ, a de-stress area, more vegetarian food and more netball hoops top the bill. And who wouldn’t the school suit? Anyone who is really shy or who doesn’t like tech, was the consensus among pupils, though parents are adamant a term or two here would soon boost their confidence and win them over digitally.

With no extra charge for wraparound care (7.45am-6pm), it’s a good school for working parents, of which there are many (as with the other RGS schools, they tend to be a grounded and hard working lot). Active PTA runs lots of events including summer fete with eg Smoothie Challenge, bouncy castles, pony rides and stalls run by local businesses. At the Christmas fair, Santa is as real as they come, we heard, with ‘a proper white beard’ and ‘fake snow in Forest School.’

Money matters

Academic and music scholarships available at year 5 for internal and external candidates. Bursarial support restricted to the senior school.

The last word

One of those schools where parents meet the pupils and think, ‘I want one like that!’ Having also often been swayed by big acreage as they drive in, many decide to apply on the spot. Academically robust, with masses of opportunities besides, this is excellent preparation for the senior school and has a warm family feel despite the large size. ‘It’s even better than McDonald’s!’ exclaimed one child on open day.

Special Education Needs

We can offer one to one help (up to one hour per week) for children with mild dyslexia or dispraxia. In the Early Years department speech therapy can be offered. All at extra charge.

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
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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