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The Paragon School, Bath

A family-orientated, nurturing Prep, Pre-prep and Pre-school with wonderful woodland activities and excellent art, music and sports

WHAT? WHERE?

Independent day Prep, Pre-Prep and Pre-school for girls and boys aged 3 to 11, on an 8-acre hillside with a Georgian mansion, woodland and natural spring, in Lyncombe Vale in Bath. Breathe in the fresh air – no nasty city fumes here – yet the city centre is  just a mile away.

Lyncombe Vale and its mineral spring was a famous beauty spot in the 18th century. The Grade II-listed Lyncombe House was built for visitors and later housed different schools.  The Paragon School itself started life in the centre of Bath in 1911, moving to Lyncombe House in 1983.

Part of the Prior Park Educational Trust, with the senior school Prior Park College a mile or so up the road and the Prior Park School rather further away in Gibraltar.

It’s a Christian school but not evangelical and open to pupils of any faith or none.

The are currently 263 children on the roll, with 18 in Squirrels Pre-School.

FACILITIES

Georgian mansion Lyncombe House houses Years 5 and 6 classrooms with a library, large gym/dining hall and art studio. The building may date back to the 18th century, but the facilities are definitely 21st, with computers and interactive screens in all the classrooms.

The Squirrels Pre-school has dedicated outdoor space and the woodland close by for Forest Fridays. Sport, French, music and art from specialist teachers. Norland Nannies come on placement. Years 1–4 are housed nearby in converted stables.

paragon

The dedicated art studio is headed up by an inspirational teacher who comes with secondary school experience, teaching covers technical skills, creative work in a range of media and art appreciation. The results, produced by pupils of all ages during lessons and eight after school art clubs, are breathtakingly good. Year 5 were working on a puppet project was inspired by Chagall. The school took part in the Take One Picture project run by London’s National Gallery, where Year 4 pupils created artworks inspired by St Ives painter, Alfred Wallis.

Almost life-sized puppets inspired by Dior couture

Music takes place in a log cabin called The Music Lodge. Everyone in Year 3 takes part in a strings programme with composer and peripatetic music teacher Tim Gilbert; Year 5 have a year-long samba programme (wow!). Children attend Young Voices each year, a national choral event for schools. In addition, around half the pupils play at least one instrument and there are all sorts of ensembles and choirs including the prize-winning Joyful Noise – maybe you heard them at the Mid Somerset Festival – and a boys-only choir.

The huge play area with climbing frames and fun low-level assault course looks good.

There are four separate outdoor learning areas in a woodland area, including a wattle and daub shed with pizza oven and woodworking bench, an African garden, a dingly dell with a stream, ‘bug hotel’ and a greenhouse for projects and the ‘Seed to Spoon’ lunch time gardening club where pupils cook the produce they grow (the rosemary flower pot bread sounds delicious).

All the additional facilities at the senior school Prior Park College – theatre, indoor swimming pool, sports centre and pitches, athletics track, dance studio, science labs, design tech classrooms and more – are a 3-minute mini bus ride up the road.

ACADEMICS

It’s selective from the Prep (taster day and assessment).  Set for maths from Year 3, with three ability groups across each year group.  Specialist teachers for art, ICT, music, modern foreign languages (French from Pre-school; Mandarin and Spanish in Year 5), drama, philosophy and sport. Most pupils move up to Prior Park College, others to local schools with lots of awards offered.

HEADTEACHER

paragon

Rosie Allen has been in post since September 2020. Previously Head of independent senior school Radnor House in Twickenham, and before that Head of Sherborne Prep, it’s the formative Prep years where her heart truly lies.

She says you can genuinely feel childhood happening around you at The Paragon – a mix of purpose, energy, discovery and joy – and all within a magical setting. She describes the school as aspirational, not hothouse; looking to the future, rather than sideways; and aiming to make pupils better versions of themselves with individualised, values-based learning for each child.

Whilst changes were made around the school to keep children safe during this time of Covid, they essentially tried to keep everything in school as normal as possible for the pupils.  Rosie is still live-streaming weekly assemblies to year groups, who get to hear inspirational visitors like British sprint legend Jason Gardener, and hopes to return to full school assemblies in the very near future. 

She sees Covid as an opportunity to repurpose. As an example, their already rather good programme of outdoor learning has been expanded (with those eight acres of woodland, why wouldn’t you?), creating an immersive experience and  ‘a crucible for limitless discovery’. 

Reading is a focus on the curriculum for all year groups for 2022/23 with an programme of authors and poets lined up to visit the school for World Book Day and in the summer months.

REPORTS

See the latest reports from the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI), equivalent to Ofsted in the state sector, here.

SPORTS

All the usual sports with a gym, hard play areas and playing field here, and more extensive facilities close by at Prior Park College.  Swimming and ‘proper sport’ from Pre-school onwards. Girls play cricket, rugby and football as well as netball and hockey.  School teams do very well in competitions and events like the Interschool Biathlon at Crystal Palace in London. With teachers including an Olympic pentathlete and an ex-England rugby player, we’re not surprised.

WHAT ELSE?

The Paragon Way you see around the school reinforces the philosophy here: treat others with kindness, compassion and honesty, believe in yourself and aspire to great things!

Family atmosphere with a buddy system for newcomers.

House system from Prep, with friendly competition and friendships across the age range. School council and prefects in Year 6, who help with the upkeep of the allotment beds, amongst other things.

The pupils choose a different charity to support each year.

They work on projects with the egg, Bath’s dedicated children’s theatre.

On the ball with tech, children learn ICT using iPads in classrooms with at least one ICT session a week; there’s coding from Year 1 with beebots, virtual google and programmable vehicles; and everyone in Years 5 and 6 has their own iPad.

Underlying Christian ethos, with grace at lunch, hymns and Bible stories during assemblies, etc., but different faiths embraced.

A summer learning programme helped to gently introduce children back into the learning environment.

BOASTY BITS/QUIRKS

ISI Inspections are consistently ‘excellent’ .

Parent and child choirs.

The U10A rugby team have played at Twickenham Stadium.

WRAP AROUND CARE

You can drop off from 8–8.40am and with up to three hours after school care from fab children’s events/entertainment biz The SuperPirates. After school homework club until 5pm.  Some 60+ extra-curricular activities going on every week – samba band, Lego, yoga, mindfulness, rugby sevens, science, sewing and more – most of them free.  Holiday clubs open to all, e.g. Greatest Showman workshop, Camp Teepee, (Peter Pan vs Swallows & Amazons), art school, cookery school (watermelon gelato anyone?).

FEES

2022/23 fees per term: Squirrels Pre-School £3,200 full time (with reduced fees for fewer days); Infants (Reception to Year 2) £3,428; Years 3-4 £3,814; and Years 5-6 £3,909.

WORD ON THE GROUND

Parents rave over the beautiful setting and the wealth of opportunities across the board but say that pupils don’t ever feel pressurised.  The school’s seen as down-to-earth and nurturing, with a good cross section of children so it doesn’t feel elitist.  Parents with boys appreciate the fact that there are plenty of male staff around.  Art, sports and music are described as exceptional.

 

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: even the shyest, quietest girls and boys would feel at home and thrive in the warm, family atmosphere; the opportunities are many but children are allowed to develop at their own pace.

Not for: hot house parents, those wanting boarding for younger children (wait until they move up to the senior school Prior Park College).

Don’t take our word for it: Take a Virtual Tour or visit the school on one of their Open Days. 2022 dates: Thurs 17 Feb, Fri 20 May and Fri 23 Sept. Call 01225 310837 or email reception.paragon@priorparkschools.com

1 comment on “The Paragon School, Bath”

  • Alison June 20, 2019

    This really is an exceptional and amazing school. It has transformed my child’s experience of school and I watch her thrive.

    Reply

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