7 reasons to send your children to school in the Sussex countryside
PUBLISHED: 10:31 21 April 2016 | UPDATED: 10:31 21 April 2016
What are the advantages of sending your child to school in the country? We spoke to the Headmaster of Brambletye Preparatory School in West Sussex to find out the benefits of private schooling
As entry into independent schools reportedly becomes a more challenging process and the competition for oversubscribed places in urban areas increases, we caught up with headmaster Wiliam Brooks and his wife Amelia about this developing issue, and the alternative options available to parents. “Parents concerned for place availability should widen their search geographically,’ says Amelia, who heads up communications at Brambletye Preparatory School school. A school in the countryside can give the same education as one in the city whilst doing one better: offering added extras and experiences that its urban cousin cannot.
1. Convenience: Most preparatory schools come with some form of hectare credentials and Brambletye is no exception, itself set amongst 140 acres of Ashdown Forest. This means all sporting and extra-curricular activities can be done on-site, so there’s no need for parents to become ‘glorified taxi drivers’ at the weekends.
2. Variety: “We take children of all abilities and stretch them academically” Will says, but he assures me that a balance is reached and “stretched” doesn’t mean “pressurised”. The formula for play complementing work is realised through such occurrences as lessons in the woods and countless sporting activities to get involved with during and after normal school hours. “It is a busy day but not a stressful one” Will continues, “having unlimited access to the great outdoors means pupils are stimulated by a variety of surroundings and can get away from the classroom, too.”
3. Development: “Children’s emotional intelligence is a real focus for us” Will explains, “we have the same academic desires any school in the city would have, but growing key social skills is one of my main aims as an educator.” This means pupils are encouraged to be free outside to make dens, play in the woods, do gymnastics on the lawn, or even just kick a football about; “they can use their initiative and imagination while staying safe.”
4. The best of both worlds: In the sprawling grounds of Brambletye, children can explore their natural environment and learn to respect and understand it. With views overlooking the nearby Weir Wood Reservoir, field trips to domestic pastoral eco-systems are not really needed, and the site is only a 40 minute drive from the capital, making it the ideal choice for commuting parents.
5. Location: To point out the obvious, the idyllic location of a school in the countryside combines all of the natural beauty and tranquil environment that you wouldn’t find in the hustle and bustle of London. This contributes towards the children’s ‘health and well-being’, which Will prioritises alongside a full and varied curriculum.
6. Flexibility: For those boarding, longer days provide more time and less pressure for students to get homework done at school, whilst giving them the opportunity to focus on the “soft skills” Will notes, ‘that aren’t made time for’ during a normal six hour timetable. “We encourage the use of manners and common courtesies that will stand them in good stead for the future.”
7. Safety: Last, but not least, an isolated setting helps to protect the children from some of the challenges faced by pupils in urban schools, “particularly as they reach adolescence.”
An education with Brambletye certainly appears to fulfil the correlation between a prosperous future and stable present, as a school where children spend their formative years in a family-like environment before progressing to an illustrious group of secondary schools. Following his appointment as Head last September, Will remarks upon the ‘seamless transition’ his own family have made into the school, and how this establishment continues to act as a homely leaven to the children who enrol there.
Join William and Amelia at the next Brambletye open day on the 21 May.