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For any metropolitan migrators to Bath, dropping your child at this sylvan idyll must bring home why it was all worth it. Squirrels (the pre-school that caters for rising 3s and 4-year-olds) were climbing sprawling tree trunks to collect autumn leaves when we visited. Meanwhile, Forest School gets all ages den building, foraging and learning other bushcraft skills. All teachers take advantage of the grounds in one way or another – ‘You probably remember climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with me in the playground,’ said a teacher to one of our guides on his way to instructing a class of wellie-clad year 4s on...

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What the school says...

Many factors help create the distinctive Paragon Atmosphere. Our emphasis on laughter and having fun; on being stimulated and inspired; the way we bring our lessons alive; our Christian ethos and strong moral framework; our caring atmosphere; being based in a beautiful Georgian house with stunning grounds and woodland; the way we involve parents and members of the local community. It's these and much more.

We're proud of our consistently impressive academic results but we strive for much more than success in exams. We believe in nurturing and developing the whole child intellectually, physically, spiritually as well as emotionally. As W B Yeats said: Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire. We want to light a fire that will burn brightly, lighting up your child's life long after they have left The Paragon.
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What The Good Schools Guide says

Head of School

Since 2020, Rosie Allen, previously head (and co-founder) at Radnor House (and still a non-executive director of the Radnor House Schools Group). Educated at South Hampstead High, read history at Nottingham. Kicked off her teaching career at Mill Hill County High before moving into preps including The Hall, Hampstead and Sherborne Prep, where she was deputy head (academic). Married to David with a son and a daughter, both at the school.

Graceful and glam, she looks right at home in what must be the most feminine head’s office we’ve seen, complete with pink velvet sofas. Tasteful framed pupil artwork adorns the walls; dainty antique furniture and fresh flowers add elegance. Sharp-witted, straight-talking and easy-going, she’s a natural with the pupils – weaving in and out of tables at lunch, chatting as easily to the tiny-tots as to year 6s. ‘Kind,’ agreed pupils we met. ‘And nice!’ proclaimed one until she was reminded by a classmate that’s a disallowed word – ‘Okay then… delightfully magnificent!’

‘She’s brought a female touch to the school, and some sun and magic too,’ felt a parent. Eyes and ears of the school too, reckoned another – ‘I can’t imagine much slips her gaze.’ Parents also appreciate that the school ‘now feels less fluffy and a more professional machine where everyone speaks the same language’.

Having ‘always been drawn to the West Country’, she decamped from London in 2018, then waited hopefully for one of four local school headships to come up. Was ‘delighted’ when The Paragon – ‘with its focus on kindness and humanity over straight academics’ – won the race. A good match since she is the kind of head who is happy to turn a blind eye to the odd untucked shirt as long as the children are having fun – ‘and anyway, a child might have sensory issues and absolutely hate the feeling of everything tucked in.’ Not afraid to get her hands dirty, she must be the first head we’ve met who spends two hours a week as a TA.

Walking, reading and writing fiction feature among hobbies, although family time trumps the lot: ‘They are my rock and my heart.’


Mainly into pre-school, reception and year 3, although children are welcome at any stage, with year 5 increasingly popular. Entry via taster day (pre-prep) or assessment day (prep). Head meets all families – and yes, she’s interviewing you too. Not afraid to turn down those who don’t buy into the school values, or children with behavioural challenges. ‘We’re looking for children to hit the ground running in a busy environment with high expectations of conduct.’ You don’t just have to stick to the open days as they have an ‘every day is an open day’ policy – best of all, the head will take you around herself. Increasingly, families join having relocated from London or overseas.


Half to nearby Prior Park College, part of the same foundation. Of the remainder, 10 to 15 per cent into the state sector, the rest to Bath stalwarts in the independent sector: King Edward’s School, Kingswood and the Royal High School. Head runs future school events for parents from year 4 and offers meetings for those with children in year 6. But school doesn’t prepare specifically for other schools' entrance test requirements. Nineteen scholarships in 2023.

Our view

The display of flamboyantly decorated lampshades, tree-inspired canvases and Alice in Wonderland framed paintings (all by pupils, of course) makes for one of the most captivating school reception areas we’ve seen. And because it’s a house, and feels like a house, it’s homely too. Pupils adore it: ‘Look, I did this picture!’ ‘I can skip up the entire staircase, see!’ Rather more curiously, one pupil piped up, ‘Come this way, you’ve got to meet Dave!’ Dave, it turns out, is the much-cuddled school sausage dog.

Similar levels of excitement are to be found in the school hall, down in what seems like a basement but actually leads straight onto the playground (this is Bath, remember, where everything is on a hill). There are squeals of delight as the PE teacher tells them about the upcoming fun run. We return here later for a tasty fish and chip lunch where we notice several pupils meticulously sweeping the floor, a reminder of what the word ‘prefect’ can accomplish (these are lunch prefects). Every year 6 holds some sort of leadership role – including one head boy and girl per term so that more get a go. ‘The school’s focus on making sure every child feels valued is unwavering,’ said a parent.

The Paragon – which owes its name to its origins as an educational gymnasium in the street of the same name in the city – occupies a large Georgian house with colourful, cosy classrooms, vibrant refurbished library and all manner of pupils’ handicraft at every turn. Younger years are housed in a cottage-like building at a lower level with pretty courtyard and free-flow outdoor spaces. It’s all based on an eight-acre wooded site less than a mile from the city centre, including hills and trees, enough grass for a running track for sports day and games, and a Dingley Dell full of wild garlic and bug hotels.

For any metropolitan migrators to Bath, dropping your child at this sylvan idyll must bring home why it was all worth it. Squirrels (the pre-school that caters for rising 3s and 4-year-olds) were climbing sprawling tree trunks to collect autumn leaves when we visited. Meanwhile, Forest School gets all ages den building, foraging and learning other bushcraft skills. All teachers take advantage of the grounds in one way or another – ‘You probably remember climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with me in the playground,’ said a teacher to one of our guides on his way to instructing a class of wellie-clad year 4s on how to collect worms and slugs. One parent recalled how her son came back covered in mud on his first day – ‘I told him, “I didn’t know you had rugby today,” but actually it was an English lesson that got them out and about. And that sums up the school!’

Pastoral care forms the backbone to all things Paragon, where the emphasis is on agreed values and children taking ownership of their behaviour over formal rules and sanctions (although there are some ‘non-negotiables’ like greeting visitors, holding doors and silence in assemblies). Teachers are naturally warm and sparky, and children feel safe and, as one parent put it, ‘part of one big family’. Head is of the belief that if that’s your starting point – ‘our currency is about the heart’ – then you get the best out of the children in all areas including the classroom. We did hear, however, that repeated instances of unkindness are not always dealt with as pupils would like – ‘Teachers say they’ll keep an eye but they don’t,’ said one (school says there’s a traffic light system to highlight any instances of unkindness, which are dealt with in-depth and in collaboration with parents).

An imaginative curriculum focuses on depth and challenge, but without pressure. ‘Can music manipulate you?’ was the question on everyone’s lips in a philosophy class, while in English pupils worked in pairs as Newsround reporters interviewing a mythical beast. There’s a new guided reading programme, which has improved reading and writing levels. So rather than the whole class reading Jane Eyre for 12 weeks, where half the children stare out of the window and never touch Brontë again (‘which happened to me,’ confesses head), pupils are encouraged to dip into a range of books, with in-depth interrogation of each. Creative cross-curricular work is prevalent – year 2s study the Nutcracker in class, then make Nutcracker king clay models in art. Our guides told us that every classroom project is followed up with a helpful library session – ‘so if you’re learning about nature, they do this lovely display of nature books to borrow.’ Not much by way of setting – just maths from year 5, with school favouring ‘tailored interventions’ in class, allowed for by smallish numbers of 22 max. Specialist teaching in Squirrels in art, music, sport and French, with philosophy added in year 2, DT and outdoor learning from year 3 and Mandarin from year 5 – which is replaced with Spanish in year 6 (‘shame Spanish is only 30 minutes a week, though – it’s not enough to learn a language,’ grumbled one year 6).

Learning support (a welcoming and centrally located space – not always the case) caters for the 20 per cent of children on the SEN register, with a range of booster groups and one-to-ones (latter cost extra). Mostly supports dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia, with some support for ADHD and autism. But parents would like a full-time SENCo. ‘There have been times I’ve had to sharpen my elbows to get support but once you get it, it’s top quality,’ said one.

The art room really caught our fancy. Wowzers, this artsy chamber of delights is a feast for the eyes – papier-mâché owls hang from the ceiling, hand-stitched dolls made from black tights and jewels are stuck to the walls alongside all manner of inspired paintings, while ceramics are framed with twinkly fairy lights. ‘It’s my daughter’s happy place,’ said a parent. Sewing club is popular (including among boys) largely thanks to the tall rag dolls they create (the piles of fabric donated by the parents look like they’ve come straight from an interior design shop). DT now on curriculum – note that workshops and labs for science are both at Prior Park College rather than on site.

As we approached the log cabin for music, practice for a Remembrance song set off the hairs on the back of our necks. We also watched the year 3 strings project in action (all learn a string instrument, ditto for year 2s with recorders). Well over half of pupils learn an instrument with a peripetetic teacher and there are clubs and bands, an orchestra and four choirs (there were five but the ‘boys don’t sing’ choir achieved its aim). Vibe is relaxed and informal – no sense that if you can’t play Mozart by age 8, forget it. Coldplay more likely than classical in a keyboard lesson. Drama currently on curriculum from year 3 for 1.5 hours a week – impressive. Year 4s and 6s put on big school plays, recently Oh What a Night and Star Warts. LAMDA popular.

Sport from nursery, fixtures from year 3. Rugby, hockey and cricket for the boys; hockey, netball, cricket for the girls – but it’s becoming more gender fluid, with eg football for all. Swimming lessons from reception to year 4 and swim squad for years 5 and 6. Parents report that sport here is ‘about being active, with no pressure to be brilliant’ but that it gets ‘more competitive from year 5’. ‘Being in the A team isn’t just an ability thing – you have to be a team player too,’ approved one parent. There’s a gym on site, plus a hard play area and a playing field. Otherwise, it’s off to the senior school for the sports centre, pitches, netball courts, indoor swimming pool, athletics track and dance studio.

Clubs range from chess and pottery to African drumming and Swedish longball. Most are free. Breakfast club for a small fee and free homework clubs until 5pm. Residential trips from year 4, culminating in a week in France for year 6.

Parents a mix of the super-wealthy to a few plumbers and builders. Plenty of lawyers, entrepreneurs, and the odd Hollywood producer. ‘You get some pretty unbelievable cars going into the drive,’ declared a parent, although in true south Bath style it’s often the old bangers that are driven by those sitting on trust funds. Most families live in Bath and Wiltshire, plus a few Bristolians. Ethnic diversity a bit thin on the ground, but improving, and the head says Ukrainian and Afghan pupils have ‘brought a different perspective to the bubble we are in Bath’.

Although a Christian school, it welcomes all faiths and none. Would not suit those after shiny facilities or the league table brigade, say parents. Pupils a real delight – full of fun but hot on manners. Animated too, no more so than when telling us about the time last year ‘when the lunch food didn’t arrive in time so we all got Domino’s – we couldn’t believe it!’

Money matters

The school may help a family that falls on hard times.

The last word

A school that’s a sheer joy to spend time in thanks to its infectious sense of fun, nurturing family feel and imaginative approach to learning which regularly spills outdoors. Pupils have a real sense of ownership over this very special place, and what a magical childhood they get as a result. Proof that you can prepare children well for the next stage without an obsession with grades.

Special Education Needs

Provision for children with special educational needs is a matter for the school as a whole. This also takes account of the exceptionally able child who will have his or her own needs, for which the class teacher will make provision through extension activities. If the progress and behaviour of a pupil has cause for concern, the pupil will be monitored, assessed by Head of Learning Support and may be registered to receive Learning Support. Provision varies between in-class support and/or withdrawal for a number of sessions each week.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
Dyslexia Y
Dyspraxia Y
English as an additional language (EAL) Y
Genetic Y
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class
HI - Hearing Impairment
Hospital School
Mental health Y
MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty
MSI - Multi-Sensory Impairment
Natspec Specialist Colleges
OTH - Other Difficulty/Disability
Other SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
PD - Physical Disability Y
PMLD - Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulty
SEMH - Social, Emotional and Mental Health Y
SLCN - Speech, Language and Communication
SLD - Severe Learning Difficulty
Special facilities for Visually Impaired
SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
VI - Visual Impairment Y

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