Edgeborough School, Farnham
Edgeborough is non-selective day and flexi boarding prep school set amid 50 acres of stunning countryside just out of Farnham.
There’s no denying the beauty of Edgeborough School and its idyllic setting amid 50 acres of rolling hills and woodlands at Frensham, just outside Farnham. A long winding driveway is your first impression – and a stunning first impression it is – worthy of any Hollywood film set, and certainly a somewhere you’ll easily imagine dropping off your little darlings each day.
The impressive approach, as stunning as it is, pales though when the school’s real centrepiece comes into view – an elegant Victorian stone mansion house called Frensham Place which is rammed with original architectural features. This was once the home of Sir Cyril Arthur Pearson, the British newspaper magnate who founded the Daily Express and apparently hosted regular parties that were frequented by the likes of Peter Pan author, JM Barrie, among others.
The school is warm and friendly – and proudly non-selective, taking boys and girls from the age of 2 (in the nursery) up to 13. There are about 300 pupils here, with most years having a three-form entry. There’s a strong sense of family and community here. The kids eat their meals with the teachers, which creates a lovely relaxed and comfortable vibe (although limited opportunities to flick peas across the table!).
What? Apart from the 50 acres of outdoor space for your child to roam and frolic in (not without supervision, natch)? The outdoors are a huge part of the ethos at Edgeborough, and students are encouraged to enjoy being outside. There’s all the usual playing fields, both astro and grass, an outdoor swimming pool and plenty of grassy fields that are also home to several deer. Games are a big part of the curriculum.
The arts is well represented with an impressive dance studio, music room and indoor theatre, as well as a bright and light art studio, complete with kiln. You’ll also find libraries, science labs, a cookery room, design and technology workshops and an ICT suite with more techy stuff than you can shake as stick at, as well as an outdoor science garden.
There’s a huge emphasis on pastoral care, nurturing and personal development. The school is non-selective so academic results are not the sole focus – there will be no hothousing here – but that doesn’t mean academics are not important. Clearly this is a school with kids who are talented across the board. But that’s not why children come to Edgeborough – it’s a happiness thing.
As you’d expect of a school with happiness and nurturing at its core and small class sizes, each child has a massive amount of attention lavished upon them. The results of this showed with 100 per cent pass at Common Entrance and 11 scholarships offered to Edgeborough pupils, recognising excellence in academic ability, sport and music. Pupils go on to Charterhouse, Wellington College, Eton, Epsom College, Cranleigh School, St Catherine’s and Prior’s Field, among others.
OTHER BOASTY BITS
Edgeborough fields teams in football, netball, rugby, hockey, cricket, cross country, swimming, tennis and lacrosse. Teams regularly qualify for the Schools’ National Finals to play alongside the top 24 schools in the country.
The boarding house is on the first and second floors of Frensham Place. Kids can board from Monday to Thursday – some opt for weekly boarding, take the flexi boarding option to help build up their boarding experience, while others still, opt for occasional – or hotel – boarding, joining in the pillow fights only every now and then.
Mrs Jones, the Housemistress, is a bit like an uber-cool big sister, and it’s clear the kids love her. She lives on the first floor with her husband David, Head of Sport at the school, their toddler daughter Verity and Jonty the cocker spaniel. Dorm rooms vary in size from a cosy four to 10, and once a term the school hosts a Friday night special which includes an trip out to something like the theatre, ten pin bowling or laser tag.
Dan Thornburn has only just arrived at the school, with his wife Emi and children Molly and Walter, from St Petroc’s School in Bude, Cornwall, via a three month trek through Europe. Both of his children are pupils at the school, and Emi is heavily involved as both a parent and in an administrative role. Dan is keen to cultivate an inclusive school catering to children with diverse interests and abilities, while also being exclusive in its ability to support those who want to excel.
But above all else, Dan wants all the pupils to be happy at Edgeborough. “Happy children who want to come to school will eventually find something to latch on to and throw their energies into,” he says. “And happy children thrive and succeed; and Edgeborough is full of success stories.”
The nursery and pre-prep is housed in a timber lodge with separate playgrounds for those in nursery and the reception to year 2 classrooms. There are two parallel classes in each year, and when the children get to year two they’ll be taught French, PE and music by specialist teachers in the main school, which helps to smooth their transition into the upper school.
Are dogs quirky? Perhaps not, but in every day life but at Edgeborough there are several dogs who live on the grounds and take an active part in school life. Despite only having been at the school for three weeks, Humphrey the headmaster’s beautiful golden retriever has already become the school’s unofficial mascot, and it’s not unusual to find him laying back contentedly while a gaggle of children scratch his tummy. In the library, too, Mrs Holder’s two pooches, Paisley and Petal, are a regular sight – and love listening to the children read – and in the boarding house there’s Jonty the cocker spaniel and Mani the black lab.
WRAP AROUND CARE
Good. The flexi boarding means that parents have the option to book their kids in for a night boarding. There’s a breakfast club option from 7.50am and an after-school club and supper also as an option. As you’d expect, there’s also an abundance of extra curricular activities, from computer coding to street dance.
Pre-prep (Reception to Yr 2): £3,475 per term; Lower prep (Yrs 3 and 4): £5,090; Upper prep (Yrs 5 to 8) £5,675. Add between £31 and £43.75 for boarding, depending how many nights you do. The fees include all meals and most day trips. There’s a 5% discount for second and subsequent children, while there are siblings at Edgeborough. The nursery is £65.75 a day, or £80.10 for an extended day.
The school offers a restricted number of means-tested bursaries to appropriate pupils.
WORD ON THE GROUND
Edgeborough has a strong sense of community for both the children and the parents. Parents like that it’s not a push environment, and yet still sends a batch of well-rounded kids off to excellent senior schools
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Those who want a warm, friendly home-from-home environment for their children with an emphasis on all-round development.
Not for: This is not an exam factory, so if you’re after a purely academic hot-house this school may not be the one you’re after.
Dare to disagree?! Don’t take my word for it! The next Open Day is 9.30-12.30pm, Fri 6 Oct, 2017. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01252 792495.
Edgeborough School, Frensham, Farnham, Surrey, GU10 3AH. edgeborough.co.uk