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"Exploring Ampleforth: A Look Inside One of the UK's Leading Catholic Full-Boarding Schools"

As one of the UK’s leading catholic, full-boarding schools, we were excited to accept an invitation to visit Ampleforth with Doris, the TIEC Defender, to meet the Headmaster, Mr Peter Roberts, two of the Houseparents and undertake a school tour with some of the pupils.  


Catherine Stoker and Headmaster Mr Peter Roberts, with Doris the mobile recording studio Defender with Ampleforth Boarding school in
Catherine Stoker and Headmaster Mr Peter Roberts, with Doris the mobile recording studio


Headmaster: Peter Roberts

Co-educational: Full Boarding 

Ages: 11-18 years old

Closest airport: Leeds 47 miles  

Train to Kings Cross London – From York: 2 hours

New and exciting era for Ampleforth

Despite experiencing what have probably been the most challenging years in the school’s history, support from current and past parents has been unwavering. Under the experienced leadership of Mr Roberts, it’s clear the school is entering a new and exciting era. Now probably the most inspected school in the world, reading the excellent recent reports from several of the key school inspecting bodies should give prospective parents the reassurance they need to add Ampleforth to their potential school shortlist. Now with a separate Board of Governors, the school is independent but retains its links to the Benedictine way with monks serving as Chaplains for the Houses and a monk as a Dean.

A visit to the Abbey church, where the school gathers regularly as a community, it’s hard not to feel mindful in this peaceful space, something which pupils undoubtedly value as a moment to reflect on their otherwise busy life at boarding school. Hearing the school choir or ‘Schola’ sing in this incredible building is an experience not to be missed. See if you can spot the little carved mice on the wooden furniture throughout the school, especially in the beautiful library, skilfully carved by the famous ‘Mouseman’ - Robert Thompson. 


Ampleforth's approach to all-round education

What comes through more strongly than anything is that the whole family, parents and siblings, as well as the child, are welcomed as part of this ambitious, yet caring, school community. Each pupil is recognised and celebrated for their strengths as an individual. The phrase “Compass for Life” reflects the focus on achieving an all-round education, steering and inspiring youngsters to embrace both knowledge and life-skills to prepare them for the next step after school, whatever that might be. Rugby results, artistic talent, design work, musical performances, mathematics challenge and aiming for Oxbridge or medicine – all came across as equally valued achievements. Usually when touring a school with pupils, their own interests come through most strongly. Not the case here. The two year 12 pupils who showed me around were equally positive and enthusiastic about every area of the school.  

"Self knowledge is the most important thing you can learn at school" Mr Roberts Headmaster


An extensive curriculum at Ampleforth

It’s my belief that the true testament to the quality of teaching and learning in a school is a school where every child measures and achieves success, in whatever way is right for them. The academic curriculum is both challenging and extensive with a huge array of GCSE, A levels and BTEC subjects. There is learning support and English as an additional language for those who need them. The individualised approach to learning and goals for each child seems second to none. Though there are assessments to enter the school, the interview and meeting the family are a key part of the admissions process. For a child to thrive at Ampleforth, they must have a ‘can do’ attitude, be prepared to work hard and be willing to contribute in a positive way to the community. 


Ampleforth's approach to international boarding

Children are ambitious, diverse in their interests and talents, as well as humble, grounded and kind. The pupils I met all seemed to have a strong sense of belonging and pride in their school. I am a big fan of in-house dining in the boarding house and hugely enjoyed making conversation with a group of girls over lunch. Even though one or two were day girls, with the rest being boarders from all parts of the UK and overseas, it was impossible to single out one from another. They all spoke eloquently and passionately about their school and the diverse subjects, House and extensive activities outside the classroom. A mix of ages, the older girls were every encouraging of the younger girls in a big-sisterly way. It felt like we were simply enjoying a family meal together. 

Mr Roberts headmasterof Ampleforth british boarding school for national and international students located in the Yorkshire Moors with Catherine Stoke and independent education expert

"It is important people find their home here." Mr Roberts


Most of the school pupils are full boarders, with a few local day children. There is a co-educational Junior House from age 11-13 and then 7 senior school boarding houses (3 girls and 4 boys) from age 13-18. The school campus spreads for many acres across a stunning valley, in the middle of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. While your child will certainly need thermals in winter, this safe, countryside location is only 2 hours from London by train via fast train from the historic city of York. If coming from overseas there are airports at Manchester, Newcastle and Leeds. If not direct, short flights to Paris or Amsterdam can be used as a hub to fly on to most parts of the world. There is a school bus to the station for access to London at main holiday times which is used by many UK-based pupils as well as a Travel Department that runs an escorted train service to London and Edinburgh.


Children come to school at Ampleforth from all over the UK and the world. Not just the choice of catholic families and alumni, the school’s caring community ethos and extensive curriculum appeals to any family who want the give their child the opportunity to be inspired educationally, as well as to fully embrace the busy life of a full-boarding school and make friends for life. 


The magic of Ampleforth

Schools are about people – the leadership, the teachers, the parents, and the children. Arranging a visit to this truly wonderful school is the only way to appreciate how the school inspires such great achievements in its pupils, support from its parents, and to perhaps experience a bit of the ‘Ampleforth magic’ for yourself. 

Watch Catherine's interview with Headmaster Mr Peter Roberts

Learn more about finding your hidden voice for personal transformation whilst boarding at Ampleforth with Housemaster Mr Starkey

Housemistress Mrs Dent provides insights into selecting a boarding school.

Leading boarding school advice from our education consultants

Here at The Independent Education Consultants, we know that making the decision to go to boarding school can sometimes be a difficult one. It can be hard to know which school is the right fit for your child. However, our education consultants will work alongside you and your family to discover which school will help your child achieve their true potential. If you require advice about Ampleforth or have any other boarding school questions, please contact our friendly team of education experts today.


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