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Staff like that they have a lot of freedom and ‘can adapt to meet needs and contexts’. For example, they recently had a guest speaker in on rainforests, after which the teacher designed a relevant project for year 4. Good use of tech – we observed students writing persuasive letters on iPads (found in every class above reception) and loving it. Impressive use of rhetorical devices and data to convince the reader. Classrooms are a mix of period rooms with high ceilings and huge bay windows, and more modern and purpose-built - also bright, airy and colourful. Plenty of...

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What the school says...

'Giving a flying start to the citizens of tomorrow'. Since The Froebelian School’s foundation in 1913, influenced by German educationalist, Friedrich Froebel, it has become one of the North’s leading educational success stories. Our academic results are outstanding, but the school offers much more than an excellent academic education: we firmly believe in laying solid foundations for a lifelong love of learning, to gain knowledge and skills and develop personal attributes, relevant to each and every child’s future. ...Read more

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What The Good Schools Guide says


Since January 2023, Anna Coulson. Educated at Teesside High School. Degree in French and travel from Newcastle University, followed by School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) at Northumbria. The very hands–on training appealed more than a traditional PGCE. Clearly it paid off, as she quickly worked her way to head at her first school, St Bede’s in Marske, a state primary near Middlesborough. Rapid ascent to National Leader of Education status, supporting schools around the country - and a spell as a Section 48 inspector - led to CEO of the Galileo Trust. Hated it, as it meant little or no contact with children. Set up her own consultancy firm and was approached by Lord Botham to support his educational work in the House of Lords and retains close links, through the Developing Future Winners programme.

An engaging, forceful personality, as well as honest and blunt. Driven by the idea that ‘in every child you can find a success’. Her goal is to unlock that success, the small numbers at the school making this easier. Her office is modern and functional in keeping with her style. On arrival, felt significant changes were required to maintain the high academic standards associated with the school. With the support of what she calls ‘a tough governing body,’ she has restructured the leadership team, creating two deputy head roles, one academic and the other pastoral. Staff say, ‘Change was difficult but needed’ and a ‘refresh’ has brought results. Clear signs of immediate impact, agree all.

Parents feel she is ‘very interested in the children as individuals’ and that she quickly created an ‘inclusive environment.’ They tell us she embraces the importance of traditions and the academic nature of the school. Students call her ‘a good headteacher’ and ‘funny.’ During our visit, she was organising a song and dance routine with year 4 for an event at Headingley with Developing Future Winners and Lord Botham.

A mother of twin girls she relaxes with Pilates and walking Tiger, her shih tzu. Guilty pleasure? Abbey and Peter Crouch podcast - ‘It’s not intellectual,’ she whispers.


No entrance test or assessment beyond a visit to ensure a good fit for the child. Will adapt to needs of the child (within reason) and works hard to make it work. Later entrants may have an informal assessment of suitability. Children at First Steps at Froebelian, a nursery a short distance from the school, taken from 3 months to 5 years, who usually transfer at three to lower kindergarten. Others also join at this stage or later. One form entry.


At 11+, mainly to independent schools. Favourites are Grammar School at Leeds, Bradford Grammar School and Woodhouse Grove. One scholarship to each in 2023. State schools also feature, with Horsforth the local favourite and Heckmondwike Grammar further afield.

Our view

A small school with a small footprint, squeezed in with housing on all sides. Ask about parking and you get a wry smile. Drop off and pick up a particular challenge. But those who hanker after tradition (straw boaters for girls and caps for the boys, along with academic rigour and good manners) feel it’s a small price to pay.

Academic performance is central, with parents telling us students are ‘challenged out of their comfort zone’. Students say staff have ‘high expectations’ and ‘push us to our full extent.’ They aspire to be nominated by their teachers as one of the Froebelian Flyers, a group of superheroes who represent desirable characteristics - think Curious Curtis, Independent India and Risk-taker Rishi (possibly a bit prescient at the time of our visit?). Homework set twice a week for pre-prep and every day for older pupils, up to an hour a night for the oldest. Can range from reading to a project over several days. Parents approve, feeling it establishes a ‘good routine’ and students think it is reasonable. Assessments every half term (‘reduces stress as children get used to them,’ according to parents), parents’ evenings once a term and written reports at the end of the year. No SATs, or setting for that matter – although, where necessary, they’ll differentiate groups within classes eg for phonics. Staff ‘emphasise progress as more important than attainment.’ Sometimes necessary, they say, due to pressure from home and even the children themselves. But they’re not afraid of ‘blunt’ conversations with parents. Specialists deliver music, PE, drama and French – the rest is taught by form teachers.

Founded in 1913 (and on current site since 1959) by Miss L Hoe, the school’s approach to learning is very much in keeping with school’s namesake, Friedrich Froebel. She named it after the German educationalist whose traditions are still followed - teaching from age 3 to create a ‘lifelong love of learning’. Motto is ‘Giving a Flying Start to the Citizens of Tomorrow.’ Ethos is creative and flexible. Staff like that they have a lot of freedom and ‘can adapt to meet needs and contexts’. For example, they recently had a guest speaker in on rainforests, after which the teacher designed a relevant project for year 4. Good use of tech – we observed students writing persuasive letters on iPads (found in every class above reception) and loving it. Impressive use of rhetorical devices and data to convince the reader.

Classrooms are a mix of period rooms with high ceilings and huge bay windows, and more modern and purpose-built - also bright, airy and colourful. Plenty of displays and posters on walls and hanging from ceilings. Additions date from 2002 to 2020 and blend seamlessly with the original block - you don’t notice any tight corridors or spaces as everything opens up just round every corner. Lower floors are home to year 3, with seniors upstairs. Classrooms shift gradually from open-plan to tables grouped in fours, then finally rows as the children progress. Class sizes 24 or less, with a full-time TA in every class. This means limited withdrawal for learning support, which is accommodated within lessons as far as possible. Currently 12 per cent on the SEND register, all supported by a full-time SENDCo who plans and supports all needs, including autism, ADHD, dyslexia and physical needs. No EHCPs or EAL currently. One parent told us the school had been ‘amazing providing support and ideas’.

Pre-prep housed in a new addition with lots of space and opportunities for creative learning. Here, we saw a train set, sand pit and painting occupying young minds. Inside areas seamlessly flow into their own outdoor play area with smart wooden huts with comfy seating, fairy lights and more play options. Play areas allocated per year group, including a ‘happiness hut’, where children say they enjoy quiet and reflection time. They also eagerly showed us the climbing wall and enthused about creative play in the tree house.

The hall is big enough to house the whole school and is used for rehearsals and indoor PE. Lunch is in the so-called hub, where largely self-regulated children enjoy the varied diet and conversations (hurrah). Food is ‘really good,’ they told us, although the pasta came with the warning, ‘It’s sometimes soggy’. Legendary burritos are ‘rare’ but prized.

In the music rooms – which have their own practice spaces - our guides spontaneously broke into a version of ‘What shall we do with the drunken sailor?’ on drums and other instruments, showcasing the success of the weekly music lessons. Private lessons available in guitar, saxophone and flute, among others. Recitals and festivals enable children to shine, as does musical theatre – Oliver Twist recently. Plenty of chances to tread the boards in house drama as well as in the spring festival. Children like that drama has its own suite, complete with costumes. A large space for art/science and food tech has been created in the eaves of the old block – and it’s also used for ballet and ping-pong. On such a small site, rooms have to multi-task. Examples of clay work, Chinese style art and a large model Gruffalo highlight a varied and engaging artistic curriculum. As for cooking, memories of baking Rice Krispies treats made our guides’ little tummies rumble (and one big one in our case). Stairs a little tight, though, so best not to overindulge. DT has its own separate room with impressive equipment and stained-glass windows from earlier days. There’s also an IT suite and small library – the latter ‘doesn’t get a lot of use,’ according to students, as classrooms have their own books.

PE takes place both onsite, albeit in rather cramped areas, and externally at Yarnbury RFC, Guiseley FC, Leeds Trinity University, a local 3G pitch and Aireborough swimming pool - all a short bus ride away. All the usual suspects appear on the sporting curriculum, with football and netball having specialist coaching. Cross country and swimming increasingly popular. The school often fields three teams per fixture to ensure all have an opportunity to participate and represent the school. No changing rooms so students wear kit on PE days.

Everywhere, corridors are adorned with pictures of trips, activities and reminders of the Froebelian Flyers and family ethos. Tradition very much has its place here, with school photos dating back decades, a well-stocked trophy cabinet and wooden boards naming school captains.

Parents talk about children acquiring ‘self-discipline’ both academically and personally. The FIVe (sic) Steps Challenge certified scheme allows students to undertake five challenges to better themselves: physically, creatively, mentally, in life skills and citizenship - like a mini DofE. Children striving to be the best they can was evident during our tour, where older students were supportive and caring of our younger guide, demonstrating maturity beyond their years, allowing and encouraging her to speak and making sure she didn’t catch her finger while demonstrating the flip top desks for year 6.

Behavioural problems rare. There is no long list of rules, just ‘Safe Hands, Safe Feet, Safe Voice’ – that reliance on self-discipline and the community. Children say there can be ‘disagreements’ in the playground, but nothing serious, and that nobody disrupts lessons. Manners are exemplary. Enter a class and everyone stops and welcomes you. We were constantly met with smiles and ‘good morning’ from all age groups. In the playground curious and courteous children gathered round to chat. Pastorally, the small site and low numbers – as well as the form tutor system - mean staff really do know every child. Children say they feel safe and enjoy school. Wellbeing has taken on added significance with the introduction of Molly the cockapoo, who visits classrooms.

Wrap around care available from 7.30am–6pm, and holiday clubs mean you can use the school for 51 weeks of the year – both at an extra cost. Clubs galore – ‘There’s more to do than he can fit in!’ exclaimed one parent. Over 50 clubs at last count - Dungeons and Dragons, snakes and computers, archery, chess and LAMDA all popular. Most curriculum sports, and a few others, also appear on the clubs list. Leadership opportunities mainly via the house system and sports.

There’s an entrenched house system where leadership skills can be developed – as is also the case through sports. Residentials and trips from year 2, with a one-night local stay, culminating in year 6 when these lucky children get to go to both France and London.

Lot of medics among the parent body, who stay social via Whatsapp groups.

Money matters

Bursary fund of £57k provides means-tested support to a handful of children. No scholarships.

The last word

Hidden away in the side streets of Horsforth, a small school with big ambitions. Parents impressed by the ‘truly holistic ethos’, having an ‘amazing impact’ on their children. Academic challenge, traditional views with a large dose of family values, make this a school stand out.

Special Education Needs

We aim to be as inclusive as possible to a wide range of children, including those who are gifted (very able academically) and/or talented (for example, with particular musical flair). Our generous staff:pupil ratio allows for effective differentiation and targeted support in the classroom and our skilled practitioners use a wide range of techniques to sustain the learning and progress of each individual child. Currently, our main provision is for children with mild to moderate learning needs. A qualified Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator works with teachers to help them adjust their teaching and learning techniques to meet the needs of all pupils. Where appropriate, we work with families to develop Individual Education Plans. Those children who might benefit from specific intervention are withdrawn from some lessons for individual support from the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator.

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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