open days

First steps – open days in the shires for pre-prep and beyond

First steps - which schools are on your horizon? (Photo by  Max Goncharov  on  Unsplash

First steps - which schools are on your horizon? (Photo by Max Goncharov on Unsplash

Barely have we got the sand out of our toes and stashed the crabbing nets for another year than it’s open season again.  A couple of Super Saturdays are fast approaching and, as you’ll see from the rush of dates we’ve listed below, there is no way that you’ll be able to look at all the schools that you might want to consider.

Our recommendation is that it’s never too soon to look around, just to get a sense of how schools differ and what you like.  When you’re choosing nurseries and pre-preps with bumps, babes-in-arms and tiny toddlers, you cannot possibly be expected to know whether you’ve got a budding Bill Gates or a mini Miriam Margolyes on your hip, but you can get a feel for the school, see if the pupils are the kinds of children you’d like to have home for tea, and eyeball fellow prospective parents.  The sooner you look, the less pressure you will feel and the more time you have to look round again or to look elsewhere.

We’ve picked out early-years schools (some of which are a one-stop solution going right through to 18) in Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire.  Some open days are walk-in events and others require registration – please check school websites for details.

Open days before half term

Buckinghamshire

Gateway School, Great Missenden (Co-ed 2 to 12)
Friday 29th September 2017, 9.15 am – 10.30 am & Saturday 30th September 2017, 9.30 am – 11.30 am

Ashfold School, Dorton (Co-ed, 3 to 13)
Saturday 7th October 2017, 10am to 12pm

St Teresa's School, Princes Risborough (Co-ed 3 to 11)
Saturday 7th October 2017, 10am to 12pm

Swanbourne House School, Milton Keynes (Co-ed 2 to 13)
Saturday 14th October 2017, 10am to 12pm

Hertfordshire

Kingshott School, Hitchin (Co-ed 3 to 13)
Saturday 23rd September 2017, 10am to 12pm

Lochinver House School, Potters Bar (Boys 4 to 13)
Saturday 23rd September 2017, from 10am

Sherrardswood School, Welwyn (Co-ed 2 to 18)
Saturday 23rd September 2017

Heath Mount School, Hertford (Co-ed 3 to 13)
Saturday 30th September 2017, from 9.30am

St Albans High School for Girls, St Albans (Girls 4 to 18)
Saturday 30th September 2017, 9.30am to 12pm

Duncombe School, Hertford (Co-ed 2 to 11)
Thursday 5th October 2017

St Hilda's School, Harpenden (Girls 3 to 11)
Thursday 5th October 2017 & Saturday 4th November 2017

Aldwickbury School, Harpenden (Boys 4 to 13)
Friday 6th October 2017

St Columba's College, St Albans (Boys 4 to 18)
Saturday 7th October 2017, 9.30am to 12.30pm

Oxfordshire

Chandlings, Oxford (Co-ed 2 to 11)
Thursday 21st September 2017, 9-11am

Dragon School, Oxford (Co-ed 3 to 13)
Saturday 23rd September 2017 (day pupils) & Saturday 14th October 2017 - (boarding places)

The Manor Preparatory School, Abingdon (Co-ed 2 to 11)
Saturday 23rd September 2017, 10am to 12.30pm

Cokethorpe School, Witney (Co-ed 4 to 18)
Saturday 23rd September 2017, 9.30am to 12pm

Oxford High School, Oxford (Girls 3 to 18)
Wednesday 27th September 2017, 9.30-11am

Christ Church Cathedral School, Oxford (Boys 2 to 13)
Friday 29th September 2017 10.15-11.30am

Our Lady's Abingdon, Abingdon (Co-ed 3 to 18)
Saturday 30 September 2017, 10am to 12.30pm

Rye St Antony School, Oxford (Girls 3 to 19)
Saturday 30 September 2017, 10am to 12.30pm

Abingdon Preparatory School (Formerly Josca's), Abingdon (Boys 4 to 13)
Saturday 7th October 2017, 10am to 12pm

Headington Preparatory School, Oxford (Girls 3 to 11)
Saturday 7th October 2017, 10am to 12pm

New College School, Oxford (Boys 4 to 13)
Saturday 14th October 2017, 10am to 12pm

Hunting for a school with sleep-overs? Maybe flexi-boarding is the answer.

Happiness is a sleepover with friends every school night (image credit: Unsplash)

Happiness is a sleepover with friends every school night (image credit: Unsplash)

When my parents were packed off to boarding school at seven years old, they were not seen again until the half term holiday and communication was by weekly letter, always checked by a teacher to ensure there was no mention of homesickness, bad food or anything to raise questions at home. Whilst we've seen one or two boarding school bedrooms in need of a make-over, even today, many more are modern, light filled sleep over heaven, with on tap fruit, pets, friends, and laundry facilities, with school sports activities a walk away into the evening. 

If you have dismissed boarding schools as being not for you, we wonder whether you might be tempted with the idea of flexi-boarding, increasingly on the menu at a number of schools?

Great for dual working parents without the flexibility to be involved in pick-ups and those wanting to offer their children some of the freedoms of acres of space when they need to be within sight of the City, it seems like a great way of accommodating modern life for both parents and children. Pupils can stay for as little as a night a week on a regular basis, or can stay on an ad hoc basis when parents are travelling.  This mix-and-match approach to boarding has also helped to blur the lines between day and boarding divide and friendships therefore flourish.

Open-day season

Here a few of the boarding preps within an hour of Heathrow and with open days this term (in date order to help you to plan):

Summer Fields School, Oxford (boys):
Saturday 29th April 2017 – more places opening for September 2018 

Ludgrove School, Wokingham (boys):
Saturday 6th May 2017, 2.30pm

LVS Ascot, Berkshire (co-ed, boarding from age 7):
Tuesday 9th May 2017

St Andrew’s School, Pangbourne (co-ed):
Friday 11th May 2017

Beachborough School, Brackley (co-ed):
Friday 12th May 2017, 9.30am 

Moulsford Prep School, Wallingford (boys):
Friday 12th May 2017, 10am or 1pm

Brockhurst and Marlston House Schools, Newbury –(sister schools, single sex, boarding from age 9)
Saturday 13th May 2017, 10:30am

Cothill House, Abingdon (boys):
Saturday 13th May 2017, from 10am  

Dragon School, Oxford (co-ed):
Saturday, 13th May 2017

Elstree School, Reading (boys):
Saturday 13th May 2017, 10am

Godstowe School, High Wycombe (girls):
Saturday 13th May 2017, 10am

Lambrook School, Ascot (co-ed):
Saturday, 13th May 2017, 9.30am

Papplewick School, Ascot (boys):
Saturday 13th May 2017, 9am 

Winchester House School, Brackley (co-ed):
Saturday 13th May 2017, 10.30am

Rye St Antony, Oxford (girls):
Saturday 20th May 2017, 10am

Caldicott Preparatory School, Buckinghamshire (boys):
Saturday 10th June 2017, 10am

Christ Church Cathedral School, Oxford (boys):
To be announced – contact the registrar.

The following schools do not have an open day this term, but are within an hour of Heathrow.  Tours can be arranged through the registrar. 

Eagle House School, Sandhurst (co-ed in the grounds of Wellington College) 

The Oratory Preparatory School, Reading (co-ed, boarding from year 6)

St George’s School, Windsor (co-ed)

Sunningdale School, Berkshire (boys)
 

There's plenty of sparkle, ooh and ah to come - we round up November school open days

image credit: Unsplash

image credit: Unsplash

Remember, remember...

Whether you're looking for co-ed or single sex schools, in London or the surrounding counties, the good news is there is still time to see many schools in action before the year is out. Here we provide a helpful round-up of those offering plenty of whizz, bang and pop (head to the science labs!). 

As you'll see, this is a shorter list than our round-ups for September and October. It would be as well to think now about booking any must-see schools you are curious about which are not listed here. Watch this space for our Book Now for 2017 list. Desperate to be done by Christmas?  Then do contact registrars to see if they can arrange a personal tour and time with the Head, sometimes, anything is possible, it may be more hit and miss as to what you see, but it can also be more relaxed and dare we say 'real' to drop in on an ordinary day. 

Do check websites to ensure there are spaces remaining and let us know what you think - we can compare notes @schoolhuntersuk

And if you don't know where to start with a short-list of UK schools with a good chance of being the best possible fit for your child or family, then please do get in touch. Here are just a few of the recent comments we've received from parents about our service: 

CO-ED SENIOR SCHOOLS

Bancroft's School, Essex

Saturday 19th November 2016, 10am

Reigate Grammar School

Thursday 17th November 2016, 9.15am

Caterham School, Surrey

Contact the school about visitor mornings: Wednesday 9th November, 2016

City of London Freemen's School, Surrey

Friday 11th November, 2016, 9.15am

GIRLS' SENIOR SCHOOLS

Guildford High School for Girls:

Wednesday 9th November 2016, 10am Thursday 1st December 2016, 10am

St Mary's School, Ascot, Surrey

Saturday 19th November 2016

South Hampstead High School, London:

Wednesday 9th November 2016, 2.30pm Thursday 27th November 2016, 9.30am

BOYS' SENIOR SCHOOLS

St Paul’s School, London:

Saturday 5th November 2016 - email to ensure a place

Dulwich College, London:

Wednesday 16th November 2016, 11am

St Albans School, Hertfordshire*:

Saturday 19th November 2016

Reed’s School, Cobham*:

12th November 2016, 10am

  • = co-ed sixth form

 

 

 

15 IB schools to kick-start your short-list and when to visit - it's sooner than you think

Autumn inspiration. Image credit (Unsplash)

Autumn inspiration. Image credit (Unsplash)

To IB or not to IB? 

The International Baccalaureate (IB) first appeared in UK schools in 1971 and is now offered by 130 schools. Whether you are committed to the idea of IB for your child, simply curious to find out whether he or she might be missing out with A Levels - is it really a passport to joining the global elite as some say - or confused, there's no better way to find out than visiting an IB school. And the time is now. Places for the most popular Autumn open days were disappearing almost faster than we could type today! We hope this handy list might get you started. 

Do let us know how you get on and share your findings @schoolhuntersuk. 

Ardingly College, Haywards Heath: Senior School and sixth form: Saturday 8th October 2016 Sixth form: Saturday 24th November 2016

Charterhouse, Surrey: Open mornings for sixth form girls, otherwise afternoon visits instead. Email: visits@charterhouse.org.uk for more details

Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Gloucestershire: Friday 2nd December 2016, book now for 2017

King’s College School, Wimbledon: Thursday 6th October 2016, 6pm

King Edward’s School, Birmingham: 16+ information evening: Tuesday 18th October 2016

Haileybury, Hertfordshire: Wednesday 16th November 2016. Book now, October dates are full.

Headington School, Oxford: Open day has passed

Hurstpierpoint College, West Sussex: Sixth form: Saturday 8th October 2016 Year 7: Tuesday 11th October 2016

Marymount International School, Kingston: Open day has passed

Sevenoaks School, Kent: Saturday 26th November 2016, 9.30am

Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School, Buckinghamshire: Thursday 13th October 2016 Monday 17th to Thursday 20th October 2016

The Stephen Perse Foundation, Cambridge: Sixth form open evening: Tuesday 18th October 2016, 6.30pm

Wellington College, Berkshire: All Autumn dates full, book now for January 2017

Westminster Academy, London: Wednesday 23rd November 2016

Whitgift School, Croydon: Saturday 24th October 2016, 9am Tuesday 11th October 2016, 4pm

Coming in to land: boarding schools within an hour of Heathrow

We scope out UK boarding schools accessible from overseas  (image credit: Unsplash)

We scope out UK boarding schools accessible from overseas  (image credit: Unsplash)

Whether you are looking for a UK boarding school for your children, whilst the family remains overseas or simply need to be within easy striking distance of Heathrow, this list might be just the ticket - a handy round up of just a few of our suggestions within the magic 60 minutes, traffic prevailing, with details of when to visit this Autumn and beyond. 

Don't forget to check details with individual schools - some need booking, all will arrange a tour to suit you if you are coming from overseas.

Those residing overseas will have a variety of additional hoops to jump through all of which require careful planning in advance. Some schools offer limited 'overseas' places and testing is likely to be rigorous. 

To find out more or find a speedy solution, do get in touch: jessica@schoolhunters.co.uk

Co-ed Prep Schools

Moulsford Prep School, Wallingford:
next dates in the Spring

Dragon School, Oxford:
Saturday, 8th October 2016 (day or boarding)
Saturday, 25th February 2017 (TBC)
Saturday, 13th May 2017 (day or boarding)

Eagle House School, Sandhurst (in the grounds of Wellington College):
Saturday 1st October 2016, 10am

Lambrook School, Ascot:
Saturday 1st October 2016, 9.30am

Beachborough School, Brackley:
Friday 7th October 2016, 9.30am

St Andrew’s School, Pangbourne:
Friday 7th October 2016, 9.15am

The Oratory Preparatory School, Reading (boarding from year 6):
Saturday 8th October 2016

Winchester House School, Brackley:
Saturday 8th October 2016, 10.30am

Hurst Lodge School, Ascot (from year 5):
Open day passed, contact school for tour

Brockhurst and Marlston House Schools – see single sex preps

St George’s School, Windsor:
Contact the school to arrange a visit

Co-ed Prep to 18

LVS Ascot, Berkshire (boarding from 7):
Wednesday 12th October 2016
Wednesday 8th February 2017
Tuesday 9th May 2017

Co-ed Senior Schools

Pangbourne College, Reading:
Saturday 8th October 2016, 9am (sixth form)
Saturday 5th November 2016, 9.30am (junior house, years 7 & 8)

St Edward's School, Oxford:
Saturday 13th May 2016 (13+ entry)

Leighton Park School, Reading:
Saturday 1st October 2016, 9.30am

d'Overbroeck's, Oxford:
Saturday 8th October 2016, 10am

Reddam House, Wokingham:
Saturday 8th October 2016

Luckley House School, Wokingham:
Saturday 8th October 2016, 9am

Padworth College, Berkshire:
Tuesday 18th October 2016, 1pm

Wellington College, Sandhurst:
Autumn dates fully booked, contact school to book for the spring.
Saturday 14th January 2017, 10.30am
Saturday 25th February 2017, 10.30am

Bradfield College, Berkshire:
Contact the school to arrange a visit

Boys’ Prep Schools

Summer Fields School, Oxford:
Saturday 8th October 2016

Christ Church Cathedral School, Oxford:
Saturday 1st October 2016, 9.30am

Brockhurst School, Newbury (boarding from 9 years):
Saturday 15th October, 10.30am

Elstree School, Reading:
Saturday 15th October 2016, 10am
Saturday 4th March 2017, 10am
Saturday 13th May 2017, 10am

Papplewick School, Ascot:
Saturday 5th November 2016, 9am

Caldicot Preparatory School, Buckinghamshire:
Not yet announced

Cothill House, Abingdon:
Spring open day

Ludgrove School, Wokingham:
Register your interest to be invited to an open event.

Sunningdale School, Berkshire:
No open days – contact the school to arrange a visit

Boys’ Senior Schools

Abingdon School:
Saturday 1st October 2016, 9.30am

Shiplake College, Henley-on-Thames (girls in VIth form):
Saturday 8th October 2016 2016, 9.30am
Saturday 18th March 2017, 9.30am

Eton College, Windsor:
No open days, contact the school to arrange a visit.

The Oratory School, Reading:
The autumn open day has passed, but there will be another in the spring. A show round can be booked with the Head’s PA.

Radley College, Abingdon:
No open days, but get in touch to arrange a visit.

Charterhouse, Godalming: (with co-ed sixth form)
Open mornings for sixth form girls, otherwise afternoon visits instead. Email: visits@charterhouse.org.uk for more details

Harrow School, London:
next opening morning: Saturday 21st January 2017, 9.30am

Girls’ Prep Schools

Godstowe School, High Wycombe:
Saturday 8th October 2016, 10am

Marlston House School, Newbury (boarding from 9 years):
Saturday 15th October, 10.30am

Girls’ Schools 8 to 18

Rye St Antony, Oxford:
Autumn open day has passed but the school welcomes visitors on any day.

Girls’ Senior Schools

Headington School, Oxford:
Thursday 29th September 2016, 10am

St George’s Ascot, Berkshire:
Saturday 8th October 2016, 10.30am

Heathfield School, Ascot:
Saturday 15th October 2016, 10am
Saturday 4th March 2017, 10am
Saturday 20th May 2017, 10am

Wycombe Abbey School, Buckinghamshire:
Saturday 15th October
Saturday 4th March
Saturday 10th June

Queen Anne’s, Caversham:
Friday 18 November 2016 at 9.30am
Friday 10 March 2017 at 9.30am
Saturday 6 May 2017 at 9.30am

St Mary’s School Ascot, Berkshire:
Saturday 19th November 2016
Saturday 18th March 2017
Saturday 13th May 2017

Downe House, Thatcham, Berkshire:
Contact the registrar for invitation to open morning. Michaelmas dates are full – register now for the new year.
Saturday 21 January 2017, 9.30am
Saturday 18 March 2017, 9.30am
Saturday 22 April 2017, 9.30am
Saturday 17 June 2017, 9.30am

Wychwood School, Oxford:
No open days – contact the school to arrange a visit.

Schools to seek out in the shires this September (Buckinghamshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire)

(image credit: Unsplash)

(image credit: Unsplash)

On your marks...for open day season

It's time to set the alarm, get out the maps, plug in the Sat Nav, dust off your most penetrating questions (trying not to be too distracted by angelic children, home-made cookies, string quartets etc) and plot your route from school to school across the shires - it’s open season in the independent sector. 

To lend a hand, we've pulled together September's dates for schools that could be on your list. You may need to drop everything! Watch out for Saturday 24th of September THE most popular date of the year. We're going to be making suggestions to Heads that perhaps a few Sundays wouldn't go amiss in future. Keep checking back on the blog as we’ll be listing October’s dates in the next few days.

Do let us know what you find: how inspired are the speeches, convincing the pitches, or exotic the biology lab creatures and share any photos @schoolhuntersuk. No, we don't think there are explosions in the science labs every day either. 

BOYS’ INFANT AND PREP SCHOOLS

Moulsford Prep School, Wallingford:
Friday 23rd September 2016, 10am and 1pm
Saturday 24th September 2016, 9am

GIRLS’ INFANT AND PREP SCHOOLS

Headington School, Oxford:
Saturday 24th September 2016, 10am
Wednesday 16th November 2016, 10am

Carrdus School, Banbury:
Friday 30th September 2016, 10am

Heatherton House School, Amersham:
Friday 30th September 2016, 10am
Saturday 1st October 2016, 10am
Further dates in the new year.

Crown House School, High Wycombe:
No open days – contact the school to arrange a visit.

CO-ED INFANT AND PREP SCHOOLS

St Teresa's School, Prince’s Risborough:
Thursday 22nd September 2016, 9am
Saturday 24th September 2016, 10am

Rupert House School, Henley upon Thames:
Friday 23rd September 2016, 10am

Dragon School, Oxford:
Saturday 24th September 2016 (boarding)
Further dates available for day places and boarding open days.

St Edward's Preparatory School, Cheltenham:
Saturday 24th September 2016, 9am

Stratford Preparatory School, Warwickshire:
Saturday 24th September 2016, 10am

Warwick Junior School:
Saturday 24th September 2016, 9.30am
Saturday 14th January, 2017, 10am

Sibford School, Banbury:
Wednesday 28th September 2016, 2pm

Chandlings, Oxford:
Thursday 29th September 2016, 9am

St John's Priory School, Banbury:
Friday 30th September 2016, 10am

St Mary’s, Henley:
Contact to arrange a tour

BOYS’ SENIOR SCHOOLS

Warwick School:
Saturday 24th September, 2016, 9.30am

The Oratory School, Reading:
The autumn open day has passed, but there will be another in the spring. A show round can be booked with the Head’s PA.

GIRLS’ SENIOR SCHOOLS

King’s High, Warwick:
Saturday 24th September, 2016, 9.30am

Headington School, Oxford:
Thursday 29th September 2016, 10am

The Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Gloucestershire:
Autumn open days are fully booked, book now for December and the new year.

Rye St Antony, Oxford:
Autumn open day has passed but the school welcomes visitors on any day.

CO-ED SENIOR SCHOOLS

Akeley Wood Senior School, Milton Keynes:
Saturday 24th September 2016, 9.30am
Further dates throughout the school year.

St Edward's School, Cheltenham:
Saturday 24th September 2016, 9am

Cokethorpe School, West Oxfordshire:
Saturday 24th September 2016, 9.30am

Stowe School, Buckinghamshire:
Autumn open day fully booked, book now for the new year.

SIXTH FORMS

Most sixth form open evenings are later in the autumn, but there are a few in September.

Rugby School, Warwickshire:
Saturday 17th September 2016

St Edward’s, Oxford:
Saturday 24th September 2016, 9am

Magdalen College School, Oxford:
Open afternoon: Thursday 29th September 2016

Headington School, Oxford (girls only):
Thursday 29th September 2016, 10am

Time to get your skates on for October school open days - here's how with our handy highlights lists

image credit: Unsplash

image credit: Unsplash

Last week, we posted our highlights list for single sex senior schools, London and the South-East. By no means exhaustive, but with time running out to book spaces at all of these highly popular open days, we hope you may find it a useful round-up to get started. Expect glorious sunshine (hopefully), winningly enthusiastic pupil tour guides, lots of checking out the competition (parents not pupils) and sometimes even a spot of lunch. What will your favourite facilities be: the climbing wall, the pottery wheels, the 3D laser printer, the on-site art gallery, the 'temple to maths' or the learning pods? 

Now it's the turn of the co-eds. Do let us know about the delights (or otherwise) @schoolhuntersuk. 

CO-ED SENIOR SCHOOLS

Latymer Upper School, London: Saturday 8th October 2016

Alleyn’s School, London: Wednesday 2nd November 2016, 2pm

The Perse Upper School, Cambridge: Autumn date has now passed

Brighton College: Autumn date has passed, book now for the new year. Saturday 28th January 2017, 9.30am

Wellington College, Berkshire: All Autumn dates full, book now for January 2017

Bancroft School, Essex: Saturday 19th November 2016, 10am

Highgate School, London: Saturday 8th October 2016, 9am

Reigate Grammar School, Surrey: Friday 14th October 2016, 9.15am Wednesday 2nd November 2016, 9.15am Thursday 17th November 2016, 9.15am

Kingston Grammar School, Surrey: Autumn date has now passed.

Epsom College, Surrey: Saturday 8th October 2016, 9.45am

Caterham School, Surrey: Open day has now passed. Contact the school about visitor mornings: Wednesday 19th October, 2016 Wednesday 9th November, 2016

City of London Freemen’s School, Surrey: Friday 11th November 2016, 9.15am