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Elstree School
Elstree School
Elstree School
Elstree School
top 200
Elstree School Newbury, Berkshire Visit
Elstree School
285 pupils, ages 3-13
Day and Boarding

Elstree School

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Our view

Stunning grounds, fabulous facilities and a classic, traditional experience underpin life at this real gem of a prep school. Loved for its family values, Elstree School boosted its already significant appeal by opening its doors to girls in 2020 – a brilliantly planned and executed move.

Well-rounded and well-mannered children bustle about the expansive 150-acre site, where academic endeavour, muddy knees and kindness are all embraced as equally enriching. As one of the prestigious bearers of a Green Flag Eco-School Award, Elstree School does as much for its own little part of the planet as it does for its own little inhabitants.

Where is Elstree School?

Located just outside the West Berkshire village of Woolhampton, about 10 miles east of Newbury. A striking Georgian manor house is the centrepiece, and manicured lawns lead downhill to woodlands and playing fields beyond. The school is five minutes from Midgham station, which links to Paddington, and there are bus links to Reading and London – an hour’s travel time is not unusual. Parking is adequate for those coming in by car, with separate entrances for the pre-prep children. Once here, it all feels rather idyllic.

Headteacher at Elstree School

Head Sid Inglis and his talented wife Olivia are the ultimate partnership: enthusiastic, charming and armed with a supreme understanding of what makes children tick. With a decade at Elstree now under their belts they really know what works here – and with most of their new admissions coming via word of mouth, there is ample proof that they are doing something very right.

Mr Inglis arrived in 2013 following a thoroughly successful stint at Ludgrove (where he was joint headmaster) but he’s always had a soft spot for Elstree after first visiting many years ago as a visiting football coach, warming himself in front of a huge log fire and being engaged in welcoming and enthusiastic conversation by the headmaster at the time. Since taking the headship here, he has led the school with a pleasing straightforwardness, balancing aspiration with the school’s trademark family spirit. He teaches Latin, whilst Olivia teaches French (they compete to see who can get the better CE results). Parents are effusive in their praise of the couple’s impact – ‘Mr Inglis was a real defining factor in our choice,’ says one mother. Other parents comment on the positive change in their children’s behaviour at home, mainly attributed to Olivia’s ‘challenge weeks’ which champion and reward good manners and high standards of behaviour. Happily, they’ve assured us they aren’t going anywhere.

Admissions at Elstree School

With waiting lists bulging, Elstree can be discerning about who it accepts – but this is a proudly non-selective school. That said, it pays to get in early; places are given out in order of registration and there’s no harm in getting names down from birth at this Berkshire school.

The assessment process is gentle: taster days involve a friendly chat with Mr Inglis and a clutch of informal tests to give a broad overview of ability, aptitude and general fit. Numbers will, of course, grow organically with the new intake of girls – but we’re promised they won’t spoil the ‘small school’ feel of the place. Some girls are even returning to Elstree having previously had to leave after pre-prep.

Academics and senior school destinations

Elstree School proudly sets out to ‘find out how a child is intelligent rather than how intelligent a child is’, a statement we love all the more after seeing it in evidence throughout the school. Teeny class sizes and specialist teaching help set the academic bar high, and an unapologetic focus on literacy makes reading resolutely cool, with tons of creative ways to get pupils inspired. The introduction of individual Surface Pros for every pupil from Year 6 has been ‘so empowering’ in terms of teaching and learning – and flung open new avenues for creativity as well as equipping pupils with skills they will need later on.

Under the watchful eye of Elstree’s own Miss Honey – the lovely Alice Bond – pre-prep children start their schooling by following the EYFS curriculum, which is enriched enormously by the school’s extracurricular offerings. She loves the more relaxed and ‘less hothouse’ vibe, and it’s clearly a formula that works.

Prep-school children learn English, maths, French, science (in the enviably swanky new science block), geography, theology, philosophy & religion, ICT, art, design and technology, music, PE and PSHE. Latin and Spanish are introduced in Year 5 at Elstree, and the brilliantly restructured timetable sees children focusing on academic work (and prep) in the front half of the day, leaving afternoons free for enrichment. Saturday school begins in Year 5.

Mr Inglis remains a solid supporter of CE, describing it as ‘a good opportunity for children to have a sense of achievement at the end of their time at prep school'. He feels that it enables a school to maintain its 'rigorous and aspirational teaching'. That said, Mr Inglis has spearheaded a parallel push to develop qualities such as empathy and resilience, and staff are very much on board. Most of all he says, it’s important for pupils to be kind. We won’t argue with that.

As for the next steps, this lot are in terrific hands. When it comes to senior schools, Mr Inglis is a walking encyclopaedia, and the hit rate is superb, with offers from EtonRadley and Bradfield pouring in annually – and a very healthy dollop of scholarships among them. With a wide knowledge of the co-ed seniors under his belt, we hear that Mr Inglis has invested a great deal of time in getting to know the top girls’ schools, with Downe House and St Mary's Calne two of the most popular choices. 

Co-curricular at Elstree School

Unsurprisingly for a school with so much room, there’s a tremendous amount of sport on offer at Elstree School, with timetabled sessions five times a week and plenty more on top. Most sports are nicely co-ed, and if pupils aren’t hurtling around a rugby, cricket or hockey pitch, they’ll be kayaking or splashing around in the outdoor pool (summer term only).

The sports hall is well equipped, with space for five-a-side football, tennis, netball, basketball and volleyball, as well as a competition trampoline. There are outdoor facilities aplenty, including six newly refurbished cricket nets, an artificial wicket and a low ropes course. Our visit coincided with no fewer than eight home cricket matches, and the headmaster’s pre-match team talk further cemented the feeling of participation and inclusivity by highlighting the importance of every member of the team from fielders to opening batsmen – as well as the need to ‘look after the opposition’.

With the number of female pupils now exceeding 100, Elstree has taken its co-ed obligations very seriously, appointing a new head of girls as well as a head of girls’ games. There are as many matches for these young ladies as there are for the boys, and they do very well indeed for a school of this size. Credit to Mrs Inglis, who recently introduced new sporting attire to better complement the rest of Elstree’s uniform – and we must say that the children do look brilliant in their wide-striped pink and navy kit.

Music features heavily here, with all pupils benefiting from either one or two lessons a week from a music specialist. In Year 2, children learn the recorder in class and have the opportunity to start individual instrumental lessons (which an astounding 80 per cent choose to do). An informal concert for every year group takes place each term, as well as larger concerts for the bigger ensembles and participation in local and national competitions. It might be worth knowing that James Blunt is an old boy here, and he’s done pretty well for himself.

Timetabled drama begins in the nursery, focusing on developing pupils’ confidence, and the Christmas play remains a highlight of the year, with opportunities for all the children to perform on stage. Years 3 and 4, 5 and 6, and 7 and 8 have their own separate plays – from what we saw, facilities and productions are great fun and very impressive.

Art takes up a double lesson each week, and an extensive range of techniques and media form part of the carefully structured syllabus. D&T also has its own double lesson, and children have the chance to get their hands on wood, metals, plastic and textiles. We hear rumblings that the music, art and D&T facilities are all in line for a spruce-up.

Clubs take place after lunch and supper, with everything from fencing and astronomy to cookery and chess. The real standout is the brilliant Elstree Award, beginning at Year 6 and with the aim of developing the leadership, teamwork and individual skills needed for life beyond the school. It’s a mini DofE packed with community service (things like clearing brambles from the churchyard and mucking out the chicken coop), loads of sport and cool skills such as orienteering, lifesaving and first aid.

Elstree School Boarding

The front-page news here at Elstree is the move away from full boarding – and from September, a new weekly and flexi boarding model will see pupils scooting off home after Saturday matches and returning on Monday morning. Boarding kicks in from Year 4 up, but everyone is heartily encouraged to give it a go in their final two years. There’s a real sense of ‘coming home’ each evening; all the beds are up in the main house (along with the dining room and library), while everything schooly happens elsewhere on the site. 

The boys’ dorms are large rooms with cosy beds and colourful posters on the walls – nothing too slick or flash (everyone wants to be in Nelson because of the spectacularly ornate ceiling – ask for a sneak peek). As for the girls, there has been so much demand for boarding that an entire dormitory has been beautifully refurbished and decked out with bunting and teddies galore.

School community at Elstree Prep

Elstree parents have their feet firmly on the ground, and it rubs off on their children. Most families come from within 45 minutes or so, but the Inglis effect is pushing the circumference wider. The busy Friends of Elstree PTA committee has a strong charitable focus. Events are great fun and well attended by parents, with turnout to matches particularly strong. There’s even a Parents fitness group on a Thursday morning – no doubt met with both joy and embarrassment by pupils who can watch their parents leaping about outside their classroom windows.

And finally....

One parent told us that once you’ve visited Elstree, ‘you can’t unsee it’ – and perhaps there’s no greater compliment. This is a place for children to be children. They are charming and astonishingly (but naturally) polite, and those we shared a family-feel lunch with were wonderfully welcoming of an adult interloper. Everyone pitches in, whether it's laundry duty or clearing away the plates after lunch (which gets pupils their full quota of three sweets after each meal - a tradition that has been in place since rationing). Weekly church services send out a clear moral message: kindness is all. We are huge fans. 

Gallery See All

Girls in navy aprons painting in art class
Boys playing football on green grass in front of Elstree School
Pupils walking in front of Elstree School with the headmaster and his wife
Girl playing the piano in front of parents and pupils
Senior girls hockey team all arm in arm in blue and pink tops
  • Senior school destinations

    Senior school destinations

    Bradfield - 7, Eton - 6, Radley - 3, Abingdon - 3, Wellington - 2, Winchester - 2, Sherborne - 2, St Edward’s - 2, Harrow - 1, Marlborough - 1, Stowe - 1, Rugby - 1, Canford - 1, Uppingham - 1, Pangbourne - 1, Dauntsey’s - 1

  • Scholarships for senior schools


    Academic2Winchester (2)
    Music2 Wellington (2)
    Sport2 Radley (1), Stowe (1)
    Art2 Lord Wandsworth (1), Stowe (1)
    DT2 Canford (1), The Oratory (1)
    All Rounder2 Radley (1), Bradfield (1)

  • Fees and bursaries

    Day fees per term

    Year 1£4,430
    Year 2£4,430
    Year 3£7,150
    Year 4£7,150
    Year 5£8,300
    Year 6£8,300
    Year 7£8,300
    Year 8 £8,300
    Boarding fees per term

    Year 1-
    Year 2-
    Year 3 -
    Year 4 £10,680
    Year 5 £10,680
    Year 6£10,680
    Year 7£10,680
    Year 8 £10,680

    Elstree offers means-tested bursaries of up to 100 per cent of fees to new students who qualify, as well as existing students whose financial circumstances have changed. Applications are judged against suitability, both academically and with respect to wider school life, as well as need. The application process contains the usual full financial history and home visit and is subject to an annual review.

    Bursary contact:
  • SEND

    This school currently supports the following kinds of learning needs, health needs and physical disabilities:
    The school currently supports Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, ADHD.

    This school currently delivers the following interventions to pupils in class and outside class to support their learning, health and/or physical needs:
    Regular and frequent communication between Learning Support and class teachers. Summary document for each class available for teachers highlighting specific needs of the children. In class support in specific subjects if needed eg Year 8 Maths Set 3, Pre-prep English Support and guidance to use laptop in lessons where relevant. 1:1 lessons within Learning Support with specialist teachers including an EAL specialist. Discussion with parents about how best to support their child. Assessments with a range of specialists recommended if thought necessary. Help and support given to source specialist if needed. SpLT, OT support arranged in school if needed.

    This school currently provides the following support for pupils' mental health needs
    Pastoral support from Form Teachers. Weekly themes in form time. Daily briefings with all teaching staff and good communication between all staff. Weekly meetings at Senior Management level specifically for pastoral matters. Year 8 have their own staff mentor and younger children who would benefit from this also have this. School counsellor available. Mental Health awareness weeks, PSHE lessons, and outside speakers. The school encourages children to speak to someone at home/school about any concerns they have and then work together to put support in place at school if required eg. counselling, 'safe zone' in Learning Support. They are a bit little to self-refer but obviously if this was requested, the school would listen.

    Co-ordinator: Sarah Attwood
  • Transport links

    School Transport
    School bus service to/from London
    School daily bus network

    Public Transport
    Nearest mainline train station: Midgham
    Journey time to London by train: 45 minutes
    Nearest international airport: Heathrow (38 miles)

  • Parents tell us

    ‘We chose the school due to the amazing grounds and the head, Sid Inglis.

    The school is set in 150 acres of a beautiful part of Berkshire and we thought “What better way for our children to grow than in such a gorgeous setting?”

    We were also very taken with Sid and his thoughts of “championing the B student”. The school is a very homely, family-friendly community which gives the children an innate sense of wellbeing, as well as a good prep school education.

    The admissions process was very gentle. A day at the school being shadowed by two children and a few tests.

    Mr Inglis is a great manager of people. His staff are behind him and he is very good at taking his staff on his journey. He is a positive strength in the school. He was a defining factor in our choice of school. We also thought his time at Ludgrove would have served him well.

    Mr Owens is a future head, his ability – not just in English – but also in sport has garnered him an excellent reputation. He is an excellent teacher and now looks after all the senior school admissions too.

    The school is effective at communicating. We get plenty of feedback with half-term reports and end of term reports, as well as parents’ evenings. The school is always happy to see you if you need time with a teacher. I think Elstree is better pastorally the further up the school you go.

    The school has prepared my children fairly well for the next stage of their education. We have had a talk on senior schools, an interview with Sid on which schools to consider and then good advice when it hasn't been successful. The school has a mix between local families, a great deal of full-time boarders from Asia and London parents.

    The PTA is very active in raising funds for the community with lots of initiatives like the school fete, Christmas fair and drinks parties. Most year groups have socials, coffee mornings and much more. On the whole, Elstree has been excellent for my sons and they are very happy. It is a cosy local school which produces well-rounded boys. The food is very good and Olivia Inglis works together with Sid as a team.'
  • FAQs

    Does the school have any notable alumni?

    Absolutely! As previously mentioned, James Blunt has had huge success as a singer-songwriter. Sebastian Faulks, novelist, is also a former pupil of the school.

    When was Elstree School founded?

    Elstree School was founded in 1848. At the end of World War 2, Woolhampton House became Elstree’s permanent home, where the school remains today.

School Updates

  • WATCH: Elstree Prep School Video

    WATCH: Elstree Prep School Video
  • Elstree School sponsored walk along the Ridgeway

    Elstree School 10km sponsored walk raised £6,155 for their chosen charities of Winston’s Wish and Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
    Elstree School sponsored walk along the Ridgeway
  • Elstree and the ISEB Common Pre-Test

    Elstree and the ISEB Common Pre-Test
  • Elstree Alumni with children currently at the Prep and Pre-Prep Schools

    Elstree Alumni with children currently at the Prep and Pre-Prep Schools
  • WATCH: Talk Education's Country Preps Focus - Elstree

    WATCH: Talk Education's Country Preps Focus - Elstree
  • See Elstree School 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 Elstree School in our Country Preps Focus
  • How to support a homesick child at boarding school

    How to support a homesick child at boarding school
  • WATCH: 10 Questions with Sid Inglis, Headmaster of Elstree School

    WATCH: 10 Questions with Sid Inglis, Headmaster of Elstree School
  • Becoming fully co-educational

    Becoming fully co-educational
  • WATCH: Elstree Pre-Prep Virtual Tour

    WATCH: Elstree Pre-Prep Virtual Tour
  • WATCH: Elstree Prep School Virtual Tour

    WATCH: Elstree Prep School Virtual Tour

Elstree School is
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Woolhampton, Newbury, Berkshire RG7 5TD

01189 713302


ISI Report


Term Dates


Open Days

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

Open Morning 10am-12 noon
02 March 2024
Open Morning 10am-12 noon
03 May 2024

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