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Top 5 tips for choosing a Prep School

There are a number of different factors that make choosing a school a difficult task. We’ve summarised our five top tips of questions to ask when choosing the right preparatory day or boarding school for you and your family.

Check what they mean by boarding

Many schools brand themselves as a full boarding school when, in reality, the school closes on weekends or is only home to a handful of pupils. Some schools offer flexi, weekly and full boarding or just one or two of those options, so it’s important to check what provision works for you, how many pupils are there at the weekend and what happens on weekends.

Millfield Prep School offers full boarding from age 7+ and the school is alive on weekends. With lessons on Saturday morning and fixtures in the afternoons, Saturday evenings and Sundays are vibrant with over 100 boarders enjoying a full weekend programme of activities and trips. The school only has four fixed exeats a year when the school closes and these dates are available far in advance so you can plan when your children will be home.

Boarding house at Millfield Prep School

Is the range of facilities broad enough to capture your child’s passions?

Facilities are an important part of school life and the quality of the facilities on offer can really affect a pupil’s school experience. Prep school is the perfect age for pupils to explore new interests while they are still young and find out what they are good at so make sure there is a wide range on offer for them to try out all sorts of different things. It’s also worth checking if all facilities are onsite. Some may say they have access to a pool, when in fact, it’s a 20-minute drive away so it’s best to check before committing. You also want the facilities open regularly for new pupils to explore and experience a new sport, hobby or learn a new skill.

Millfield Prep offers a diverse range of academic subjects, sports, creative arts and activities, supported by outstanding facilities including: an equestrian centre, 25 metre swimming pool, golf courses, science centre, music halls, tennis bubble and numerous sports pitches. Pupils also regularly use Millfield’s outstanding facilities, only a 7 minute drive away.

What are the school’s values?

When choosing a school, it is important to know and understand their ethos and values. Ask yourself what they mean and if they align with your personal and family values. A set of values should be the bedrock of a community and should be embedded into schools through the staff and students, curriculum, and extra-curricular opportunities. If you support and believe in their values, it’s a good indication that this may be the school for you.

Millfield’s values: Be Kind, Be You, Be Challengers, Be Curious and Be Brilliant has been embedded across all areas of school life, including pupils presenting to their peers about them in assemblies and in staff inductions. The values are understood by everyone, but everyone’s interpretation of the values is slightly different.


Is there a wellbeing and pastoral focus?

With wellbeing ever prominent in the world we live in today, it’s important to look at the pastoral care and systems in place to support and nurture your child, especially for boarders. There should be a vigilant pastoral team and rigorous systems in place for reporting concerns that everyone in the school is fully aware of.

In the wake of the pandemic, Millfield Prep launched the innovative Wellbeing Curriculum, with the aim of teaching young people how to recognize poor wellbeing and give them the tools to improve it through a series of activities including yoga, mindful walk and talk, soul food and alfresco pursuits. With pupils from the UK and 25+ other countries, Millfield Prep’s pastoral team strive to make it a home from home for all.

Students outdoors at Millfield Prep School

How far away are you prepared to travel for the right school?

Location can often be a dealbreaker when it comes to choosing a school. More often than not your dream school could be a 4-hour drive away and those nearby are just not quite right. Look for a school that is far away enough to give your child independence, but accessible for drop offs if they are a day pupil or for visits if you choose to board. You might currently be driving from one after school club to another and spending a large amount of your day in the car or in traffic attending a school nearby, when you could choose a school that offers all the clubs to suit your child’s interests in one place that is further away. You will all save a lot of time, and fuel! In today’s climate, it’s important that the school has green open space, fresh air, room to run around and enjoy the countryside.

Being in the Somerset countryside, Millfield Prep benefits from a 250-acre rural campus, with large expanses of green, open space. The school is situated in the medieval town of Glastonbury which is only a 20 minute drive to Castle Cary, with trains to London taking only 2 hours. Bristol airport is only an hour drive and London airports are a couple of hours away.

You may visit one school or you may visit several, but if you are confident in the answers you receive to the above points, you’ll be that bit closer to making the right decision for the next stage in your child’s education.

Millfield Prep award a number of Academic, Art, Drama, Music and Sport Scholarships per year. The deadline for scholarship applications for September 2024 entry is 1 December 2023. Apply here.

Visit our campus, meet Head Dan Thornburn and staff, and learn more about life at Millfield Prep at our next Open Days on Saturday 7 October 2023 or 2 March 2024. Book online here.