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Teachers here are upbeat and inspirational, classes feel relaxed and inclusive – neither pin-drop silence nor raucous rebellion, just a healthy sense of engagement. Make no mistake about it, this is an extremely outdoorsy school. Extracurricular activities are taken seriously and viewed as being ‘a character education that is every bit as important as the academic one’. The Exmoor Run is a school bonding event like no other, the fiery passion and giggling hilarity in the stories recounted to us were almost enough to convince us that…

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What the school says...

West Buckland School is a co-educational day and boarding school for 3-18 year olds. It was founded in 1858, nine miles from the town of Barnstaple and stands in nearly 100 acres of grounds in beautiful North Devon UNESCO Biosphere twixt Exmoor and Dartmoor National Parks and just ten miles from the surfing beaches of Saunton Sands or the rugged Valley of the Rocks.

The school currently has over 650 boys and girls aged 3 to 18. Academic standards at the school are high, with West Buckland consistently one of the highest performing schools in the South West of England at GCSE and A-level. From 2023 they will be offering the IBCP alongside A-levels.

The vast majority of sixth formers progress to university and a consistent 50% plus of students take up places at universities in the Russell Group, regarded as some of the best and most highly sought after universities in the UK and indeed the world.

The school prizes the development of the whole person so there is considerable emphasis on nurturing character values especially through extracurricular activities. The school has a proud record in boys and girls games, drama, music, dance, the Combined Cadet Force, outdoor education and the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.

Reflecting the education it offers, the schools buildings and facilities have developed steadily throughout its history. There is an outstanding sports complex centred around the Jonathan Edwards Sports Centre which opened in 2008. The award-winning 150 Building, a major £5m development which includes the Art and Design Technology Departments and a Theatre, opened in 2010. Autumn 2015 saw the opening of an excellent Sixth Form Boarding house, with 70 en-suite bedrooms and social and work areas, together with the new Michael Morpurgo library and study centre. Since then the school has grown its learning support, or personalised learning department, and all pupils from Year 5 upwards have a Microsoft Surface learning device.

Further information about the school may be found on our website.
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Other features

Music and dance scheme - government funding and grants available to help with fees at selected independent music and dance schools.

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 2016, Mr Phillip Stapleton BSc MA Ed MBA. A sparkly-eyed, enthusiastic and energetic head whom parents praise unreservedly for his ‘incredible ability to really know every pupil at the school’. His professed desire to enable ‘every child to create their own future’ through the opportunities on offer is supported by parental plaudits for his ‘genuine ability to create a very personalised school experience for each and every pupil’.

Previously at Ardingly College in West Sussex, where he spent five years as deputy head. Educated at Bishop Stopford School in Kettering then Durham University, where he gained a degree in molecular biology and biochemistry before obtaining a PGCE and embarking on a teaching career – firstly at Stonyhurst, then Charterhouse, where he was a chemistry teacher and housemaster. Master’s degrees...

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Please note: Independent schools frequently offer IGCSEs or other qualifications alongside or as an alternative to GCSE. The DfE does not record performance data for these exams so independent school GCSE data is frequently misleading; parents should check the results with the schools.

Who came from where

Who goes where

Special Education Needs

West Buckland is an inclusive school where we are willing to consider any student whom we believe we can help. Every year group has a number of pupils who have moderate learning difficulties such as Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Specific Learning Difficulties. Our Learning Support Team (one Teacher and two Classroom Assistants) have Special Needs qualifications and have these support arrangements for work in the Support Base and alongside subject specialists: Age 3-18: Meetings with staff and parents, observations across the curriculum, standardised assessments and involvement with appropriate specialists (such as Educational Psychologists). Years 3-7: In class support plus short periods of basic skills/Study Skills work in response to individual needs. Year 8 and 9: Also have timetabled Learning Support in groups of up to eight instead of doing a second Modern Foreign Language. Year 10 and 11: Up to eight students per year may opt for Learning Support lessons in place of a GCSE subject. Those with the most severe needs may have the option not to take a modern language. In class support where most needed. Year 12 and 13: Appointments, as necessary. All pupils benefit from the use of IT - and many use their own laptops in class and to complete Prep. The Support Base is usually open from 8.30 am to the end of the school day at 5.00 pm. Any student may seek help outside lesson times. There is also support available for Boarders Prep four evenings a week. We pride ourselves on having good communication with parents so we can work together to help our youngsters at school and at home. Progress is regularly reviewed and on the basis of specialist advice we seek exam dispensations (such as extra time, supervised rest breaks, use of IT) for students doing formal exams (11+, SATS, 13+, GCSE, AS and A2).

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
Dyscalculia Y
Dysgraphia Y
Dyslexia Y
English as an additional language (EAL) Y
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class
HI - Hearing Impairment Y
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 Y
SLD - Severe Learning Difficulty
Special facilities for Visually Impaired
SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
VI - Visual Impairment Y

Who came from where

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