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Children see lessons as fun as well as educational – 'inspirational,' enthused one, aged 10...Takes growth mindset theory very seriously – children are encouraged to see trying hard, learning from mistakes and taking risks as more valuable than coming top, to develop an 'I can't do it yet' attitude....

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What the school says...

St Olave's is the prep school to St Peters, with small classes, wonderful facilities and a vast array of academic and co-curricular opportunities, St Olaves is a caring school where we encourage each other to show compassion and self respect. We strive to achieve this by being welcoming and inclusive so that we can all feel valued and grow in confidence.

A fantastic team of teachers provide the inspiration to achieve, through creative teaching and a breadth of opportunities outside of the classroom. This does mean that we expect everyone to work hard and participate with whole-hearted commitment and resilience, reflecting on any disappointments and short-comings with honesty. Humility underpins all that we do, praising effort and fair play while celebrating our successes with modesty. Competitive sport allows all our pupils to compete against other schools at an appropriate level. There are over 200 individual music lessons taught each week and the love of music permeates throughout the school. Ultimately, we are preparing children for their future so that they always seek to improve and approach each challenge and opportunity with energy and optimism.

Located in the heart of the city, St Olaves is easily accessed by road, rail and air. London and Manchester Airport are just two hours away by train, and the School is ten minutes from York station. We provide transport to Leeds/Bradford International Airport, less than an hour away.
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Other features

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.

Sports

Rowing

What The Good Schools Guide says

Master

Since 2005, Andy Falconer MBA BA (late 40s). Read education and professional studies at University of Lancaster, MBA at University of Leicester. Previously head of geography and outdoor education at Terrington Hall Prep; same plus IT at Craigclowan Prep; deputy head at Chafyn Grove Prep - always also teaching sport. Covers lessons here. Has been chair of Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS) and on boards of Independent Schools Council and Independent Schools Inspectorate. Co-opted member of University of York St John's People Committee.

Wife is school nurse; three daughters, all at St Olave's/St Peter's. Interests: running marathons and ultra marathons – aiming to run all the Olympic city marathons - and photography (films matches with drone to provide analysis material).

Very pleasant and approachable, financially savvy, believes in paying attention to small as well as big details (sharp eye for litter and stray items of uniform), very happy in his job. Parents say: 'He has a reassuring strength..a quiet and self-assured leader who knows the children very well – he sits with them at lunchtime to have a chat and makes a point of congratulating any child whose work is displayed on the merit table...very visible: his door is always open (literally), for children and parents, unless he's in a meeting...very fair, committed, hard-working and hands on...definitely there to support the children.'

Entrance

All Clifton pupils move up; also up to six year 4 places, 10 year 6, 20 year 7. Family tour with head plus assessment day: computer-based maths, mental maths, reading, spelling and reasoning plus creative writing and team challenges - designed to show how children think rather than what they have covered; average or above ability expected.

Exit

Almost all to St Peter's, with a clutch of music and academic scholarships, and just the odd pupil going to, eg, Eton, Sedbergh, Oundle, Queen Margaret's. Means-tested bursaries of up to full fees from year 7 – need to be likely to make the most of life at the school as well as pass the exam.

Our view

Situated in 47 acres beside the River Ouse, in the heart of York. Founded 1876; 1901 became St Peter's prep; went co-ed 1987. Housed in what was previously a larger school, so the very well-resourced classrooms are plentiful and generously proportioned. Attractively furnished, extensive library.

Saturday morning school, but 'You soon get used to it, and it gives you time to do your own things' (parent). No Sats nor common entrance tests, which is a great liberation. Almost all progress to St Peter's: they do take the entrance exam, but only to supply information about where they are academically, so no pressure. First two years have mix of topic-based and separate subject-based learning (specialist teachers for the latter), then specialist subjects approach takes over. Teachers ('very skilled...very committed, supportive and invested in the children...thorough marking' - parents) follow children's curiosity; children see lessons as fun as well as educational – 'inspirational,' enthused one, aged 10.

Years 4-6 have French, German and Spanish, with focus on speaking confidently and learning about culture, continuing with two in years 7-8, along with separate sciences. Classics added in year 6, Latin from year 7 – lively, engaging approaches. Philosophy for years 4-5 encourages challenging thought. Setting only in maths, from year 4. Sensible amounts of homework and valued session on how to help children revise for parents. Average of 20 per class: years 4-5, 22: years 7-8. Three fifths female teachers to two fifths male; good mix of long-standing and new staff.

Quantities of computers and all sorts of allied clubs, but children also develop practical life skills such as cookery, bushcraft and first aid in ongoing, off timetable life skills programme. Opportunities for gifted and talented, eg national competitions, masterclasses.

Takes growth mindset theory very seriously – children are encouraged to see trying hard, learning from mistakes and taking risks as more valuable than coming top, to develop an 'I can't do it yet' attitude. Also focuses on eight learning habits - collaboration, creativity, curiosity, embracing challenge, empathy, flexible thinking, initiative, perseverance – taught through all subjects.

Well qualified and resourced learning support department - small group or individual support (no extra charge), works with class and subject teachers plus parents.Has had children with mild/moderate learning difficulties, autistic spectrum, ADHD – 'children who can manage being part of a predominantly above average cohort'. Some of the site would be hard to access for children with severe physical difficulties, but the school would try to accommodate where feasible.

Sport across the ability range is colossal – 1,000 fixtures played one year; much success at regional and national levels; shortlisted for independent school of the year sports award. Very inclusive approach, despite being one of the top preps for sport in the country: happy to play less strong children in the A team against a much smaller school, whole year tours to south west England, Italy (rugby), Barcelona (netball). All the trad sports, plus rowing. Employs eight recent sports graduates to coach while trying out teaching as a career.

Music also huge – nearly three-quarters learn an instrument; wide range of musical ensembles, including rock and jazz bands, guitar group, choirs, with plenty of performances; years 4 and 5 have three class lessons of music a week, including a chance to learn a variety of instruments.

Impressive art, especially the ceramic work – we particularly liked the display of ceramic poppies made by all in the school; well presented paintings in glass frames throughout. Much drama – unusually, children handle the technical aspects of their Shakespeare Schools Festival entry as well as acting – and speech and drama clubs.

Over 50 clubs, such as ornithology and Mandarin; charity committee; school council; several children help run the library ('The librarian is fantastic – will get any books needed,' praised a parent). Year 8s do a high powered enterprise project and organise a gala evening in their last term – all have a position of responsibility. Things ecological taken very seriously: food grown for use in school meals; flowers, bushes and trees planted; worked with local willow artist to create a willow tunnel and woven deer statues; library garden made into a biodiverse haven with bird and insect boxes, storytelling chair and reading circle made of 12 solid oak cubes. 'They have lots of fun outside the curriculum,' said a parent, citing the It's a Knockout competition day as a highlight of the school year.

All staff have a mentor group of 10-12 children of mixed years, staying with them as they move through the school (siblings join too), so they get to know them very well. Support from whole school chaplain, own lay chaplain and senior school pupils, and access to private counsellor arranged if needed. Vertical houses appreciated by parents – 'It feels like a boarding school for day children...the older ones mentor the younger ones, who mentor the ones younger than them'. 'The pastoral care routes are very clear...teachers are always immediately available if there's a problem...everything is taken seriously even if it's a small matter.'

Junior boarding house for years 6-8 – full boarding from year 6, weekly or flexi. We were struck by the homely atmosphere: the common room is more like a living room, with comfy sofas and armchairs, flowers, fruit bowl and tasteful pictures. Well equipped games room and pleasantly furnished dorms. Around half Brits, half international.

Children eat lunch in house groups with house staff - good choice of food, hot, cold and veggie, with themed days, eg street food, different national dishes. Citizenship programme and much focus on key values of friendship, trust, wisdom, compassion, endurance, humility and hope. However one parent we spoke to saw the school as having a 'robust culture', so less suitable for the more sensitive child.

Children very engaged in all the classes we saw; the ones we talked to were happy, secure, very busy and enthusiastic about the school. Most from York or outlying primaries, covering a very large area as far as Harrogate, Thirsk, Malton, Bramham, Selby, Stamford Bridge, Doncaster. Mostly professional and business parents, mainly white British plus some ethnic minority and several Europeans. They value the seamless, well prepared transitions through the three schools and the common campus.

A school that approaches education – in the widest sense - in a very thoughtful and enlightened way.

Special Education Needs

St Olave's is an academically selective school with Entrance Tests in late January. The vast majority of pupils move on to St Peter's School, York. We have close links with Dyslexic Action in York. We provide in-class support and some one-to-one tuition if required.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
Dyscalculia
Dysgraphia
Dyslexia
Dyspraxia
English as an additional language (EAL)
Genetic
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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