Aysgarth School Bedale, North Yorkshire
Aysgarth School
Bedale
152 pupils, ages 3-13
Boys only
Boarding

Aysgarth School

Open all

Our View

‘Of Oak, Not Willow’ is Aysgarth’s motto – and it utterly befits this sturdy rural prep. Traditional in outlook, atmosphere and set-up, it is a rare find. It has everything you could possibly want from an all-boys prep school: muddy-kneed pupils with a spring in their step, masses of outdoor space and a glorious countryside setting. Boys head off to the very best public schools brimming with confidence and equipped with old-fashioned values. The secret? Proper full boarding and LOTS of fun.

Where?

Located at the foot of the Yorkshire Dales, Aysgarth is right in the heart of farming, shooting and fishing country. There’s not even a shop in the local village and the nearest train station is a good 25-minute drive away. If that puts you off, look elsewhere. But for the right boy, it’s utopia. This is a school that attracts outdoorsy types who are more at home dive-bombing into a lake than spending an afternoon at the cinema.

Head

Head Rob Morse and his delightful wife Lottie make an extraordinary duo. Not only do they run the school, they also both teach and take charge of the boarding house – where duties extend to getting the boys up in the morning and putting them to bed at night. Dapper Mr Morse is often seen in purple trews and his trademark tweed jacket, trailed by his two black Labradors. He’s sociable, chatty and has all the assurance of someone who knows exactly what they’re doing. Utterly passionate about his job, he talks about the value of Aysgarth’s ‘three-legged stool’: the fact that it’s all-boys, full boarding and sends its leavers on to the top national boarding schools.

Admissions

Entry is non-selective; places are offered to boys whom staff feel will excel. Prospective pupils visit for a half-day assessment and informal interview – siblings get priority but they’ve got to pass the character test too. The main intake is at 8+, but in theory the school will take boys in any year or any term if there’s space. However, most year groups are almost always oversubscribed, so our advice is to get names down early (some do from birth).

Academics and senior school destinations

Gentle streaming in English and maths kicks in as boys move up the school, and there’s great one-on-one support for anyone who might be lagging behind. Everyone learns Latin, while Greek and Mandarin are very popular extracurricular clubs. Exit is diverse. As Aysgarth is quite remote, there’s no one obvious senior school to funnel boys towards, and popular onward destinations include everywhere from Eton and Harrow to Radley, Shrewsbury, Canford and Uppingham. In 2019, a quarter of leavers bagged a scholarship too.

Co-curricular

Music is fantastic here – almost every pupil learns an instrument and the choir is often invited to perform at Ripon Cathedral, Chatsworth House and even Old Aysgarthian weddings. The impressive art block is decked out with power tools, laser cutters and a dedicated exhibition space, while over in the theatre, anyone who doesn’t want to act can get stuck in with set, costume and lighting design instead.

For a school of its size, the sporting facilities are superb. Old boy Sir Matthew Pinsent cut the ribbon on the sports centre when it opened, and as well as the usual clutch of Astros, pitches and tennis courts, there’s an indoor climbing wall, running track and even a rifle range. They’re cricket-mad, and boys are often selected for regional competitions – while they might not win as much silverware as their rivals, there’s no knocking their team spirit. Parents, take note – the match teas are epic.

When they’re not in the classroom, boys are most likely to be careering around the valley and woods that make up Aysgarth’s 50-acre campus. Mucking in and mucking around are strongly encouraged, and at weekends pupils build dens, fly down makeshift waterslides doused in Fairy Liquid and play Spotlight, scampering out of windows at dusk while trying to avoid being caught by teachers-turned-sleuths brandishing torches.

Clubs range from the conventional (cooking, Lego, Airfix) to the downright quirky: ferreting, build your own motorboat and – our favourite – the Meat Appreciation Society. Regular socials are held with the girls from Queen Mary’s Thirsk, about 20 miles down the road.

Boarding

Aysgarth has always stuck to its guns with its strict full-boarding policy. Aside from the handful of day pupils and 'regular boarders' (who stay for two or three nights a week), everyone full- or weekly-boards and there are usually at least 100 boys knocking around at weekends. All sleep in the main house – a homely, colourful space. The Morses spent six figures sprucing up the dorms when they arrived, but thankfully corridor cricket still remains a firm fixture on the evening timetable.

Saturdays begin with morning lessons, followed by games and activities, while Sundays are more chilled – we love the tradition of breakfast in PJs before chapel.

School community

Despite the strong boarding ethos, over half of families are local and make up a real Yorkshire dinner-party circuit. Attendance is always high at sporting fixtures, and the annual Dads and Lads steak night is one of the most popular events on the calendar.

A hefty number of pupils come from London; staff chaperone them on the train down to King’s Cross for twice-termly exeats. There’s certainly no sense of ‘them and us’ – parents from further afield have nothing but praise for the welcome they received from those who live closer to the school.

And finally...

This is the place to send your boys if you’re looking to immerse them in the full-boarding experience from the get-go. Yes, there are plenty of alternatives nearby (such as Terrington Hall, Cundall Manor and St Olave’s), but none are all-boys and most empty out at weekends.

Aysgarth turns out well-mannered young men destined for success at the UK’s most sought-after public schools – and builds up some serious character along the way.
Subscribe to read our review.
Login Subscribe

Gallery See All

Aysgarth School gallery image
Aysgarth School gallery image
Aysgarth School gallery image
Aysgarth School gallery image
Aysgarth School gallery image
Aysgarth School gallery image
Aysgarth School gallery image
Aysgarth School gallery image
  • Senior school destinations

    Senior school destinations 2020

    In 2020, 31 leavers stepped on to UK schools: Shrewsbury - 10, Uppingham – 5, Ampleforth - 4, Radley - 2, Oundle - 2, Barnard Castle - 2, Harrow, Marlborough, Fettes, Sedbergh, St. Peter's & Pocklington - 1

  • Scholarships for senior schools

    Scholarships 2020

    Academic2Shrewsbury and Uppingham
    Music2 Shrewsbury
    Drama1 Uppingham
    Sport1 Uppingham
    All Rounder2 Shrewsbury and Sedbergh
    Other1 Ampleforth


  • Fees and bursaries

    Day fees per term

    Nursery-
    Reception£2,820
    Year 1£3,110
    Year 2£3,200
    Year 3£3,745
    Year 4£6,930
    Year 5£6,930
    Year 6£6,930
    Year 7£6,930
    Year 8£6,930
    Boarding fees per term

    Nursery-
    Reception-
    Year 1-
    Year 2-
    Year 3-
    Year 4£9,020
    Year 5£9,020
    Year 6£9,020
    Year 7£9,020
    Year 8£9,020




    Bursaries
    Aysgarth offers up to 100 per cent fee remission to families who qualify for means-tested support as part of its bursary scheme. The level of support is based on the Aysgarth Scale of Awards, which sets out award levels in relation to a family’s financial situation. It is reviewed and revised annually by the finance and general-purposes committee to reflect changes in fee costs and is approved by the governors.

    The school also has a scholarship programme, and it is more common for pupils to enter the school on a means-tested bursary using a scholarship attempt as supporting evidence to the application.

    For more information, please see:

    aysgarthschool.com/admissions/bursaries

    Bursary contact:
    Admissions and Marketing Manager Niki Pargeter
    npargeter@aysgarthschool.co.uk
  • SEND

    This school currently supports the following kinds of learning needs, health needs and physical disabilities:
    We have a range of learning needs that we support: dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, ASD, slow processing, weak working memory. Health: a range of allergies, diabetes, Physical: visually impaired.

    This school currently delivers the following interventions to pupils in class and outside class to support their learning, health and/or physical needs:
    Toe by toe, Power of 2, reciprocal reading, Alpha to Omega, Trugs, Talisman reading intervention programme, TA in the class to support in Eng and maths. School councillor to support mental health. N Yorks VI team to support visually Impaired.

    This school currently provides the following support for pupils' mental health needs
    We are extremely fortunate in that we have a relatively small number of pupils and a very high staff pupil ratio. We also have the added benefit of spending a great deal of time with the boys and the boys feel comfortable in turning to any member of staff. Form Tutors and House Parents are formally the first point of contact, but the boys are free to approach any member staff who they would feel comfortable talking to. We have an excellent team of matrons and Lottie, in her role as Headmaster’s Wife and ‘Mummy’ to all the boys is often a favoured point of contact. For those who may need additional help, we have a super school counsellor and we work closely with ‘Teenagers Translated‘to ensure that the staff are well trained and that the boys are well prepared for the many challenges that come their way.

    Co-ordinator: Susanna Ogden  sogden@aysgarthschool.co.uk
  • Transport links

    School Transport
    Escorted train service to/from London

    Public Transport
    Nearest mainline train station: Northallerton
    Journey time to London by train: 145 minutes
    Nearest international airport: Teeside International/Leeds Airport (33 miles)


  • Parents tell us

    ‘A friend recommended Aysgarth and we went to have a look round and loved it. We immediately knew it was the right school. It encourages every child to find their talent and interest.

    The admissions process was excellent and very caring.

    The head, Rob Morse, is fantastic. He has a great energy and presence that allows him to connect with both children and parents. Matthew Atherton has nurtured my son’s love of music. All of the teachers are excellent and very dedicated.

    Communication is excellent. If there is an issue, I’m informed immediately and there are follow-up calls on the outcome of whatever happened.

    I feel very welcome at school too and many different events are run over the year. Pastoral care and support are excellent. The school knows my son really well and treats him as an individual.

    Preparation for the next stage of my child’s education has also been excellent with lots of support with interviews and scholarship assessments. We all wish that we had known about Aysgarth sooner. My son has been very happy there and we cannot fault the school in any way. It is an exceptional school and has been very proactive during the lockdown to provide online schooling.'

    'The ethos of the school matched our requirements: a focus on academic achievement to meet the boy’s potential, not just for the school’s rankings. They focus on the individual. There is a loyal staff, with a seemingly high retention rate.

    There’s an emphasis on music – the choir and musical performances are all encouraged. There is a sense of participation in sport as well as good matches with local schools. We felt that Aysgarth offered the best opportunities and boarding school fits well with our lifestyle.

    The admissions process was excellent. Administratively it was very good, and we enjoyed meeting other prospective parents at a couple of marketing events hosted by Aysgarth families.

    The head Rob Morse engages well with everyone and together with his wife Lottie, they set a great example to the boys of a modern working couple. He coaches boys on the sports pitches, is always in attendance at concerts and answers queries by email. He also has a good handle on the abilities of each child and offers good advice for the next school, based on feedback from the staff. We are huge supporters and feel very lucky to be at a school led by such a fantastic headmaster.

    Exceptional teachers: Mr Atherton is inspirational as director of music. Mr Barlow for pastoral care and thinking outside of the box when the chips are down.

    I feel very involved with my children’s education. There are plenty of photos on the boarders’ blog. We get invited to sports, music events and chapel.

    Staff are always visible at drop off and pick up and we’re notified about any problems beforehand. Pastoral care is excellent. The ratio of pupils to staff is low, so everyone is known to each other and there is plenty of time for this to happen.

    Preparation for the next stage of my child’s education has been very good. There was additional teaching before the tests and interview practice. Compulsory full boarding for all boys (except day boys) from Form 4 is a huge benefit as it has set our son up for being further away from home.

    The school community is very welcoming and new parents’ events are well supported. No PTA, but committees are formed to organise events such as the school ball. There are drinks with the headmaster, there’s always coffee after chapel and tea after matches which are very sociable.

    It’s exceeded expectations. I wish that we hadn’t been worried about boarding. As much as we miss the boys, it is an amazing and positive experience for them.'

    'The school knows the boys inside out and provides everything that they need to thrive. The admissions process was painless and well organised.

    The head knows each child well, he is experienced and has a boundless well of enthusiasm for the school and being a headteacher. We can't fault him. The staff are a similar calibre to the headmaster across the board.

    The school communicates very well with the parents. Aysgarth is very much a community and the parents are a strong part of that. This hasn't waned since the Covid-19 crisis, if anything it has reinforced the feeling of community.

    The school’s pastoral care isn't soft and fluffy, but it is very effective and you never feel as if your child is just a number.

    I can’t fault Aysgarth’s preparation for the next stage of my child’s education so far. There are lots of chances for parents to interact with the school. The community includes children from all over the world, but the majority come from Yorkshire.

    If anything the school has exceeded my expectations. My advice to new parents would be to trust them – they are usually right.’

School Updates

  • See Aysgarth in our Country Preps Focus

    Find your perfect country prep school. Whether you're contemplating a move for your entire family or want to explore the education options within a daily minibus-ride of the capital, we can help.
  • WATCH: Talk Education's Country Preps Focus - Aysgarth

  • WATCH: Hear a parent talk about their experience of Aysgarth

Subscribe

Subscribe now to read our full review, compare your favourite schools and watch our videos.

subscribe

Need help?

Our experienced team can make this easier for you.

TALK TO US

Essentials

Address
Newton-le-willows, Bedale, North Yorkshire DL8 1TF

Contact
admissions@aysgarthschool.co.uk
01677 450240

Website
aysgarthschool.com

ISI Report

Fees

Term Dates


Open Days
Open days and how to visit View Open Days Register for open Day


Click for a larger version of map

Need help?

Don’t panic! We have more than ten years’ experience of visiting schools and advising parents, and we are all parents ourselves – we can make this easier for you.

Talk to our team

Have you also considered: