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Swanbourne House

Catherine Stoker, Founder of The Independent Education Consultants with Swanbourne House's Registrar.

Our Founder Catherine Stoker recently had the pleasure of visiting Swanbourne House, a distinguished prep school under the leadership of Mr. Holloway from September 2023. Mr Holloway brings a wealth of experience from his finance career and his previous roles as Deputy Head at Brambletye Prep and four years teaching at Cothill House Prep. His vision for Swanbourne is clear: to uphold its tradition of providing a well-rounded education while expanding the boarding community. The following review will provide you with boarding school advice to make an informed decision for your child’s educational future.

Swanbourne House currently educates around 290 children, spanning from nursery to Year 8. Located in Buckinghamshire, it attracts a mix of local families, and further afield across the home counties. The school's strong reputation for excellence in the local day market provides a solid foundation for British families, giving Swanbourne a strong appeal to full-boarding families who live overseas.

Swanbourne's boarding facilities are warm, bright, homely, and cosy. The school can accommodate up to 60 boarders on the top two floors of the impressive mansion house. With a dedicated couple as Houseparents, a resident house tutor, and six gap students, the children have exceptional pastoral support within the boarding community. The boarding house offers a warm and inviting atmosphere with spacious dormitories, comfy beds, many social spaces, a newly renovated kitchen, and plenty of opportunities for communal activities. The full boarders sleep in age-appropriate dorms on one side of the house, and the flexi boarders at the other, allowing for a settled home-from-home for all, no matter how many children board on any one night. Friday is the most popular night to board with around 55 children in the House. Most children board between 2 and 4 nights a week. With the impressive sports fixture list on a Saturday, the school has a busy schedule for 6 days a week, with Sundays allowing for rest, playing with friends and recuperation.

Currently, Swanbourne has only a small number of full boarders at the weekends, allowing for ‘family-style’ trips, family brunch in the boarding house on Sundays and lots of individual care and support for each child as they settle into boarding school life. The children enjoy the downtime at the weekends - the week is so busy with work and activities. There's growing interest from military and international families to full board, with one of the appeals being its association with Stowe School for entry at 13+. At the time of writing, Stowe currently offers a 10% reduction in boarding fees for parents joining Swanbourne as their pathway to entry at 13+. The school is actively working to increase its appeal to full boarders at prep school age and we can see this number increasing in the years to come. With so many acres of grounds and such welcoming boarding accommodation and staff, whilst being so closely located to airports and trains to London, the school will appeal to many families dipping their toe into the waters of boarding for the first time.

The admissions process is comprehensive, including a familiarisation day at the school taking part in lessons and sitting an online English and Maths test. International families, if unable to visit the school, can sit online CAT4 tests and have an online interview.

Swanbourne takes pride in its extensive support system, including EAL (English as an Additional Language) and learning support, with options for one-on-one assistance where required. (Additional cost may apply) The boarding community includes British military families, as well as small numbers of international students from Spain, Thailand, and Nigeria. The aim is to grow the range of nationalities at the school by increasing the size of the full boarding community, whilst maintaining the largely British ‘feel’ for the school.

Swanbourne House maintains a strong focus on academics and extracurricular activities. Sports enthusiasts benefit from two astroturf fields, an indoor pool, and an impressive sports hall. Music and technology are also thriving, with a dedicated teacher emphasising the importance of coding and computer skills. The energy and enthusiasm of the technology teacher for embracing technology and AI was infectious. She sees tech and AI as a tool to support day-to-day learning and tasks while promoting critical thinking skills and maintaining a focus on communication and interaction of the humankind via class discussion. It seemed like the ideal way to embrace innovation to prepare children for their future careers, whilst not allowing it to take over from expressing individual creativity. The school provides laptops for students from Year 6 upwards for use in lessons and prep. Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the extensive grounds, woodland and forest school area, golf course, and lake, where ecology studies take place.

Swanbourne House prepares students for a variety of senior schools, with approximately 50% choosing to attend Stowe. Other popular destinations include Uppingham, Eton, Harrow, and more. The school maintains strong links with these institutions, recognising the importance of choice, based on individual talents and abilities.

In conclusion, Swanbourne House is a remarkable prep school, offering a nurturing environment that encourages students to explore their talents and abilities while preparing them for a bright future. Mr Holloway's leadership and vision promise to guide Swanbourne into an exciting new era while retaining its strong traditions.

Our boarding school advice

At The Independent Education Consultants, we provide expert boarding school advice so that you feel well-informed to make such an important decision for your child’s education and so that they are in a school where they will be happy, learn and grow in confidence. If you have any questions, please get in touch with us today.

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