Wonderful kitchen and dining facilities
The school began in 1878 as Dame School in Kent, run by Misses Mitchell at 23 Belmont Road Blackheath. Even at this early stage, scholarships were won to prestigious schools such as King’s School Canterbury. A number of former pupils went on to win awards at Oxford and Cambridge and distinguish themselves in the services especially the Navy. The school was moved to Abberley in 1916, largely owing to the dangers of Zeppelin raids on London. Forty boys arrived at Abberley Hall, which was purchased with all furniture and fittings, for £10,000. In 1921, Gilbert Ashton – a former pupil of Lindisfarne – joined the school taking over as headmaster and subsequently purchasing the property. He recruited Leonard Greenwood and Michael Carr and this triumvirate presided over an increasingly large and successful school, itself re-named Abberley Hall. An early scholarship to Winchester enhanced the school’s reputation and soon there were over 70 boarders.
Abberley Hall is one of the few uniquely full-boarding preparatory schools left in the country, catering for boys and girls aged 8 to 13 years. It is our aim to provide the academic, sporting and social grounding which is the foundation for success, and each year children of wide-ranging abilities make the successful transition to prestigious independent schools. Only a boarding school can afford children a full programme of sports and activities seven days a week, and at Abberley this is provided in the safety and beauty of the School’s substantial grounds. The School is extremely proud of its traditional boarding environment. At this top UK boarding school, boys and girls are cared for by the Headmaster and his wife, a number of young, married boarding staff, and a wonderful team of matrons, who are supported by a qualified nurse. The academic day is arranged so that there is no evening homework, and all pupils are encouraged to take part in the Activities Hour each weekday, and to choose from a wide range of termly hobbies. Not only does the School offer extensive opportunities for physical and social development, but children engage in fun as well as learning in the security of the 90 acre rural estate, which also boats 10 acres of dedicated sports’ and playing fields. The children go the the chalet twice in their Abberley career, once in Year 5 and again in Year 7.
Our main purpose has always been to prepare pupils thoroughly for their Public Schools, but not to overcoach or have Common Entrance, Winchester Entrance or Scholarships as an end in themselves. Prep School is just part of a child’s education and the most important thing is that the foundations are laid for individuals to maximise their potential at 18 or later. As well as preparing for exams, we therefore aim to offer as broad an education as possible. This means we constantly review our curriculum and the way we deliver it. Successive headmasters at Abberley have been open to new ideas and ready to encourage changes that will bring extra educational benefit to the children who have been entrusted to their care. Examples of this were the early introduction of Design Technology by the school and the desire to ensure that all pupils have opportunities in music, art and related subjects. In recent years it has been recognised that Information Technology and Modern Languages are of paramount importance in the modern workforce, thus we have made significant investments in these areas to ensure a strong foundation is laid at a young age to enable all pupils to meet later demands with confidence as well as competence. In 2003 we started a new project – the Chalet in France. All pupils will have two opportunities (at nine and eleven) to spend three weeks during term time totally immersed in the French language and culture. In 1997 we made a radical change in our timetable to help deliver the breadth of education we believe is necessary to prepare children for their senior schools (not just pass exams). Teaching time increased to a maximum of twenty-nine and a half hours per week from the twenty-two hours plus four and a half hours of prep that we had before. The first two years have twenty-seven hours. We have no prep or homework. Work that once would have been deemed as prep or homework is completed in the extra time available in lessons. Benefits from this system include that work is supervised by the staff who set the work; we have no work set for the sake of it – often the case with homework; younger children are not being asked to work when they are tired (i.e. 7pm); day children go home with no worry of work. For boarders the time after tea is devoted to activities although in the final two years this time becomes increasingly used for private study. The extra teaching time created through this more flexible approach has brought several advantages in terms of maintaining breadth; older children are able to continue with non-examined subjects such as Art, Design-Technology Music, PE and IT, but not at the expense of subjects such as Latin and Modern Languages. Latin is taught to a high standard and there is also time for a second modern language. All children have the opportunity to learn Spanish.