Meet the Schools

With judging underway, we’re shining the spotlight on some of the schools nominated in the Independent Schools of the Year 2023 awards.

Read more about the schools below, including their accolades, achievements and why they have entered Independent Schools of the Year 2023.

Aberdour School


Nominated for: Independent Prep School of the Year

Every child has the potential to shine. At Aberdour School, the school aims to find the brilliance in every child, by providing an individually tailored education that identifies their potential and maximises their opportunities to learn, grow and succeed.

Founded in 1928, Aberdour School is a thriving and extremely successful preparatory school for girls and boys aged two to 11 years. In our recent ISI inspection in February, the top grade (Excellent) was awarded in all areas.

Set in 12 acres of beautiful Surrey parkland, Aberdour School is truly a hidden gem, providing a safe and happy haven for your child. With the many purpose-built facilities for learning, sport and play, your child can develop his or her talents and skills whilst experiencing an exceptional breadth of opportunity both inside and outside the classroom.

Aberdour is thrilled to be able to extend this provision in the Pre-Prep from September. The new purpose built eco- friendly Pre-Prep will allow children and staff to teach and learn in an innovative, creative and dynamic environment, and build upon the fantastic provision children currently receive. There will be specialist spaces and equipment in areas such as STEM, dance, cooking and design & technology.

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AKS Lytham

Nominated for: Independent School of the Year for Outstanding New Initiative

AKS Lytham is a leading co-educational day school for 0–18 year-olds, based on a 35-acre coastal setting in the Lancashire seaside town of Lytham St Annes. The school received two nominations for academic programmes in both prep and senior schools.

‘AKS Achieves’ is a fun-filled Summer Holiday Programme, run by a team of passionate prep school teachers, aimed at gap-filling, academic enrichment and character development. It was conceived to compensate for the impact of Covid lockdowns and subsequent educational inequalities between the independent and state sector.

‘Inquiry Learning Projects’ were introduced to increase academic challenge and improve skills of inquiry, critical thinking, problem-solving and communication in senior school and sixth form. Examples of projects which used the ‘Framework of Skills for Inquiry Learning’ (FOSIL) included, ‘Ham the Astro-Chimp, Hero or Victim?’ in year seven and, ‘Can logic provide the answer to existential questions?’ in year twelve. More generally, the principles of Inquiry have been embedded throughout the KS3 curriculum.

‘AKS Achieves’ and ‘Inquiry Projects’ illustrate our creative approaches to academic enrichment, and our commitment to providing challenge and extending learning beyond the classroom. This is reinforced by other initiatives, including our scholars programme and weekly reflection section sessions.

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Ashford School


Nominated for: Independent Prep School of the Year

Founded in 1898, Ashford School is a dynamic environment in which students are inspired by an adventurous approach to learning which promotes the happiness and success of all those who attend.

Ashford School is one of the UK’s leading independent co-educational day and boarding schools for children from three months to 18 years old, situated in the heart of Kent and just 37 minutes from London. The school offers an exceptional and inspiring education that promotes the happiness and success of all pupils.

Based on two sites, the school includes: Bridge Nursery and Ashford Senior School on East Hill in Ashford, and also The Stables Nursery and Ashford Prep School in the neighbouring village of Great Chart.

Families choose Ashford School because of the well-developed reputation for getting the best from your child. Small class sizes, a focus on learning in and outside the classroom, extensive resources and facilities coupled with a wide range of co-curricular activities, provides an inspiring environment that encourages growth and adventure.

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Ashville College


Nominated for: Independent Pre-Prep School of the Year

Ashville College is a leading independent day and boarding school for pupils aged two to 18, that occupies over 60 pristine acres in the historic spa town of Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

The school has a proud history of nurturing children from the ground up and at the heart of Ashville Acorns Pre-Prep lies a profound understanding of the formative years of a child’s life. From captivating music sessions that awaken a sense of rhythm and harmony to Spanish lessons that broaden cultural horizons, the staff shape the educational landscape, fostering a love for exploration and knowledge.

As an all-through school, Ashville views the early years as the foundations of the educational journey and so staff are incredibly proud to be shortlisted in this year’s Pre-Prep category. Pre-Prep is just the beginning, and the school strives to ensure that whatever stage of education a child is at, they feel nurtured in an environment where their wellbeing matters, thrive within a culture of high expectations and emerge ‘future ready’ for life beyond school.

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Barnard Castle School


Nominated for: Independent School of the Year for Outstanding New Initiative

Barnard Castle School or ‘Barney’, as we are affectionately known, has continued to adapt and remain at the forefront of delivering an educational experience that aims to develop young people with character who will ultimately thrive in an ever-changing world.

To that end, we implemented a new curriculum focused on character education, an all-encompassing one that factors in classroom and non-classroom engagement at the beginning of the 2022/2023 academic year.

In addition, the school established ‘Headspace’, which looks at supporting young people in handling and managing a variety of challenges. As part of this, there is not only dedicated time for one-to-one sessions with their Tutors and opportunities to engage in peer-led discussions on contentious topics, but Barnard Castle has also always seen the immense benefit in providing a varied and inspirational visiting speaker programme.

A crucial element of the implementation of the Barney Education, which connects all elements of the curriculum, though, has been the development of its bespoke app, Apollo. Apollo is exclusively for students and staff at Barnard Castle School, which is used by students to record and reflect upon their character development along their ‘Barney Journey’. Apollo allows students to set, view and reflect upon their personal goals; record significant experiences that have developed their character and respond to specific reflections they have been assigned.

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Benenden School

Nominated for: Independent School of the Year for Outstanding Educational Partnerships

The renowned Benenden School is celebrating 100 years at the forefront of British education this year.

Based on 250 acres of beautiful parkland just outside Cranbrook, Benenden School is one of the finest girls’ schools in the world and now welcomes day students as well as boarders. It was founded in 1923 and ever since has been inspiring future thinkers and leaders to shape a better world.

The School is marking its Centenary throughout the 2023/24 academic year with a wide range of initiatives, including a progressive new curriculum which truly prepares its students for the workplace and life. With an emphasis on professional skills, inclusive leadership and developing a lifelong love of learning – in addition to its proud record of outstanding exam results and higher education destinations – Benenden’s Complete Education is innovative and highly regarded.

Other Centenary highlights include a global conference, held in partnership with the International Coalition of Girls’ Schools, for Sixth Form students from around the world at which a series of outstanding speakers will be inspiring future female leaders.

The School’s site boasts world-class facilities including a purpose-built theatre, all-weather sports pitch, state-of-the-art Science Centre and the stunning new music school and Centenary Hall concert venue.

 The School is committed to making sure its facilities and students continually benefit the community, through its Hemsted Park public events brand, its enormous network of community partnership activity and through its bursary provision.

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Belhaven Hill School

Nominated for: Unsung Hero of the Year

Founded in 1923, Belhaven Hill School, known simply as ‘Belhaven’, is celebrating its centenary this year. Belhaven is an independent co-educational boarding and day school for children aged 5-13, set in an idyllic location on the East Lothian coastline.

With core values of Courage, Creativity and Courtesy, Belhaven aims to instil in its children the confidence to ‘have a go’, to think outside the box and to contribute to the world around them with an attitude of humility and empathy. By combining the very best aspects of a century of experience with a progressive attitude towards the opportunities presented by technological progress, and the dynamic challenge of AI in particular, the school aims to develop a mindset and a skillset that fosters a love of learning and encourages children to embrace the challenges of the 21st century.

Children’s instinctive awe of the world around them can now be enhanced as they learn to understand and appreciate our shared natural and digital resources. A well-positioned camera in a nesting box, controlled from a dormitory hideout by an app created in a cross-curricular STEM, Outdoor Education and Science project – that is the kind of composite experience that I wish for the children at Belhaven. In a school set up for boarding and day pupils, we have the enormous twin benefits of time and pastoral expertise. When these combine with ambitious children in a beautiful setting, there is no limit to what can be achieved.

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Berkhamsted Girls


Nominated for: Independent Girls’ School of the Year

Berkhamsted Girls provides a nurturing, forward-thinking environment in which our students flourish both inside and outside the classroom. Students have a bounty of opportunities to experience many co-educational activities such as school trips, theatre productions, orchestra, combined cadet force and numerous social events and mixed year-group events. At Berkhamsted, your daughter will be encouraged to try new things, expand her horizons, and become actively involved in our wide-ranging extracurricular programme. The school believes it is the personal skills they develop outside the classroom that enhance and enable their academic endeavours and qualifications.

All girls from years seven to 11 are taught on Kings Campus and belong to one of the seven vertically structured Houses. The Heads of Houses and their tutor teams support and monitor the girls’ progress through the school, working with them, their teachers, and parents. The school believes that a strong parent partnership combined with an expert pastoral system is key to enabling the girls to fulfil their potential. Learning to ‘live well’ is an important approach to life at Berkhamsted Girls; the school encourages its girls to take pleasure from small things, to practise gratitude and kindness and to enjoy the passage of time.

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Berkhamsted Pre-Prep School


Nominated for: Independent Pre-Prep School of the Year

Berkhamsted Pre-Prep is a co-educational independent day school for pupils aged three to seven. Every decision is aimed at offering the very best of a modern, excellent education and igniting a passion for learning from the very beginning of an exceptional educational journey through the school.

Berkhamsted Pre-Prep places each child at the centre of everything, with wellbeing as the priority, and providing a high level of nurture and care is the school’s primary focus.

The team are skilled professionals who have an in-depth understanding of early child development. At Pre-Prep, the school aims high to give children the best possible start to their education. Learning opportunities are planned to provide challenge, developing not only knowledge but also the skills and aptitudes that allow children to question, debate, collaborate and problem solve from a very young age.

Children are taught to recognise failure as the key to success and school is a safe space where mistakes are key to acquiring mastery. The school’s hope is to encourage their natural curiosity and passion for learning, laying the foundations that will allow them to make the most of the opportunities available to them.

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Berkhamsted School


Nominated for: Independent School of the Year for Student Careers Programme

Berkhamsted Schools Group is a family of leading independent schools based in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire, offering high quality education and care for boys and girls aged five months to 18 years. It is hard to tell when your child is young what type of young adult they will grow up to be. The earliest years are where the foundations for future success are cemented, meaning our children are nurtured to become independent, confident leaders of their own learning.

Leadership opportunities are plentiful from three years old with an emphasis on the personal and social development. As children mature and move between the sites, Berkhamsted offers pupils the opportunity to become academically ambitious through various extension societies. In addition, the school offers strong Oxbridge entry programmes.

Pupils may decide that they wish to develop their creative side through drama opportunities from their first performance in reception through to A-level or put their energy into sport – for which Berkhamsted is currently ranked 3rd in the country. The school also offers an established Duke of Edinburgh programme led by its own outdoor education team.

These opportunities allow your child to have an all-round and ambitious education which Berkhamsted believes is what develops remarkable people.

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Bournemouth Collegiate School

Nominated for: Independent School of the Year for Environmental Achievement

Bournemouth Collegiate School provides a nurturing, forward-thinking environment in which our students flourish both inside and outside the classroom. Located across two sites in the Bournemouth area, our Senior School is positioned just a five-minute walk from the sunny sands of Southbourne beaches, while our Prep School is situated in the leafy suburb of Lower Parkstone.

Our focus at BCS is to offer a fulfilling, all-round holistic education which places equal importance on academic and personal achievements and developments for our pupils throughout their BCS journey. We have a greater responsibility than ever before to nurture and support our children to prepare them for this ever-changing world, ensuring we are ‘adding value’ to all aspects of their education.

We are proud to champion co-education all through the BCS Prep and Senior schools, and realise the many benefits for both genders. The co-educational experience teaches equality and improves socialisation and communication, better preparing our pupils for the real, and ever demanding challenges of the world today. Our motto of ‘Together we achieve the extraordinary’ truly represents our community ethos. We embrace diversity, champion inclusivity and celebrate our ability to make a difference.

Our warm, welcoming environment and small size allows for strong and lasting relationships to be developed. Pastoral care has always been highly esteemed, with our team specifically skilled to coach, support and develop our students through their senior school years. The Heads of Year and their tutor teams support and monitor the students’ progress through the school, working with them, their teachers, and parents. We believe a strong parent partnership combined with an expert pastoral system is key to enabling the pupils to fulfil their potential. Inevitably, there will be challenges throughout their teenage years; we aim to support the pupils in navigating these challenges for themselves, building self-efficacy and preparing for the world beyond school.

The environment and opportunities BCS provides means whilst our pupils are bright, inquisitive and aspirational, but also have their feet firmly on the ground and understand that individual excellence shines most brightly in the service of the collective team effort. We aim to foster talent in all its forms and to open doors to curiosity and creativity. Independent-mindedness and a commitment to their learning journey is essential, but so too is the sense of community that seeks to respect and value all its members.

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Channing School

Nominated for: Marketing Award for Effective Brand Communication

Channing is a happy, purposeful school for girls aged 4 to 18, based in Highgate, north London.

Their marketing team ‘brings the outside in and takes the inside out’. Deeply involved in understanding the local market, their intelligence about competitors and the ‘word on the street’ is invaluable and they work tirelessly to communicate the essence of the school to prospective students and families, including launching a podcast series enabling listeners to get under the skin of life at Channing.

In the past two years they have brought their knowledge to bear in improving communications with prospective families, leading to increased acceptance rates at every entry point. They launched a myth-busting advertising campaign tackling misconceptions about the school head on and this, coupled with an emphasis on consistent messaging, has led to more candidates making Channing their first choice.

 To embed brand communication across the school the team provides practical support to colleagues, ranging from drafting or reviewing text, to designing brochures and digital comms, to co-developing INSET sessions on parental communications. You could stop any student or staff member to ask them what Girls Enjoying Success means and every one of them could now answer that question consistently and with confidence!

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City of London School

Nominated for: Development Award for Outstanding Fundraising Achievement

City of London School is proud to be shortlisted for the title of Independent Boys’ School of the Year. Located in the heart of London, we aspire to be a school that fully prepares respectful, optimistic and inquisitive boys for the rapidly changing demands of the 21st century.

We aim always to provide an education in the broadest sense, combining academic excellence with exceptional pastoral care, framed by an outward-looking and forward-thinking approach. We also strive to make that education available to as many talented boys as possible, including through transformational bursaries for those who may not otherwise be able to afford the fees.

These aspirations are encapsulated within the three pillars of our Strategic Vision: our commitment to educate young people who are kind, aware and ready. More importantly, they are reflected in school life each day: for example, in our celebration of diversity, our love of learning for its own sake, our inclusive approach to pastoral care, our creative curriculum, our commitment to partnership and our pupils’ fantastic charitable and community endeavours.

Our strong relationship with City of London School for Girls ensures that our pupils can enjoy the very best of both single-sex and coeducational opportunities.

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Claremont School

Nominated for: Independent School of the Year for Outstanding New Initiative

At Claremont School in East Sussex, ‘student voice’ is at the heart of the learning experience. It not only enables children to shape their own learning journey and develop important communication skills and levels of self-esteem, but to see how their voice has the power to influence, entertain and be a force for change.

The collaborative efforts of the Prep School Eco Committee and young reporters on the school newspaper, the Arrow, are great examples of student voice at work. With its dedicated following across the whole school community, some of the children’s favourite cover stories have included ‘Down to Earth MP!’ which featured an exclusive interview with local MP Huw Merriman about environmental issues, and ‘Save our Seas’ which told the story of what happened when Arrow reporters accompanied Eco Warriors and School Council representatives on an historic trip to the Houses of Parliament. There they delivered a petition which called for action to be taken before 2035 to stop Southern Water dumping sewage in the sea, and as a result of their efforts, Sally-Ann Hart MP is currently working with Southern Water to bring an earlier solution to the problem. In June this year, the Arrow newspaper team was named ‘Editorial Team of the Year 2023’ by First News, the highly acclaimed and award winning national newspaper for 7-14 year olds.

Meanwhile, Eco Schools said of our Eco Warriors ‘Your fantastic work has really demonstrated, on a national level, that young people care about the state of our nation’s waters and hopefully you will prove to be at the forefront of change…’ At the time of writing, the Eco committee has been shortlisted for the Eco Schools Marine Topic award, and the Independent School of the Year 2023 for Environmental Impact. Claremont Prep School also has BBC Young Reporter School status and has been awarded the much coveted Green Flag status in the last 3 consecutive years.

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Claremont Fan Court School


Nominated for: Independent School of the Year for Outstanding New Initiative

Claremont Fan Court School in Esher is known for its child-centred, compassionate, and truly co-educational environment. It is a great choice for families who are looking for an academically ambitious school that educates the whole child, whilst remaining committed to providing a nurturing and supportive environment for its pupils.

This year, Claremont commemorated their centenary with the launch of a new initiative called ‘Claremont 100’. Celebrating a centenary as a school is not just about the achievements of the past 100 years but involves looking towards the future. For Claremont, creating a force for good and developing socially responsible citizens, is at the heart of the initiative.

Designed to develop empathy and community awareness amongst pupils, parents, alumni and staff, the goal of the initiative is to raise £100,000 for five local, pupil-nominated charities. Pupils committed time and ideas to Claremont 100, created fundraising schemes, ran events, and raised charity awareness within the local community and beyond.

Claremont 100 will renew each time the goal of raising £100,000 once it has been met with the nomination of the next five local charities. Claremont’s pledge to commit time and energy into the local community will form a lasting legacy of their centenary celebrations.

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Coworth Flexlands

Nominated for: Small Independent School of the Year

Coworth Flexlands is a co-ed prep school & nursery for children aged from 2½ to 11 years. The school is ideally located in 13 acres of beautiful grounds on the Surrey/Berkshire borders.

Inspiring Minds and Nurturing Spirit is at the heart of the school’s approach. The school inspire minds through highly specialist teaching led by staff who are passionate and knowledgeable about their curriculum area. Pupils show high levels of understanding and attainment. Pupils are well known to staff, and as such, their individual trajectory of progress is carefully planned and monitored.

The result of this approach sees every pupil reaching and growing their potential at a pace which is right for them. A school where every child’s personality shines. Talents are nurtured and pupils are encouraged to follow their passions. There is a culture of happiness and wellbeing. Pupils flourish when they are happy. Every pupil is valued and celebrated, and this develops their self-confidence and boosts self-esteem.

Coworth Flexlands is a school where happiness gets results! Pupils leave Coworth Flexlands as happy, confident and curious learners, ready to embrace new opportunities and make the most of the world ahead of them.

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Dame Allan’s Schools


Nominated for: Independent School of the Year for Outstanding New Initiative

A ‘Dragons’ Den’ guru, an award-winning international speaker, a professor of physics, and a leading economist were amongst the debut line-up for The Lectures – an inspiring series of speaking events that launched at Dame Allan’s Schools in 2022.

It was recognised that pupils would be leaving school into an exceptionally challenging working environment. The Lectures aimed to offer them a new perspective and broaden their understanding of a subject, outside the traditional classroom. A-level students in particular were encouraged to attend the talk that suited their chosen subject. They were able to chat with the speaker in advance and gain tailored advice.

This was the start of a three-year programme for The Lectures – kindly funded by alumnus Mark Dolder – and a landmark moment for Dame Allan’s, who had previously never hosted speaking events of this magnitude or prestige. The Lectures will make a welcome return later this year.

Dame Allan’s Schools are a group of independent schools in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The schools are unique in the region for following the Diamond Structure of education, and recently the boys’ and girls’ senior schools were named joint ‘North East Independent School of the Year’ in The Times Parent Power Guide.

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Dumpton School


Nominated for: Independent Prep School of the Year

Founded in 1903, Dumpton is an independent co-educational day school for children aged two to 13 set in an inspirational 26 acre site in the Dorset countryside. Headmaster Christian Saenger is in his 4th year at the school, which has gone from strength to strength under his dynamic leadership.

Building on its already impressive facilities and powerful ‘Be Kind, Aim High’ school culture, Dumpton has introduced a number of forward-thinking educational initiatives to great effect. These include a research-based, award-winning approach to pupil wellbeing which puts social and emotional learning to the fore, as well as the introduction of character education framework – ‘The Dumpton Way’ – which now runs alongside the academic curriculum, and is underpinned by an ambitious yet inclusive approach to its three co-curricular pillars: sport, the performing arts, and outdoor learning.

In addition, a new school-wide focus on ‘Global Citizenship’ has proved inspirational, with pupils taking increasingly active and passionate roles in promoting sustainability, protecting the environment, and supporting the school’s local community. Alongside this focus on pupils’ personal development, impressively, the school has continued to hit the highest of standards academically, with English and maths outcomes improving throughout the school, and over a quarter of this year’s year eight gaining an academic scholarship to their chosen senior schools.

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Emanuel School

Nominated for: Independent School of the Year for DEIJ

Emanuel is a thriving co-ed day school in south-west London. It is an ambitious and aspirational environment, with success being achieved academically, as well as in sports, music and drama.

Our pupils are motivated and guided in achieving their goals by dedicated and enthusiastic teachers, men and women who care deeply about their subjects, possessing the skills to impart their knowledge and passions. This trusted relationship between pupils and teachers, with the support of parents, is one of the key reasons why Emanuel has become such a positive, happy and high achieving environment.

Beyond the classroom, we encourage every pupil to take an active part in the daily co-curricular life of the school, fulfilling personal aims and learning to feel proud of their contributions to their house, year, club or team. Busy pupils traditionally thrive, growing in confidence through their opportunities and benefiting from wide-reaching social groups.

Our approach to pastoral care is rooted in kindness and mutual respect – we wish each child to think well of themselves and demonstrate empathy and respect in their interactions with others. With numerous opportunities for outreach and charity work within our award-winning programme, we hope that our pupils learn the value and sense of personal fulfilment to be found in helping others.

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Falcons Pre-Preparatory Chiswick

Nominated for: Independent Pre-Prep School of the Year

Falcons Pre-Prep Chiswick is a thriving small independent school in the heart of the Chiswick community. The past few years have seen the school going from strength to strength, with their ISI report conducted in January 2022 grading them as ‘Excellent’ in terms of Achievement and Personal Development, commenting on how successful and inclusive they are in their teaching: ‘The overall achievement of pupils in all areas is excellent…In the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), children make an excellent start to their education…[and] early identification and carefully planned support ensures all children have full access to the curriculum.’

With Nursery as the main entry point at 2+ into the school, a recent survey of current parents told the school that the key reason they chose Falcons Pre-Prep Chiswick was due to its high level of pastoral care. This was closely followed by the strength of their academic provision. “Our sense is that the academic foundation being created for our son is world class. It is clear that all the teachers really care about the pupils, their wellbeing and their progress. The school day is filled with fun and adventure, and a love of learning is being fostered.”

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Handcross Park School

Nominated for: Independent Pre-Prep School of the Year

Handcross Park is one of the top co-educational, day and boarding prep schools in the UK, for children aged 2-13. Our beautiful pre-prep sits in a walled ‘Secret Garden’ and is the perfect setting to start your journey at our wonderful School, it truly is a very special place to be.

At Handcross Park, we want children to enjoy childhood for as long as possible, but we also want them to develop and progress within a stimulating environment that offers many opportunities both inside and outside the classroom. We are a school that has been described as purposeful, ambitious, forward-thinking and, most importantly, kind.

Our motto is Be Trewe, and we believe that if children are happy then they will flourish, reach their full potential and carry a love of learning with them for the rest of their lives. Although we are predominantly a day school, we have a thriving, warm and vibrant boarding community, where we offer full, weekly and flexi boarding.

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Heatherton School


Nominated for: Small Independent School of the Year

Heatherton is a forward-thinking, innovative school with a very special close family feel that is renowned in the Buckinghamshire area. The school is in the enviable position of being a prep school within the Berkhamsted Schools Group, meaning it is able to retain its nurturing ethos while still benefiting from all the facilities, resources and teaching expertise that comes from being part of this outstanding and historic family of schools. Heatherton was founded over 100 years ago and is an IAPS school with a kite mark for excellence and an admirable record for success.

Heatherton has a rising three co-ed nursery where brothers and sisters can attend together. Our dedicated early years learning environment is where the building blocks for lifelong learning are laid. The nursery girls and boys are very much part of the whole school and have specialist sessions for French, music, science, computing, art, ballet and PE. A team of teachers who are passionate about their subject and classes, plan engaging and individualised lessons for each child they teach. Small class sizes at Heatherton with a teacher and TA allow for a high adult to pupil ratio to offer the appropriate level of support and challenge.

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Holmwood House School

Nominated for: Independent Prep School of the Year

Set in 25 acres of beautiful grounds in Colchester, Holmwood House provides an academically rigorous, yet balanced education so every child thrives and achieves their full potential. Small class sizes allow teachers to create inspirational learning environments and provide pupils with individual support, stretch and challenge.

Our curriculum is underpinned by the belief that academic learning which blends excitement and challenge is integral to developing motivated, confident and engaged children who have a growing curiosity and understanding of the world around them.

At Holmwood we firmly believe that learning extends beyond the classroom. The academic curriculum is supported by boundless opportunities outside the classroom for children to play sports, be creative, and challenge themselves. Through these activities and opportunities, we ensure that our pupils gain the chance to express themselves, gain confidence and build self-esteem.

Head, Mr Edward Bond says “We prepare young people for life so their wellbeing, conduct and character matter to us. We want them to understand how to take on life’s challenges, know how to seek support, when to take risks, be polite and treat each other well.”

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International School Aberdeen (ISA)


Nominated for: Independent School of the Year for Student Wellbeing

International School Aberdeen (ISA) is Scotland’s first international school educating children from age three to 18. Since the school first opened in 1972, its mission has been to deliver educational excellence in a safe and caring learning environment.

The importance of student wellbeing has led to the creation of a dedicated ‘ISA Whole School Wellbeing’ initiative, a tiered system for academic and social-emotional inclusion and support systems.

A key component is the Student Wellbeing Team who use an Active Monitoring System to track how children are feeling mentally, emotionally, and socially. The daily log entry process has proved itself to be a unique and vital lifeline for receiving feedback from students on worries and anxieties.

A key focus of the Student Wellbeing Team has been to conduct surveys on the impact of screen time on mental health, and the benefits and disadvantages of technology. All in response to what the school hears from its young people. Student wellbeing sits at the heart of everything ISA stands for and, while educating 50 nationalities, its dedicated wellbeing initiatives encourage mutual tolerance and active learning from peers.

Developing the Student Wellbeing Team has been fundamental to ISA’s resilience and ability to face change to support the emotional security and wellbeing of its community of 550 students.

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James Allen’s Girls’ School (JAGS)


Nominated for: Independent Girls’ School of the Year

James Allen’s Girls’ School (JAGS) knows that history only gets you so far.

While it bears the title of London’s oldest independent girls’ school, and has indeed been proudly educating girls since 1741, its reputation is built firmly upon providing a forward-thinking and innovative education which celebrates diversity and access.

JAGS is a place where passionate individuals thrive in an atmosphere of compassionate challenge. Pupils flourish in an environment which nurtures self-confidence and independence, all the while feeling supported through the school’s outstanding pastoral care.

Central to the school’s vision is an extensive and generous bursary scheme which allows JAGS to continue attracting intellectually curious girls, regardless of their economic background. More than one in six pupils studying at the senior school receive this transformational, life-changing bursary provision.

At GCSE and A-level the school consistently achieves among the highest results in the country, particularly in STEM subjects, and pupils regularly go on to study at some of the world’s most prestigious universities.

While outside of the classroom pupils indulge their interests and passions through the myriad of co-curricular clubs on offer across 22 acres of stunning school grounds.

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Kew College Prep

Nominated for: Small Independent School of the Year

Kew College Prep provides a small and vibrant school community. The relationship between staff and pupils is warm and open and there is a tangible buzz of creativity in the air. The curriculum is designed to provide pupils with opportunities to create, connect and collaborate. Technology is used to enhance learning across all subject areas, and sports and arts feature prominently in school life. The school also has a unique 11+ programme that is personalised for each child.

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King’s Hawford

Nominated for: Independent Pre Prep School of the Year

The King’s Worcester Prep Schools provide children with firm foundations for their education journey. It is these foundations that help shape and nurture their emerging characters.

King’s Hawford is a dynamic, exciting and award-winning prep school, where pupils aged 2 to 11 experience hands-on learning, discovering passions both in and outside the classroom.

King’s Hawford is an exciting place to learn and develop. From embracing every academic challenge, dancing, singing and performing, learning a new language, to exploring the great outdoors, their children embrace every aspect of school life.

Set in 23 acres of land, which runs alongside the Droitwich canal in the heart of Worcestershire, King’s Hawford’s rural location inspires its pupils every day. As well as the extensive grounds, children are encouraged to make full use of the adjacent river, canal and farm. The school celebrates the outdoors, with outdoor learning featuring prominently in the curriculum.

King’s Hawford is regularly described as “one big, happy family” and staff work hard to ensure that everyone is welcome, in a safe, secure, and caring environment. The school provides an ethos which supports pupils, enabling their success, character development, and well-being.

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King’s House School


Nominated for: Marketing Award for Effective Brand Communication

King’s House is an independent day prep school and nursery for children aged three to 13 in Richmond, London. KHS is proud of its commitment to a broad and balanced academic and co-curricular education, allowing pupils to develop their unique interests and talents in a wide range of subjects. Children are introduced to the exciting world of learning in a safe, secure, and stimulating environment at age three.

Starting in the Nursery, children benefit from specialist teaching across PE, computing, music, languages, and drama. As they continue through the school, children are supported through excellent pastoral care as they grow into confident and independent learners. By the time they reach year four, children are ready for the move to the Senior Department as curious, independent learners.

King’s House is excited to be welcoming girls into the school from September 2024, as it begins the transition to co-education. A nurturing environment remains at the heart of the school’s ethos and it is delighted that girls will be able to stay on after the Nursery for the first time.

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King’s International College


Nominated for: Independent School of the Year for International Student Experience

The International College’s ‘culture feast’ initiative has become a highly popular side of school life at King’s International College, and it plays an important role in the broader mission of giving international students an innovative ‘soft landing’ in British boarding. The school has been striving to recognise and celebrate all cultures represented by the truly international student and staff body, and to promote better the students’ appreciation of other cultures.

As eating together is a pillar of many cultures, the school felt that its catering provision was an important area for this: a chance to unlock students’ pride in showing off their own culinary heritage, especially during times of celebration; giving students the comfort of being able to eat flavours of home; and also offering a way to stimulate their appreciation of the traditions of others.

Student voice is key, and through the school’s recent initiative, the catering team has worked with students to develop menus around the dishes they wish to celebrate from their home, developing internationally eclectic menus. From the popular Katsu Curry night to Ukrainian desserts, and from Nigerian Moin Moin cakes to a traditional British summer picnic, mealtimes are a chance for the whole community to celebrate international diversity. Bon appétit!

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King’s St Alban’s

Nominated for: Independent School of the Year for Student Wellbeing

The King’s Worcester Prep Schools provide children with firm foundations for their education journey. It is these foundations that help shape and nurture their emerging characters. King’s St Alban’s is a beautiful and nurturing city centre prep school and nursery where pupils aged 2 – 11 discover, experience, and learn more every day.

King’s St Alban’s Prep School excels at celebrating individuality and is a place where kindness rules. The school’s location close to the senior school ensures a smooth transition from Year 6 to Year 7.

At King’s St Alban’s they want their school to feel exciting, so they make learning as fun and thrilling as possible. Their school life is rich, vibrant, and designed to ensure that every child discovers their inner talents, empowering them to be the very best they can be. Their aim is to inspire every child, build confidence and resilience, and encourage them to aim high.

Nestled in the centre of Worcester King’s St Alban’s full use of the fantastic facilities at the senior school, such as studios for drama and for dance, sports halls, sports fields, the swimming pool, and the theatre. Children are happy and confident and display great pride in their school.

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King’s Worcester

Nominated for: Co-educational Independent School of the Year

King’s Worcester is an independent day school for boys and girls aged 11 to 18. Set in the heart of Worcestershire it the West Midlands, King’s neighbour Worcester Cathedral, sits on the picturesque banks of the River Severn, overlooking its 50+ acres of sports fields. A sense of history permeates every brick of this remarkable school, from the medieval Edgar Tower, housing the oldest classroom in the country, to the ancient College Hall. Around every corner however, stunning, contemporary architecture blends seamlessly with the ancient fabric of the school, and that encapsulates the school’s ethos perfectly, respecting the school’s proud history, and traditional values, while embracing technology and innovative teaching methods.

The young people who come to King’s do outstandingly well academically (the school is ranked as one of the Top 10 West Midlands Independent Schools in The Sunday Times Parent Power), because they enjoy what is on offer and throw themselves into the opportunities (100+ clubs) which school life presents and push themselves to give their best in everything they do. They develop a passion for learning inside and outside of the classroom, a curiosity about the world and a desire to know more about it.

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Leighton Park School

Nominated for: Independent School of the Year for Environmental Achievement

What is education for, if not to prepare our children for the world they will live in?

The World Economic Forum has identified the 10 biggest global challenges facing humanity, including climate change, food security, the 4th industrial revolution and gender equality. They also identify the top skills that people will need in 2025, including analytical thinking, innovation, complex problem solving, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility.

Analysis like this shaped Leighton Park’s future-thinking vision: we exist to form students of real character and confidence, with a determined desire to change the world.

Fortunately, this focus doesn’t come at the expense of a strong, well-balanced education. Leighton Park combines the best academic progress in Berkshire with award-winning personal development and sector-leading pastoral care. Head, Matthew LS Judd explains: “We don’t try to be like other schools. Our starting point is to nurture each young person to really think about who they are and what they want to achieve. From there we do everything we can to support them to succeed as themselves – true to who they are and all the more remarkable for it.”

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Manchester High School for Girls

Nominated for: Independent Girls School of the Year

MHSG is unashamedly single-sex, dedicated to academic excellence, fostering a love for learning, and promoting cultural awareness. Our core values are Compassion, Individuality, Innovation, Learning, and Wellbeing.

We emphasize holistic development, prioritizing happiness as a cornerstone of success. Our students actively uphold our values, and our Ivy Awards highlight character growth. We celebrate diversity through multi-faith festivals, charity work, and cultural appreciation.

We offer a rich curriculum and a wide array of extracurricular activities. Our ‘Balance Week’ encourages work-life balance and resilience. From mindfulness to robotics, our Preparatory Department nurtures curiosity and creativity.

For senior students, ‘Well Being’ classes cover practical life skills and focus on character development.

We averaged 97% of A-level grades A*-B, 2019-2022. We continually update our curriculum to offer innovative subjects, including Mandarin and a new Design, Technology, and Innovation Programme.

Our Sixth Form Enrichment Programme includes university preparation and diverse courses like Greek temple architecture.

We’re a close-knit community with engaged alumnae. Our dedicated staff support both past and present students. Our Head is a respected education leader.

In 2024, we celebrate 150 years of empowering girls. Our vibrant community spans generations, and we look forward to the next 150 years of excellence.

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Micklefield School


Nominated for: Independent School of the Year for Performing Arts/Music/Drama

Micklefield is an outstanding independent nursery and prep school located in the heart of Reigate, Surrey for children aged 3 to 11 years. At the heart of its educational philosophy is the belief in ‘igniting a passion for learning’.

Micklefield firmly believes that the performing arts is for everyone and encourages all children to participate. The school has an impressive range of choirs and a vibrant orchestra featuring violins, cellos, harps, keyboards, guitars, clarinets, bassoons, saxophones, trumpets, trombones, French horns, and a percussion section that even includes the marimba!

Every year, all children (from nursery to year six) participate in a school production with upper school children also having an annual musical production which provides a fantastic opportunity for the children to act, sing and dance with the performance taking place in a local theatre.

The Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) inspection in March found the school to be “Excellent” in all areas and particularly commended the multicultural whole-school singing and the outstanding musical knowledge demonstrated by the school’s students.

The curriculum is truly inclusive and diverse, exposing children to the arts from various perspectives and cultures, whilst also instilling a deep understanding of the arts’ importance in society.

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New Hall School

new hall school

Nominated for: Independent Prep School of the Year

New Hall School is a leading Catholic independent boarding and day school, set within 70 acres in the village of Boreham. Formerly a Tudor palace, New Hall’s building and grounds are breathtaking, whilst state-of-the-art facilities provide excellent resources to help pupils nurture their interests and talents. From year three, each pupil is given an iPad and the opportunity to learn a different musical instrument every six weeks before settling on a choice to pursue in year four.

A distinctive aspect of New Hall is its ‘Diamond Model’, where from ages one to 11 and in sixth form, lessons are co-educational; whilst from age 11 to 16, students have single-sex lessons. This means teachers can tailor pastoral and academic provisions to meet the needs of young people more sensitively during the natural progression of adolescence. Outside the classroom, co-curricular activities are in abundance from outdoor learning at our Farm to the Young Engineers’ club.

New Hall is also the number one school in Britain for skiing, whilst its dance school was praised as the ‘most outstanding’. New Hall will soon be opening an equestrian centre, whilst the construction of a nearby railway station will offer connections to London within 30 minutes.

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Northwood College for Girls GDST

Nominated for: Independent Girls’ School of the Year

Last year marked the school’s 130th year of providing an outstanding education in Northwood. It was important to the school that this milestone generated a more meaningful, purposeful and educational impact than one day of celebrations alone, so they launched the NWC 130 Campaign with an ambitious pledge that each student would complete an act of service for their local community before the end of the academic year.

Students cooked meals for the local Food Bank; cleaned Residents’ Notice boards; volunteered in, and decorated, shops, a dentist surgery and a charity lunch club; held an Orchestral Workshop for a local school; performed musical productions to various local charities; litter-picked; wrapped gifts for Hillingdon Council; distributed a charity newsletter; planted a wildflower meadow for the staff and patients at a cancer centre; undertook a social history project with a senior citizens group; hosted a mock COP event for local schools and supported a charity run.

Intellectual curiosity was ignited with 130-themed lessons, where students used archive materials to learn about the school’s history (and wrote letters to alumni); and in the school’s characteristically joyful spirit, all students assembled on the field for a high energy exercise ‘drill’ (reminiscent of a 1890’s school day) and created memories together at a celebratory vintage picnic.

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Parkside School

Nominated for: Independent Prep School of the Year

In today’s rapidly evolving world, education must adapt to keep pace with the ever-changing demands of the future. Amidst this need for transformation, Parkside School, located in Cobham, Surrey, has emerged as a shining example of a school committed to innovative learning.

It recognises that the one-size-fits-all approach to education is no longer effective in a world where diversity and individuality are to be embraced. From curiosity led and skills-based learning to collaborative group activities, Parkside School creates a learning environment where critical thinking, problem-solving skills and a genuine passion for learning are the ‘norm’. By integrating interactive and hands-on experiences into their curriculum, they create an environment that sparks curiosity and nurtures a love of learning.

Technology has become an integral part of our lives and Parkside School recognises its importance in enhancing learning. The School has made significant investments in state-of-the-art educational technology, such as Virtual Reality (VR) headsets and embracing the benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI), by promoting its appropriate usage rather than forbidding it. This ensures that the pupils have access to the tools and resources necessary for a modern education. Parkside School seamlessly integrates technology into their classrooms, allowing pupils to explore concepts in a dynamic and engaging manner.

The most recent ISI Inspection Report, September 2022 deemed the school to be “excellent” in all areas. The report attributed its success to its focus on creative teaching, an innovative curriculum and a dedication to individual, personal development. Parkside School has just enjoyed its best set of Common Entrance exam results and has been shortlisted for the Best Independent Prep School of the Year 2023.

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Prince’s Mead School

princes mead school
Nominated for: Co-educational Independent School of the Year

Prince’s Mead is an ambitious co-educational school for children aged three to 11 years where, above all, happiness reigns. Set in the Itchen Valley, the 12 acres of grounds and Worthy House are simply stunning with space for children to be energetic, creative and reflective.

The broad curriculum allows every child to enjoy a large variety of subjects and be inspired by enthusiastic teachers. Recently adopting the PSB (Pre-Senior Baccalaureate) programme of study, Prince’s Mead ensures that pupils develop a secure understanding of how they learn, strong independent and collaborative skills, and have experienced leadership in various forms.

The extensive range of co-curricular activities at Prince’s Mead enable every pupil the chance to shine, whether it’s performance, music, art, programming and coding, design & technology, or sport, the specialist teachers build confidence and important life skills such as collaboration, determination, and leadership.

The pastoral care at Prince’s Mead is second to none, with staff creating a nurturing environment that provides every child with a happy start to school. “Without sounding twee, Prince’s Mead is like being enveloped in a warm hug” – these words (from the parent of a current year five pupil) perfectly sum up what it’s like to be part of the school’s community.

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Ryde School

Nominated for: Rising Star of the Year

Ryde School with Upper Chine (known locally as Ryde School) is a day and boarding school on the Isle of Wight, only 10 minutes by Hovercraft from Southsea & Portsmouth. The school has been shortlisted for the Rising Star Award, showcasing the talent of pupil Thomas Luke, now a full scholar at the Royal College of Music and who studied at Ryde between the ages of 3 and 18 years of age.

Winner of the keyboard category and one of five finalists of the BBC Young Musician 2020 Thomas is an accomplished and talented musician and an acclaimed pianist. Awarded a full Ryde School Music Scholarship, the school worked hard with Thomas over the years to ensure he was able to make the most of his talent, enabling flexible timetabling and even moving a grand piano into one boarding house for Thomas’ daily practice during covid and his final year at school.

A key ethos of the school is helping all students to find and nurture their talents and Thomas is one of a number of talented and accomplished pupils to have been educated at Ryde and to embody the school values of ambition, responsibility, courage and respect.

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Sevenoaks School


Nominated for: Independent School of the Year for Student Wellbeing

Sevenoaks School encourages students to combine their knowledge, passions, and philanthropic values, helping them to flourish as individuals and make the world a better place. Its involvement in Harvard University’s ground-breaking Human Flourishing Program gathers meaningful insight to ensure the whole school community flourishes.

This year Sevenoaks introduced new initiatives to support happiness and life satisfaction; mental and physical health; meaning and purpose; character and virtue; and close social relationships – all key measures of flourishing.

The school’s staff have documented these projects and their findings in Innovate, Sevenoaks School’s academic journal to help others learn and develop their own teaching practices. The school is also running a Flourishing Conference with Harvard in October to share best practices.

Harvard identifies volunteering as a key component for student wellbeing. Over 400 students volunteer weekly on community projects or run Service Action Programmes including fundraising to help tackle societal issues such as climate change or supporting refugees. Other wellbeing initiatives include a Gratitude Messaging Service to thank friends and staff for everyday acts of kindness.

Recognising the importance of working together as a whole school community, emphasis is placed on listening actively to students and staff to ensure that every individual at the school feels respected, valued and integral to the community. This year, the school added a Parent Wellbeing Group to run alongside existing staff and student-led groups, ensuring that everyone in the community can help shape the school’s approach to promoting wellbeing and mental health.

It also runs equity, diversity and inclusion affinity groups, a sustainability working group, student councils for Lower School, Middle School and Sixth Form and a staff forum. Community members relish the opportunity to raise ideas and see changes made and this contributes to their ability to flourish in a community which takes their views seriously.

St Augustine’s Priory

Nominated for: Independent School of the Year for Performing Arts/Music/Drama

The performing arts are central to school life and all pupils, from nursery to year 13, are involved throughout the year. Music and Drama are both integral to the curriculum, alongside extracurricular activities including dance, drama and singing.

This year our senior school performed sell-out shows over three nights in their production of Sister Act at the Watermans Arts Centre. The shows shone with dramatic and musical performances and high production values. Backstage and onstage, our senior students demonstrated their expertise, individuality, creativity and confidence in planning and executing a major event. There have also been productions of Grease and The Wizard of Oz too.

The school has a wide range of musical groups: including prep and senior flute and violin ensembles, senior orchestra, chamber choir and senior choir.

From an early age at the school, pupils are encouraged not only to perform but also to be involved behind the scenes. Acting, directing, designing, costumes, props, lighting and sound are all in the remit of working on a production at St Augustine’s Priory. In addition, pupils enjoy regular theatre trips and professionals are also brought in to perform plays and deliver specialist workshops on everything from acting on screen to stage lighting.

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St George’s School, Ascot

Nominated for: Independent Girls School of the Year

St George’s is a thriving independent boarding and day school for girls aged 11-18 offering an ambitious, connected and future-facing education tailored for girls to realise their potential both at school and in fulfilling adult lives ahead. Awarded ‘excellent’ in its November 2022 ISI inspection, the report speaks of pupils demonstrating ‘healthy self-knowledge, well developed study skills, first-class social skills and an awareness of the world around them.’

The St George’s ethos, and education, focuses on developing Confident, Capable and Connected young women who are thoroughly prepared for the world beyond school. Learning in an all-girls environment fosters confidence as girls are emboldened to innovate, lead and express informed views free from gender stereotypes. They are, as a recent Head Girl explained, at ‘the centre of their own story’ throughout their time at the school. They are exposed to a wide range of opportunities both inside and outside of the classroom, developing excellence in academic, sporting, musical, dramatic and creative pursuits. Throughout their time at St George’s pupils are encouraged to connect across the diverse school community but also with the world around them and so they develop a strong sense of what they want to bring to and how they will challenge the society they will ultimately join.

St Piran’s School

Nominated for: Independent Prep School of the Year

St Piran’s School, Maidenhead has over 200 years of history, but is always looking to the future to provide families with exceptional education.

We recognise our parents are juggling family life, careers and modern-day pressures whilst wanting the best first experience for their children in education. Being great educators for us is a given and we have a strong reputation in achieving academic excellence. However, looking at the pressures parents face we wanted to help support them all year round.

We looked at our provision outside of the traditional school times to see how we could support them whilst offering more than just childcare. We lowered the school starting age to 2 years old and re-evaluated our nursery provision so we could provide the 2 to 5 years old with a progressive curriculum based on learning based play and offering specialist teachers in sports and music.

All our nursery children have swimming as part of their weekly learning. We reviewed our offering during school holidays and contracted with a number of different companies so we could offer pupils a variety of experiences during the school holidays including for our 2 year olds. We also ensured we could offer parents the wraparound care they needed and expended our hours from 7.30am until 6pm. The response from parents has been amazing and our school community is thriving.

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St Michael’s School

Nominated for: Development Award for Outstanding Fundraising Achievement

St Michael’s School in Leigh-on-Sea is a small but busy co-educational prep for children aged 3-11 years. The school excels at music, sport, drama and art alongside impressive academic results for the 11 plus, selective independent schools and the annual SATS tests. Recognised as a Google Reference School and receiving an Excellent rating from the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) this March, there is much to be proud of. With an average of 250 pupils the school can invest in each pupil and go the extra mile to develop confident, self-assured and kind individuals in readiness for secondary school and beyond.

 This year, St Michael’s commemorated their centenary. Although achievements of the past 100 years were celebrated, focus was given to the school’s wider community and how as a school underpinned by a Christian ethos, we can continue to support those around us in the next 100 years. With the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee the same year, 70 good deeds were created to be completed by every pupil. Designed to develop empathy and community awareness, pupils, parents and staff committed time to various charitable initiatives. Even our very youngest pupils took part, learning how a smile can make all the difference to someone’s day.

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The Abbey School

Nominated for: Independent School of the Year for Sporting Achievement

The Abbey School, Reading, is a remarkable all-girls community of learning and brilliant experiences. It is a place of curiosity, adventurous spirits, and the excitement of discovery. We focus on individual care and attention in a warmly supportive atmosphere, full of fun and laughter.

Our students have the assurance to take risks, explore interests and passions, and engage generously with the world and with each other. Our results are outstanding, but what matters to us is how students achieve them. Our goal is to equip girls to live with confidence, purpose and joy. This means providing exceptional opportunities across the widest spectrum of learning and activities. We offer more choice in our curriculum than almost any other school, so that students lead their learning and mature into the people they mean to be.

What’s special about The Abbey is the atmosphere. We’re a diverse, down-to-earth community full of enthusiasm, spark and energy. In today’s world, all-girls education matters: it helps our students face the future on their own terms, ready to make the world a better place for themselves and the communities around them.

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The Elms


Nominated for: Independent School of the Year for Outstanding Educational Partnerships

At The Elms junior school, on the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire border, girls and boys aged between 0-11 years develop a love for learning and the skills to help them go further.

Alongside their on-site senior school, Trent College, they share a passion for serving the community to increase local children’s opportunities and aspirations through a range of initiatives. The Elms are delighted to be shortlisted by the ISP awards for their STEM partnership programme with two state primary schools, where the aim was to inspire a passion for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths activities whilst raising standards and learning outcomes.

Over four academic terms, 126 children enhanced their skills and knowledge in a series of eight modules entitled ‘Movies and Magic’. Learning about the science behind magic tricks and Hollywood films culminated in a celebration event with TV presenter Andrew Smyth.

A further opportunity for these pupils was to take part in an after-school club at The Elms, where over two terms, they designed and built a full-sized Green Power Goblin electric kit car. An exciting time trial race at the end of the programme saw pupils test drive the car themselves in front of peers and parents.

The Mount School York

Nominated for: Rising Star of the Year

Mount pupils know that being a small school is not a hindrance; if anything, it encourages pupils to look beyond limitations and see, instead, potential in themselves and the world around them.

The Mount’s Quaker ethos teaches pupils to respect and value every individual. Pupils understand the importance of being themselves, respecting others and working collaboratively. Mount girls are not only quietly confident but hugely compassionate.

Pupils enjoy opportunities to test themselves beyond the school gates, such as the MUN for public speaking, regional competitions, like the UK Maths Trust, and performing arts contests including the Northern Ballet Competition.

The Mount partners with many local bodies bolstering the school’s facilities and enhancing its provision. Collaborations with York City Football Foundation, PV Dance School and Adam’s Aquatics have boosted opportunities for pupils to learn new skills.

Mount girls are encouraged to look outward, but also to look within. The Mount’s motto, ‘Fidelis in parvo’ means ‘faithfulness in small things’. This year, the school launched an exhibition of Old Scholars which examines the lives of former Mount pupils including Dame Judi Dench. The exhibition shows the common thread uniting these amazing women is their faithfulness in small things leading to great and many things.

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The Royal School

Nominated for: Independent School of the Year for International Student Experience

The Royal School is nestled between wooded hills in the southwest corner of Surrey on an idyllic 26-acre site in the historic, charming market town of Haslemere, just 50 minutes train journey
from Central London.

Our school is a happy school. You will find it a place of laughter and learning where strong and positive personal relationships abound, and life-long friendships are made. We are best known for our Future Ready philosophy which goes beyond traditional academic knowledge and focuses on fostering and developing emotional intelligence, practical skills, and critical thinking abilities.

We aim to empower students to become adaptable, resilient, and caring individuals who can thrive in an unpredictable future. Our pupils gain excellent academic profiles which become their passport to accessing the life-defining opportunities they so richly deserve.

Home to a community of 40+ boarders representing over 10 nationalities, we celebrate the diverse perspective our international boarders bring to our community. Equally, international boarders love a ‘Taste of British Culture’, from trips to London galleries, historical tours, to improving language skills, communication skills in another language. They leave with a thorough understanding of British culture and our British boarders leave us with a whole new global perspective from when they joined.

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Walhampton School

Nominated for: Independent Boarding School of the Year

At the heart of Walhampton’s boarding experience is the pupil voice and family ethos. Pupil views contribute to improvements such as a new common room and ongoing enhancements to the children’s dorms have resulted in creating spaces where the children feel relaxed, comfortable and happy. The boarding parents consulted boarders to develop ideas for the girls’ dorms and bespoke bunk beds were made to fit the individual rooms by the school carpenter. The new design provides personal space, areas for socialising with friends and a sense of comfort with additional spaces for personal items.

Head of Boarding, Seb Miell and his family, have lived at Bradfield House for nine years. Working alongside their Assistant Boarding Parents, they strive to create a home-from-home family environment, with an exciting programme of weekend activities and events such as the much-loved ‘Glade-iators’ nights where pupils battle staff under the cover of darkness to ring the Head’s bell! The Boarding Parents recognise the importance of wellbeing and bringing together day pupils and boarders to contribute to all aspects of boarding family life and work tirelessly in the boarding house to enrich the children’s boarding experience and create a strong sense of belonging.

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Westbrook Hay Prep School

Nominated for: Independent School of the Year for Environmental Achievement

Ryde School with Upper Chine (known locally as Westbrook Hay School, a prep school for girls and boys aged 3 – 13 (soon to expand to include years 9, 10 and 11!) in Hemel Hempstead, is dedicated to sustainability and preparing our pupils for a greener future. Benefitting from a beautiful rural location, the school has implemented successful eco-initiatives demonstrating its commitment to environmental stewardship and protecting its own environment.

The Eco Warriors, a group of pupils aged 5 – 13, were established with a clear remit to look at everything that could be improved! Their collaborative approach empowers all the pupils and instills a sense of responsibility. Their initiatives have been in the areas of:

  • Transport – introducing walking and shuttle buses, car share schemes, walk to school weeks and investing in electric car charging stations.
  • Reducing food miles – promoting self-sufficiency with a school allotment and planting an orchard of apple trees.
  • Energy conservation – running several “Switch off Weeks” encouraging the entire school community to reduce energy consumption.
  • Waste management and recycling – partnering with a company that converts our waste into energy.

Their success has been recognised through the prestigious Green Flag award and was named Eco Primary School of the Year by Eco Schools UK.

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Wetherby Senior School

Nominated for: London Independent School of the Year

Since opening in 2015, Wetherby Senior has established itself as an extraordinary London school and springboard to the world.

Pupils are not just a familiar sight around Marylebone, community engagement means every boy is regularly involved in transformational activities. So, when fundraising for West London Mission, which operates just metres from Wetherby Senior, a sponsored spin raised over £6,000, with boys cycling the length of the Thames in Wetherby Senior’s spin studio. Volunteering means sixth formers visit a local primary school or work with Age UK Westminster.

Being in the heart of London means Wetherby Senior invites inspirational speakers, with workshops on wellbeing and equality, and fortnightly careers lectures. University guidance starts early and representatives from institutions across three continents are frequent visitors as Wetherby Senior hosts a US University Forum, seminars for parents, and workshops with boys.

Wetherby Senior further capitalises on its Marylebone location to enrich boys. In 2022-23, pupils enjoyed lectures, theatre and exhibitions across London. The School’s scientists explored the Natural History Museum, linguists tested their skills at the Institut Francais, and sixth formers toured Parliament. Using transport links from London, boys visited Kenilworth Castle, Hampton Court, and Bletchley Park, and skied in Canada and Italy.

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2024 Awards Timeline