Top of the class! The Gleddings is named as Independent Preparatory School of the Year

The Gleddings School, Halifax.
The Gleddings School, Halifax.

A Halifax school has been named The Sunday Times Independent Preparatory School of the Year in the latest edition of newspaper’s school guide, Parent Power.

The Gleddings Preparatory School, at Birdcage Lane, received the accolade in the definitive school list, which ranks the highest-achieving prep schools in England.

Head teacher Jill Wilson, who began by helping out in what was then her son’s school in 1994, became head teacher and sole proprietor of the school four years later. She has not looked back as the school has gone from strength to strength.

She said: “As an independent school, we do not look like the rest. Most enrol the minute they know they are having a baby. We have no idea of the gender or ability we are getting - the 24 children who enrol are the 24 children who arrive.”

While results are outstanding – with many children going on to gain places at North Halifax Grammar School and The Crossley Heath School – the school has three guiding principles to promote more than just academic success – “you choose”, “think” and “different is good”.

Mrs Wilson added: “The most important thing we can do is to get them to make good choices. My hope is that by the time the children leave us, they will make the choices that keep them and others safe, happy and successful.”

Parents put their children’s name down at birth for a place at The Gleddings as a result of its academic achievements, achieved without selection on entry and at a lower cost than many prep schools around the UK.

All the children achieved level 5 for the three English components of SATs – reading, grammar and writing – in 2015, while 92 per cent achieved the same feat in maths.

The results are calculated through a survey of results in the annual SATs taken by 11-year-olds. Around one-third of prep schools take the government tests, which are not compulsory for independent schools, with their results obtained by The Sunday Times using the Freedom of Information Act.

Prep schools in England are ranked on their attainment at level 5, considered to be the academic standard of a 13-year-old.

The proportion of children achieving level 5 in reading, writing and grammar is averaged and added to the proportion achieving level 5 in mathematics.

The school has risen 10 places in the Parent Power rankings this year to stand third in England.

Alastair McCall, editor of The Sunday Times Schools’ Guide, said: “The Gleddings achieves quite remarkable results for a non-selective school. Jill Wilson, the head teacher, brings an obvious passion to her job and the school’s successes are due in no small part to her drive and leadership.

“There is not the captive market for independent education in the north that exists in southern England, so prep schools like The Gleddings have to really stand out.

“A full school roll until 2021 and parents registering their children at birth says it all. Those lucky enough to get places enjoy a fantastic start to their education.”

The guide is available this Sunday, November 20, with The Sunday Times newspaper.