Bringing out the best in pupils is what Ashville College is all about…
Nestled in the heart of Harrogate, Ashville College is one of the leading independent schools in the country and it’s easy to see why. They’ve created a warm, welcoming community where children thrive. Learning starts early at Ashville, from the age of just three, and they support their pupils every step of the way, getting to know them so they can cater for their individual needs. Through this unique approach, Ashville help pupils become the best version of themselves. But don’t take our word for it, speak to teachers, talk to pupils and take a tour of the grounds at their virtual open days.
Exceptional teacher-led learning from the age of just three
Ashville accepts students from the age of three. Their Acorns Nursery Class is taught by qualified teachers, giving little ones a head-start on their development. They follow the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum, but the kids don’t even realise they’re learning because the lessons take the form of play and activities. Although Acorns have their own purpose-built facility, the students do everything from swimming to Spanish lessons, taking full advantage of the facilities and expertise on their doorstep.
It’s a natural progression into Prep School, which most of us know as primary school. “You join a very happy, safe environment. It’s very buzzy, it’s bubbly – we don’t do anything quietly, but that’s because the children are excited to come to school, they love the lessons, they’re very enthusiastic,” Simon Asker, Head of Prep School at Ashville College, told us. “The children are happy. We all work really hard, we all look out for each other, and we try our best every day. It’s just a lovely place for young people to come.”
These are formative years for children and Ashville really does instil a love of learning in them. Prep School students have class teachers, but their PE, music and performing arts lessons are taught by specialists from the Senior School – and they get a head start on languages by studying Spanish, German and French with native speaking tutors. They don’t have a traditional timetable at Prep School, instead, they build their lessons around themes, engaging students every step of the way – and because they don’t prepare for SATS, there’s no pressure. Learning becomes fun, and when kids have fun, they excel.
The transition from Prep School to Senior School is blissfully smooth. Pupils have already met a lot of their subject teachers and they know what to expect. They study all the usual subjects, alongside Classics and Latin, as they work towards their options, which come with dedicated support to help them choose subjects they’ll enjoy and succeed in. And when GCSEs are done, Ashville College offers 20 A Level and BTEC qualifications. Sixth Form students are encouraged to be independent learners, to strengthen their knowledge and think about their future with the help of their in-house careers support team. Many go on to study at the top Russell Group universities here in the UK or at equally prestigious universities overseas. In fact, Ashville is also one of just two schools in the UK that’s accredited by NEASC, so pupils can also take the opportunity to get a US High School Diploma and go on to study in the US.
State of the art facilities with a big focus on sports, music and performing arts
When it comes to facilities, Ashville College excels itself. The 64-acre campus has oodles of green space for the kids to run around and relax in, which is surprising considering the central location. It’s a mish-mash of old and new, with an iconic clocktower alongside modern builds that house state of the art facilities designed to bring out the best in every child. From the flexible teaching spaces to the five IT suites kitted out with the latest technology, they’ve built the school around the needs of their students.
In 2017, they invested £3.8 million in a new sports centre. It has a fully equipped gym and fitness studio, alongside a 30-metre swimming pool, a climbing wall and a 3G all-weather pitch. But that’s just the beginning. From badminton to netball, cricket to squash, they offer over 25 sports to pupils – and they have a sterling team of ex-internationals to back them up. Gary Mercer, their Head of Rugby, formerly played for New Zealand and Voise Winters, their Head of Basketball, is a former NBA player.
Ashville is also well known for performing arts. They have students in the National Youth Theatre, which is notoriously hard to get into, so it’ll come as no surprise that they have an incredible set up for music and drama. There’s a 600-seat auditorium with professional lighting and sound equipment where students put on full-scale performances, as well as a black-box drama studio and a separate hall for music performances. Beyond that, the music department has all the facilities students need to compose and record their own pieces.
And for the creatively inclined? Young artists are encouraged, all the way from Prep School through GCSEs and A Levels. Their art studios have everything students could possibly need, and we’re not just talking about traditional crafts. They have a printing studio for textiles, a kiln for sculpting and a Mac suite for graphic design – students even have their own gallery where they can showcase and critique their work.
Academic excellence with the freedom to be yourself
Facilities are great, they open up a world of possibilities, but what really makes the difference at Ashville College is their commitment to treat your child as an individual. It’s not just that they have small class sizes, it’s that they know how to take advantage of that, so from the moment you apply, they’re looking for strengths, they’re looking for areas where your child might need extra support – and that continues all through the curriculum.
Encouraging and celebrating students’ individuality is a key part of their Enrichment Programme. They have hundreds of extracurricular activities for pupils to get involved in, all the way from Prep School through to Sixth Form, and most children take part in two to four clubs. It’s not work, it’s downtime, a chance to take a break from their studies and recharge doing something they genuinely enjoy. From rugby, hockey and swimming to judo, music and debate club, there really is something for everyone – and you wouldn’t believe how many pupils join the Giant Pencil Club.
Because they have so many extracurriculars, students can work out what they like and what they’re good at much earlier, which helps them get ahead of other children their age. Their form teachers work really closely with them to nurture those talents and help them succeed. Sometimes that means giving encouragement, sometimes it means giving extra work and sometimes it means helping with UCAS or National Youth Theatre applications, but the aim is always the same – to empower their pupils to be the best they can be.
You need only speak to their students to know it works. “When I joined Ashville, I was doing everything. I was involved in music and also in sport, but as I got older, I started taking singing lessons – I knew that was where my main interests were, in singing, but I also realised I had a passion for languages as well as music and drama,” A Level student Niamh Boyle told us. “Ashville has always been so supportive of that, they’ve always encouraged me to be the best version of myself. I’ve now applied to do French and Music at university, and I genuinely think that without Ashville supporting me, I wouldn’t be where I am now.”
A tight-knit community that becomes a second family
Community is important at Ashville College. It all comes back to their Methodist values – they teach their students to look out for each other, to be part of something bigger than themselves, and they work really hard to bring them together, whatever their age or passions. It helps, of course, that a lot of their students start early and stay all the way through to Sixth Form, because they really do get a sense of belonging.
“What makes Ashville so unique is the family feel,” Elspeth Fisher, Acting Head at Ashville College, told us. “What makes it different compared to other schools, is there’s a real community feel at Ashville. It’s a little bit smaller than other independents, so we have the advantage of smaller class sizes, and the teachers really do get to know their pupils and give them one-to-one support to help their progress.”
There are so many ways to get to know people at Ashville College. In class, in your extracurriculars and in your competitive house. Students are assigned one as soon as they start and they hold events throughout the year designed to bring pupils together and teach them about leadership and teamwork, all while creating a little healthy competition. It’s a great way for students to get to know people outside their year group and create lasting connections.
For boarding students, community is even more important. Their residential tutors live-in and they really throw themselves into the role – they’re almost like parents to the children and they develop a really close relationship. But it’s more than that. Boarders live together and study together, they have their own schedule, day trips and adventures that no one else goes on – it’s like a secret club and friends made here often last a lifetime.
Find out more at their Virtual Open Day
If you want to find out more about Ashville College, why not attend one of their Virtual Open Days? They’re as close to the real thing as possible, so you can take a virtual tour, ask questions and hear from their teachers.
The first is designed for parents who are thinking about enrolling children in their Reception class and it will take place from 9:30am on Wednesday 11th November 2020. You can stop by any time to browse their online resources, but they’ll also be running live Q&A sessions at 10am and 6pm.
The second is designed for parents and students who want to know more about Sixth Form and it will take place from 6pm to 8pm on Thursday 19th November 2020. They’re running a Q&A at 6:30pm and a live chat throughout the evening, so you can talk to their students and teachers.
Ashville is now accepting applications for September 2021 across all year groups. Don’t worry, their Admissions department is on-hand to help with applications and answer any questions you might have. They can also tell you about their scholarship programmes – alongside all the prestige of being chosen, they offer a reduction in fees and you can apply until Monday 30th November 2020.