Choosing independent education for the early years

It is often hard to decide on the right school for your child, as such, we decided to sit down with one of our parents to discuss their reasons for choosing Hatherop above all other schools.

What led you to make the move to Hatherop?

My eldest spent his Reception year in a lovely ‘Outstanding’ village state school class of 25 (mixture of Reception, Prep 1 and Prep 2). Whilst he enjoyed school, it quickly became clear to us that being in mixed class was not particularly beneficial to his learning as the ability range was too broad for him. He is a very well behaved, quiet boy but lacked confidence in his ability and as such he was nervous to ask for help when needed. He was achieving an average level in phonics, literacy and maths but was quickly becoming disillusioned with learning (death by worksheets springs to mind!). At the beginning of 2020, we researched local independent schools and came across Hatherop which thankfully had spaces and was in all honesty, surprisingly affordable. We made the decision to move our eldest at the beginning of Prep 1 and have never looked back.

By having small class sizes and individualised learning opportunities, he is engaged and thriving at school. This has allowed him to develop a strong foundation of knowledge, closely supported by the teachers and assistants. Every member of staff knows him so well that they are able to effectively challenge and support him. Without the pressure of SATS, he has been able to embrace the joy of learning.

The extra curricular on offer at Hatherop and specialist teachers

Being taught by specialist teachers for Music, French, Art and Sport has allowed him to experience a wider range of learning from a young age. Compared to previously, when sport was basically just general PE now he does hockey, football, rugby, athletics, basketball and gymnastics throughout the various terms which he absolutely loves. Being an outdoorsy school was hugely important to us and the amount of opportunities he has to be out having adventures and being amongst nature to us was priceless. Through introduction of all these subjects from Nursery at Hatherop, he embraces all of his learning and is ready for bigger challenges. He also loves the wide range of extra-curricular activities on offer and my mind boggles when I think about all of the extras he is able to do. He thinks nothing of tackling speech and drama, fencing, tennis and karate (to name a few) in addition to everything else the school day offers.

The importance of early involvement in productions and performing

Hatherop Castle School feels like one big family and by having such a wide exposure to a variety of older children and adults, my son has developed invaluable life skills and is confident in communicating with a wide variety of people. Taking part in productions and assemblies from Nursery has helped him develop confidence in performing and speaking in public. The regular productions have challenged him to work with a team, be patient and cope when things do not go to plan. The lights are bright when standing on stage, but now he is in Prep 4, he takes it all in his stride and loves to lead the dazzling show with his friends.

I now have two children at Hatherop, very different in personalities but both of them are thriving at Hatherop Castle School and moving them here was the best decision we could have made. The space for them to be free and enjoy their childhood, the specialist teachers and the individualised learning has allowed them to thrive in their early years. Their first years of learning are so precious and important and I am so thankful that I have found such a wonderful school to nurture and guide them through this time in their life.

I feel certain that if we had stayed where we were to ‘see if things improve’, my eldest could have lost his spark for learning and may have seen school as a chore. If I had to make the decision again, I would have returned to full time work earlier to ensure that both children were able to experience Key stage 1 at Hatherop.