Akeley Wood School, Nr Buckingham
Muddy says: A friendly, inclusive non-selective three-site nursery, junior and senior day school close to Milton Keynes, taking boys and girls from age 1-18 in an attractive rural setting.
AKELEY WOOD SCHOOL, NR BUCKINGHAM
What? Where? Akeley Wood school is a very attractive three-site fee-paying nursery, junior and senior day school in rural North Bucks, close to Milton Keynes, taking kids from age 1-18 (how convenient is that?!). A non-selective school, there are 860 kids here (310 at Junior; 550 at Senior), both boys and girls, with class sizes of 20 or fewer in a collective 31 acres of grounds.
The senior school is set over two sites with some lovely historical buildings (above) intermixed with more modern bricky jobs for 11-13 year olds at one site, moving to 13-18 on the other, and then it’s a 15 minute scenic drive to the junior and nursery school. If you have kids at each site and are worrying about time travel, there’s a minibus that moves the children to one pick-up point.
At the senior school, there’s been some heavy investment, including a heated dedicated sports dome (above); 12 tennis courts, all-weather full-size astroturf pitch and four badminton courts. There are specialist rooms for art, textiles, music and drama. There’s a cool sixth form area up some swanky glass stairs, below, that I’d have loved sauntering up in my teens.
The Junior School is very attractive, housed in at the Georgian Wicken Park, with huge lawns, its own sports hall, astro turf for football, cricket and tennis, plus cricket nets and cricket astro strip. They deliver Forest School lessons here for all children
The nursery area has had a huge makeover, now with lovely muted colours, tasteful wooden toys so any child who comes here will no doubt be totally zen and laidback. There’s a lovely outside play area that backs onto the playing fields. Architecturally, the sweeping central stairway has been brought back to its former glory. Your kids won’t care, but you’ll like sliding down it.
Akeley Wood is a non-selective school, so its GSCE and A level grades are well above the national average without blowing the barn doors off the examination room. For GCSE, 30% of students at Akeley Wood School achieved A*/A grades, 63% of students achieved A*-B grades and 88% achieved A*-C grades. At A level, 15% of students achieved A*/A grades, and 41% achieved A*-B.
Jenny Clough came to Akeley Wood 2 years ago from Meoncross School in Fareham (a sister school to Akeley), taking over from the previous head who’d been in charge for 9 years. She’s very charming and down to earth, and is wringing the changes, particularly with a greater emphasis on educational standards, though she’s also passionate about Akeley Wood’s non-selective education and the eclectic talents that naturally fosters. Over at the Junior School Clare Page has a jolly, kind presence – she’s been head teacher for 8 years, and with the school since 2005.
I’m not sure quirky is the word for Akeley Wood, but it does have some strings to its bow. There’s the Creative Curriculum, taught on Friday afternoon throughout the school offering a huge range of experiences from sports coaching to print making, robotics, archery or socially responsible projects like upcycling. The Junior School has four choirs and an orchestra (big tick), plus modern foreign languages, music and ICT all taught by specialists. Over at the senior school, more unusual subjects for GSCE and A level include Music Technology (it has its own dedicated music studio) and Photography. There’s a dedicated SEN facility to help those who need some extra help and attention.
The school day starts at 8.50, and children can stay for after school activities until 4.30pm free of charge, with paid for after school care until 6.00pm. At the nursery, earliest drop off is at 8.00am, and latest pick up is 6.00pm.
Nursery fees work out at between £233 – £1020 per month depending on the age of your child and how many days you opt for. Reception, Y1 and Y2 annual fees are £9450. From Y3-6 the annual fee is £11,685 and for Y7 and above it’s £13875 per year, so the fees here are below average. Three study support lessons per week works out at an extra £1305 over the year.
Word on the ground:
Akeley Wood has a good reputation amongst parents for its inclusive, unpretentious vibe and its excellent SEN provision that helps many of the kids exceed the grades they would ordinarily attain. Parents I talked to like the fact that it’s not a ‘hot-house’ The nursery is currently under-utlised in terms of numbers, so a great time to book your babies in – they’ll get uber-attention!
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Those looking for an unpretentious, friendly school that won’t ‘hothouse’ children, set in idyllic surroundings. The small numbers is great for kids who thrive on individual attention. Anyone wanting the ease of keeping their kids at the same school from 1-18.
Not for: Akeley Wood’s relaxed ethos and non-selective cohort might not suit tiger-parents.
Dare to disagree? There are two Open Days coming up – Sat 30 September, 9.15-11.45am (Junior School), Sat 23 September, 9.30am -12.30pm(Senior School) so feel free to check it out for yourself and please let me know your views!
Akeley Wood School, Tile House Mansion, Lillingstone Dayrell, Buckingham MK18 5AN. Tel: akeleywoodschool.co.uk