The Spectator

School portraits | 7 September 2017

From the perfect jockey training grounds to a New Forest idyll with stables


Walhampton School

The ethos at this prep school on the edge of Hampshire’s New Forest is very much one of living life to the full; history lessons involve re-enactments of the Battle of Hastings on horseback or the Battle of Trafalgar on a lake. Every year pupils go to ‘camp’ for a week at the end of the summer term; activities include day trips to RNLI stations, visits to local historical sites and a week on the Isle of Mull. Horse riding is also part of the curriculum, with a stable-full of ponies available for lessons. Walhampton describes itself as encompassing the ‘Swallows and Amazons spirit’, and aside from its fantastic location, it’s easy to see why. While outdoor activities and sports form a vital part of school life, academic studies are important, too. Being in Hampshire doesn’t mean Walhampton is only for children who live nearby, either; is dedicated train service, the Walhampton Express, makes it that much easier for London-based parents.

Collingham College

This central London GCSE and sixth-form college is well-known for its small class sizes and excellent tuition. Initially founded as a tutorial college in 1975 by former Eton housemaster and Old Etonian John Marsden, Collingham still offers A-level and GCSE tutoring services, including Christmas and Easter revision courses. Its location in the middle of town means it has typically been home to students who found boarding school wasn’t for them. Not all of its pupils fall into that category, though. The school’s small size (there are around 250 children, with a maximum of nine pupils per class and an average of five) allows great flexibility in courses and timetabling. This is also attractive to many pupils, as is the range of subjects on offer. The fact the college is non-selective is not seen as a negative either; last year more than 40 per cent of its leavers went on to Russell Group universities, with others studying at arts and business colleges.

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