With its outstanding sporting facilities, choice of UK and US pathways, and values-driven curriculum, Ashville is an excellent choice for international, British and UK Forces students searching for a school in the North of England.
Describing itself as “unique”, Ashville has a choice of UK and US pathways – as well as offering a wide range of subject options at GCSE and over 20 A Level and BTEC courses in the Sixth Form, Ashville is one of only a few schools in the UK to offer Advanced Placement (AP) courses. There’s also its strong boarding provision, which includes an excellent programme of trips and weekend activities.
The school offers an all-through education, from two to 18 years, for around 860 students; there’s a small community of around 100 boarders coming from the UK, Armed Forces and overseas. It consists of Ashville Acorns Pre-Prep for 2 to 5-year-olds, and Ashville’s Prep School, Senior School and Sixth Form. Popular with working parents, the school offers wrapround care from 7.30am through to 6pm.
Founded in 1877 by the Methodist church, Ashville remains committed to the Methodist values of openness, respect for others and a sense of social responsibility, which influence its values-driven curriculum. The school really values its heritage and stays true to providing a learning space where children “can freely ask questions and explore as they learn”.
Rhiannon Wilkinson took over as Head in September 2021; formerly Headmistress of the all-girls’ school Wycombe Abbey, Mrs Wilkinson is the school’s first female Head.
The school offers a challenging curriculum to student of all abilities, with a scholarship programme for its most gifted and talented, and a strong learning support department for students with dyslexia and autism. There’s a good balance between academic rigour and extracurricular activities.
As you’d expect at a fee-paying school, there’s specialist teaching from a young age; in Prep, students have lessons in performing arts and music, PE, games and swimming, modern foreign languages, and religious studies. The school’s extensive grounds are frequently used as an extension of the classroom, too.
In the Senior school, students study a broad curriculum to prepare them for GCSEs; this includes art, business, computing and ICT, design and technology, drama, English, food and nutrition, geography, history, Latin, mathematics, French, Spanish and German, music, PE, PSCHE (Personal, Social, Citizenship and Health Education), religious studies, and science.
At GCSE, all students take the core subjects and a modern foreign language as well as three options. In the Sixth Form, there is a choice pf pathways including 20 A Level subjects, BTEC in Business, Sport or Science, and a Cambridge Technical Performing Arts course. All students can develop the independent learning and research skills demanded by universities by doing an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) and attending weekly lectures.
The school also offers a US High School Diploma, and as the only independent school in the North of England to be accredited by the New England Association of School and Colleges (NEASC), this makes it unique for a UK school. All students in the school’s US International Studies programme are offered guidance and support on applying to US universities.
All international schools with US permits must be accredited by one of four US-based approved agencies, in recognition of the quality of education provided and of the High School Diploma being issued. It makes Ashville a popular choice for parents with plans to return to the US or send their child to attend a prestigious college or university in the US.
Ashville is well-equipped to offer a wide range of non-academic subjects, which are studied through to sixth form and enjoyed as part of its broad extra-curricular programme.
Its facilities and courses for music, sport and performance set Ashville apart from other independent schools in the area. They include a state-of-the-art gym, 30m indoor swimming pool, fitness and dance studio, outdoor tennis and netball courts, Astroturf hockey pitch, squash courts, basketball courts, and a climbing wall, as well as a purpose-built drama studio, music practice rooms, and two performance venues – the 600-seater Soothill Hall and historic Memorial Hall.
There’s a wide range of 25 different sports including rugby, hockey, cricket, swimming, basketball, netball, athletics, and tennis.
2022 GCSE results: 16% were Grade 9, 32 % 8-9, 51% 7-9 and 75& 6-9.
2022 A Level results: 23% were A*, 52% A*-A, 78% A*-B, and 100% A*-E.
Leavers’ destinations include UK universities, as well as further education in Australia, Hong Kong and the US; just under 50% of students go on to Russell Group universities and around 1% to Oxbridge.
The school offers boarding from Years 3 and above, and students live in four boarding houses on campus, each managed by housemasters or housemistresses with a team of residential tutors and matron. There’s very much a home away from home atmosphere here, which is really boosted by the school’s excellent weekend programme of activities.
The school has an enviable campus spread across a green 64-acre site on the edge of Harrogate, a spa town in the North of England that’s also close to the Yorkshire Dales. There’s a wonderful blend of the old and new here; with historical building and features such as the original College organ that dates back to 1898 alongside refurbished arts and sports centres.
All students sit entrance exams in English and maths; international students can sit entrance exams in their own country and be interviewed by video call.
The school offers scholarships art, music, drama and sport, and offers means-tested bursaries as well as discounted fees for UK Forces families.
Annual tuition fees range from £9,930 to £17,535 for day students and from £21,555 to £32,955 for boarders.
Good for: This is a great school for anyone looking for an all-rounder school that focuses strongly on kindness, community and responsibility. Students are thriving here in a non-pressurised and friendly learning environment, where you can expect both academic attainment and a breadth of creative and sporting experience. Also, thanks to its dedicated US department offering a range of AP courses, the school will be popular with American families looking for a more US-style education with a British school.
Not for: Ashville may not feel academic enough for the more pushy parent and its location in the North of London won't appeal to this looking for schools close to London. The school's strong commitment to the morals and values of Methodism may not suit every family, although Ashville is very much open to children of all religions.
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