Located in Gloucestershire, this small school in the English countryside takes an international approach to secondary education by offering an alternative to GCSEs.
A less than traditional British independent school, Wotton House teaches the IB Middle Years Programme with the option to sit IGCSEs in Years 10 and 11, as well as a flexi-schooling package in Years 7-8. It offers students a different pathway – and is a strong advocate of the IB's use of teacher assessment over "stressful" final exams.
It also prides itself on its relaxed learning environment where there's no school uniform and plenty of opportunity to learn in the great outdoors.
Wotton House is a relatively new school, having opened in 2016. The school struggled to meet the demands of Ofsted and failed its initial inspection in 2017, but in 2019 was found to meet all independent school standards. Going forward, it will be inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate, which the school may hope will be more 'sympathetic' to the type of education offered here.
Principal and founder of the school Dr Daniel Sturdy was previously co-director at Cambridge International School (now renamed Oaks International School and under new ownership), which he founded with his sister, Dr Harriet Sturdy.
Wotton House offers an alternative to a mainstream UK education by following the five-year MYP, with the option to take IGCSEs in the last two years. There's a cross-curricular approach to learning that covers the core subjects, as well as languages, drama, visual arts, music and PE.
All students complete the MYP Personal Project in their last year of school, in which they consolidate their learning from the classroom into a self-managed project. It requires research, communication, critical and creative thinking, and collaboration skills – all of which can prepare students well for either the IB Diploma Programme or A Levels.
Every student spends at least one day a week in the school's Wilderness Centre, a classic country house surrounded by 30 acres of forest, fields (and even a stone circle). The school is focused on encouraging students to "disconnect from routine and technology and connect with nature", and the centre is a venue for activities as varied as archery, orienteering, environmental studies and problem-solving.
Students leave Wotton House having completed the MYP or with IGCSE grades; in the absence of a Sixth Form, parents will need to find a new and suitable school for their child to study A Levels, the IBDP or other pre-university qualifications.
Wotton House is a non-selective school, where all applicants attend a taster day to "experience how the school works". Full-time annual fees range from £9,750 - £13,500, which is considerably cheaper than many independent schools in the UK. Wotton House offers more of a 'no-frills' education that is less about expensive, state-of-the-art facilities and more about getting back to basics (and away from computer screens), which will be the appeal for some families.
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