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Wycliffe Prep School, Stonehouse, near Stroud

Muddy says: Looking for a nurturing school with strong academic, sporting and extra-curricular form? This non-hot-housey co-ed for ages 2-13 could be just the ticket.

Main building with fields in front and hills in the distance

Wycliffe Prep surrounded by the beautiful Cotswold countryside


Located in the Cotswolds on the edge of Stonehouse near Stroud, Wycliffe Prep School is a co-ed, day, boarding and flexi-boarding offering for children aged three to 13, with Wycliffe College Senior School a jump, hop and a skip away that sees pupils through to 18 (read the Muddy review here). All the main school buildings are in roomy but easily navigable grounds, which makes it easy for pupils to navigate, with a bridge over to the other side of the road that takes you to expansive fields, a massive AstroTurf, tennis courts and the two boarding houses. There are 300 pupils with 44 boarders, mainly from Forces families, with a small number of international students.

staircase in new build with view of older building

A view of the old building through the staircase of the new Etheridge building


With its mixture of handsome Cotswold stone edifices and shiny new builds, there’s a happy balance of history and future-proofing in Wycliffe’s facilities. The Year 8s have the run of the almost brand new Etheridge Hall (it opened five years ago), which over two floors houses classrooms and a spacious common room with squashy sofas where, I was informed by my two Year 8 guides, they get to make themselves toast at break! And can they slouch around here at lunch? No, they have to go outside to get some fresh air and exercise. Quite right too! And, as mentioned there’s plenty of space for outdoor fun and frolics, and I saw lots of happy, rosy-cheeked kids charging around on the January day I visited. When it’s pouring with rain, there’s a covered playground pupils can take shelter in – not the glossiest of venues, but it’s in the head’s sights for a refurb. And opposite it is a rather nice swimming pool.

pupils playing rugby

On the rugby field


The school promotes exercise and takes sport seriously, but never lets the urge to win override enjoyment, so there’s no pressure to be the next Charlie Sharples (a former pupil). However, if your offspring is a budding international or Olympian, you can be sure their talents will be properly nurtured here. The sports facilities currently encompass an astroturf, extensive playing pitches, tennis courts, netball courts and the swimming pool and the school has particular strengths in rowing, fencing, hockey, squash and boys and girls cricket. And in late 2021 an exciting new project was announced. Currently at the consultation stage, there are plans for new indoor sporting facilities to be built.

Music and drama

Facilities for the arts include a theatre, music and practice rooms and arts rooms. Unusual instruments are taught which we loved the sound from bongos to the harp, and tuition is given by peripatetic teachers.


With small class sizes (an average of 16 and a maximum 18) and teachers who are specialists in their subjects, the teaching is excellent here and yields results that speak for themselves, with over 95% of pupils in Years 3 to 8 working at or above national age-related expectations in English, maths and science. However, Wycliffe is not an academic hothouse and the focus is on seeing pupils fulfil their potential in every subject. To that end, the recently introduced Wycliffe Baccalaureate, which gives equal weight to all school subjects, from English and maths to art, sport and citizenship, is awarded to Year 8 pupils when they leave.

With around 95% of pupils continuing on to the senior school (which is non-selective), the school doesn’t do Common Entrance, though they can if desired – last year they prepared one pupil who went on to gain a place at Cheltenham College. In the transition to Year 7 the school is both a winner and a loser from the 11+ system, though interestingly there are pupils who having won a highly coveted place at Pate’s Grammar School in Cheltenham have opted to remain at Wycliffe, which says a lot for the latter.

pupils in a science class

A science lesson


There are two boarding houses ­– Windrush for the girls and Pennwood for the boys – both homely abodes with comfy sitting rooms (jam-packed with entertainment including TVs, computers, books and board games), kitchens, snug bedrooms for up to three, updated shower facilities and super-friendly staff. They’re surrounded by green space, overlooking the playing grounds which pupils have the run of in their downtime.

girls in boarding sitting room

Girls relaxing in the boarding house sitting room

On Saturdays, whilst Years 6, 7 and 8 are at Saturday Morning School, Years 3, 4 and 5 have Saturday Morning Club which can range from crafting to going on Spooky Halloween trips and visits to Stroud market to sample delicious goey brownies. Boarders often spend Saturday afternoons exploring woodland walks or playing astro-turf tag, swimming and football on the Prep pitches. Saturday night sounds very cool – it’s is all about ‘Fakeaways’ – build your own burgers, pizza or fried chicken and movie night with popcorn. Senior School Siblings often come down to spend movie might with their younger brothers or sisters helping to maintain close family ties.


Pastoral care is taken seriously at Wycliffe and there is a Head of Pastoral Care – Lynda Askew – on site to take care of any pupil issues. There is also an offsite counsellor that pupils can talk to if needs be. Amongst the children themselves peer to peer ‘Kindness Ambassadors’ have been implemented and there are a several contemplative places where children can go if they need to.


Helena Grant started a new chapter in Wycliffe Prep School when she joined as Head in September 2020. Her drive is to keep small classes and a high pupil to teacher ratio to continue the highly personalised offering Wycliffe gives to children.

Friendly, affable and focused, she is a keen supporter of learning beyond the classroom, and she is passionate about sport and the arts play a major role in life at school. Her goals are to continue its strong academics and continue to build on the personalised pastoral care system.

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The art produced by the pupils is really outstanding. I was quite blown away by the work on the walls – you’d have thought it was by secondary school age pupils. My two Year 8 guides were heading over to the senior school the day after my visit to throw their hats into the ring for art scholarships and both had impressive portfolios of work. I’d also been struck by the art department at the senior school on my visit and when I mentioned this, my guides’ eyes lit up too – they clearly can’t wait to get stuck into senior school art.

pupils artwork

Artwork by the pupils

Drama and music are also big draws at the school. There is an impressive theatre where each year group puts on an annual production. Previous Year 8 shows have included Bugsy Malone, Madagascar, Hairspray and The Lion King.  There is an orchestra, as well as string groups, flute groups, brass ensemble and three choirs, while over 150 pupils take individual lessons learning all sorts of instruments from the ukulele to the harp.

pupils in play

The Year 8s put on Madagascar in December


Year 8 annually head off on a three-day sports tour in London.  They’ll be visiting Wimbledon, Swimming in the Zaha Hadid-designed Olympic Pool, cycling at the Velodrome and running their socks off round the Olympic stadium. I know! Do they know how lucky they are? Each term, normal service is also stopped for Years 3 to 8 for a special activity day, where pupils can try out their skills doing things such as caving, canoeing, orienteering and climbing. In Year 8 pupils head off for an outward bound week as a sort of finale to their time at the school.

School open days, children from Wycliffe College on an activity day

Year 8 trip to Cornwall


With breakfast club starting at 8am and after-school finishing at 6pm, working parents can relaax about childcare. The Nursery is open most of the year (46 weeks) and the school has a great relationship with Manor Farm which offers full-time care during the holidays and is very popular with Wycliffe families. There are flexi and occasional boarding available for day pupils – if there is an available bed.

pupils at Wycliffe outside by water

Water play

Fees: From £2,550 per term for nursery up to £5,905 per term for Day pupils in Year 8 (see full list here). For boarders, it is £7,700 for Year 3 up to £10,325 per term for Year 8. The school offers 11+ scholarships for academic excellence and non-academic awards in sport, music, art and drama. Means-tested bursaries are also available.


All the parents I spoke to warmly praised the school for its strong pastoral care and the way it fostered their child’s confidence.

pupils outside in school gardens


Good for: Pupils of all abilities and talents. There’s no pushiness here, just gentle encouragement to achieve your potential, whatever that may be. The school caters equally for the talented and gifted as it does for the pupils who find school life more of a challenge. Parents who like the idea of taking the angst out of senior school transition as pupils can segue seamlessly into Wycliffe College in Year 9.

Not for: Parents who have the big public schools in their sights. As mentioned, Wycliffe doesn’t routinely prepare for Common Entrance, though it does offer it at parents’ request.

Dare to disagree? Have a look for yourself, make an appointment at

Take a tour yourself at the next open day on Saturday 7th May 2022.

Ryeford Hall, Ebley Road, Stonehouse, Glos GL10 2LD, tel: 01453 820470,

1 comment on “Wycliffe Prep School, Stonehouse, near Stroud”

  • Margaret February 20, 2018

    We love this school! best-boarding-schools(dot)net


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