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Windlesham House
Windlesham House
Windlesham House
Windlesham House
top 200
Windlesham House Pulborough, West Sussex Visit
school
Windlesham House
Pulborough
305 pupils, ages 4-13
Mixed
Day and Boarding

Windlesham House

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Our view

Windlesham House is one of those schools that evokes an incredible emotional response, with many parents themselves having spent Elysian childhoods here. In the heart of rural West Sussex, this is the oldest prep in the country, yet in recent years there has been an injection of fresh energy into the school, which has brilliantly adapted to the needs of modern families and a vibrant local market too. There’s a wow factor here, with parents and pupils alike bowled over by everything it offers.

Where?

The school has a wonderfully itinerant history. Established in 1837, it has moved four times – from the Isle of Wight to Brighton, then to Portslade, before finally settling in its current location on the South Downs (to avoid any sat nav mishaps, its founder married the daughter of the vicar of Windlesham, in Surrey – hence the name). And what a choice – a stunning Queen Anne mansion set in 65 acres of woodland and sports pitches, with a swanky sports centre and indoor swimming pool (one of former head Richard Foster’s legacies).

It might be rural, but with the A24 nearby and buses for day pupils and boarders, the logistics of coming and going are easy.

Head

Ben Evans arrived in September 2020 after eight years as headmaster of Edge Grove in Hertfordshire (before that, he and his wife Alex spent many happy years in Sri Lanka, where Ben was head of the British School in Colombo). High energy, confident and utterly charming, he’s a huge advocate of outdoor education and the wide green open spaces Windlesham House has to offer. His two young sons are both pupils here (so he sees everything from a parent’s perspective too), and Alex plays an integral role in school life – whether it’s acting as librarian or heading up the pastoral committee.

Our moles tell us he’s given the school ‘a totally new lease of life’. Over the last few years, he’s worked tirelessly to divert the school away from its more traditional path, putting the focus instead on a much more modern approach to prep school life – which has included scrapping both Saturday school and compulsory boarding. He’s also placed personal development at the heart of the school, with a new wellbeing centre pupils can visit outside lesson time for one-to-one or group chats. ‘Children need to know there is always someone there to go to,’ says Mr Evans, who wants to help coach them through things like friendship ups and downs, equipping them with life skills that will help them be successful in the world.

Admissions

Taster days and overnight stays are the key to this wonderfully welcoming non-selective prep that looks at each child as an individual. Recent school reports, test scores and an informal assessment are added to the mix. There’s no nursery, so most pupils join in Reception.

New pupils usually join at the beginning of a term, but there is a refreshing flexibility to the admissions process. Historically, the school has been top heavy – four form entry in Years 7 and 8 means there’s plenty of space for Londoners looking to board for the final two years of prep school – but lower down the school, the local market is blossoming too. There’s superb support for children with English as a second language – and a sizeable and vibrant international community too. Word of mouth is spreading fast (not least because the school has recently realigned its fees to appeal to the day school market for the younger years) – so we’d recommend registering your interest as soon as you can.

Academics and senior school destinations

Academic rigour has been tightened in the past few years, and the focus here isn’t just on the top two years and senior school preparation – but on strong academic delivery for everyone from the word go. A new whole-school scheme brought in last year taps into ACE learning habits – active learning, critical thinking and exploring – which helps to embed skills such as questioning, creativity, reflexivity and resilience to deliver a learning journey where pupils feel more involved with their own development.

From Reception, children are taught not just what to learn, but how to learn – we loved the ‘Wonder Wall’ in each classroom, which encourages pupils to pose questions and discuss possible answers. Learning is wonderfully immersive, and pre-prep children are exposed to a new language each term – by the time they have reached Year 2, they will have dabbled in a mind-bogglingly impressive nine different languages, from Portuguese to Japanese.

Specialist teaching kicks in from Year 3. There’s a lovely mix of pupils and abilities, and the SEND department works to develop each child’s self-esteem as well as helping them in any areas they might need a boost.

Windlesham House is one of only 500 schools in the world to be recognised as an Apple Distinguished School – an accolade awarded for ‘continuous innovation in learning, teaching and the school environment’. All pupils in Year 3 and above have their own iPad to work on in lessons, and teachers use interactive screens in their classrooms. Pupils learn coding from scratch and regularly compete in robotic programming competitions – and judging by the trophies on display, they’re pretty good at it too.

Mr Evans is big on character education, equipping his pupils with entrepreneurial spirit – so there’s lots of outdoor education and forest school for all ages. Saturday school has been reformed and academic lessons replaced with the optional Diploma and the Challenge (Windlesham House's answer to D of E) – weaving in plenty of leadership opportunities and critical thinking skills.

From Year 7, the children are set in maths, English, French and sciences, but there is no scholarship class. The big news this year is the launch of the brand-new Windlesham Diploma for pupils in Year 7 and 8, which signals a gentle move away from Common Entrance (which, according to Mr Evans, means pupils ‘lose their love of learning purely to jump through hoops for the exams’). The English and maths curriculums will remain largely unchanged, but the new diploma has been designed with future-ready skills such as leadership and entrepreneurship in mind – and aims to equip pupils with the confidence they need to make the leap up to their senior schools. Practical learning will be a big part of the curriculum: pupils will head to science conferences to research topics and engage in debates and presentations (before presenting their findings to their parents); get mucky down on the new school farm and head out on geography field trips to the South Downs. It’s an approach that moves learning to a real-world level. It’s bold, but with Mr Evans’ experience spearheading the Edge Grove Baccalaureate in his previous post, he’s definitely a safe hand at the tiller.

The majority of pupils stay on the whole way through to 13 (one or two will peel off at 11 to go down the state route), heading on to a raft of local schools including Brighton College, Seaford, Lancing, Hurst, Worth and Bedes – and some of the big name boarding schools further afield including Rugby, Oundle, Marlborough, Eton and Winchester. There’s no set route for leavers, which means the school works incredibly hard to find the right school for each child, with Mr Evans visiting all of them. Around 25 per cent of leavers depart with a scholarship under their belt.

Co-curricular

If sport is your son or daughter’s thing, then Windlesham House is utopia. The main sports are football, hockey, rugby and cricket for the boys; hockey, netball and rounders for the girls. There’s a full-size Astro, nine-hole golf course, tennis courts and a seriously smart swimming pool, plus an enormous new sports hall for badminton, volleyball, badminton, gymnastics and fencing. All pupils get the opportunity to play in a team, and there’s plenty of healthy rivalry with local preps. A recently launched Sports Academy Programme caters for the gifted in golf, swimming, tennis and equestrian. It’s delivered off-site and includes strength and conditioning and mindset coaching.

Everyone from Reception upwards has weekly swimming lessons, and the PTA recently purchased a huge inflatable obstacle course for the pool, much to the delight of the children.

Music is a big part of life here. There’s an audition-only choir for pupils in the top two years, and regular chapel services for pupils to sing their hearts out in. There are weekly music lessons from Reception (all the pupils learn the ukulele), with 80 per cent learning another instrument and all involved in at least two major productions a year (there are also three choirs, an acapella group, and cool bands from all year groups who perform at Windlesham Rocks).

The refurbished theatre now has a new sound box and lighting, and children are encouraged to write and perform their own plays and dance performances, as well as taking part in LAMDA classes. On our visit, we were given an impromptu performance of a song and dance number in the upcoming Year 8 play. Every pupil in every year group gets involved in drama – and with Tom Hiddleston as an alumna, there’s plenty of inspiration for budding actors to follow their dreams.

A whole section of the school is dedicated to art, with a designated ‘drawing corner’ and the Studio, where pottery, textiles (knitting is very popular) and graphic design are taught. The facilities are amazing – there’s a glass fusing machine for making glass tiles and a heat machine for designing T-shirts and mugs. Pupils work on individual projects as well as collaborating on pieces, all of which go on show at an end-of-year exhibition. Art therapy is also on offer after school as part of the new wellbeing drive. In D&T, pupils develop their designs using CAD before moving into the hands-on workshop. They also learn coding and programming, and one pupil even fixes iPads and phones, which he instigated with the help of the IT teacher. Another is planning to build their own computer, and everyone gets involved in making films, building keyboards and racing each other at typing. Cookery is taught in the school’s very own teaching kitchen.

Other activities from the 80-plus on offer include street dance, gardening (the school has a market garden with chickens), photography, silk-painting and space club, held in the Observatory in the winter. An outdoor classroom is used for survival lessons, building shelters and campfire cooking; Survival Night – where pupils camp out in the woods – is epic. Pupils can bring their own horses to school, and there is also clay pigeon shooting on offer.

Boarding

Over the past few years, Windlesham House has transitioned from a full-boarding prep into a leading day and flexi-boarding school. It’s all in response to parental demand, and the changes are proving a resounding hit, with younger years lining up to take advantage of the new rules and families who might never have considered boarding all flocking to sign up. And it’s not just the boarding structure that’s had a refresh – the dorms have been updated too, with more common rooms added. Those who stay over on the weekends can be assured that there are plenty of activities and playmates to keep them busy. A new bus to and from London has been a huge hit with weekly boarders who live in the capital.

Day pupils join one of six day houses, and house loyalty is fierce – endless competitions include pancake races, egg and spoon runs and the hotly anticipated Golden Welly, when a house throws down a challenge event with little warning. For day pupils, wraparound care gives them the option to have breakfast or supper at school if pre-arranged, and the school minibuses operate three routes around Sussex – to Chichester to the west, Brighton to the east and Petworth to the north. There is also a bus to Putney Heath via Leatherhead.

School community

Tutors and house parents are the first port of call for parents – one mother tells us they are ‘phenomenal’. There is chapel three times a week, newsletters to keep parents informed and stars handed out to children for good behaviour (five stars equals a foodie treat). Older ones also help out at Forest School with the tinies, so learn to give back early on, and everyone from Reception onwards is invited to voice their opinions via the school council, which recently fundraised for a friendship bench in the playground. Parents rave about the fact that children can just be themselves – including the school’s long-standing no-uniform policy (polo shirts are encouraged).

Parents are a big part of the community here, with opportunities to join parent swimming and netball clubs as well as a parent choir. There’s always impressive attendance at Saturday matches and weekly assemblies, and plans are afoot for an onsite café so that parents can catch up over a coffee after morning drop off.

Ties with local schools are growing in a meaningful way. Windlesham House lend the swimming pool to one local school, transporting pupils in their own minibuses – and the Windlesham House Forest School practitioner is now holding classes for local primary schools too.

And finally...

Parents talk about children ‘thriving because of their grounding at Windlesham House’ which leaves them ‘confident not arrogant’ and with a can-do mentality. It’s no wonder that many parents who were educated here want the same experience for their offspring. Windlesham House offers families a refreshingly modern take on traditional prep school life.

Gallery See All

Boy walking in long grass holding a blue insect net
External image of Windlesham House
Girl in black jumper in an art class
Boys in white polo shirts and helmets running up the slip and slide
Girls in brightly coloured costumes performing on stage
Boys climbing outside on a wooden structure
Boys wearing green aprons and safety goggles doing a science experiment
Boy in a blue polo shirt using an Apple Mac computer
Children in welly boots reaching up to touch tree blossom
Boy in a white polo shirt playing golf
  • Senior school destinations

    Senior school destinations

    Ardingly, Bradfield College, Brighton College 3, Bryanston School 4, Charterhouse 2, Christ's Hospital 2, Cranleigh 2, East Side, Eton College, Hurstpierpoint College 2, Lancing College 4, Marlborough College 7, Oundle School 6, Prior's Field, Rugby School 2, Sevenoaks School 3, Sherborne School 3, Shrewsbury School, St. Edward's Oxford 5, Stowe School, Uppingham School 4, Wellington College, Worth School 2

  • Scholarships for senior schools

    Scholarships

    Academic3Ardingly, Marlborough, Prior's Field
    Music2 Charterhouse, Marlborough
    Drama1 Prior's Field
    Sport3 Sherborne, St Edward's Oxford
    Art2 Marlborough, Uppingham
    All Rounder1 Hurtpierpoint
    Other3 Hurstpierpoint, St Edward's Oxford, Sevenoaks (Computing, STEM, Golf)


  • Fees and bursaries

    Day fees per term

    Nursery-
    Reception£3,643
    Year 1£3,643
    Year 2£4,242
    Year 3£5,655
    Year 4£6,704
    Year 5£7,865
    Year 6£8,673
    Year 7£9,177
    Year 8 £9,177
    Boarding fees per term

    Nursery-
    Reception-
    Year 1-
    Year 2-
    Year 3 £11,050
    Year 4 £11,050
    Year 5 £11,050
    Year 6£11,373
    Year 7£11,373
    Year 8 £11,373




    Bursaries
    Means-tested bursaries are available to scholars who require additional financial support. To apply for a bursary, your child must have been awarded a scholarship in the first instance.

    Bursary contact:
    Bursar, Emma Harris
    bursary@windlesham.com
  • SEND

    This school currently supports the following kinds of learning needs, health needs and physical disabilities:
    Windlesham supports children with a range of learning differences and preferences. Support is personalised to individual needs and it maximises opportunities for a child's strengths to be utilised as much as possible. Lessons are well differentiated and additional support helps learners access the curriculum and achieve their full potential. Possible challenges may be associated with speech and language difficulties. hearing difficulties, Dyslexia, ADHD, ASD or DCD.

    This school currently delivers the following interventions to pupils in class and outside class to support their learning, health and/or physical needs:
    Additional support is tailored to the individual and develops their knowledge and strategies to address gaps in learning, consolidate understanding and maximise opportunities for success across the curriculum.

    This school currently provides the following support for pupils' mental health needs
    The strong pastoral support within the school enables staff to identify when a child might be suffering from poor mental health. The Assistant Head (Pastoral) regularly meets with Houseparents, boarding and medical staff to discuss any children who may concern them with regards to their wellbeing. The medical centre contains a newly refurbished space called The Retreat where children can take time out and feel calm - the addition of a trained therapy dog has certainly enhanced this provision. When the school's pastoral staff assess the child's needs to require bespoke external support the school has a clinical psychologist who visits the school once a week to work with individual children. In addition to all of this weekly PSHE lessons provide opportunities for the children to discuss what good mental health is and how they can achieve it. Finally, Windlesham conducts AS Tracking assessments twice a year. AS Tracking, short for Affective Social Tracking, is a mental health tracking tool that enables the school to identify pupils' hidden risks early. Evidence shows AS Tracking improves whole school and individual pupil wellbeing by equipping teachers with in-school, targeted action plans to reduce pupil mental health and wellbeing risks.

    Co-ordinator: Melissa Jordan mjordan@windlesham.com
  • Transport links

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

    Public Transport
    Nearest mainline train station: Worthing
    Journey time to London by train: 75 minutes
    Nearest international airport: Gatwick (28 miles)


  • Parents tell us

    ‘We chose the school because we relocated to the area and were initially looking for our eldest daughter. As my husband had also been to Windlesham as a child, we naturally wanted to see it and compare it to other local schools.

    After having a taster day there, it left me in no doubt whatsoever that Windlesham would be the right school for our daughter. She was so utterly happy that we chose Windlesham for her, even though it would mean coming to school on a Saturday. We never looked back, because she just loved it so much.

    She loved everything; the incredible teachers were all so passionate about their subjects, the sports, the outdoor space and especially playing in the woods with her friends. She loved it so much that we then decided to move our younger two daughters to Windlesham and they also have both thrived in every way.

    The admissions process was extremely quick and efficient. Our daughter started after Easter and it was a fabulous time to start, making the most of the wonderful weather and the outdoor activities on offer – such as the camping survival night which is legendary at Windlesham!

    So many teachers have made an incredible difference to each of my daughters! For my eldest daughter the most inspirational teacher was her English teacher, Mr Parkin. Every lesson was full of incredible content and she was so engaged and happy in her lessons, keen to read and keen to write her own creative stories.

    Mr Fitt, the head of music, has encouraged them all to be confident on the stage playing their instruments in front of an audience, either by themselves or with their friends.

    Mrs Spybey has encouraged them all on the games field in rounders and netball especially. The French teachers Mme Moore and Mme Dubeck have also really inspired them with their French lessons making them fun and engaging.

    The houseparents are phenomenal. I have to say, Mrs Carson, Mr Edwards and Mrs Foster are all incredible teachers and are such supportive and encouraging houseparents. They take the time to understand each child and to communicate with them and with parents on an ongoing basis.

    I cannot stress enough how much Windlesham gives support to each and every child. I think Mr Foster's weekly newsletter gives great information about what is happening in the school.

    Face-to-face communication is also great with the opportunity for parents of younger children to attend chapel with their children on a Wednesday morning.

    If I have ever had a question and I have popped in to talk to someone, I have always found someone to listen. That is so important. That really means so much to me. No one has ever said “I’m sorry we are too busy to talk to you”.

    I do feel very involved with all three of my daughters' education at Windlesham.

    The pastoral care system at Windlesham really is incredible – each child is given two houseparents who are responsible for your child's wellbeing while at Windlesham. They are a phenomenal team and no detail is too small to escape their notice. They communicate regularly with you and with all members of staff to provide such a supportive team around your child.

    Whether your child needs lots of emotional support or firm behavioural boundaries, the pastoral care team is there to provide what your child needs.

    The school is preparing my children extremely well for the next stage of their education in all areas academically, as well as emotionally in building self-confidence and resilience.

    My two older daughters have now left the school, but I can still see the Windlesham effect in them both!

    Windlesham is clearly a boarding school with a large overseas population, however there are lots of day families who live in the local area and who regularly come to the school to watch sports matches and to come to school events – so there are lots of opportunities for parents to make friends and become involved in the life of the school.

    Windlesham more than lived up to our expectations, we loved it so much for our eldest daughter that we moved our youngest two daughters there.

    Any advice I would give to parents would be just to enjoy it! Relish the opportunity for your children to be happy at school, for them to be children, to play in the woods and enjoy themselves. And of course, to love their lessons and their sports. Windlesham is a totally unique school.’

    The admissions process was super easy and efficient. We came to it very late in the day and they could not have been more helpful.

    Mrs Wild, a maths teacher, has really helped our son overcome his dislike of maths and actually has him looking forward to her lessons. She is absolutely brilliant and exactly what we needed for my son.

    Mme Moore, too, is an absolute star as a tutor for our daughter. She is engaged, interested and nurturing.

    I feel totally involved in my child’s education – there is so much encouragement and communication in both the good times and bad. They know them very well and nurtured them straight from the outset. They have been nothing but brilliant.

    We had an issue with our son and this was handled so quickly and professionally. It could not have been better. Windlesham has been fantastic. They have taken the children under their wings and know their strengths and weaknesses.

    We have been guided by the headmaster as to which schools would suit them both best as individuals.

    The parents we have met have been lovely.

    I made the right choice for my children. They love it and can't wait to get back there.’

School Updates

  • View from the Top: Ben Evans on the demise of Common Entrance

    View from the Top: Ben Evans on the demise of Common Entrance
  • Sussex school launches diploma for pupils aged 11–13 to better equip children for the real world

    The Windlesham House Diploma & Futures Programme will take two years to complete with coursework and formal examinations.
    Sussex school launches diploma for pupils aged 11–13 to better equip children for the real world
  • 10 Questions with Ben Evans, head of Windlesham House

    10 Questions with Ben Evans, head of Windlesham House
  • Weekly boarding: everything you need to know

    Weekly boarding: everything you need to know
  • WATCH: Discover Windlesham

    WATCH: Discover Windlesham
  • WATCH: Happy children at Windlesham

    WATCH: Happy children at Windlesham
  • WATCH: Talk Education's Country Preps Focus - Windlesham House

    WATCH: Talk Education's Country Preps Focus - Windlesham House
  • See Windlesham House 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 Windlesham House in our Country Preps Focus

Essentials

Address
Washington, Pulborough, West Sussex RH20 4AY

Contact
admissions@windlesham.com
01903 874701

Website
windlesham.com

ISI Report

Fees

Term Dates

Bursaries


Open Days

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

All school open morning
24 February 2024
Scholarship day
18 March 2024
All school open morning
11 May 2024
Pre-Prep open morning
23 May 2024


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