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Frensham Heights School
Frensham Heights School
Frensham Heights School
Frensham Heights School
Frensham Heights School Farnham, Surrey Visit
school
Frensham Heights School
Farnham
399 pupils, ages 11-18
Mixed
Day and Boarding

Frensham Heights School

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Our View

Frensham Heights is a Surrey day and boarding school with its focus firmly on the future. Since its foundation in 1925 it has sought to provide an alternative style of education based on mutual respect, tolerance and generosity of spirit that educates the whole child. Its invitation to ‘come and be you’ and insistence on inspiring each child to improve themselves – in any way – is a pleasure to see. With no uniform and pupils on first name terms with their teachers, we love the less formal, more progressive educational ethos here – one that celebrates children in the most holistic way possible, and brilliantly prepares them for a world beyond school.

Where?

Set on the outskirts of the pretty Surrey village of Rowledge, a few miles from Farnham, Frensham Heights sits in a beautiful red-brick Edwardian mansion in 125 acres of glorious countryside. The views of the South Downs from here are blockbuster. The house is jam-packed with stunning original features and grand reception rooms, and each section of the school has its own area on what feels like a really close-knit campus. The all-through ethos is evident, with nursery children beetling about among the sixth-formers – and Frensham’s extensive facilities are available to all of the 500 or so students.  

Most day pupils live in the nearby towns of Guildford, Farnham and Godalming, with an extensive school bus network helping bring them in each day.

Head

A new permanent head will join the school in 2024, but acting head Andrew Fisher is holding the fort brilliantly in the interim. Andrew is certainly no stranger to the school – he was head here for 15 years before the previous head took over, so it’s safe to say he knows the schools inside-out.

Admissions

Frensham is a truly all-through school offering a holistic approach to educating the whole child from nursery to Year 13. There is currently single-form entry from Reception to Year 3, with numbers increasing higher up the school. Years 7 and 9 are key entry points, and demand has led to an extra class being added in both groups. The school has enough space in most year groups to offer flexibility to newcomers, but places are being swiftly filled by parents leaving London. Some families also welcome a fringe benefit of the all-through model: the opportunity to escape the potential stress of the 11+.  

While the school is selective, it’s not highly academically so. Children joining in Year 7 will sit an exam but they do so alongside Frensham’s own Year 6, which is a good way of informally calibrating the cohort.  

Sixth-form entry is strong – some students move on after GCSEs (perhaps for a change of scene in some cases), but there is always a fresh intake of students looking to finish their educational journey in this progressive environment. Anyone looking to join the school at this stage is expected to achieve at least six GCSEs at grades 9-4.

Academics and destinations

The academic ethos here revolves around critical and creative thinking, and collaboration was a word that sprang to mind repeatedly during our visit to Frensham. Teachers work closely with individuals and groups of students alike, pupils co-operate and confer to get the job done and staff have a mutual respect – partly due, perhaps, to the importance of parity across all subjects. Children are encouraged to find their potential and to thrive but not to be defined by exam results. This deliberate lack of competition is also apparent in the absence of a head boy/girl or prefects, and children aren’t singled out for prizes in a formal speech day. Instead, the aim is to build relationships that spark learning – and using teachers’ first names is one way that Frensham creates an environment of trust. Provided it doesn’t disrupt the class, students are allowed to learn however they wish – be it sitting in a window seat or with their books spread out on the floor. It all helps contribute to the lovely relaxed environment.

In the school's most recent inspection, both the quality of students' academic achievement and the personal development was found to be excellent – and the report commented that students are 'supported by teaching that is strongly focused on the individual' as they 'develop outstanding levels of self-knowledge, confidence, self-discipline and resilience' – high praise indeed. 

French is taught from nursery, and all Year 7 and 8 students can take two languages (the second one is optional). Streaming starts in Year 7 for maths and Year 8 for English; students have the same tutor in Year 7 & 8 and then in Year 9-11, before moving to mixed-year tutor groups in the Sixth Form.  A development project here is a new faculty structure that breaks down barriers between subjects and ensures that all have equal weight, and topic-style teaching throughout the school reinforces this. GCSE choices are very flexible too, with no one obliged to choose subjects that fit into pre-defined blocks (languages aren’t compulsory, for example).

Frensham boasts three ICT suites, and technology is a big focus. Students in Year 10 and above can sign up for a BTEC in Esport, which is highly focused on the business element of gaming (students might try their hand at managing a brand or developing a product) and taught in an incredible gaming room which must be utopia for many teenagers. The library is more comprehensively stocked with publications than many reputable newsagents. It is a buzzy and friendly place, with a hot-chocolate machine and a wonderfully engaging librarian who will source any book for you on the school Kindle if it can’t already be found on the shelves.  

Creative subjects get top billing here, and are among some of the most popular A-level subjects alongside maths and psychology. Around a third of students fly the Frensham nest for Russell Group universities, while the rest take on a refreshingly wide range of courses including many in the creative arts.

Co-curricular

Sport is inclusive here and definitely more about the enjoyment of taking part and the benefits of being fit and healthy rather than the need to win, so if your child is highly competitive on the sporting front, this may not be the school for them. There are no Saturday inter-school games (or indeed any Saturday school), although Frensham does arrange a significant number of fixtures across all year groups during the week.

Football is big for both boys and girls and netball is one of the strongest sports. There is no rugby (except a touch-rugby team set up by a group of students), but they can play mixed hockey in the spring term, along with badminton, fencing, basketball, tennis and table tennis. Cricket, swimming, dodgeball, high ropes, cycling, athletics and rounders are all on offer too, and students can follow a competitive or non-competitive sporting track. There are plenty of opportunities to get stuck into something a bit different, too – Frensham pupils are currently representing Great Britain in mountain biking, rowing and dance.

The creative arts at Frensham are remarkable. The enormous arts centre is quite something: there’s an impressive darkroom with eight projectors, a dedicated ceramics room with six potters’ wheels and several kilns, a metalworking area and facilities for woodwork and jewellery-making – plus a dedicated exhibition space. Children in Years 7,8 and 9 benefit from a full six hours of creative arts a week, including ceramics, fine art, drama, dance, music and D&T, all overseen by a hugely passionate and inspirational head of faculty.  
Drama takes place in the huge, professional-standard Aldridge Theatre, which also offers a box office and café where parents can wait while students are finishing off their club activities. Students can get stuck into set design, lighting and sound production. You’ll also find a brilliantly eclectic range of musical groups and bands. Students have the use of a music tech room and recording studio and sometimes unexpectedly benefit from a tune from the ukulele band as they wander the halls. As with everything here, music is student-led but the staff will offer support and help children in any way they can to pick up an instrument and enjoy music. Nearly half of the students play an instrument, which means the timetabling of a whopping 200 music lessons or more a week.  

There are two lovely dance studios with sprung floors, and a new Frensham Heights Arts Awards programme offers intense dance coaching alongside A-levels, helping prepare pupils for a professional career.

School clubs are anything but the usual suspects; Years 9 to 11 are expected to take three clubs per term but the challenge may well be deciding which to choose. Contemporary dance, parkour, bike maintenance, creative writing and survival skills all feature, and you’re in luck if you've always wanted to learn the art of ninjutsu or study Harry Potter in German.

 The plethora of welly racks gave us our first clue to the importance of outdoor learning here. From forest school for the youngest students to camp-outs and Duke of Edinburgh, being out and about here is unquestionably part of creating resilient young people willing to try something new. The big trip for Year 12s is a 10-day outdoor-learning extravaganza to Knoydart, a peninsula on the west coast of Scotland. Students take part in team building, activities and projects designed to enhance their curriculum (local culture, history and language), engage with the community (building otter hides or a giant draughts board for visitors) and challenge them (kayaking, navigation, survival skills). Oh, and it’s a tech-free zone, which in itself may be a challenge for many teenagers.  

The school’s brilliant new initiative, The Village – which sees Year 8 pupils head off for two nights wild camping – deserves a shout-out too. It’s brilliantly character-building stuff, with students making tents from tarpaulin, learning about foraging and fire building and eating supper off plates made in their woodwork classes. Frensham also recently launched a new partnership with Worthy Earth, which has seen students work in tandem with three full-time horticulturalists to lay the foundations of an agro-ecological, sustainable kitchen garden. Designed as an interactive learning resource, it’s the perfect way for them to gain awareness of the social reality of food production and an understanding of sustainability and biodiversity – and from September, working on the farm will be an integral part of the Year 7 and 8 curriculum.

Boarding

Around 100 students board at Frensham Heights; around half are weekly or flexi and around 15 per cent of the boarders are from overseas. There are two boarding houses: Hamilton House for students in Years 7 to 10 (where pupils sleep in small dorms), and Roberts House for Years 11 to 13, which is set up like a university hall, with single rooms and two kitchens for rustling up light meals. Both have a lovely family feel and bright, welcoming and comfortable common rooms, plus a huge lawn to let off steam on.  

Sian, Frensham’s head of boarding, has worked here for years – and house staff are charming with a great sense of humour. When we visited, she told us the boarding model here gives pupils an important mix of freedom and responsibility. Specialist teachers will often open up facilities for a particular activity at the weekend, but boarders can also enjoy shopping trips to Guildford, walks with the staff dogs, skating or trips to Harry Potter World. Boarders have access to their phones in the evening but at a certain time (depending on age), phones are stored safely in their charging cupboards and internet is switched off.

School community

The informal environment here is credited for helping to create strong and respectful relationships between students and staff, while a no uniform rule allows children to express themselves. There’s a dedicated pastoral space, The Hub, for students to drop into anytime they wish, and a clever red, amber and green card system helps children discreetly remove themselves from lessons when needed.  

An extended lunch break gives students plenty of time to chill out, stretch their legs and take part in clubs in the middle of a busy day, and wraparound care means everyone can stay on for homework and supper for a small additional fee. Students eat communally, which feels absolutely right at a school like this. The food is excellent, with imaginative salads and – during our visit a cheese-topped cottage pie that would have made Mary Berry jealous. Staff eat in the same dining area, mingled in among the students.  

The majority of students here come from within a 20-mile radius. The community feels close, united by a very child-centred ethos that parents have purposely selected for their children.

And finally....

This isn’t a uniformed or brand-driven school. It doesn’t rate itself on academic results but instead asks children to be brave, pose questions, be respectful and be themselves. We had a good sense that both students and staff felt empowered and accepted for who they are. If you’re looking for a school that really puts child’s needs first, Frensham Heights ticks all the right boxes.

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  • Academic results

    GCSE results
    A level results
    Download results as PDF
  • Subjects offered

    GCSE

    Art & Design
    Biology
    Business Studies
    Chemistry
    Computer Science
    Design and Technology
    Drama and Theatre Studies
    Economics
    English Language
    English Literature
    French
    Further Mathematics
    Geography
    German
    History
    Mathematics
    Music
    Photography
    Physical Education
    Physics
    Psychology
    Religious Studies
    Spanish
    Graphic Communication
    Fine Art
    3D Design
    Dance

    A Level

    Art & Design
    Biology
    Business Studies
    Chemistry
    Computer Science
    Design and Technology
    Drama and Theatre Studies
    Economics
    English Language
    English Literature
    French
    Further Mathematics
    Geography
    German
    Government and Politics
    History
    Mathematics
    Music
    Philosophy
    Photography
    Physical Education
    Physics
    Politics
    Psychology
    Religious Studies
    Spanish
    Film Studies
    Sociology
    Fine Art
    3D Design/Product Design
    Graphic Communication
    Music Technology
    Dance
  • Fees and bursaries

    Day fees per term

    Year 7£7,255
    Year 8 £7,255
    Year 9 £7,615
    Year 10£7,615
    Year 11£7,615
    Year 12£8,085
    Year 13£8,085
    Boarding fees per term

    Year 7£10,550
    Year 8 £10,550
    Year 9 £11,940
    Year 10 £11,940
    Year 11£11,940
    Year 12£12,615
    Year 13£12,615




    Bursary contact:
    Acting Bursar Jon Pratten
    Bursar@frensham.org
  • SEND

    This school currently supports the following kinds of learning needs, health needs and physical disabilities:
    Frensham is open to applications from any prospective student with a physical and/or mental impairment and each application will be considered on its merits within the Frensham’s criteria for selection on the grounds of the student’s ability and aptitude. The registration form will enable the parents to give details of their child's disability and on completion of this form the 3 school will, if appropriate, request from the parents or the previous school full details in the form of medical reports, Educational Psychologist/Specialist assessor reports and any other report which assesses the child's disability so that the school can make an assessment of the reasonable adjustments that would be needed in order to provide adequately for the child's physical and educational needs.

    This school currently delivers the following interventions to pupils in class and outside class to support their learning, health and/or physical needs:
    One to one and group support sessions in English, Maths and study skills.

    This school currently provides the following support for pupils' mental health needs
    Frensham has two counsellors available for the children to consult with if they would like to. Consultations are confidential and children can self-refer.

    Co-ordinator: Mrs Beverley Wrigglesworth hello@frensham.org
  • Transport links

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

    Public Transport
    Nearest mainline train station: Farnham
    Journey time to London by train: 50 minutes
    Nearest international airport: London Heathrow (45 miles)


  • Parents tell us

    ‘From the minute my daughter saw Frensham she felt as if she belonged, was understood and heard. 

    Academically she is thriving and is predicted top grades, I think this is because she is happy and encouraged. I love the fact that Frensham sees the whole person, they can have friendships across the year groups and it is small. Children are encouraged to learn from any mistakes they might make, see the bigger picture, learn to think creatively and support one another. 

    I'm a fan of the first name and no uniform policy, all beings are equally important within the school - that said, there is mutual respect and people often remark how engaging the students are to talk to. 

    The admissions process was based on an interview with the Headmaster and my daughter was encouraged to ask questions and be herself. The exams she took were guidelines to help the school understand her strengths and weaknesses and were not results-based. We were only told that she had done well, not what the percentage was. 

    The head Rick Clark is proving to be a great head and keen to maintain the school’s ethos of progression. Deidre Gannon, the current head of English, is inspiring as is Will Paskell who teaches geography. Bob Keene, the Head of Dance and scholarship programme,gets such amazing performances from children who are not even naturally abledancers. Also Jo Dalziel, head of sport, listens to the children, encourages them and gets the best from them even those who don’t like sport. 

    For my daughter, the pastoral care has been incredible - there is always someone who she can talk to and I feel that the school knows her extremely well. 

    Frensham doesn’t offer a traditional public school experience - for example, at the end of year nine the entire year group is taken to an isolated part of Scotland for nearly three weeks to do lessons, community work and live with no tech. They learn so much about resilience and what they are capable of by doing this. 

    The school community is quite close-knit in the younger years especially. There is a real sense of community and support for new parents, a Parent Committee who act as a conduit between the year groups and the parent body to facilitate effective communication (both positive and negative) and the Friends of Frensham who are in effect a PTA that organises social and charity events regularly. 

    I wish I had sent all five of my children here! It has definitely lived up to my expectations.

    My advice for new parents would be to remain open-minded and just relax. It’s a massive shock to the system if you have come from a traditional prep school and it does take some time to acclimatise, for parents more than children who usually settle in five minutes.’

School Updates

  • Headteacher braves extreme camping challenge to raise funds for Surrey based cancer charity

    Frensham Heights School’s Headteacher Andrew Fisher is in the middle of a week-long extreme camping challenge from Monday 29 January, to raise £5000 for Surrey based cancer charity, The Fountain Centre.
    Headteacher braves extreme camping challenge to raise funds for Surrey based cancer charity
  • See Frensham Heights School in our All-through Schools Guide.

    See Frensham Heights School in our All-through Schools Guide.
  • See Frensham Heights School in our Senior Boarding Schools Guide.

    See Frensham Heights School in our Senior Boarding Schools Guide.
  • Weekly boarding: everything you need to know

    Weekly boarding: everything you need to know
  • All-through schools: everything you need to know

    All-through schools: everything you need to know
  • Talk Education's senior boarding focus - Frensham Heights

    Talk Education's senior boarding focus - Frensham Heights

Essentials

Address
Rowledge, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4EA

Contact
hello@frensham.org
01252 792561

Website
frensham.org

ISI Report

Fees

Term Dates


Open Days

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

Senior School Open Morning 9am-11.30am
27 February 2024
Whole School Open Evening 5.30pm-8pm
10 May 2024


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