An Introduction to Clifton College Preparatory School

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My son and I were very fortunate to be invited to a recent Open Day at the Preparatory School at Clifton College.

Despite living in Bristol all of my life and having walked past Clifton College many hundreds of times, I had never had the chance to explore the school but had always wanted to.

Founded in 1862, Clifton College is a leading independent school for girls and boys aged 2 – 18 which is situated in Clifton, Bristol. The Preparatory School was opened in 1908 and is split into two parts: the Pre-Prep if for children from Nursery to Year 3, ages 2 to 8 and the Prep School is for children in Years 4 – 8, ages 8 to 13.

A day after arranging to go to the open day with my son, I received a phone call from a lovely lady called Alice Brereton who is the Preparatory Admissions Officer at Clifton College. She wanted to know more about my son so as to organise our visit around his likes and interests so that it would be especially interesting to him.

I explained that my son likes football and we discussed his favourite football team. I also explained that my son has an amazing imagination and loves drawing and creating designs of robots, monsters and spaceships.

On hearing this she explained that she would arrange for a Year 8 boy to show us around on the open day and that he would definitely show us the sporting facilities there, plus would make a point of taking my son to the Design and Technology Department to see the model cars that students had recently created there.

She also explained that there would be bacon butties for us both on arrival at the open morning!

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When we both arrived at Clifton College Preparatory School my son and I felt a little nervous. If you have ever stood outside Clifton College you could be forgiven in feeling slightly intimidated as the building and its architecture really is very grand and impressive.

However, any nerves we had were soon swept aside as soon as we stepped inside the doors as we could not have been greeted by friendlier staff and pupils introducing themselves and putting us at ease. We were offered refreshments, cakes and even bacon butties which my son was very pleased about!

The Headmaster, John Milne was equally approachable and made a real effort to make sure he met all of the parents and children who were visiting to answer their questions and tell them more about the school.

Once I had my coffee and my son had eaten some of the delicious cake on offer, John Milne, stood up and formally greeted all the parents there and explained more about the school and its aims.

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There were several things that I learned about Clifton College that I was pleasantly surprised about.

Firstly, I really genuinely like the “pull not push” ethos of Clifton College. The school encourages children to flourish in their own way, providing them with plenty of interesting subjects as well as standard subjects on the national curriculum, plus many extra-curricular subjects also, so as to enable the child to find out what they are good at and what their own personal niche is.

The aim is very much that each child achieves their own personal best potential.

Clifton College encourages children to try new things and to go outside their comfort zone at times so as to broaden their horizons and discover possible new talents and strengths that they didn’t realise they had.

I am very strongly of the belief that a school should fit the child and not the other way round, so learning that Clifton College works in this way was refreshing.

Secondly, I was also surprised to learn that Clifton College is non-selective, taking children of all abilities; I had assumed otherwise.

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Following John Milne’s introduction to Clifton College, all the families visiting were each assigned Year 8 pupils to show them around the Preparatory School. Our guides were polite, friendly and were well-mannered. They looked after us and answered all our questions and explained more about what the open day would entail.

Our Year 8 guides were clearly proud of their school and enjoyed showing us around and telling us about their experiences there. The interior of Clifton College Preparatory School is smart and modern and the classrooms are light, bright and spacious. The number of children per class is very small with approximately 15 children per class, ensuring each child receives much more one-to-one attention than otherwise.

Clifton College Preparatory School studies a vast curriculum of subjects and as well as standard subjects such as maths, English and Science, also study modern languages, ICT, Design and Technology, Geography, History, PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education) to name but a few.

All of the teachers that we met on our tour were all very welcoming and went out of their way to talk to both me and my son and to tell us more about their roles in the school. They were all approachable and easy to talk to and clearly loved their jobs and all had a nice way of talking to my son and including him in the conversation.

I learned that Clifton College provides wrap around care for children who have busy parents and is open to day pupils from 8am – 7pm and lunch and tea are provided as well as fruit, sandwiches and squash at break times.

From Year 4, each child is assigned to one of the school Houses where they both start and end their day and can spend time there at break times to relax. There are House staff always present at each of the houses whose purpose is to support and help the children when needed. It was clear from chatting to them that they are genuinely caring and love what they do.

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We visited the beautiful chapel and watched children attending a service. I liked the sense of tradition and history at Clifton College. The grounds were amazing, beautifully kept and there are acres of green space.

The sports facilities were excellent, including a swimming pool. Clifton College Sport is an important part of everyday life at Clifton College and the school has a long history of sporting success. Children take part in sporting activities at Clifton College from an early age and rugby, netball, cricket, hockey and more are on offer to children at the Preparatory School.

We went to the library which has a fantastic collection of books, including non-fiction, and both classic and modern literature for children such as books by David Walliams. My son was very interested to see books about Vikings on display, too.

It was interesting to me to see what piqued my son’s interest on the tour of Clifton College Prep School. We were both really impressed with the Design and Technology Studio and were able to watch part of a class running at the time. We also saw lamps and radios that the children had recently made which were very impressive!

My son really loved the art studio too which is light, bright and airy and we were impressed by the colourful art work on display. There was an art class in progress and it was interesting to see the children paint.

The science laboratories are high-tech and smart and my son enjoyed seeing the children with their lab coats and goggles on! The music department was fantastic too and had many musical instruments, plus a recording studio which we went into and had a listen.

We went to see the two ICT suites which have lots of great computers. I was really interested to hear from our guides that children at the Prep School have ICT classes in which they learn how to code, this is so important for children to learn to do!

Both my son and I were very impressed with Clifton College Preparatory School and we really enjoyed our morning there. The School clearly offers children an excellent education as well as a happy and nurturing environment for them to learn and grow.

If you would like to have a look at what the Preparatory School is like, you can go on a virtual tour here.

If you would like the chance to go find out more about Clifton College, meet the staff and pupils and go on a tour of the school, there are two open days planned later this year:

  • Open Day at The Preparatory School: 24th September – 9.45am
  • Open Day at The Upper School: 8th October – 9.30am

You can contact Clifton College to arrange a personal visit, a prospectus or to visit on an open day via the following means:

The Upper School (for ages 13 – 18)
Kati Halden, Tel. 0117 9110579

The Preparatory School (for ages 8 -13)
Alice Brereton, Tel. 0117 9113837

The Nursery and Pre-Preparatory School (for ages 2 – 8)
Heather Williams, Tel. 0117 911 9794

To read more about Clifton College, please visit https://www.cliftoncollege.com/.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, however, I was under no obligation to include anything other than my own genuine views and opinions.

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