Our academic consultants recently visited Clayesmore, a small, co-educational day and boarding school for pupils aged 3 to 18. Founded in 1895 and located on a stunning 60-acre estate in rural Dorset, there is a prep school for 150 children aged 5-13 and a senior school for 250 pupils aged 13-18. Clayesmore has a strong academic reputation for supporting those with learning needs but it can also challenge the more able. It also has a strong sporting reputation and an extensive extra-curricular programme, thus providing an excellent, all-round education.
The focus of the school is its stunning mansion. Here are the school’s offices and notice boards, some classrooms, common rooms, dining room, library and, upstairs, a junior boys’ and girls’ boarding house which, collectively, create a vibrant heart of the school. Other classrooms and facilities are located in converted buildings around the estate, so there is a lovely feel of being educated in a country estate rather than a school. The extensive school playing fields stretch out beyond the mansion and the backdrop of Hambledon Hill must make these some of the most beautiful pitches to play sport on. A particular asset is the Writer’s Block café, located in the grounds between the prep and senior schools. This is a place where sixth formers can meet, study, and buy snacks or drinks and is not only much valued in itself by the pupils but it is also an excellent way for developing sixth formers' independence and preparing them for university-style studying.
Clayesmore has a growing sporting reputation. While it excels at hockey and has enjoyed team success nationally at cross-country and biathlon, it will support and nurture anyone with any sporting ability. Individual pupils have represented county, region, or England in diverse sports such as hockey, cross-country, netball, dressage, eventing and water polo.
With a range of boarding options on offer, including full, weekly and flexi-boarding, boarding is a significant feature of Clayesmore. In fact, 50% of pupils board so, with the majority of these being full boarders, this is not a school which empties at the weekend. Thus, there is a big weekend programme of activities. This is therefore a popular school for those from London, overseas or the military. In addition to the junior boys’ and girls’ boarding house in the mansion, there are 3 boys’ boarding houses and 2 girls’ boarding houses in the grounds. They are all well-maintained, well-equipped, and cosy.
Above all, being small, Clayesmore has a culture of kindness and support. Staff/pupil relationships are excellent and the pastoral care is outstanding. Anybody can ask for help with their studies in the Teaching and Learning Centre and everyone knows everyone (even the kitchen staff know pupils by name). I was particularly struck by how happy pupils seemed to be and how polite and down-to-earth they were.
Overall, with both prep and senior school on the same site, our academic consultants believe Clayesmore is a great choice for parents looking for an all-round, ‘all-through’ school. With its small size, its strong academic, sporting, and extra-curricular provision, and a very strong pastoral care system, Clayesmore provides an outstanding, all-round education in a kind, nurturing environment where everyone knows everyone, and all pupils can find a talent and develop it as far as it will go.
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