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Heathfield School Ascot, Berkshire
Heathfield School
Ascot
225 pupils, ages 11-18
Girls only
Day and Boarding

Heathfield School

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Our view

It says something about the empowering nature of Heathfield that new girls are given a sponge bag adorned with the uplifting phrase ‘See the Sky’. Feeling valued here doesn’t depend on coming top of the class – instead the school believes in bringing joy and happiness so that girls of all abilities can fly academically. 

Where?

The setting for this single-sex day and boarding school – in a smart Italianate mansion, on 36 acres just outside Ascot – is lovely. And there are great transport links: Heathfield runs a local minibus for day pupils, as well as a weekly service to and from London for boarders (it drops off at South Ken – the 19th-century founder’s old stomping ground).

Head

Sarah Wilson – formerly deputy head of Cranford House – joined Heathfield in January 2021. We're told Mrs Wilson is a keen sportswoman and an avid educationalist – she is currently completing her second leadership programme, this time at the Saïd Business School, Oxford University – and we look forward to hearing her vision for Heathfield in due course.

Admissions

Applications have been soaring, thanks to the proximity of London and the day option or full boarding but with that little bit of flexibility especially for the younger girls. The broad range of London and country preps and primaries that make up recent years' entries is testament to Heathfield's popularity – everyone is welcomed with a handwritten letter from the head.

Registrations are encouraged two years ahead of entry, but the admissions team is open to approaches from those wanting to escape the London academic race at the last minute. Prospective pupils sit a computer test and have an interview – the prep-school reference is also important. They’re looking for potential rather than the finished product, and are interested in what each girl can offer Heathfield.

There is a small intake at 12+ – particularly from overseas – and in the older years Heathfield is chosen particularly for its art. There has always been a sizeable sixth-form entry and, with a new sixth-form development in the pipeline, we expect this to continue.

Academics and university destinations

The key here is value-added, which they pile on in heaps: class sizes are small, there is setting in English and maths from the outset and subject clinics abound if a little extra help is needed. Girls fly in this nurturing environment, and many blossom way beyond their initial expectations of themselves – which is the joy of a school like Heathfield. Individuals count and individual successes are celebrated, whether as one of the five girls who gained GCSE results 15 grades higher than expected or as the head girl, Oxbridge-bound, striding on to a Harvard MOOC in political philosophy.

The impressive STEM building – opened by Professor Robert Winston in 2016 – has inspired pupils. The majority of girls take the dual science awards at GCSE; those opting for physics and chemistry are hitting grades 9-7.

The level of art and photography is impressive both in standard and numbers taking GCSE and A-level, with girls heading to Parsons School of Design in New York or the London College of Fashion.

Co-curricular

Extracurricular and community are key: everyone is encouraged to do the DofE Bronze award and community service – which might mean linking up with a house at Eton to look after disabled children, reading at local schools or visiting an old people’s home. Sixth-form options also crucially include the very popular Leith’s cookery course. 

Note that in sports, pupils play lacrosse instead of hockey. There’s riding and tennis, a polo team (which has beaten Eton, Harrow and Marlborough) and the Windsor swimming club four times a week. Athletics is excellent, especially cross-country and high jump, and girls participate in a professional club (alongside boys from Eton) that takes them to county and national level. Lacrosse pitches, an indoor swimming pool, a sports hall, a dance studio and fitness suite are all on site.

Our tour guide vouches for drama (LAMDA lessons are on offer) and there’s plenty of choice in music (compulsory for the first three years), whether your tastes incline towards the drums or the ukulele.

Boarding

We are told that boarding has ‘dramatically shifted culturally’ now that the lower years are a 50/50 split with day pupils. We love the flexibility: there are already four exeats a term, with parents welcome to take girls out for supper or to pop in to celebrate birthdays (plus extra leniency for Years 7 and 8 as they settle in). But from September 2020, girls have been allowed to stay over during exeats too, adding scope for day pupils to try out sleeping away from home, and more options for overseas parents.

Younger ones are in dorms in the main house (it speaks volumes when dorms are lovingly decorated, as they are here), and there is a big common room for Years 1 to 3, with separate common rooms for Years 4 and 5. GCSE-year girls have single rooms in The Square (all girls can anonymously request three people they would like on their corridor, and change rooms every term). Plans are in place for a new sixth-form centre, which will connect the lower- and upper-sixth boarding areas and create social and learning spaces.

School community

Just as the boarding model is progressive, so too is the pastoral care. Heathfield was the first to follow the pioneering Flourishing at School pastoral system from Australia, which promotes mental and physical wellbeing from the outset, rather than waiting until later to identify those in distress. 

Girls are individually mentored by a teacher to ensure that they are indeed flourishing, plus they are assigned a form tutor (the frequency of one-to-one meetings increases as they go higher up the school) and a counsellor is on hand if needed. 

There are four vertical houses, lively inter-house competitions and from what we can see, a lot of fun to be had, from dressing up for World Book Day to end-of-term games. Girls stick to their year groups for boarding and at meal times – with the exception of Funky Friday, when two girls from each year sit on a table together to mix things up. This has been one of the many initiatives by the head girls’ team to ‘replace the hierarchy of the years with respect’, and it's working, whether it is role-modelling from the top down or Heathfield girls of all ages greeting each other in the holidays. A merits award system promotes solid, traditional values and accountability, with the ultimate upper-sixth accolade being the Lily badge for consistently excellent behaviour.

Chapel takes place every other day and everyone takes part in the ceremony, whatever their beliefs. Birthday chapel is a special tradition in which girls are given a posy of flowers and dedicated prayers. 

And finally...

Lest we forget the glamour and the social side of Heathfield, friendships for life are made here and there's a lovely balance between learning to fly academically and socially. Socials are an important part of life, with Papplewick and Sunningdale in younger years, then Eton, Harrow and Radley. Girls in the Upper Sixth are allowed to have a car, and can and do go out on Friday evening – either to London or Windsor – but must be back by 10pm.

Gallery See All

Heathfield School gallery image
Heathfield School gallery image
Heathfield School gallery image
Heathfield School gallery image
Heathfield School gallery image
Heathfield School gallery image
Heathfield School gallery image
Heathfield School gallery image
Heathfield School gallery image
Heathfield School gallery image
Heathfield School gallery image
Heathfield School gallery image
Heathfield School gallery image
  • Academic results

    GCSE results
    A level results
    Download results as PDF
  • University destinations

    45% of leavers went on to a Russell Group university.
    15% of leavers went on to an overseas university.
    20% of leavers went on to a creative arts or vocational course.
    100% of leavers went on to their first choice university.
  • Subjects offered

    GCSE

    Art & Design
    Biology
    Business Studies
    Chemistry
    Classical Civilisation
    Drama and Theatre Studies
    English Language
    English Literature
    French
    Further Mathematics
    Geography
    History
    Information Technology
    Latin
    Mandarin
    Mathematics
    Music
    Photography
    Physical Education
    Physics
    Religious Studies
    Russian
    Spanish
    Classical Greek

    A Level

    Ancient Greek
    Art & Design
    Biology
    Business Studies
    Chemistry
    Classical Civilisation
    Drama and Theatre Studies
    Economics
    English Language
    English Literature
    French
    Further Mathematics
    Geography
    Government and Politics
    History
    History of Art
    Information Technology
    Latin
    Mandarin
    Mathematics
    Music
    Photography
    Physical Education
    Physics
    Politics
    Psychology
    Religious Studies
    Russian
    Spanish
    Textiles
  • Fees and bursaries

    Day fees per term

    Year 7£7,840
    Year 8£7,840
    Year 9£8,000
    Year 10£8,000
    Year 11£8,000
    Year 12£8,000
    Year 13£8,000
    Boarding fees per term

    Year 7£12,650
    Year 8£12,650
    Year 9£12,950
    Year 10£12,950
    Year 11£12,950
    Year 12£12,950
    Year 13£12,950




    Bursaries
    Heathfield operates a bursary scheme offering means-tested fee remission of up to 50 per cent of fees and in exceptional circumstances up to 100 per cent. The award is subject to a full financial review, with annual subsequent reviews.

    The school also offers discounts to children of members of the armed forces (20 per cent), members of the diplomatic service (10 per cent) and a sibling discount of 5 per cent for each subsequent child. For more information please see the school website:

    https://www.heathfieldschool.net/admissions/bursaries-discounts/

    Bursary contact:
    Bursar Mrs Rachel Frier
    bursar@heathfieldschool.net
  • SEND

    This school currently supports the following kinds of learning needs, health needs and physical disabilities:
    dyslexia and dyscalculia



    Co-ordinator: Ruth Colley rcolley@heathfieldschool.net
  • Transport links

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

    Public Transport
    Nearest mainline train station: Ascot
    Journey time to London by train: 52 minutes
    Nearest international airport: Heathrow (13 miles)


  • Parents tell us

    ‘We chose Heathfield for its strong support of each girl being an individual and its pursuit of seeing that she thrives not only academically but also in sport and the arts. We also wanted an all-girls school, and loved that Heathfield was a smaller school that allowed it to support and inspire my daughter in a very focused and caring way.

    We had a wonderful experience of the admissions process – it was clear and concise, as were the assessment and offer letters.

    Marina Gardiner-Legge is an excellent headmistress and she will be missed. The new Head, Miss Wilson, seems very qualified and we liked her very much after our first meeting. We look forward to seeing how she inspires and drives Heathfield forward.

    The staff at Heathfield are wonderful. A few standouts would be John Doyle (maths) who is incredibly supportive and gives very clear teaching, Miss Dance (music) who is very inspiring and has such a kind and caring energy, and Miss Reynolds and Miss Willimott (sports) for their drive and passion.

    Communication is great and the school adjusts as needed very well – as has been seen during lockdown/remote learning.

    I feel the school knows my daughter very well. The current housemistress is superb and is such a wonderfully caring figure to support our boarding child.

    The preparation seems very good on all levels.

    This is a caring community that is very welcoming to all. In normal times (non-Covid 19), the PTA is very active and also the school runs regular parent seminars and webinars.'

    ‘The headmistress, Marina Gardiner Legge, was a key factor in our choice. She is a strong, caring, inspiring woman – a great example to our daughters. I hope she will pass her legacy onto the new head. The school believes that every child deserves a good education. It offers up to 100 per cent means-tested bursaries. This was a key criteria in our shortlist of schools.

    Our experience of the admissions process was fabulous. The director of admissions was friendly, caring and personally got to know us as we went through the process. Happy to answer any questions, however small. Always smiling and present every step of the way.’

    There is good communication. I feel involved but not overly so. A bit more feedback on how our daughter is doing could be helpful but it’s not essential. There are not many parents’ evenings, but then again we're living through Covid so that could account for the long gap since our last one. 

    As it’s a small school, the staff know my daughter well. They seem very caring and put the girls' welfare first. 

    The school is preparing my daughter very well for the next stage – teaching them not just the core subjects but also how to learn. 

    The school community is close-knit and very welcoming to new families. There is a PTA – Heathfield Parents’ Association. There are not many parent social events – not easy at a boarding school, where parents live in different places. 

    The school runs a bus service for day girls. At the moment, as numbers are low the girls are picked up at their individual homes. This is a great service.’

School Updates

  • Heathfield School Pupil Editor: 'The Summer Term'

  • Introducing Heathfield's Pupil Editor

Essentials

Address
London Road, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 8BQ

Contact
admissions@heathfieldschool.net
01344 898343

Website
heathfieldschool.net

ISI Report

Fees

Term Dates


Open Days

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



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