Basic Information & Location
Barney, as it is affectionately known, is a remarkable place to live, learn and grow. Its greatest strength is its ability to create an incredibly supportive and welcoming environment which allows each and every pupil to flourish. At the heart of Barney’s family is its boarding community, where students excel academically whilst also enjoying a wide range of co-curricular activities which help them develop happy, well-rounded characters. Pupils here will find subjects being taught by inspirational teachers as well as strong pastoral care from its boarding staff and tutors. However, it is the life skills that children acquire that set Barney apart. The emphasis on building self awareness, compassion, collaboration, leadership, resilience and courtesy through a wide range of activities including sport, music, art and drama enables them to express themselves and realise their true potential. Situated on the edge of the beautiful small town of Barnard Castle in the north of England, Barney is easily accessible by rail, car and air and is known for its warm welcome and its unpretentious atmosphere where everyone feels valued and involved in this busy, vibrant extended family that is Barney.
Parvis imbutus tentabis grandia tutus
(When you are steeped in little things, you shall safely attempt great things)
In the Senior School, the school provides a broad and balanced curriculum for all. It promotes academic rigour and the rewards of endeavour, and aim to preserve the wonder of discovery and the richness that comes from developing an enthusiasm for life-long learning. It wants to teach children how, rather than what to think in a friendly and welcoming classroom environment.
The school’s curriculum offers the range of subjects which parents would expect to find in a traditional, yet forward looking school, and more besides. English and Mathematics form the core for all pupils, enhanced by the availability of learning support lessons for those with special educational needs. As pupils progress through the school, the central core of subjects is enhanced further and choice increases in terms of options, without compromising the breadth and depth of study. Able, gifted and talented students are encouraged to pursue their own interests alongside their studies and are supported with enrichment activities and its unrivalled co-curricular programme.
The importance of independent learning is central to its curriculum, with all students in Years 7 to 11 attending up to four independent study periods every week. These supervised sessions provide opportunities for self-led study, research, reading or completing prep. For those needing a little extra help and support, each department provides tutorials between 4pm and 5pm most weekdays, when subject teachers are on hand to assist and give advice.
The school has flourishing Science, Modern Languages, Art and Music departments, as well as exceptional opportunities in Sport and further extra-curricular activities that support work in the classroom. A high quality programme of personal and social education (PSHEE) is also offered to broaden pupils’ views on contemporary issues and to engender tolerance, respect and understanding for the opinions of others.
Overseas students benefit from the same education that is enjoyed by the UK pupils. Although they all have a good command of English, they may have English as an Additional Language lessons to further improve their English. They study towards their Year 11 GCSE exams and, in the Sixth Form, A Levels or Pre-U alongside all the other students.
Pastoral Care & Boarding
At Barney, the school wants every pupil to be happy and to flourish. A flourishing pupil is one that reaches their potential in every endeavour; both in the classroom and beyond. It wants every pupil to know who they can turn to for support. Every Barney pupil has an extensive team around them to support them in their journey. It wants every pupil and every parent to Be Part Of It. By working in partnership with parents, the school aims to provide the best possible support for pupils both in school and at home.
Feeling happy, safe and secure is vital to a fulfilling and rewarding time at school and providing effective pastoral care underpins everything the school does. The school’s aim is to provide an environment where every pupil is valued as an individual, can develop self-confidence, build lasting friendships, make the most of their talents and succeed academically. This has been recognised by the Independent Schools Inspectorate, who describe the school’s pastoral, welfare and health and safety provision for both day and boarding pupils as “excellent”.
Barnard Castle School was founded as a boarding school more than 130 years ago and since then the school has gained decades of experience in providing the outstanding care, comfort and camaraderie required to ensure its boarders excel. From its youngest boarding boys and girls in Year 4 to Sixth Formers and international students, the school’s strong boarding community is rich in diversity and makes a significant contribution to the life of the school.
Families choose boarding for a number of reasons unique to their circumstances – parents’ work commitments that take them away from home; a chance to avoid lengthy daily travel to and from school and create valuable time for activities or prep; a first taste of independent living as preparation for university; and the experience of life in a different country are just some of the reasons. As well as providing full time boarding, flexi and occasional boarding is available as the school seeks to meet the demands and different needs of individual families.
Common across the boarding houses is the chance for students to make lifelong friendships and enjoy experiences together as part of a close-knit community within a socially-stimulating and stable environment. The structure of organised nightly prep is appreciated by many and can enhance academic performance, but as well as creating time to study, boarding is tremendous fun with plenty of varied activities and optional trips every Sunday after a traditional roast lunch.
Boarding house masters and mistresses are extremely dedicated; for them caring for and supporting their boarders is paramount and they ably and enthusiastically fulfil the role of in loco parentis. Boarding does not necessarily mean long separation from family and friends outside school. Exeat weekends punctuate each half-term and parents are welcome to attend Chapel services, to watch the regular musical and dramatic productions and to join pupils pitch-side at sporting fixtures throughout the year.
Extra-curricular & Personal Development
Work by students displayed around the school reflects the talent and creativity generated from the art department, including work that is completed during extra-curricular art activities.
There are two Junior Art Activities and four Senior Art Activities, between 4pm-5pm, which are open to students who are studying art at GCSE and A Level and others who have a keen interest in the subject.
Junior Art includes Pottery Club and the other provides opportunities for students to complete classwork or work on a project of their choice. Three of the Senior Art Activities are for students to obtain one-to-one help on coursework after school; the fourth is for Sixth Form life drawing.
The school holds three art exhibitions each year – Junior Arts Evening, GCSE Art Review and the Upper Sixth Exhibition in the Sixth Form Centre. Students can also join trips, for example to the Royal Academy Summer Show, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, The Clothes Show Live and Baltic Portfolio Presentation Day. Class trips to the Bowes Museum form part of the curriculum.
Art is also on the House competitions programme and the school holds annual contests for Junior, Intermediate and Senior ages.
Since the founding of the school, drama and performance has played a central role in the creative and artistic life of Barney. Its focus on providing pupils with opportunities for stage experience is supported by outstanding facilities for learning and developing their skills. Its newly refurbished, dedicated Drama Studio is a vibrant hub for rehearsals and intimate productions and is always active with enthusiastic young performers. Its main production space – Big School – is equipped with sound and lighting of a high enough standard to attract visiting professional companies.
Barney stages a number of ambitious productions throughout the school year and competition for roles has increased as acting and technical skill levels continue to rise. The programme usually comprises the Senior Musical in the Michaelmas term, a Senior Play in the Lent term and both the Junior Play and Year 5 and 6 Prep School play in the Trinity term. Recent productions have included Little Shop of Horrors, Twelve Angry Men, Back to the 80s!, A Government Inspector, Our House, Noises Off and Sweeney Todd. The school prides itself on the level of professionalism in its productions, which is often supported with choreography and dance coaching by former professionals. In addition, professional actors regularly visit School to run workshops.
The school’s A Level Drama and Theatre Studies course is popular and enhanced by examiner-assessed performances to which audiences are invited. Several pupils have gone on to take courses and leading drama colleges and to perform professionally. Household means of stage and screen among its alumni include Kevin Whately, Glenn Hugill, Malcolm Terris and Olivier Award winner Dylan Emery.
The Music department runs an extensive and comprehensive programme of extra-curricular music with opportunities for playing, performing, practising and appreciating music available every day. The department’s motto is Making Music Happen, and at Barney it’s happening constantly.
A typical week will include rehearsals and/or performances for:
- Barney Singers
- Chamber Choir
- String Quartet
- String Orchestra
- Junior Orchestra
- Jubilating Jazzers
- Sax Ensemble
- Brass Group.
There are lunchtime recitals, afternoon tea music and daytime and weekend opportunities to perform in stunning locations including The Bowes Museum as soloists, ensembles, bands and orchestra.
The Chapel Choir plays an integral part in services at School and has also taken its music to churches and chapels around the region and beyond, often to support their fundraising efforts.
In addition, there are two full productions a year in which musicians and singers can perform. The School also attracts internationally renowned performed to encourage a wider appreciation of music.
Sport is an important aspect of life at Barnard Castle School. It supports the school’s ethos by helping pupils to develop vital skills for life such as commitment, resilience, team-building, confidence, leadership, sportsmanship and learning how to win and lose. The school strives, therefore, to provide as many opportunities as possible for the pupils to enjoy a competitive sporting environment at whatever playing level they can achieve.
The school’s games programme offers each pupil five lessons of games in their weekly timetable. It also offers an extensive, after school activity programme. Between 4pm-5pm every day students can extend their interest in a particular sport, discover skills in a new sport or simply try something they have never done before. Team practices also take place at this time.
It is the school’s aim to create as many fixtures for pupils to experience competition as possible. Saturday is Match Day in the calendar and over 75% of its pupils represent the school in competitive sports fixtures. Barnard Castle wants all its students to be proud of what they achieve as individuals and the contribution they can make to their school teams. The school enjoys an enviable record in inter-school competition and regularly achieves county and national honours in a wide range of sports. The school has very strong relationships with a number of national governing bodies, allowing its students to extend their passion for sport at higher levels. The school regularly hosts representative matches, training camps and trials in a variety of sports.
The school’s outstanding facilities include extensive playing fields, tennis courts, a sports hall, indoor heated swimming pool, a floodlit all weather sports pitch and a newly built fitness suite with a dance studio. The school has a strength and conditioning coach that visits the school two days a week as well as professional coaches offering first class tuition. The school is also fortute to have the services of a qualified sports therapist.
Inter-house matches also play a vital role in the life of the school and in the development of the students, with house competitions in rugby, hockey, swimming, netball, cross country, squash, cricket and football.