Micklefield School, Reigate
Small, inclusive and with a strong family vibe, this under-the-radar prep school is a great option for those who believe strong values are as important as academic results.
Micklefield is a independent day school for children aged 2 to 11 years in central Reigate, just a stone’s throw from Reigate Railway Station – a handy location for commuting parents. It’s academically non-selective, friendly and small with over 200 pupils, and class sizes averaging just 18. The school follows a Christian ethos, but accepts all faiths and none.
The school was founded in 1910 in a house called Micklefield House – hence the school’s name – on Evesham Road in Reigate, but it moved to its current site in 1925. The main school building – two handsome inter-connected sandstone houses – reflect the school’s welcoming and homely vibe. And though the site is compact, classrooms are spacious, bright, airy and light. It doesn’t hurt that big Victorian windows look out onto Reigate Hill beyond.
Compared to some independent schools with their winding driveways, acres of land and slick science blocks, Micklefield is more modest. But then, this is a town-centre school.
You might call it small but perfectly formed – with everything you’d expect from an independent prep school. The playground on the main school site includes an all-weather netball court, a trim trail and a climbing wall. And there are plans to develop a Forest School.
There’s also a good-sized multi-purpose gymnasium used for indoor sports, school assemblies and school theatre productions, music concerts and other performances, as well as a music centre with several practice rooms and a dedicated IT suite.
Just around the corner and literally only a one-minute walk from the school, are the school’s playing fields and sports pavilion, set out over a 5.5 acre site. Pupils learn tennis at the Reigate Lawn Tennis Club and also have swimming lessons off-site.
The nursery is housed in Belton House, which is connected to the main school building with a glass walkway. It’s a lovely bright open space, spread across two floors, with its own outside playing area that connects through to the main school playground.
The nursery is seen as very much a part of the main school – pupils eat lunch in the main school dining hall and they regularly use the main school facilities for music lessons, sports and games.
As with most nurseries, sessions are morning (which includes lunch) or full-day. As from March this year, provision is year-round – a move that has been well-received by families.
For a non-selective school, academics are strong. Pupils are prepared for their senior school exams. Micklefield prides itself on being a truly independent independent school, and as such is not a feeder to any particular senior school.
Many go on to Reigate Grammar and Dunottar School in Reigate, and the nearby Caterham School. But there’s an emphasis on helping families find the right senior school for their child, and the school works closely with parents and children to find the right fit. In recent years, pupils have also gone on to St Theresa’s in Effingham, St John’s Leatherhead, City of London Freeman’s, Lingfield College, Box Hill School and Worth School in Crawley. Scholarship offers are common – the 2021 cohort of 36 pupils were offered 30 scholarships.
The focus at Micklefield is to create a happy, supportive and nurturing environment, with strong family values embedded into everything they do. I’m told it’s the pupils’ keen values as well as their academic successes that puts them in demand among senior schools.
Children are taught in their form groups, with specialist teachers for French, IT, Science, Art, Music and Sport.
As with most independent schools, sport is important. At Micklefield it’s as much about the fellowship and character-building as the physical benefits. The usual line up of sports are offered – cricket, rugby, netball, hockey, rounders, tennis, lacrosse, cross-country, athletics, football and gymnastics, as well as weekly swimming lessons. Fixtures are played against other independent schools.
Music, drama and the visual arts are all strong. Lamda is taught and the school was extended several years ago to include a brand new art studio.
Music is taught by specialist teachers from nursery up to Year 6, with all Year 2 pupils also having violin lessons, and all Year 4 pupils having trumpet lessons.
In addition, 112 individual music lessons take place each week at the school for children in Years 1 to 6. The usual array of orchestras, strings ensembles, flute and guitar groups are conducted each week, along with choirs.
Pastoral care is hugely important here – embedded into the ethos of the school. Communication is strong between the school and families, and children are comfortable talking to not only their own class teacher but any member of staff. There’s a real sense of community.
Ryan Ardé has been Headmaster at Micklefield since September 2019, coming to the position from the STEP Academy Trust, a family of state primary academies. His previous role within the trust was as Headmaster of the David Livingstone Academy in Thornton Heath a school which required improvement when he started, that he took to an Outstanding Ofsted rating.
Warm and genuine, he talks a lot about the Micklefield’s strong family ethos and values. It’s clear this is partly what attracted him to the school.
WRAP AROUND CARE
Breakfast club is from 7.30am (cost is £4), and after-school care extends to 6pm in sessions that run from 3.30-4.30pm and then from 4.30-6pm (cost is £4-£9.50). Extra-curricular clubs are held after school every day offering everything from book club, board games, mindfulness colouring and Mandarin to rugby, stop-motion animation and dance. The most popular though, is the science club.
The school was last inspected in May 2018, under the previous headship. Read the report here.
MOBILE PHONE POLICY
Pupils are not allowed to have mobile phones when they’re at school. Year 6 pupils are permitted to bring mobile phones to school, but they must be handed in when they arrive and collected at home time.
Nursery fees per term start at £1,386 for three mornings a week rising to £3,655 for five full days. Years 1 & 2 costs £3,655 a term, Year 3 is £4,325 a term and Years 4, 5 & 6 cost £4,645 per term. There are discounts for siblings – 5% for a second child and 10% for a third or fourth child.
WORD ON THE GROUND
Families are attracted to the family-focussed vibe and supportive atmosphere and say that children thrive at Micklefield and progress on to excellent senior schools. Parents have also said they’re impressed with the school’s inclusive ethos.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Families who want a holistic education for their kids, with great results and a non hot-housey environment. Children who prefer a small, intimate family-oriented school
Not for: If it’s the grandness of a country private school you seek, and loads of flashy facilities, you won’t find it at Micklefield. There’s a more down-to-earth vibe going on with the focus on traditional values.
Dare to disagree? Go see it for yourself. Open Mornings are on Wednesday, 6 October 2021 from 10am-12noon and Saturday 27 November between 10am-12noon. Individual tours can also be booked.
Micklefield School, 10 Somers Road, Reigate, RH2 9DU. Tel: 01737 224212.