The Spectator

School portraits | 6 September 2018

Introducing Bath Academy, Harrogate Ladies, Millfield and Robin Hood Primary

School portraits | 6 September 2018
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Bath Academy

Based in the beautiful city of Bath, this tutorial college is one of very few in the south-west to offer flexible academic programmes for a wide range of students. As well as being a sixth-form college, Bath Academy also offers GCSE courses, revision courses and resits in a wide range of subjects. The Academy’s University Foundation Programme was the UK’s first independent foundation programme. Equivalent to A-levels or the International Baccalaureate, it is designed primarily for international students who want to study at a British university. The focus is on a personalised approach to learning, with small class sizes and regular meetings between students and their personal tutors. In 2017 the Academy topped the list for added value in A-level results in Bath and north-east Somerset, a fine endorsement of the progress students at the college have made during their A-level studies.

Harrogate ladies

Harrogate — with an aitch, please — is one of the smartest towns in Yorkshire, known for its spa and its tea rooms. Perhaps it’s no surprise therefore, that it boasts not just a girls’ high school like so many other towns, but a ladies’ college instead. The main school was originally founded in 1893 as a girls-only senior school, but whereas the senior school (11-18) remains girls (or ladies) only, in later years junior schools were added, and today the prep and pre-prep schools both welcome boys as well. Academic attainment is excellent, with 80 per cent of students receiving offers from Russell Group universities this year. Italian for beginners and a psychology film club are some of the more unusual extracurricular clubs. In September the school will open its brand new Wellness Centre, offering mindfulness practice, meditation and yoga, massage and reflexology, stress prevention and management, nutritional advice and counselling services.


Millfield School in Somerset is well known for its sporting prowess. Almost without exception, all the top teams across the country, whatever the sport, consider it to be ‘the one to beat’. That’s no wonder when the facilities are second to none. The school has just opened its latest addition, an indoor equestrian centre, and has plans to add indoor golf and cricket centres by spring 2019. At the moment it boasts five Olympian sports coaches, and a total of 69 Millfield athletes have competed at the Olympics — including an impressive eight who were still at school when they did so. It’s not just about sports, however. Millfield also has one of the largest music departments in the country, and while it offers 27 different sports, there are a total of 80 extra-curricular options. The school is co-educational, and offers both a senior and a prep school, with a total of over 1,000 pupils. The gender split is 58/42 per cent boy to girl, and three-quarters of pupils board.

Robin Hood Primary

At a glance, there isn’t much to make Robin Hood Primary stand out from any other London primary, apart from being visited by the Duchess of Cambridge that is (see image). But this school has made the most of its location on the edge of Wimbledon Common. A mixed primary which takes children from the ages of three to 11, it has developed a whole-school, progressive outdoor learning curriculum and embraced the Forest School approach. Originating in Denmark, this has become increasingly popular in the UK. Robin Hood has a range of outdoor classrooms, including a sensory garden and a purpose-built outdoor learning area. The school takes part in the Royal Horticultural Society’s Campaign for School Gardening and is a certified RHS five-star gardening school. The idea behind using the natural world in learning is that children will become more resourceful, creative and resilient workers, as well as learning to work together with others.