Woodcote House School for Boys, Windlesham
A small but high-achieving day and boarding school for boys with a warm nurturing environment where boys are allowed to be boys.
A small day and boarding school for boys, Woodcote House School for Boys sits on an idyllic 30 acre site in Windlesham. It’s a small school, with about 100 boys aged 7-13 (Year 3 to Year 8), which means there’s a real sense of family and community. It’s been run by the Paterson family for 90 years, having been set up by the grandfather of current headmaster, David Paterson, in 1931.
Woodcote House is a traditional school with a strong emphasis on traditional values like hard work, good manners, tolerance and respect. But don’t equate tradition with stuffy – there’s a relaxed and friendly feel to Woodcote House and pastoral care is exceptional.
The school prides itself on offering a great all-rounder education – covering off arts, music, sport and academics with great success – as well as preparing the boys for life beyond Woodcote House. The boys here go onto some of the best senior schools in the country: Eton, Harrow, Charterhouse, Sherborne and Bradfield to name just some.
The school’s motto sums things up quite well: Live to Learn and Learn to Live. So as well as getting impressive academic results, the school is also committed to making sure the boys can be boys. And there’s plenty here to suit all tastes – from archery, basketball and bridge to chess, croquet, judo and turf clubs.
As you’d expect of a school set on such a large acreage, there’s a great range of facilities. As well as numerous sports pitches, two astro turf pitches, four tennis courts and an indoor swimming pool, there’s a 9-hole golf course and a shooting range. There’s also a woodland, a rope assault course and zip wire and a camping area. Safe to say that if your child is the outdoorsy type, they’ll be in heaven here. But thesps will also feel quite at home, thanks to the recent addition of an impressive new theatre.
MUSIC, DRAMA AND THE ARTS
Most of the boys learn at least one musical instrument (with daily practice scheduled into their day), and they also study music as part of the core curriculum. Drama is also an important part of the curriculum, with three major productions staged each year in which all boys are involved, whether it’s on-stage or back stage. And art too, is held in high esteem. Many of the boys will go on to be offered senior school scholarships in the arts and music.
Sport is a biggie here – played daily through timetabled lessons in addition to fixtures played against other schools twice a week. The number of sports on offer is extraordinary: archery, athletics, basketball, cricket, fencing, football, golf, hockey, judo, rugby, sailing, shooting, swimming, tennis and trampolining. Phew!
Safe to say that Woodcote House has a 100% success rate in preparing boys for the Common Entrance exam, but the real triumph is in preparing the boys for senior school and helping the boys and their families find the school that is most suited to them. It’s a role they take seriously, and boys a well-prepped for the journey with many accepting scholarship paces at their chosen school.
David Paterson is quite literally the heart and soul of Woodcote House. He was born at the school and educated here, and after a career in the City returned about 25 ago to teach maths and take on the role of deputy headmaster (his elder brother Nick was headmaster). David is proud to be the 4th generation of the Paterson family to be headmaster at Woodcote House, taking over from his brother five years ago. Impressively, for a head teacher, he still finds time to teach.
There’s plenty about Woodcote House that makes this school unique, but the most obvious is that it’s truly is a family affair. David Paterson’s elder brother Nick – the former headmaster – is still teaching here and his nephew Oliver is also on the teaching staff.
I also love the old-fashioned touches like the fact the boys who board write a letter – using actual pen and paper (rather then email or messenger) to their families each week.
About 80 per cent of boys board at Woodcote, either full-time or flexi-boarding. The dorms are housed in the main school building, a wisteria-clad white-washed building with pretty blue shutters. Inside, it’s just as cheerful with walls painted a bright sea-blue and beds covered in primary-coloured duvets. Superhero posters and striped curtains finish the look and create a lovely relaxed, home-from-home feel.
By Year 8, all boys spend a term living in Dominies, a house in the school grounds, which gives them a taste of boarding life and helps prepare them for their senior school.
WRAP AROUND CARE
The day starts at 8.20am and is followed by Prep which is completed in the morning, leaving evenings at home free of schoolwork. After a full day of lessons and sport, boys are picked up by 6.10pm.
There are also two busses to and from London each day – one picking up from Tibbet’s Corner, near Wandsworth and Wimbledon, and the other from Fulham, at 7.15am. Boys are returned at 6.45pm with all homework complete – something Woodcote parents find particularly helpful.
Termly fees are £6,300 for day boys and £8,450 for full boarders. Fees for part-time boarders are calculated pro rata.
WORD ON THE GROUND
It’s a close-knit, family-run school with a great community, work ethos, fantastic pastoral care and all the sports and extra curricular opportunities you could ask for.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Woodcote House is a traditional boys boarding and day school which really gets results without resorting to a hothouse approach. But there’s also plenty of fun to be had and a wonderfully warm and welcoming feel to the school where lifelong friends are made.
Not for: Parents who are impressed by the latest mod cons and flashy new buildings – that’s not what Woodcote House is all about.
Dare to disagree? Take a virtual tour of the school. The school’s registrar Charlotte Brehaut is happy to talk you through the admissions process, and private tours can be arranged when Covid restrictions are lifted.
Woodcote House School, Snows Ride, Windlesham, Surrey, GU20 6PF. Tel: 01276 472115. woodcotehouseschool.co.uk