Hello from autumnal Oxfordshire!
Last week we went to visit Brambletye, a co-educational prep boarding school in Sussex.
We instantly fell in love.
At this point we need to be make a confession - at von Bülow Education we've always had our reservations about prep boarding schools. We thought that children under the age of 13 belong safely at home with their parents. It just always seemed to a little too much, too soon!
As it turns out, we were wrong.
Prep boarding schools like Brambletye are magical. Brambletye feels more like an amazing summer camp where kids can roam free and, well, simply be kids.
Seen in the school's reception - could well be the school's motto!
A beautiful school on 140 acres of lush Sussex countryside.
Brambletye is located about an hour south of London in sleepy commuter town East Grinstead. There, the school is embedded in 140 acres of the most beautiful English countryside. Between classes and after school the kids roam free. They take the zip line down the school's adventure playground, play outdoors chess and on week-ends go sailing at the Weir Wood reservoir at its doorstep.
The main school building is a typical old, cozy English manor house with wood fires burning, wood panelled walls and the obligatory, friendly school dog tearing through the reception area.
A school with a view - Brambletye's garden
The school's facilities are amazing. The boarding rooms are spacious and bright, housing up to nine children in cozy bunk beds. Sounds like a lot? The rooms are big enough so that every child has their own space to get comfortable.
We were especially impressed by Brambletye's arts department. Housed in a snug, outhouse the art on display is simply astounding and easily rivals what we've seen at senior schools! The children we saw were producing oil paintings of deer head skeletons that were both fascinating and slightly eery. Dave Holden, the head of arts and design is a very friendly and clearly very passionate teacher.
The school's cafeteria - great food, too!
A warm family atmosphere.
We were amazed by Brambletye's warm, friendly atmosphere. This has a lot to do with the exceptionally friendly teachers, but is also thanks to the lovely Amelia and Will Brooks, the "head - couple". Both instantly likeable, they took a lot of time to show and explain their school to us.
There was one instance that stuck with us especially. We were sitting together in the head's office, talking about Brambletye's plans for a major building development in 2019. Then there's a knock on the door. Two girls enter the room, looking a little sheepish. One asks: "Mr Brooks, can you tell us where our maths books are?" Will Brooks hesitates for a second, laughs a little and tells the intruders to take a look in the library upstairs. To us this spoke volumes about the good relationship Brambletye's children seem to have with their headmaster!
A big selection of great activities!
Needless to say, children at Brambletye never, ever get bored. Next to the ones you would expect from a good prep schools like excellent music, sports and the arts, the school offers activities like computer programming, cheerleading and chess.
Outdoors chess and adventure playground in the back - a children's paradise!
Oh, and did we mention the adventure playground? Children spend hours here climbing trees, jumping off walls and hooning down the hill on the zip-line. There is a small swimming pool for the children to use, and the nearby water reservoir allows for sailing classes.
...and the results to show for it!
Brambletye is not an especially selective school. Given this state of affairs, the school punches well above its weight in terms of helping children get places at the top UK secondary schools - including Sevenoaks School, Tonbridge Boys, Ardingly School and the odd boy at Eton.
Brambletye is a magical place. We wholeheartedly recommend this school to any family who seriously considers sending their prep-school-age child to boarding school.
Some useful facts about Brambletye:
- 284 pupils, 65 full boarders, 25 flexi boarders
- Boarding from age 7
- Fees: £24.500 p.a. for boarders
- Strengths: music, the arts, amazing pastoral care and atmosphere
- Location: East Grinstead, one hour south of London