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Pinewood School
Pinewood School
Pinewood School
Pinewood School
top 200
Pinewood School Shrivenham, Wiltshire Visit
school
Pinewood School
Shrivenham
405 pupils, ages 3-13
Mixed
Day and Boarding

Pinewood School

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Our view

Welcoming, warm, thoughtful, busy, varied, thriving and all about the children, Pinewood is a must-see. The lack of head boy/girl encapsulates the overarching takeaway from this 84-acre nirvana which is that every child is important.

Where?

Easy to find and easy to park, Pinewood is set on the top of a hill with sweeping views of the acres of grounds and the Wiltshire and Oxfordshire countryside beyond. The majority of families come from within a 25-mile radius and parental drop-offs are supplemented by a bus service fanning out in four or five directions, including Marlborough, Chilton Foliat and Hungerford, South Cerney, Pewsey and Wantage. 

Nursery and pre-prep pupils start school life in the old stable block, before moving into the beautiful main house. Original buildings are complemented by newer updates with ‘The Hoyland’ forming the eco-friendly jewel in the crown. Opened in 2021 by the now King Charles III and Queen Camilla, it boasts snazzy classrooms and the ‘Everest steps’ as well as being the base for both learning support and wellbeing. The Hoyland is perhaps a glimpse of the way things are going at Pinewood with an extensive estate decarbonisation survey already running in order to establish the exact route to net zero.

Pinewood shines outdoors too, with its magnificent grounds, super-duper treetop climbing frame, fairy garden, mountain-bike track, nature walk and a rather special newly planted ring of seven oriental plane trees, one for each decade of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign and encircling a traditional hedgerow, created specifically to provide habitats for insects and birdlife.

Head

Neal Bailey and his wife Nici, in post since September 2020, are a couple whose influence on Pinewood is greater than the sum of their parts - their skill sets are complementary and wide-ranging, but their values are utterly united. Genuine, amiable and kind, they set the perfect example for their young charges and with their own children here too, they know first-hand the importance of the Pinewood parent and pupil partnership.

Pinewood has long championed kindness as the ultimate legacy. ‘Kindness doesn’t have a price,’ says the head. ‘It’s the be-all and end-all.’ He is well aware that academic results are important but ‘our priority starts somewhere else and leads to academic excellence – we just put it in a different order’. An ethos that pervades the playing fields here too, with the head of sport described by the head as ‘the most morally exemplary person I have ever met’ – participation and equal opportunity are the starting points and sporting success follows on as a direct result of putting wellbeing before winning.

Neal and Nici both know that continued success here at Pinewood has much to do with getting the right people and ‘if we fill the school with like-minded people, that’s very powerful and with a strong team, you can take the school to places you couldn’t before’, so protecting, training and retaining their key staff is vital – and ‘it’s a great place to work’ Mr Bailey adds with a smile.

He wants the very best for every pupil (whatever that looks like for them), an ethos which fuels his ambition to be ‘a touch more aspirational’ across the board. ‘If you don’t ask the question, the answer is always no,’ he adds wisely and so there is always room to push for a little more. But Neal and Nici Bailey get it - they are professionals and parents, they want pupils to be valued, challenged and kind but they also want them to be children, ‘If a prep school can’t be fun, then what is it? We should all be silly sometimes.’

Admissions

Unsurprisingly, Pinewood is a popular place and despite the testing economic climate, the school has benefited from the exodus from London and a post-Covid appreciation of what children really need. September 2023 marks the highest pupil numbers for nearly a decade but even so, they will always do their best to accommodate children wishing to join – but register early if you can.

Pinewood is a proudly non-selective school, so there are no formal assessments although pupils coming into Years 3 to 8 will be gently assessed to help inform setting decisions and ensure the right level of support from the outset. It’s a first-come, first-served operation, although they do try hard to keep a pretty even boy-girl ratio. Pre-prep pupils come in for taster sessions following an offer, whereas children joining higher up the school are invited to a taster day first to give them an opportunity to get stuck into everything from classroom lessons to sport and extracurricular activities. If your child has a curiosity about the world and a have-a-go approach to life, they will fit right in.

Academics and destinations

Pinewood has always been known as a properly holistic school, but it also achieves on the academic front. A whopping 22 scholarships were awarded this year across all disciplines (academic, sport, art, drama, and music).

The prep school is divided into lower (Years 3 and 4), middle (Years 5 and 6) and upper (Years 7 and 8) schools. Lesson times were recently increased from 35 to 45 minutes to slow down the pace of the school day and to give children more time to engage with each subject, as well as factor in five minutes for a brisk walk between classes where necessary. Prep can be done at home or in school. Pupils are taught both by class teachers and specialist teachers in science, ICT, French, Latin, music and art. Setting begins with maths in the lower school, and builds on additional subjects higher up. 

As a non-selective school, it is fully understood that some children will struggle with certain subjects and there’s a brilliant learning-skills department for those youngsters who need a bit of extra help. There’s a refreshingly inclusive attitude to setting too, which, from September 2023, will operate as a more fluid banding system to move away from the idea of a ‘bottom set’ which can feel very demotivating. The scholarship set will remain in place to challenge the most able, but the curriculum for all pupils has also evolved to reflect the changing life of a prep school child (who now has to ‘peak at least twice’, according to the head – both in the Year 6 pre-test and then again as they exit at Year 8). It’s a case of discreetly preparing pupils to give the best account of themselves at 11+ and then continuing to motivate these young minds by making learning as relevant and interesting as possible.

As pupils reach the top years of the school, the emphasis is firmly on finding the right senior school for the child rather than meeting parental aspirations. Pupils go on to a wide range of schools, with most choosing co-eds: roughly half head for Cheltenham College or Marlborough, and last year’s leavers went to 23 different senior schools - a fitting statistic for a school that champions individuality.

Co-curricular

Expect plenty of sport. Top of the agenda is hockey, netball, cricket, rugby and football, all of which come with a ‘have a go’ headline with Pinewood regularly fielding A to D teams. There’s a brand new Astro and the old one has been resurfaced to match, adding a whopping 12 tennis courts to the summer offering. There are grass pitches galore, an athletics track for the summer, a nine-hole golf course and a recently-refurbished outdoor swimming pool (with long-term plans for a cover to prolong the period of use). Fixtures against other schools take place on Wednesday afternoons and every other Saturday, and fiercely contested house matches are held once a term. 

Drama, music and art are all thriving and are part of the curriculum almost throughout. Annual musical highlights include the bumper summer concert and the hugely successful rock show (this lot sure know how to raise the roof), and there are a number of more informal opportunities for soloists to perform throughout each term. Drama productions here are some of the most professional looking on the prep-school circuit and are always played to an absolutely packed house.

Outdoor activity and extracurricular high jinks have always been an important part of life at Pinewood with Thursday afternoons set aside for the activities programme. But in September 2023, pupils started hopping onto the action-packed Pinewood Life Skills programme – the brainchild of new deputy head Tim Knapp. The initiative has replaced two prep sessions each week, not at all at the expense of academic rigour – quite the contrary, the programme aims to equip children with social skills, empathy and collaboration, enhancing their ability to learn across the board and setting them up well for life beyond the classroom. The programme encompasses service and society, knowledge and curiosity, imagination and creativity, leisure and activity, life skills and acquisition and surroundings and adventure – or perhaps more succinctly... it is monumentally fun.

Boarding

Although home isn’t far away, Pinewood pupils love their boarding. It’s on offer for Years 5 to 8, and 65 per cent stay at school on either a weekly or regular basis (‘weekly’ here means Monday to Friday or Saturday, depending on the weekend; ‘regular’ means committing to set nights each week). There are no full boarders; everyone goes home on Saturday nights, so this isn’t a school for the international crowd.

Dedicated house parents run this very ‘extended family’ style boarding house, (duties involve making pancakes for seventy-five children on Shrove Tuesday) and generally making it into something that most kids want in on. Dorms are smartly decorated and picturesquely named after places near the school’s Devon roots: Happy Valley, Cherrybrook and Dartfordleigh. There is an exeat every other weekend and on ‘in’ weekends, children play matches in the morning and then head home in time for lunch.

School community

Wellbeing is not just part of life at Pinewood, it is the central core. Head of wellbeing Hayley Davies created the role some five or six years ago after appreciating both her affinity for it and the increasing need for a dedicated lead in this field. She knows children and she knows Pinewood (having come here as an NQT more than 20 years ago) and already, the role has grown to encompass timetabled sessions, drop-ins, training of staff (including four ELSAs which are unusual outside the state sector) guiding wellbeing pupil ambassadors and the addition of several members of full-time staff as well as visiting specialists. Mrs Davies runs a ‘five ways to wellbeing’ strategy and all children in the prep school are surveyed twice a year, including specific questions about sport or food to really hone in on areas that are promoting high levels of contentment and those which may need further investigation. Pre-preppers are surveyed annually as the process, usually done one-to-one and picture-based, takes longer. 

Parents and teachers are equally welcome in the wellbeing area, and this really is a school, as the head notes, that ‘looks after families and not just children’. They are a tight bunch here, a feeling of unity and loyalty that can’t help but rub off on you.

And finally...

Our pupil guides were genuinely delightful company and the school as a whole seemed burstingly proud to show us anything and everything that they do. Neal and Nici Bailey most certainly lead by example, enveloping the school in an inclusive warmth which yields the very best from every pupil by making them feel valued.

Gallery See All

Smiling girl in the artroom wearing a smock covered in paint
Cross Country running at Pinewood School with a dog
Girl in a blue helmet hitting a cricket ball
Poppies in the sky at Pinewood School for Remembrance
Little girl in a blue top playing a violin
Boys in red helmets and lifejackets with their thumbs up
Boy in blue trousers and jumper with lego on a desk next to a computer
Boys pond dipping with nets standing on the riverbank
  • Senior school destinations

    Senior school destinations

    Marlborough College: 18; Radley College: 5; Cokethorpe School: 4; Monkton Combe School: 3; St Mary's Calne: 3; Stowe School: 3; Cheltenham College: 2; Dean Close School: 2; Tudor Hall School: 2; 1 each to the following: Abingdon School, Bedales School, Bradfield College, Clifton College, Dauntsey's School, Rendcomb College, Repton School, Sherborne School, Shiplake College, St Edward's School, Oxford, St Helen & St Katharine School, Stonar School, The Cotswold School.

  • Scholarships for senior schools

    Scholarships

    Academic1Radley College
    Music1 Radley College
    Drama4 Downe House School, Tudor Hall School, Marlborough College, St Mary's Calne
    Sport9 Marlborough College, Radley College, Cheltenham College, Dean Close School, Repton School, Stowe School, Cokethorpe School.
    Art4 Marlborough College, Radley College, Monkton Combe School, Stowe School.
    DT0
    All Rounder1 Dauntsey's School
    Other11+ Academic, 11+ Art & 11+ Music scholarships Dauntsey's School, Rendcomb College & St Edward's School Cheltenham.


  • Fees and bursaries

    Day fees per term

    Nursery£3,685
    Reception£3,895
    Year 1£3,895
    Year 2£3,895
    Year 3£6,465
    Year 4£6,465
    Year 5£7,490
    Year 6£7,490
    Year 7£7,490
    Year 8 £7,490
    Boarding fees per term

    Nursery-
    Reception-
    Year 1-
    Year 2-
    Year 3 £8,445
    Year 4 £8,445
    Year 5 £9,470
    Year 6£9,470
    Year 7£9,470
    Year 8 £9,470




    Bursaries

    The School's governors are committed to broadening access to the School by offering eligible parents/guardians means-tested financial support with the payment of school fees.  Such support is known as a Bursary and these may be awarded in the form of a remission of up to 100% of tuition fees payable, depending on the financial circumstances of applicants.  Further financial assistance towards the costs of chargeable activities over and above the tuition fee may also be available to those in receipt of 100% bursaries. Bursaries are means-tested and reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that those in receipt of bursaries continue to satisfy the financial criteria as set by the School, from time to time, in relation to their income, expenditure and capital assets. 

    The school has two bursaries available: entry bursaries for new families joining the School and hardship bursaries for current families for whom a significant event might make fees less affordable.  Both are means tested. 

    Bursary contact:
    Bursar Simon Mason
    office@pinewoodschool.co.uk
  • SEND

    This school currently supports the following kinds of learning needs, health needs and physical disabilities:
    Communication and interaction needs - this includes children who have speech language and communication difficulties including some autistic spectrum conditions.
    Cognition and Learning needs - this includes children who have learning difficulties and specific learning difficulties like dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia.
    Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs like ADHD.
    Sensory and/or Physical needs.


    This school currently delivers the following interventions to pupils in class and outside class to support their learning, health and/or physical needs:
    1:1 Learning Skills support sessions, group (booster) sessions, in-class interventions, in-class support.

    This school currently provides the following support for pupils' mental health needs
    The school's Head of Well-Being and Emotional Support offers :
    - daily drop in sessions for the children to attend – every day of the week, with sessions at least 40 minutes long.
    - 1:1 sessions with children over a number of weeks before reviewing and checking if outside professional intervention is needed.
    External professional support such as play therapy and counselling.


    Co-ordinator: Hannah David-Ward hannahdavidward@pinewoodschool.co.uk
  • Transport links

    School Transport
    School daily bus network

    Public Transport
    Nearest mainline train station: Swindon
    Journey time to London by train: 55 minutes
    Nearest international airport: London Heathrow (63 miles)


  • Parents tell us

    ‘We chose the school on the basis that the school had a lovely atmosphere to it with a family feeling, and also amazing grounds which is what we wanted for our children moving out of London. 

    As part of the admissions process, there was a taster morning the term before they started which was good.

     The headmaster is great. He is very down to earth, relaxed and in touch with what a prep school should be like – he isn’t too restricted by health and safety boundaries! He has a great sense of fun, which is important. 

    A very supportive and enthusiastic sports coach has inspired my children to develop their sport. There are great form tutors who have looked out for the children and helped them to solve their own problems and feel confident in school. 

    There is relatively good communication with parents and the new parental portal is good. 

    There are lots of events for us to go to and good tutor communication. There was good pastoral support for my daughter during her scholarship. 

    If there was a major problem, I am sure it would be good but so far there have not been many issues where this has been necessary. 

    The children follow a very comprehensive life-skills programme (Jigsaw), which has helped them to think about how to deal with many of the common challenges faced. 

    Year 8 has been a good year of promoting independence, particularly in relation to study. The work they have done in life-skills lessons, particularly in relation to social media, sex and relationships has been very helpful for thinking about the next stages of life. 

    The best way to get to know people is through matches and supporting on the sidelines with the same group of parents each week. 

    There are a few events planned over the year. The school has a high percentage of local families, so many people know each other before joining.’
  • Pupils tell us

     

    ‘The best thing about Pinewood is the sport because the grounds are so well kept. Pinewood adventure is also so fun. We go to Wales and at the end of this academic year we go to France. The food is very good because the chefs are absolutely amazing.  

    When I looked around the school, I immediately felt like I belonged. Then I just got stuck in. I would tell new students not to worry – everyone was so kind to me and it didn’t take me long to settle in. 

    My headteacher is so nice, caring and very positive towards us all. My geography teacher is also so kind to me and will push me to learn.  

    Boarding is so fun! We get really good activities and are allowed to go in the pool too.  

    The food is all so amazing at Pinewood. I couldn’t pick the best thing on the menu because it is all so good.  

    The Fun Run is a great tradition at Pinewood.  

    I am going to Radley after I leave, and the school is preparing me really well for a sport and academic scholarship. Pinewood is also preparing me really well for later life.  

    I am really happy at Pinewood and it was the best decision that I have ever made.’

    'The three best things about Pinewood are the sport, boarding and school trips. 

    The admissions process consisted of coming in for a taster day and doing a short test.

    The advice I would give to a new pupil is that everyone knows how you feel so you will be included and will have great fun. It didn't take me long to settle in, everyone was so welcoming and kind.

    The headteacher is very positive and enthusiastic and is great at sport. 

    You can choose whether or not to board but if you do, we don't have boarding houses, but you are in a dorm with your friends.

    The food is amazing and the catering department always decorate the dining room on special occasions!

    There is a tradition that the year 8's are always the first to jump into the pool in the start of summer - its called 'Breaking the Ice!'

    If I was head for a day I would add more astros - because I love hockey!

    Pinewood has really prepared me for going to Marlborough, they are also helping me to hopefully get an academic and/or sports scholarship.  

    Pinewood is such a welcoming and friendly school and they make time at school so fun with loads of different activities outside academics, such as music, art, drama, sport and other fun trips.'

    ‘The three best things about Pinewood are the sport, Pinewood Adventure and the art department.  

    I joined the school because when I visited it, I loved it. I would tell new students to get stuck in and not to worry about anything. Everybody is very welcoming and kind.

    It really did not take long to settle in. I met some really lovely friends and teachers, and I never felt out of place because of that. 

    The headteacher is very sporty, inspirational and kind! My science and maths teachers have made a particular difference to my time at the school. They have really helped me to get more confident and braver. 

    I love the boarding facilities at Pinewood. You can do all sorts of activities and fun games, so it takes your mind off home if you are someone who gets homesick.  

    I think the food at Pinewood is very good. I love the chicken korma, it is so tasty! 

    Every year Pinewood does such a fun Bonfire Night and Christmas Fair. 

    After I leave, I would love to go to Marlborough. Because it is full boarding, I think I will be very happy there. Boarding at Pinewood has really helped me to think so positively about it!  

    I have loved coming to Pinewood. It has given me the support and independence that I need.’

     


School Updates

  • 10 Questions with Neal Bailey, head of Pinewood School

    10 Questions with Neal Bailey, head of Pinewood School
  • WATCH: Hear a parent talk about their experience of Pinewood

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

    WATCH: Talk Education's Country Preps Focus - Pinewood
  • See Pinewood 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 Pinewood School in our Country Preps Focus
  • WATCH: Welcome to Pinewood School

    WATCH: Welcome to Pinewood School

Pinewood School is
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Essentials

Address
Bourton, Shrivenham, Wiltshire SN6 8HZ

Contact
office@pinewoodschool.co.uk
01793 782205

Website
pinewoodschool.co.uk

ISI Report

Fees

Term Dates

Bursaries


Open Days

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

Open Day
03 October 2024


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