This prep school in the Cotswolds is committed to helping students of all abilities meet their potential and has a very nurturing ethos and inclusive school community.
It’s a small school that thrives on having a strong sense of family amongst both day and boarding students; seniors ‘buddy’ younger students, day students can join boarders for daily supper at 5.30pm, and there are houses with common rooms where all students can socialise and work. As well as having one third international students, Wycliffe is a popular choice for military families from the UK; the school is easily accessible from several major Army and RAF bases across the South West, and families pay only 10% of fees thanks to a Forces Bursary from the government.
There’s no typical Wycliffe student. This non-selective school has a wide-ranging mix of students, and while it has high expectations of its students, it is not an academic hothouse. One of Wycliffe’ strengths is its support for specific learning needs. As one Year 10 students says: “No matter how different you are, you will be accepted.”
A Scholars’ Society Programme stretches the school’s most talented students, while the school’s designated Learning Support Unit offers individual tuition to students needing additional support. The school has been recognised by the Council for the Registration of Schools Teaching Dyslexic Pupils (CReSTeD) for helping students “with a wide range of difficulties and needs being successful in reaching their potential”. And in its 2018 Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) report, it was found that, “Small class sizes enable particularly effective individual attention to be given to support pupils with SEND or EAL, as well as providing suitable opportunities for challenging the more able."
Headmaster Nick Gregory was previously pastoral deputy head at Mill Hill School in London before joining Wycliffe in 2015. He believes that education should be an “experience” rather than a means to an end “of walking away with some exam results” – and during the past five years he has continued to embrace the school’s diverse and inclusive community. Gregory will often talk about fully supporting Wycliffe’s gifted and talented students while at the same time “bringing out the best academically” of all its students. He’s seen by many parents as being very supportive; he has lunch with Year 9 students in their first term and all Year 12 students in their second term, for example.
Wycliffe Prep School was rated Good in its most recently available ISI Educational Quality report (2016).
Wycliffe offers a very robust academic curriculum with significant time dedicated to sport and extra-curricular activities; from Year 6 onwards, all students attend school on a Saturday morning too. With class sizes ranging from up to 18 in the Prep, to 10 in Years 9 to 11, and 6 to 12 in the Sixth Form, your child will benefit from plenty of attention from their teachers.
From Years 3 - 5, English and maths are taught every day, humanities, science, music, art, and drama are taught weekly, and there are daily games or PE sessions. Throughout the prep school, students are taught by specialist teachers, and new subjects such as Spanish and the separate sciences are introduced from Year 6. Every student leaves the prep school with a Wycliffe Baccalaureate, the culmination of a two-year programme focused on academics and sport; they must also complete the Kirby Challenge in Year 8 when they organise their own charitable project.
In senior school, at GCSE, students can choose from 20 subject options, with more unusual ones, such as business and Japanese, and the Extended Project Qualification. At sixth form, which has around 180 students, there is a choice of more than 30 subjects at A Level including politics, psychology, and Japanese, as well as two BTECs. This choice at GCSE and A Level is certainly broad enough to give students an opportunity to focus on their strengths. The senior school curriculum is enhanced with a life skills programme, and Year 12 students complete Wycliffe's Aspire module, when they make a presentation to local employers on their preferred career paths, after which they get feedback.
Wycliffe has years of experience in educating international students. It has broadened its international appeal by including ESOL support in the general timetable of international students prior to GCSEs, and offering a Pre-A Level Development Year for international students aged 15 - 17 years old. Also, students wanting to study at a US university can receive guidance and sit their SAT entrance exams in Wycliffe’s American university preparation programme.
Wycliffe may be a comparatively small senior school, but it still manages to offer its students plenty of horizon-stretching experiences beyond the classroom. The co-curricular programme includes such diverse activities as cryptology and beekeeping, as well as fly fishing and green car racing; Wycliffe describes itself as “embracing the eccentric” and there is no doubting the school’s willingness to find something for every student. Life beyond the classroom is actively encouraged, and all students in the Middle and Upper Prep go off timetable every Thursday and choose an activity to take part in – from mindfulness to eco-warriors, from dance to chess.
Don’t let the size of Wycliffe mislead you into thinking that sport is overlooked. Far from it. As well as offering all the mainstream sports – and having a sport for all policy – Wycliffe caters to its elite athletes and most sporty students with several specialist programmes. It runs the Nova Academy U17 Programme for netball, runs a Wycliffe Advanced Sports Programme, and has a squash academy (Wycliffe is one of the top schools in the UK for squash); it also offers a huge range of sports both on and off campus including rowing, fencing, basketball, and equestrian.
Facilities include a sports hall, squash courts, fitness suite, shooting range, swimming pool, and there are horse-riding stables and a boathouse (which is hugely popular with sixth formers and above) close to the campus.
While Wycliffe may be most well-known for its sporting endeavours, the school is keen to promote its achievements in art, drama, and music too. There are annual productions for all students in Years 4, 6, 7, and 8, and opportunities to join a variety of choirs and orchestras in all year groups. Facilities include an impressive studio theatre in the prep school, some rather quirky art rooms, and many music practice rooms.
In the extraordinary year of 2020, when all exams were cancelled due to Covid-19, 61% of A Level grades were awarded A* - B and 50% of all GCSE grades were awarded 9 - 7. As a non-selective school, Wycliffe says that it is not focused on being at the top of the league tables, and shows little interest in the “big-picture, whole-cohort statistics”.
The school has come out top in terms of academic progress. Wycliffe has been among the top 5% of schools in England for helping pupils to exceed their potential, although there are no recently published figures to support this. Based upon how well a school has improved a child’s learning, these measures are very indicative of what a school is doing to support learning and development. By having small class sizes, giving every student an individual action plan, and offering regular study support, Wycliffe is evidently focused on rigorously tracking every student’s progress. It won’t promise A* grades, but it is driven to help every student achieve “the best results of which he or she is individually capable”.
Located next to the small village of Stonehouse in Gloucestershire, Wycliffe has the Cotswolds on its doorstep but is just a 90-minute drive from London. Founded in 1882, the prep and senior school is spread across 60 acres of land in several traditional and modern buildings, and the pre-prep, prep, and senior schools each have their own campus. As well as the sporting and arts facilities listed above, Wycliffe has a dedicated science and ICT block with labs for the separate sciences, as well as computer science.
There are 65 boarders from Years 3 to 8, mostly coming from HM Forces families and around 15 from overseas. In the senior school, there are 220 boarders, including 140 international students from 30 different nationalities; there’s also a high percentage of boarders coming from Forces Families from Year 3 through to Year 13 (33%).
Wycliffe is a non-selective school that describes its admissions process as “simple, streamlined and quick”. Applications for Reception to Year 9 are taken at any point in the academic year, and all year groups must sit an online CAT assessment.
Annual tuition fees for day students are £10,005 for Reception to Year 2, £12,855 for Years 3 to 5, £17,370 for Years 6 to 8, and £22,485 for Years 9 to13.
• Small, family-style learning environment
• Students with learning needs
• Military families
• Wide choice of A Levels and GCSEs
• Oxbridge-focused academics
• Students wanting to take the Common Entrance exam
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