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【The Standard:Boarding Insider】Rural Idyll

Boarding 101


“I am interested in two rural schools for my 13-year-old daughter – Gresham’s and Woldingham. How do you compare them?”

This question was sent to me by a father living in the Happy Valley area.

First of all, it is important to note that 700 acres is an all-girls’ school for those aged 11-18 while Gresham’s, located in North Norfolk, is mixed-sex. Woldingham also has a strong Catholic ethos though it accepts applications from girls irrespective of their religious backgrounds.

In terms of location, Woldingham is set in inspiring rural surroundings in Marden Park, and the 280 hectares of countryside seem a world away from the buzzing M25 motorway and London, which is just 35 minutes away. Hong Kong parents can take comfort from the fact that the city and Heathrow and Gatwick airports are within easy reach.

Woldingham rightly plays on the individual attention and lower than average class sizes it can offer pupils because it is a small school. A community of 550 girls is supported by around 200 academic and support staff.

That said, Gresham’s Senior School has even fewer students but perhaps its boarding ethos is not quite on the same level as that felt at Woldingham. Both schools, however, do have many day pupils and there are other schools which can offer more of a “full boarding” vibe.

Samuel Chan, the founder of Britannia StudyLink, went to Gresham’s in rural Norfolk and he has talked of the way in which the school makes use of the surrounding natural beauty and North Norfolk coastline in its co-curricular program.

Students feel relaxed and ready to learn in this relatively unpressured and inspiring environment.

I must point out that Woldingham excels in the creative arts. The quality of the school’s theatre and music productions is second to none so if your daughter is a budding actress, ballroom dancer or musician this might be the school for her.

However, I think that Gresham’s has more going for it in terms of the variety of activities and opportunities it can offer pupils. It is also located in the thriving market town of Holt with an array of independent shops and galleries.

In its immediate vicinity, Woldingham School only has the town of Caterham nearby and the village of Woldingham, of course.

Picture: Gresham’s School

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