New head Jonathon Anderson has just taken up the role, arriving from Clayesmore Prep School where he was also head. His teaching background is maths – he studied economics at Exeter and is currently working towards a Masters in educational leadership and management. He tells us that he and his wife Hester have completely fallen in love with the school. Its ‘intangibles’, he says, makes it ‘very precious’ – the boys have ‘a certain grace and way of behaving’. He’s throwing a protective veil over Aysgarth’s unique nature but is keen for more people to get to know about it and not rule it out as being inaccessible. With London only a two-hour train journey away, it’s definitely a school that families in the south should have on their shortlists. Hester has already exceeded her role as headmaster’s wife, taking up a key pastoral position as house parent to the boys in Year 4 (called Form 1 here), one of whom is the Anderson’s son William (they also have a daughter Annabel who has stayed at Clayesmore). She’s also involved at the pre-prep, supporting phonics and taking assemblies there. She’s been a head herself, as head of the junior school at both Westbourne House and Swanbourne House, so they’re a real power team.
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. Hester has made boarding even more homely than it was – more parenting, less teaching, with Hester and Jonathon stand-in ‘mum and dad’. All the boys sleep in the main house – a homely, colourful space, with Hypnos mattresses and cuddly toys. The dorms have all undergone a major spruce in recent years, but 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. Each term is bookended with an ‘all-in’ weekend where all the full and weekly boarders are expected to stay in school. For exeat weekends and holidays, boys can be escorted on the train to London or Edinburgh, and Spanish boarders have the option of being escorted all the way to Madrid.
Does Aysgarth School have a motto?
Yes – the school motto is 'Of Oak, Not Willow'.
Are there any notable alumni for Aysgarth School?
Aysgarth School alumni include four-time gold medal-winning Olympic rower Sir Matthew Pinsent and adventurer Robert Swan, the first person to walk both the North and South Pole.
Will my child follow a nutritious health plan at Aysgrath?
Most definitely. Aysgarth School’s meals are all homemade using fresh, local produce. They cater for all dietary requirements and monitor the use of additives very carefully.
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