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Witham Hall Preparatory School
Witham Hall Preparatory School
Witham Hall Preparatory School
Witham Hall Preparatory School
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Witham Hall Preparatory School Stamford, Lincolnshire Visit
school
Witham Hall Preparatory School
Stamford
252 pupils, ages 4-13
Mixed
Day and Boarding

Witham Hall Preparatory School

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Our View

This co-ed village prep near Stamford in Lincolnshire seems to have cracked the formula for providing a near-perfect education, as testified by the fact that it draws in families from a wider-than-usual catchment area, with numbers growing consistently for more than a decade. But there’s no resting on laurels at Witham Hall – head Will Austen and his wife Jossie are always on the lookout for ways to enhance school life for its 250-plus pupils, whether that’s honing the curriculum to ensure everyone fulfils their potential, or building a dream treehouse and swing complex to inject more fun into the school day. Add flexi boarding from Year 4, which is hugely popular, and it’s not surprising most pupils stay on until Year 8, emerging well prepared for the next stage in their educational journey.

Where?

Located in Witham-on-the-Hill, a village a few miles from the market town of Bourne, the school sits in stunning parkland with a magnificent Queen Anne mansion at its heart. Several snazzy new buildings have been added in recent years, including a science and resources centre with a modern languages suite and a superb sports centre that is, without doubt, the best we’ve seen at a prep. The grounds offer ample romping room for outdoor fun and reflection – as well as the tree house and swings complex, an ornamental pond area has been turned into a safe and accessible wellbeing space.  

The rural location means most children arrive by car, but there are links to mainline trains at Peterborough via Stamford. The area is becoming increasingly popular with ex-Londoners, with the commute from Peterborough to King’s Cross taking just 50 minutes.

Head

The easy-going and unstuffy Mr Austen joined in September 2020 from Ludgrove School in Berkshire, where he was deputy head. He and Mrs Austen, who looks after external relations, embody the school’s family-friendly feel. Their two young sons are pupils, so they have both parental and professional perspectives.   

A self-declared ‘country person’, Mr Austen has set out to ensure that pupils can make the most of Witham Hall’s impressive grounds. He also strives to help the most and least academically able achieve the best they can, with learning support now a central and natural part of the school day. Drama, music and art are other focal points; Mr Austen hopes to make the school’s reputation in these disciplines as strong as it is in sport.

Admissions

Most pupils join at Reception, and with high demand and no formal assessment – places are allotted on a first-come, first-served basis – early registration is highly recommended. There are also admissions in Years 4 and 7 with informal assessments – current reports and a school visit – to gauge levels for streaming. Ad-hoc admissions are possible if there is space. Since the pandemic, the school has seen increased demand, which has meant the introduction of waiting lists.

Academics and senior school destinations

Mr Austen’s drive to strengthen the school’s academic offering has seen the appointment of a new deputy head of academic, Rupert Candy, who joined from Westminster Under School in September 2022.

From Reception to Year 4, classes are led by a form teacher, after which pupils move to subject teachers. In Years 7 and 8, there is streaming for pupils taking scholarships at Common Entrance, an innovation introduced by Mr Austen.

He has also earmarked D&T for expansion – a new building that will offer programming and robotics options is in the pipeline. The junior science lab has been updated to be on a par with the senior lab. The library has been rehoused to a light, airy room in the mansion, and it now holds three times as many books as it did before.

The three local public schools, Uppingham, Oundle and Oakham are the next step for most pupils, but a few go further afield to Eton, Cheltenham Ladies’ College and Wycombe Abbey, among others.

Co-curricular

Witham Hall is renowned for its sporting prowess and fields teams for all of the main IAPS competitions, as well as triathlon and cross-country running. But its competitiveness doesn’t mean it caters only for the gifted, with teams and matches for all abilities. The state-of-the-art sports complex built in 2018 houses an indoor sports hall, sprung-floor dance studio, gym, changing facilities and a first-floor viewing terrace overlooking an Astro hockey pitch and tennis courts. In the grounds there is a grass running track and a cricket square, which is sometimes used for county training. There’s also a small golf course, a discus cage and space for javelin. Plans are under way for a swimming pool.

Art, drama and music are timetabled, as well as offered as clubs. Head of music Miriam Forbes is both extremely talented and inspirational, and everyone takes part in music, be it in a choir, in the drum ensemble or learning an instrument with a peripatetic teacher. All pupils enjoy art in a loft-style studio, and a good number go on to gain art scholarships to senior schools. A Lent-term production is the focal point of the school’s drama calendar, with festivals and competitions throughout the year. LAMDA exams are an option for those with a passion for the stage.

There is an array of extracurricular clubs, including clay-pigeon shooting, water-skiing, cooking, sewing and bushcraft in the school’s wilderness area. 

Boarding

Weekly and flexi boarding is available from Year 4, and it is very popular. Understandably so, as the dorms, housed in the main mansion, are both elegant and cosy, and the boarding activities are a real draw. By Year 8, most pupils will have boarded at one time or another. There is no full boarding, so everyone goes home after sporting commitments on Saturday.

School community

Pastoral care is exemplary, with form teachers the first point of contact, and there is also a vertical mentoring group. Boarders are under the care of matrons, as well as houseparents Chris and Lucy Meadows. ‘Steph the Chef’ is a school legend – she has won awards for her cooking and is a real innovator with her tasty and healthy dishes. One pupil told us their three favourite things at Witham Hall are breakfast, lunch and supper.

Mr Austen has overhauled the learning-support team with the aim of removing any stigma, so that instead of a pupil having someone sit alongside them in lessons, they now have half a dozen or so one-to-one sessions to fully understand the challenges they face. The space is at the heart of the prep-school building and is open to any pupil, whether they need extra help with spelling and times tables or emotional support.

And finally....

This is a beautiful and happy school, with a strong family feel and an ethos based on encouragement and promoting wellbeing rather than pushing for achievements. It really values its pupils and throws a protective veil over their childhood while supporting them to be themselves and do the best they can.

Gallery See All

Children walking in front of the main school building with wisteria on the wall
Girls in the sports hall playing netball
Teacher walking outside with two children by stone arch and dark pink blossom
Pupils wearing white coats watching flames in a science experiment
Boys sitting on their beds in a dormitory chatting
Boy in pale blue school blazer reading in the library
Wooden adventure playground in the trees
Exterior image of Witham Hall with children walking in front
Girls in white shirts and red ties acting is school play
  • Senior school destinations

    Senior school destinations

    13 to Uppingham, nine to Oundle, five to Oakham, four Stamford, two to Rugby, one to Downe House, one to Millfield, one to Milton Abbey and one to Gresham's.

  • Scholarships for senior schools

    Scholarships

    Academic4Rugby and Uppingham
    Music0
    Drama1 Oundle
    Sport7 Oakham, Rugby, Stamford and Uppingham
    Art4 Gresham's, Milton Abbey, Oakham and Uppingham
    DT0
    All Rounder3 Oundle


  • Fees and bursaries

    Day fees per term

    Nursery-
    Reception£3,700
    Year 1£3,700
    Year 2£4,125
    Year 3£4,125
    Year 4£6,250
    Year 5£6,250
    Year 6£6,250
    Year 7£6,250
    Year 8 £6,250
    Boarding fees per term

    Nursery-
    Reception-
    Year 1-
    Year 2-
    Year 3 -
    Year 4 £8,425
    Year 5 £8,425
    Year 6£8,425
    Year 7£8,425
    Year 8 £8,425




    Bursaries
    While it does not operate an annual bursarial fund, Witham Hall does in cases of genuine need have the capacity to offer means tested fee support to families who would otherwise be unable to pay them. These awards are conditional on space being available in the School, the suitability of the School for the child in question, financial resources remaining available and the financial circumstances of the family in question. For more information, please see the School website:

    withamhall.com/277/bursaries

  • SEND

    This school currently supports the following kinds of learning needs, health needs and physical disabilities:
    Dyslexia, dyscalculia, ADHD, slow processing, Cerebral Palsy, Diabetes, Ocular Albinism

    This school currently provides the following support for pupils' mental health needs
    We have a school counselor who provides sessions for children two days per week; children can have regular appointments, they can self-refer and they can drop-in for single sessions. Witham also has a robust pastoral care structure with a hands-on pastoral Senior Management Team.

  • Transport links

    School Transport
    School daily bus network

    Public Transport
    Nearest mainline train station: Peterborough
    Journey time to London by train: 43 minutes
    Nearest international airport: East Midlands (44 miles)


  • Parents tell us

    ‘We chose the school as we loved the head and his wife and they showed good leadership – it is a friendly, local and supportive school that wants to get the best out of the children, there is sport for all levels and a strong outdoor focus and the kids get into their chosen secondary school in non-pressurised way.

    Also, school runs 8.15am-7pm so it is perfect for working parents. School finishes at 5.15pm with all homework done at school. There is the option to do a club after tea every night that runs till 7pm.

    The music, art and drama departments are great. There is also a flexi-boarding option.

    The admissions process was brilliant. We had a long chat with the headmaster, a tour of the school with a pupil, we went to open days and other events to get an insight into the school and the children had a taster day.

    Mr Wills the head of boys’ sport is a gentle giant who is an incredible sportsman with a genuine caring side for the pupils. They all love him.

    There is great communication between the school and parents by emails, social media and the website. We also receive regular updates from form tutors and their mentors. There are parents’ evenings and we feel very involved in their education and what they’re up to.

    If there's ever a problem, the headmaster or form tutor can be contacted, and issues are resolved quickly and efficiently. There is brilliant pastoral care.

    Houseparents do a brilliant job of occupying the boarders. Matrons are always there to chat and support. The “listening lady” comes into the school and any child can go and have a chat to her.

    Pupils have mentor groups and mix with other children once a week in these sessions from all year groups in the school. Amazing to see 13-year-olds looking out for seven-years-olds in the playground. There are no electronic devices allowed in school and on any trips (including trips abroad with hours and hours on buses).

    The Learning for Life programme is run well by Mrs Edwards. All parents are told about the programme of learning first so they are fully aware of what their children will be taught over the course of a term – from bullying and puberty to safe sex and drugs with the older children.

    The Common Entrance preparation begins early and all pupils get into the secondary school of their choice with plenty of scholarship accolades. Year 8 are prepared for the next stage well with a programme of activities after their June exams.

    It is a very close-knit community and is very welcoming to new families with class reps organising events. There's a parent coffee morning every Monday morning at the beginning of each term.

    Parents are all encouraged to join the PTFA. There are regular events for parents that get a lot of support, such as the firework night, the summer ball every other year, sports day, speech day, sports events like cross-country and various tournaments.

    There is an amazing musical put on every year and also informal music concerts every term. There are exeat services in chapel, Easter and Christmas concerts and carol services, plus loads of events where there are a lot of parents present.

    It has definitely lived up to our expectations and more. Our kids have been so happy there. It was the best decision we ever made.’

School Updates

  • WATCH: Witham Hall - helping your child develop and discover their potential

    WATCH: Witham Hall - helping your child develop and discover their potential
  • See Witham Hall in our Country Prep Guide

    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 Witham Hall in our Country Prep Guide

Essentials

Address
Witham on the Hill, Stamford, Lincolnshire PE10 0JJ

Contact
admissions@withamhall.com
01778 590 222

Website
withamhall.com

ISI Report

Fees

Term Dates


Open Days

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



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