One of the most highly regarded prep and boarding schools in the south-east - pupils go on to the likes of Eton, Harrow and Charterhouse. It's a small school with a big family feel.
ALDRO SCHOOL, SHACKLEFORD, NEAR GODALMING
Until September 2021, Aldro School was a traditional boys prep and boarding school. But not anymore! With the arrival of girls – initially mostly in years 3, 4 and 5 – comes a fresh energy and a new era for Aldro.
The school, tucked away in the very pretty Surrey village of Shackleford near Godalming, is set on an idyllic 30-acre site. The freedom and space this affords, alongside the high academic standards, make it a highly desirable choice for parents looking who want a great all-rounder offering for their boys and girls aged 7 to 13.
It’s a relatively small school in numbers, considering the acreage and space, with a just 225 pupils in total. The introduction of girls, though, means that number is rising.
There’s a traditional feel to the school, and its values and ethos are very much in that vein. But that’s not to say it’s stuffy and old fashioned – far from it. Pupils here are encouraged to get involved with everything, from sport to drama and the arts. The school has a strong reputation for its academic success, as well its sporting background. But pupils do equally well in music and the arts, with many leaving with scholarships to the country’s top senior school in these fields.
About one-third of pupils board, and there’s a strong feeling that life at Aldro is like one big family. The fact that the main building is a former manor house, probably helps with this, and the boarding houses are on the top two floors of this building. A new girls boarding house will open in September 2022.
Yes, facilities are excellent. There’s everything you’d expect from a top independent day and boarding school: performing arts centre, art and DT block, science block and a new sports pavilion, the Aston Sports Centre which opened five years ago, plus acres of immaculate sports fields. And gorgeous manicured gardens, fit for a manor house. There’s also a heated outdoor swimming pool.
Oh, and did we mention the lake? It’s a large lake too, not a glorified pond, so much so, the pupils row and sail on it. And let’s not forget the treehouse on the island in the centre of the lake, accessed only by row boat or a rope bridge. Very Swallows and Amazons.
MUSIC AND DRAMA
Both are strong at Aldro, although perhaps sometimes overshadowed by the academic and sporting successes. Every form from years 3 to 8 has one drama lesson each week, with an emphasis on building confidence, self-esteem and drama skills. Lamda is also taught at the school, by a husband and wife team of professional actors, and more than half of all pupils choose to take these additional lessons.
Music is also popular at Aldro, with many pupils having lessons in two or more instruments. There are 17 different ensembles and music activities each week.
The school has a strong sporting reputation, which perhaps stems from the schools traditional roots. The main sports are football, rugby, cricket, netball and hockey.
Children here do sport every day for an hour, and much of it is outside. All children also have swimming lessons.
Children here go on to some prestigious schools, and that’s one of the reasons parents are attracted to Aldro. The 2021 cohort accepted places at Bradfield College, Charterhouse, Churcher’s College, Cranleigh School, Eton, King Edward’s Witley, Lord Wandsworth College, Marlborough, RGS Guildford, Seaford College, Sherborne School, Tonbridge and Wellington College.
Chris Carlier has been the head master here since September 2019 coming from Bradfield College in Reading, where he had been for 21 years, 14 as a Senior Housemaster. He lives on the school campus with his wife and youngest child, of three, who is a pupil.
While the school is steeped in heritage and tradition, it’s also proud of its progressive attitude – and Mr Carlier’s introduction of girls to the school is testament to that. He’s a big believer in building school communities based on strong core values and has high expectations for children’s achievement, both academically and in the co-curricular.
Boarding at Aldro can be full-time or part-time. It’s part of the process of preparing the pupils for their next schools – many of which are boarding – and many of the pupils will gradually build up the number of boarding days as they move through the school.
It has to be the lake big lake, with the treehouse island in the centre of it, and the fact that rowing and sailing is a big thing at this school.
WRAP AROUND CARE
Being a boarding school means there’s always a lot going on at the school. During the evenings, there’s plenty to inspire the children from art clubs to touch rugby and tennis, to playing on the Nintendo Wii. They’ll also use this time to study, revise, do music practice and read.
On the weekends, boarders get involved in some great activities: trips to the beach, to Chessington and to London to see the sights.
From £6,024 per term for day pupils in year 3 rising to £6,855 in year 4 and £6,991 for children in years 5-8. For boarders in year 3 it’s £8,066 per term, £8,898 in year 4 and £9,074 for years 5-8. Part time boarding is charged per term at £485 for one day a week rising to £1,416 for four days a week, in addition to the termly day fee. Means tested bursaries are available.
WORD ON THE GROUND
Parents are attracted to Aldro because it pushes pupils to work hard and achieve success. There’s a work hard / play hard ethos, and the wide range of co-curricular activities means the school will find your son’s strengths – be that science or singing – and focus on developing them further.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Girls and boys who want to feel part of a traditional British school with outstanding facilities in every field, and want to feel part of a ‘school family’. Parents are also attracted to the school because it prepares pupils well for entry to most prestigious schools in the country.
Not for: Those looking for a town based school.
Dare to disagree? Go see for yourself. There’s an Open Morning on Sat 11 June from 10am-11.30am. Book here.
Aldro School, Lombard Street, Shackleford, Godalming, Surrey GU8 6AS. Tel: 01483 81 02 66