Spratton Hall, Northants
What, Where? Spratton Hall is a co-educational day prep school for children aged 4-13, based in 50 acres of Northamptonshire’s, beautiful countryside. I’ve been to Spratton before to visit the fabulous Sauls of Spratton, but had no idea that if I’d travelled a little further, the school would be nestled in rolling green fields.
The main building was built in 1770 by the Clark family as a family home, but the house has changed hands a few times and was bought in 1951 when the school was founded by K C Hunter. It started as a boys boarding school and in 1975 girls were admitted, by 1991 it had became a day-only Prep school. It says on the website you can sense the learning, happiness and energy that buzzes through the school – so not taking their word for it, I went along to see for myself!.
Facilities? It feels very spacious and green across the 50 acre site, and a lot of the more modern school buildings are hidden behind the original house.
Facilities includes the Jubilee Sports Dome, floodlit Astroturf hockey pitch, large hardcourt area for n
netball and tennis, acres of sports fields incorporating a 400m running track, 10 outdoor cricket nets (grass and all-weather) and multiple rugby, football and cricket pitches as the season requires (phew).
The school didn’t feel overrun with students but it also felt buzzy enough that there were always people around smiling and saying hello.
What else? There is a large Performing Arts Centre which can seat up to 236 guests. The drama department ensures all pupils perform at least twice a year in many different genres including mime, dramatic play, improvisation, prose, poetry and scripts of various styles.
Music covers listening, appraising, composing and performing in one or more of the numerous choirs, orchestras and musical groups (there was a boys choir singing their little hearts out while I was there).
The art department has the space and resources to teach pupils all sorts of areas of creativity; drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture, printing and textiles.
And the art teacher who was in situ when I was there had the pupils enthralled in everything she said and did (there is so much art dotted around the school, a true testament to the creativity running through Spratton).
Average class size? 15, some were even smaller, getting very personalised teaching.
The academic results? Regular academic scholarships to senior schools such as Rugby, Oundle, Uppingham and Oakham.
Other boasty bits? Renowned for all aspects of school life – this year for the 3rd year running, Spratton came in the top three of the David Shepherd Global Art and Poetry competition and winning again the coveted David Shepherd personal choice award.
Scholarships? Usually achieve a wide range of scholarships to senior schools in Year 6 and 8 covering academic, sport, music, art, drama, design and technology. Also general, Headmaster’s awards and exhibitions.
Littlies? Spratton starts in reception and the pre-prep department goes through to Year 2. Pre-prep is nestled in the heart of the school and is able to use all the facilities of the school whilst enjoying its own timetable and playground.
There are often some of the biggies giving the littlies a hand and a walk over to other areas.
What do students do when they leave? They tend to go onto their chosen senior school whether it be boarding, day or flexi boarding. Spratton is keen to bring out each students strengths, be that very academic, sporty or vocational. The aim is to produce independent thinkers, self-motivated, enthusiastic and organised learners who will have the necessary skills to go out into further education and the rest of their lives (the house system really helps push all of these qualities).
The headteacher? I’d heard good things about Simon Clarke who I’d been told has been at the forefront of prep education throughout his career. His first post was as an English, Drama and Games teacher and boarding house tutor at Gresham’s Prep School in Holt, Norfolk, where he later became Head of English and Drama. He then moved to Millfield Prep in Somerset as Director of Drama and Head of English before being appointed Deputy Headmaster at Spratton in 2007 and then Headmaster in 2014.
He lives and breathes the school (both professionally and personally) and is married to Danny who teaches English and Geography to Years 4 and 5. They have three children, two girls and a boy, all of whom are pupils in the school. Nothing like actions speaking louder than words! Simon, as with most head teachers, is committed to educational excellence but it’s his unashamedly pupil-centred focus that resonates. His overriding objective is that the girls and boys at Spratton are happy and realise their full potential in all walks of school life, while having the vision to direct the school through the next stage of its development.
The fun stuff? Trips and visits? From Reception right through to Year 8 there is a study visit every term to give context to the learning of that particular topic (field trip, yay). Year 1 this term have been to Woburn and have Oreo and Friends in for the morning to deepen their knowledge of ‘animals and safari’. From Year 5 the pupils start going on residential trips and the first one is to the forest to camp to make dens, cook their food etc (am I too old for this?). Year 6 go to Boulogne, Year 7 go to Paris, Year 8 go on an outward bound and a ski trip and I have to say, they all look bloomin’ happy about it!
Wrap around care & extra curricular? All pupils can be on site from 8.10am to 5.20pm and there’s also an option of a breakfast club which starts at 7.45am (pre-prep children need to be accompanied in this either by a parent or an older sibling). Years 3-8 can be at school until 6pm at the after school club. All of this is paid for in the school fees other than what is eaten at breakfast club. Extra curricular is humungous – clubs range from table tennis, archery, Mandarin, music groups, sport groups, prep, chess club, construction club, art club etc. etc.
School bus service/travel etc? There are two minibus services – one that comes down from Market Harborough and goes via Naseby to Spratton and one that starts by the Bedford roundabout in town, comes up through Abington, Kinsthorpe, Brixworth and Spratton.
Term fees? £3,250 to £4,875
Word on the ground? What do the parent’s say…It is an awesome school. Senior schools love a Spratton pupil as they are enthusiastic about everything and contribute to so many aspects of school life. A couple of parents said their kids really grew in confidence at Spratton and one parent was particularly taken with the uniform!
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for? Nurturing. The children are definitely nurtured throughout their time at Spratton so that they can make the very best of their capabilities in academia, sport, music, art and drama (whatever path they choose, which is not always the path their parents might think). It’s very relaxed and inclusive, and has acres of space to excel in sports and fitness. Spratton is definitely a ‘must-see’ school, you really get a good feel for it when you’re actually there.
Not for? Parents who don’t want the hassle of moving kids to secondary school, but it is a prep school, so they’ll be aware of that already. It’s quite relaxed, so parents who might want that very stiff upper lip education, may not be in the right place here.
Spratton Hall School, Smith Street, Northampton, Spratton NN6 8HP. Phone: 01604 847292 Open morning is Friday 11 May 2018 from 10am to 12 noon.