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Aysgarth School
Aysgarth School
Aysgarth School
Aysgarth School
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Aysgarth School Bedale, North Yorkshire Visit
Aysgarth School
195 pupils, ages 3-13
Boys only
Day and Boarding

Aysgarth School

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Our View

A fabulously traditional, outdoorsy prep school that is co-ed up to Year 3 and boys only from Year 4. With the motto ‘Of Oak, Not Willow’, it’s no surprise to find that Aysgarth turns out robust, confident and courageous children, happy to just get stuck in and make the most of everything they have around them. They work hard here but they play hard too and, with excellent pastoral care to boot, Aysgarth pupils have surely hit the jackpot.


Located at the foot of the Yorkshire Dales, Aysgarth is right in the heart of farming, shooting and fishing country. This is a very rural prep – the nearest train stations are Northallerton (20 minutes) and Darlington (30 minutes), and with no shop or amenities in the local village, it does feel very out of the way. But that’s exactly what makes it a nirvana for children who thrive on good old-fashioned fun and fresh air. There is plenty of transport laid on by the school for boarders and day boys who come in from Ripon and Asenby, and pupils are accompanied by staff to London and Edinburgh for exeat weekends and half term.


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 Form 1 (Year 4) boarding house – where duties extend to getting the boys up in the morning and putting them to bed at night. Mrs Morse has also recently taken on the role of head of art and D&T, and has injected the curriculum with more art history and creative competitions to inspire budding artists to have a go.

Dapper Mr Morse is evidently well liked by the boys, all of whom he knows well. (The family’s new puppy, Mabel, is a much-loved addition to the Morse Force and along with their Labrador, Minnie, and a fleet of staff dogs, these furry companions help to keep the boys happy and entertained.) This sociable and chatty headteacher is utterly passionate about his job. Helping boys to be ‘the best they can be’ is his driving force – and he clearly knows exactly what he’s doing.

Mr Morse will take up the headship at Truro School Prep at the end of the spring term 2023, with new head Jonathan Anderson stepping into his place. Currently head of Clayesmore Prep School, Mr Anderson will be joined at Aysgarth by his wife Hester and the couple's young son and daughter. 


Aysgarth is not academically selective; there is no entrance exam, although children do take an assessment test to establish both ability and potential. Places are offered to those whom staff feel will benefit most from the rounded education on offer. The main intake is at 8+ (at which point the school becomes boys only), although Aysgarth will take children in other year groups if there’s space. This is a popular school, and our advice is to register as early as possible.

Academics and senior school destinations

Nursery and Reception follow the EYFS curriculum and have the added advantage of the space afforded by Aysgarth’s location. Forest school is a big part of the pre-prep ethos here, as is learning through play. French is included in the curriculum from Year 1, with a focus on pronunciation and basic vocabulary, and the children are also taught maths, English, science, history, geography, ICT, PSHE, music, religious education, art and craft and PE. Girls disperse at 8+ but, unsurprisingly, most boys (nearly 100 per cent) stay on and progress to the prep school.

Once in the prep school, gentle streaming in English and maths kicks in and there’s great one-on-one provision for anyone who might need extra support. Every boy has both an academic and a pastoral plan (pupils sit a STEER assessment twice a year, which is designed to pick up on any areas of pastoral difficulty so they can be addressed swiftly), and it is this sort of attention to detail that sets Aysgarth apart.

Everyone learns Latin, and academic subjects taught for CE are English, maths, science, French, Latin, history and geography. Religious education and wellbeing, music, art, craft and design technology, ICT, PE, drama and PSHCE also feature on the timetable but aren’t examined.

With its remote location, Aysgarth doesn’t have an obvious exit route, so boys fly far and wide. This year’s leavers will head on to the likes of Eton, Harrow, Radley, Oundle, Rugby, Shrewsbury, Uppingham and Sherborne, and last year's cohort bagged an impressive 14 scholarships among them. Another leaver, who is visually impaired, left Aysgarth bound for Sedbergh and with a hot ticket to become a Paralympian swimmer. Links with senior schools are strong, and sending the right boys to the right schools remains of paramount importance – the variety of destinations is proof positive of this tailored approach.


Music, art, drama and sport are just as important in the pre-prep as they are for the boys in the prep school. Pre-prep children are treated to lessons from the head of music, and there are plenty of opportunities for the children to perform musically and dramatically throughout the year.

In the prep school, music is already excellent, but we hear that a new director of music is also inbound. Almost every pupil learns an instrument, and the choir is often invited to perform at Ripon Cathedral, stately homes 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.

Sport is varied and inclusive, with swimming lessons once a week in the indoor heated pool, hockey, pop lacrosse and cricket, as well as dance athletics and gymnastics. Ball skills are taught throughout, and pre-preppers have full use of the sports hall and facilities, which is a brilliant bonus for these younger pupils. Sports-wise, Aysgarth definitely punches above its weight for a school of this size, and in addition to a host of boys playing at county standard, the quality of rugby and cricket in particular is very high indeed. The new head of sport (formerly at Bromsgrove) has added a raft of new fixtures to the calendar (including water polo), and boys have reached national swimming finals and cross-country qualifiers. His promised ‘have a go’ and ‘all inclusive’ philosophy has led to greater opportunities for boys to compete in more sports at a wider variety of levels.

As well as the usual Astros, pitches and tennis courts, Aysgarth also has an indoor climbing wall, a running track, a newly refurbished rifle range and Sir Matthew Pinsent as an old boy. Team spirit is more valuable than silverware here, and word has it that the match teas are genuinely 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.

Scooters and RipStiks are brought in by the boys, and the school has recently invested in skate furniture, including grind rails and quarter pipes to make break times even more fun.

Clubs range from the conventional (cooking, Lego, Airfix) to the downright quirky: ferreting, build your own remote control car 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.

The school council is important and influential – recent wins include an increase in the frequency of Jaffa Cake provision after a survey revealed that they are the boys’ number one favourite. On the subject of food, Mr Morse noted that if boys eat well, sleep well and have lots of exercise, everything else seems to fall into place – a simple but effective strategy.


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 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 enjoy socialising with other parents. As well as creating more links with the local community, the new head of brand and outreach has the job of continuing to ensure that parents feel part of the school. With this in mind, alongside coffee mornings and the like, there are plans afoot for a school ball, the first in five years. Attendance is always high at sporting fixtures (did we mention the match teas?) and the 'father and son spotlight' is one of the most popular events on the calendar.

And finally...

It is clear that the head places a huge amount of emphasis on pastoral care and has put in place thoughtful and secure provision to ensure that children here are challenged, courageous, enthusiastic and very well cared for. Boys leave as thoughtful and ambitious young people with an understated confidence and good manners. Aysgarth is a place for go-getters not gamers, for conker fights and muddy trainers. It’s a rural haven of learning and larking about where children can be children.

Gallery See All

Boys sledging in the snow on a blue sledge
Boy in school uniform riding a bicycle through the woods
Boy clay pigeon shooting with an instructor
Boy cantering on a pony in an indoor arena
Boys running down a hill at the start of a x country race
Boys playing outside all wearing blue shirts and jumpers
Choir singing in the carol concert in front of a giant christmas tree
Boys gathered around a campfire all wearing blue shirts and ties
Boys doing archery standing on green grass with pink blossom in the foreground
  • Senior school destinations

    Senior school destinations

    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


    Academic4Repton, Shrewsbury and Sedbergh
    Music2 Shrewsbury and Sedbergh
    Sport6 Uppingham, Shrewsbury, Sedbergh and Ampleforth
    Art2 Harrow, Ampleforth
    All Rounder3 Shrewsbury and Sedbergh
    Other1 Ampleforth

  • Fees and bursaries

    Day fees per term

    Year 1£3,480
    Year 2£3,575
    Year 3£4,190
    Year 4£7,750
    Year 5£7,750
    Year 6£7,750
    Year 7£7,750
    Year 8 £7,750
    Boarding fees per term

    Year 1-
    Year 2-
    Year 3 -
    Year 4 £10,080
    Year 5 £10,080
    Year 6£10,080
    Year 7£10,080
    Year 8 £10,080

    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:

    Bursary contact:
    Admissions and Marketing Manager Niki Pargeter
  • SEND

    This school currently supports the following kinds of learning needs, health needs and physical disabilities:
    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
    The school has the 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. They 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, they have a super school counsellor and they 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
  • 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: Newcastle International / 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

  • WATCH: Aysgarth School Film

    WATCH: Aysgarth School Film
  • Aysgarth Pre-Prep Open Morning Friday 12th May, 10am-12pm

    Aysgarth Pre-Prep Open Morning Friday 12th May, 10am-12pm
  • View from the Top: Rob Morse on confidence

    View from the Top: Rob Morse on confidence
  • WATCH: Hear a parent talk about their experience of Aysgarth

    WATCH: Hear a parent talk about their experience of Aysgarth
  • WATCH: Talk Education's Country Preps Focus - Aysgarth

    WATCH: Talk Education's Country Preps Focus - Aysgarth
  • 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.
    See Aysgarth in our Country Preps Focus

Aysgarth School is
linked with:


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

01677 450240


ISI Report


Term Dates

Open Days

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

Pre-Prep Open Morning 10am-12pm
12 May 2023

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