Spratton Hall, Northamptonshire
Muddy says: Just across the border from us Spratton Hall is a beautiful co-educational day prep school for children aged 4-13, based in 50 acres of Northamptonshire’s, beautiful countryside.
Words: Anna-Lou Dearden, Muddy Northants
The entrance to Spratton Hall School is tucked away in a quiet and inconspicuous corner of Spratton village in Northamptonshire. But, the moment you drive through the gates you can see why it’s such a hidden gem.
Set in 50 acres of beautiful countryside, the original building, dating from the 1700s, has been developed and enhanced over the years to create a school that’s packed full of first-rate facilities.
Like a stick of rock, Simon Clarke the Head Master, has Spratton Hall School at his very core. Having previously taught at several prestigious Prep Schools, he was appointed Deputy Head at Spratton Hall in 2007, then Head in 2014. Pupils and parents alike are quick to compliment him both personally and professionally and most are greeted by him every morning at drop off, (often battling with child locks we hear) as he cheerfully opens car doors for the pupils. He can also be found enthusiastically supporting pupils at their performances and sports matches.
However, it’s not just the day-to-day details he attends to, he’s also a passionate driver for the school’s development and growth. Having recently overseen the addition of new netball and tennis courts and a new changing block and a school shop, his focus on innovation and improvement is set to continue with several forthcoming (and sadly for now, secret) projects.
The Pre-Prep department is where most children start their Spratton Hall journey, usually after a number of relaxed acclimatisation sessions before their official start date. The dedicated Pre-Prep staff and specialist tutors are clearly passionate about learning, and focus on giving the children solid academic foundations while encouraging their independence and natural curiosity.
Every child is heard to read every day and parents are regularly updated as to their children’s progress via a daily diary that enables them to stay in touch with the teachers. The classrooms are bright and exciting and there’s a real buzz of enthusiasm when you walk into one. The children are polite and incredibly confident, and from their very first term, give regular performances and presentations to their peers and parents. It seems like a really happy and supportive little community.
There’s no denying that Spratton Hall is an academic school and there is no shortage of scholarships for Spratton Hall pupils to some of Britain’s top public schools, including Rugby, Oundle, Uppingham and Oakham.
School and Class Sizes
At the time of writing, the school has 382 pupils and is properly co-ed with approximately 50:50 girls and boys. The average class size is 15, which seems about right for this kind of school and ensures that children get to learn in a supportive but sociable environment.
The syllabus for each year has been designed to challenge pupils while filling their brains with knowledge. Teaching methods combine the most up-to-date educational approaches, with traditional testing, fun experiments and lots of hands-on learning.
The children all appear incredibly positive about their lessons and (even the older ones who know it’s the working hard will get results), you get the feeling there’s still fun to be had.
The school has a dedicated Learning Support Department that is tucked away in a cosy corner of the original building, staffed by four specialist teachers and filled with resources. Walking along the corridor you can hear the pride in the pupil’s voices as they achieve their personal goals in an array of subjects and talking to staff, you can tell they’re good at what they do and encourage kids too.
IT, languages, sport, drama, music and dance are firm fixtures in the calendar for all ages, while older children can try archery, sewing, chess, construction, gaming, photography and robotics to name but a few of the after school clubs.
Their dedicated Performing Arts Centre, seats an audience of around 250 and stands as a testament to Spratton Hall’s dedication to drama. From Reception onwards children regularly get the opportunity to perform to their parents and peers in plays, musicals, recitals, dance displays and assemblies. Looking at the students we’d say it develops the pupils’ self-confidence and self-esteem.
Music is introduced to the syllabus from a very early age with tiddlers singing songs and playing the ocarina in Pre-Prep to what we can imagine are pleased-as-punch parents. For older children there are several choirs, song groups, orchestras and musical ensembles. Meanwhile extra music lessons with the instrument of your choice (glockenspiel anyone?) can be procured for pupils who want to focus on fine-tuning their skills for examinations.
Art and Design
The art department is an inspiring creative space, chock full of everything the children need for drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture, printing and textiles. Additional co-curricular art and design classes give Prep School pupils opportunities to further hone their skills and focus on specific projects.
The size and scope of the sports facilities make it immediately apparent that sport is enormously important to the school. With an indoor sports dome, floodlit AstroTurf, hardcourts, 400m running track, cricket nets and seemingly endless cricket, rugby, hockey, football pitches it’s hardly surprising that the pupils all look fit, active and competitive.
Both girls and boys enjoy a combination of P.E., hockey, tennis, football, rugby, netball, cricket, cross country and athletics. A real plus is that there are multiple teams for each year, so all pupils represent the school in a sport.
The school clearly takes pastoral care very seriously and has a designated Head of Pastoral Care who works closely with teachers, pupils and parents to immediately address any issues they might have. Pupils can access a purpose-made app called ‘Tootoot’ any time to communicate any concerns they have about both their online and offline lives, in confidence (it feels like we went to school in the dark ages).
Understanding modern parental pressures, Spratton Hall has some clever ways of helping reduce the stresses of the school day. They have established daily minibus routes to safely transport pupils from the surrounding area, free wraparound care to make the school-run more flexible, plus breakfast and afterschool clubs to extend the day from 7.45am until 5.20pm (6.00pm for 7+) in a fun way. Hot and healthy (and tasty!) meals and snacks are included in the fees.
Trips and Visits
Every school year will go on a study visit at least once a term and the school always ensures that it will be both fun and relevant. Woburn Safari Park, The Black Country Living Museum, Birmingham Sea Life Centre and Cadbury’s World are all firm favourites with the younger children while the older years enjoy ‘The Science of Rollercoasters’ at Alton Towers, a day trip to London with the Headmaster, residential outward bound course and ski trips and an informative stay in Paris.
£3450 to £5220 a term.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for? Nurturing. The children are definitely nurtured throughout their time at Spratton so that they can make the very best of their capabilities in academia, sport, music, art and drama (whatever path they choose, which is not always the path their parents might think). It’s very relaxed and inclusive, and has acres of space to excel in sports and fitness. Spratton is definitely a ‘must-see’ school, you really get a good feel for it when you’re actually there (oh, and the staff are lovely too).
Not for? Parents who don’t want the hassle of moving kids to secondary school, but it is a prep school, so they’ll be aware of that already. It’s quite relaxed, so parents who might want that very stiff upper lip education, may not be in the right place here.
Spratton Hall School, Smith Street, Northampton, Spratton NN6 8HP. Phone: 01604 847292
Open morning is Friday 10th May 2019 from 10am – 12 noon.