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Barfield School, Farnham

A small co-ed prep school with a family feel and very good results - all set on an idyllic 12 acres.

WHAT? WHERE?

Barfield School is a co–educational day school for children aged 2 to 11 in Runfold near Farnham, Surrey.  As the school shifts from a 13+ to an 11+ Barfield is launching a complete brand from September 2021 with a new logo. The school’s owl emblem is set to fly high

rather than its current ‘swooping in for the kill’ stance. As first impressions go, Barfield gets top marks – set in 12 beautiful acres, surrounded by fields and woodland. And the school makes the most of the stunning surroundings with outdoor education a massive priority. A new treehouse is has recently been built which is also be used as an outdoor classroom, and there are high and low ropes courses, a zip wire, a quad biking track as well as an archery and a shooting range. Sounds idyllic, right?

The main building is very attractive and there’s a lovely homely feel when you go inside – it’s light and spacious with armchairs, and in the main meeting room there are large sofas with squashy cushions set either side of a big coffee table and huge windows that look out onto the playgrounds. If you like your schools with a feeling of informality and intimacy, you’re in the right place.

There are 220 children on the register – with a 55:45 split of boys to girls – but there are plans to grow numbers over the next few years with an eventual target of 340 pupils. Entry is non-selective. Children come mostly from the local area extending to Farnborough, Aldershot, Farnham and Guildford.

The school was founded in 1933 and in 2016 became part of the Cothill Trust, a family of five prep schools delivering exceptional academic results and pastoral care but each with their own individuality. priding themselves in providing the best education for their pupils now and in the future. in England plus a château in the south of France.

There’s a warm and caring ethos at Barfield, with a strong focus on pastoral care, and the size of the school means that every child is known by all the staff.

FACILITIES

There’s everything you’d expect to find and a whole lot more. We’ve already mentioned the outdoor adventure facilities, but you’ll also find sporting pitches and sports courts, a heated indoor swimming pool, an arts and technology centre with a good-sized auditorium, music rooms, science labs and an impressive ICT suite.

There’s everything you’d expect to find and a whole lot more. We’ve already mentioned the outdoor adventure facilities, but you’ll also find sporting pitches and sports courts, a heated indoor swimming pool, an arts and technology centre with a good-sized auditorium, music rooms, science labs and an impressive ICT suite.

Building works are already underway to build a new dining hall, and to regenerate the top floors of the Main House, which includes adding a further three classrooms. The science lab will also be modernised and an impressive new food tech room added.

THE ACADEMICS

The school is set out with a nursery, pre-prep and prep school. Class sizes are small with no more than 18 pupils per class. 

There’s a wide and varied curriculum, but the learning goes beyond the classroom here. There’s a strong focus on character education too – developing empathy and teaching the children skills for life and adulthood alongside the academics. They want children to feel valued and to be the best they can be. There’s a pupil parliament, where the children are given a voice, and there are exercises to help develop good teamwork skills. Individual achievements are also celebrated.

In the pre-prep – which is Reception and Years 1 and 2 – children are taught by their form tutor with specialist teachers for Music, PE, Swimming, Cookery, French and Forest School. In the prep school all subjects are specialist taught.

NEXT SCHOOLS

100 per cent of children at the school pass the Common Entrance exam – as a passionately non-selective school that’s a big academic tick. Pupils go on to a variety of senior schools including Charterhouse, Churcher’s College, Farnborough Hill, Frensham Heights, Guildford High School, King Edward’s Witley, Lord Wandsworth College, Prior’s Field, RGS Guildford, St Catherine’s, , Salesian College and Tormead.

THE HEAD

Andy Boyle, head teacher at Barfield School

Andy Boyle has been at the school for nearly two years, having come from Chandlings School in Oxford where he spent 10 years as Deputy Head Pastoral. As you’d expect from a head whose previous role was centred around pastoral care, he’s big on getting wellbeing right at the school which he believes will then flow through to their academic education. He’s warm and friendly, and passionate about putting the children’s happiness and wellbeing centre stage.

As you might expect, he has plans to build develop the school – and we’re already seeing the first stage of that in the construction of the new outdoor treehouse classroom.

LITTLIES

In the Nursery, they start as Hatchlings as two years of age, moving to Owlets from 2-3 and Owls from 3-4. The classrooms are spacious and bright with a great outdoor space. As well as a secure free-flow outdoor space that’s accessed directly from the classrooms, there’s also a play area with wooden climbing frames, sandpits, a mud kitchen, chalkboards and a much-loved wooden pirate ship. As with the rest of the school, outdoor learning is important.

There’s also a sleep room. There’s a real effort at Barfield to create an environment that’s like home, especially for the littlies. When they have lunch, everyone sits and is served at the table together.

WRAP AROUND CARE

There’s provision for early drop off from 7.30am (at no extra cost). After school activities and Great Lates run until 6.15pm – with a light tea for children staying beyond 4.10pm.

The Nursery is open throughout the school holidays and, continuing the family ethos of the school, Three Peaks Barfield, the school’s outdoor pursuits department, is also open throughout the holidays offering activity camps for children age 4-13 years.

FEES

In the Nursery it’s £1,200 a term for three sessions as week, £2,000 for five sessions and £3,555 for five full days. Reception and Year 1 is £3,540 per term, Year 2 is £3,740, Years 3 and 4 is £5,050, and Years 5 to 6 is £5,215 per term.

WORD ON THE GROUND

Parents love the happy, caring and nurturing environment at Barfield. They also love the school’s focus on the whole child – building confidence while offering an energetic learning environment.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: Well-rounded kids. The vibe is caring and friendly, but academically strong. The outdoor adventure facilities are impressive and all children get to participate fully. The good flexible after-school care is particularly helpful for busy working parents.

Not for: Families who require boarding, a town location, a larger school cohort, or parents who prefer a more hothousey approach to schooling.

Dare to disagree? Have a look for yourself at the open morning on Fri 17 Sept.

Barfield School, Guildford Road, Runfold, Farnham, Surrey, GU10 1PB

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