In rural Gloucestershire, Bredon School is a dyslexia-friendly boarding and day school with a very practical approach to learning and a range of academic and vocational curricula
Founded as a senior boarding school for boys, Bredon has grown into a co-ed day and boarding school open to girls and boys aged seven to 18 years. It’s a happy, relaxed and friendly school that offers outstanding specialist support for students with dyslexia.
Bredon School is part of the Cavendish Education Group, a family of independent schools that support students with learning difficulties, autism and/or social, emotional and mental health needs. Like other schools in the group, Bredon sits between mainstream and traditional special school education to offer students the expert teaching, extra support and additional time that they may need within the classroom.
It’s not results-driven and, although there’s plenty of academic rigour and a requirement for hard work, the school describes itself as “a greenhouse not a hothouse”.
When headteacher Nick Oldham introduces the school, he talks about students lambing the school’s own flock of sheep and kayaking on the River Severn – there’s no mention of studying in the classroom to achieve an A*. That’s not because the school doesn’t challenge its students academically. It does, and above-average grades at GCSE and A Level show this. It’s because Bredon believes that success is about than examinations.
“We must also enable them to develop character, creativity, competency and confidence, so they are equipped to live happy and successful lives, says Mr Oldham.
Bredon is also a school that believes learning is not restricted to the confines of the classroom or the formal curriculum; there is plenty of outdoor education going on too.
Nick Oldham has been Headteacher at Bredon since 2019, leaving his role as Deputy Head at West Heath School where he was Deputy Principal. A former top level England rugby player, Mr Oldham lists his interests as fishing, country pursuits and farming – and owns his own flock of sheep.
Choosing the right school for your child is one of the biggest decisions you will make as a parent – and if your child has additional educational needs such as dyslexia, then it can feel even more overwhelming. A school such as Bredon can offer the specialist support they need but may be unable to access within a mainstream independent or state school.
Very importantly, it’s registered with the Council for the Registration of Schools Teaching Dyslexic Pupils (CRESTED), which recognises that a school has dyslexia-friendly practices in place. Qualified staff are trained to teach children with dyslexia, and the school has the freedom to develop its own tailored curriculum that specifically meets the needs of students who simply ‘learn differently’
In the Junior School, there’s a unique and creative curriculum where morning lessons focus on reading, writing and numeracy and afternoons are dedicated to more practical and hands-on activities. There’s a four-acre Forest School, for example, where students will be found building shelters, splitting wood, climbing trees and learning basic cooking skills.
The Senior curriculum puts a strong emphasis on English and maths, taught alongside traditional subjects, creative subjects such as photography and art, and vocational courses such as agriculture and engineering.
Students are offered plenty of support and guidance when choosing their options for Years 10 -11, and one of Bredon’s strengths is its choice of academic, professional and vocational courses. Choices include GCSEs, Unit Awards and LAMDA , giving students access to an education that understands and celebrates their learning differences.
In the Sixth Form, students once again have the choice of academic and vocational qualifications. The choice here is so varied – A Levels in economics, photography and fine art to a City and Guilds in traditional country shooting, animal care and mechanical engineering.
Life in the Sixth Form is enriched by eye-opening Wainwright talks where external speakers discuss career choices, apprenticeships, working in the voluntary sector, GAP year options and many other topics. There’s also a Sixth Form Leadership Camp and an excellent work experience programme. Students leave here with so much than a bunch of grades or a course certificate – they leave equipped for further education or the world of work.
Throughout the school, class sizes are small (no more than 12 students) and, when necessary, students have one-to-one support lessons. It’s all designed to provide an encouraging and supportive learning environment where students need it the most.
Dyslexic children are often creative and enjoy music, art, drama, dance and sport; it is important for maintaining self-esteem that children can celebrate success in these areas, especially if they are finding core academic subjects difficult. Bredon embraces both sport and the arts.
Facilities include climbing facilities, a clay pigeon shooting ground, onsite access to the River Severn together with extensive pitches, a floodlit Astro pitch and fully equipped sports hall.
Years 3-9 have timetabled Outdoor Education lessons in a range of activities including archery, cycling, climbing, kayaking and orienteering, which you won’t find on every school’s sporting programme. There are weekly timetabled farm lessons on the school’s fully operational farm, which is home to Scottish Black Face sheep, Welsh Mules, large White pigs, Saddleback pigs, turkeys, hens, South Devon cattle, ponies and geese.
By having small class sizes, giving every student plenty of individual attention, and offering regular study support, Bredon performs above UK averages in both GCSEs and A Levels. For a school to feel informal and friendly but still deliver academically, is no easy feat.
2022 BTEC results: 100% passed Level 3 BTEC
2022 A Level results: 75% of students received A-C grades.
Students can board at Bredon from nine years old, and over 40% of students opt for boarding; there’s a choice of full and flexi-boarding in two single-sex houses for students in Years 4-13. Boarding staff offer excellent support to students with dyslexia, and are trained to help with coursework and prep.
Bredon is a non-selective school, so there are no entrance exams. However, to ensure the school is the most “appropriate setting for your child”, students do sit both a Lucid test for English and a Wrat 5 test for Maths and attend an interview with the Headmaster.
Annual day fees range from £12,600-£19,110 for Years 3-9; and £25,050 for Years 10-13.
Annual full boarding fees are £27,660-£34,170 for Years 4-9 and £40,110 for Years 12-13.
Forces' families receive a 10% discount on fees if they are eligible for the Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA).
Good for: The school has a unique offering – its dyslexia specialism. This is certainly one to shortlist if you are looking for a school that can offer your dyslexic child an education that fully understands their needs and abilities.
If your child is struggling in a mainstream school, academically and/or emotionally, then this school could be the very real change that they need. The school has also moved with the times to offer both full and flexi boarding which really meets the demands of modern working parents, including those from the Forces and living overseas.
Not for: As a dyslexia-friendly school, Bredon would not suit students in mainstream education. Its outdoorsy culture may not suit every child either, although this is certainly one of its strengths. Parents who would prefer a single-sex education for their son or daughter will find there are other school for dyslexic students who can offer this.
If you are the owner or the principal of the school and note any inaccuracies, or would like to update data, you can now open an account with us. You will also be able to add admissions availability per year group, and advertise current job vacancies. This is a free service. Please help us keep prospective parents up to date with your latest information.
Are you looking for a place for your child, and want help from our school consultants? If so, click on the link below, and we will forward your request for information to the school or schools of the same type that we are confident have availability. This is a free service for our readers. Request Information