During these unprecedented times, we have been unable to welcome visitors to our school site to attend open days, meet pupils and have tours. It’s a great shame because we are set in 260 acres of spectacular parkland and have amazing teaching, sport and music facilities. We have put together this ‘Virtual Open Day’ page to go some way towards recreating the experience of a visit. It’s not quite the same, but should answer many questions you might have about the School.
When I joined this School as Headmaster, I immediately noticed the positive atmosphere. Pupils are friendly, warm and respectful, and they fully embrace the experience of being part of a boarding school, whether they are Full Boarders or local Flexi Boarders. I was delighted when, in March 2018, Ofsted confirmed what I had always believed to be the case. Following an inspection of our boarding provision Ofsted concluded that our boarding provision is Outstanding. They said “The School provides a secure environment in which children and young people flourish and achieve academically”.
This School is a true rarity as it is one of only a small number of British state schools that offer boarding. We offer Full Boarding and Flexi Boarding for boys and girls aged 7 to 18, and around half of our pupils are Full Boarders. With around 480 boarders in a pupil population of around 1000 we are a true boarding school, with a strong boarding ethos.
As a state school we offer outstanding boarding at around half the cost of an independent school because the Government pays for the education. For many working parents this is a great option as their child can board during the week and go home for the weekend after Saturday morning school.
I hope you find this virtual open day helpful. Our Admissions Team is available now and throughout the summer to answer any questions parents may have. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have a query or are interested in applying.
We are an Ofsted Outstanding boarding school with a strong boarding ethos where pupils achieve academically. You can find out more about our school in the links below:
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Gatton Hall is a Grade II listed building that is at the heart of our school community. The original building was destroyed by a fire in 1934 and was rebuilt by the then owners, Sir Jeremiah and Lady Colman. Today, the two upper floors are a boarding house for Sixth Form students. Gatton Hall was extensively renovated in 2018 and Sixth Form students now enjoy a large common area, cinema room, games room, and computer suite. Boarders share dorms, some with beautiful views of the main lake, with two or three friends.
The School’s indoor swimming pool is 25 metres long and ideal for team training sessions and recreational swimming. The School often hosts swimming galas, inter-house competitions, and the swimming pool is used for some of our more unusual co-curricular activities such as scuba diving and kayaking.
The Fitness Centre was opened in 2013 by Olympian Mark Lewis-Francis. The Fitness Centre has state-of-the-art fitness equipment including running machines, rowing machines and weights. As well as being used for PE lessons, pupils have access to the Fitness Centre in the evenings and weekends.
The Health Centre is a well-equipped, self-contained, eleven bed unit. It is staffed by experienced, qualified nurses who provide twenty-four-hour cover, seven days a week. All boarders are registered with the School Medical Officer at the local GP surgery. A doctor visits the school once a week for appointments with pupils. The Health Centre is also home to the Counselling Department.
All of our nine boarding houses have kitchen facilities, but pupils’ main meals are served in the Dining Hall. There is a focus on home-made food and the catering team make almost everything from scratch in our own kitchens. Chef Barny and his team produce healthy and nutritious food for pupils three times a day, seven days a week during term time. From fresh salads, to Kung Pao chicken, and classic vanilla sponge with custard – there is always lots to choose from. The Dining Hall team also work to expand pupils’ food horizons by hosting fun themed evening meals, including Brazilian night and Chinese New Year.
The Royal Alexandra and Albert School is committed to fostering Christian principles within a caring community, where people of all faiths and beliefs are made welcome. The Joseph Rank Memorial Chapel was opened in 1957. It is here that pupils attend a weekly service and where assemblies and special events are held, including Founders’ Day and Remembrance Day.
The all-weather sports pitches are central to the School’s extensive co-curricular programme. Pupils play a wide range of recreational and competitive sports on the pitches, from football to hockey (and sometimes quidditch!). The flood-lit facilities allow for the pitches to be open to pupils even during the darker winter months.
The current church of St Andrew’s dates back to the 15th Century but the church was first recorded on the estate in the Doomsday Book. Previous owners of the estate have contributed to the décor of the church. Frederick John Monson, 5th Baron Monson, went on a ‘Grand Tour’ of Europe and brought back Flemish baroque choir stalls, carved doors from Rouen, and a pulpit and altar from Nuremberg. St Andrew’s is a beautiful and intimate backdrop to a number of small concerts held throughout the year by the Music Department.
The Music department is based in the Bothy Music Centre. Here pupils can practice without interruption in one of the Bothy’s individual music rooms. In 2020, the Royal Alexandra and Albert School was the first state school in England to become an All-Steinway school. From September 2020, all pupils will be taught how to play the piano on world-class Steinway instruments. In addition, all Junior pupils are now given the opportunity to learn a string or wind instrument in their class music lessons.
The Equestrian Centre is a relaxed and welcoming venue with approachable and experienced staff, and a five-star rating for animal welfare. The Centre provides affordable riding lessons to pupils at the School, as well as offering opportunities to compete in local and regional events. The Centre boasts a double American barn that houses 20 horses, tack rooms, classroom, feed room, kitchen and office. There is a floodlit 40x50m outdoor sand school and a 20x30m indoor sand school. Pupils can sign up for riding lessons, as well as join Pony Club.
The Senior School covers the age range of 11-16 and has up to 750 pupils. Pupils are taught a broad, balanced, and well-rounded curriculum grounded in the philosophy that education is more than just what happens in the classroom. Pastoral care is managed by Tutors, Heads of Year, and Heads of Key Stage who watch over each child’s progress.
The Junior School covers the age range of 7-10 and has just over 160 pupils. The School has remained small to give younger pupils the attention and space required to help them start their educational journey. The Junior School is separate from the Senior School, with its own boarding house, classrooms, library and playground. Pupils benefit from has access to Senior specialist teachers and classrooms, including fully equipped science laboratories. The Junior school aims to nurture a love of learning from the very start, and is overseen by the Head of the Junior School, Mr Shaun Greenwood.
The School is located in 260 acres of parkland, giving pupils space to explore and grow. In recent years, grass areas around the school have been carefully levelled to allow for the creation of additional grass pitches for competitive and recreational sport, such as rugby and cricket. Three pitches are located on top field near the Chapel and two pitches are located on the bottom field near the main lake. As well as facilitating inter-house competitions, the additional grass pitches allow the School to host a wide range of inter-school competitions, such as the annual Sovereign’s Cup and the Duchess of Gloucester Cup.
The Royal Alexandra and Albert School is the only state boarding school to offer boarding from the age of 7. Junior Boarders call Rank Weston home during term time. Rank Weston, named after two of the School’s benefactors is a co-educational boarding house for pupils in Years 3-6. The house has two wings; one for girls and one for boys, and children sleep in spacious dorms with up to 6 beds. There are two prep rooms where pupils complete prep (or homework) under the supervision of one of the House staff, so help is on hand if they need it. Rank Weston is a home away from home for both full boarders and Flexi Boarders, who benefit from the experienced care of matrons, tutors, deputy heads of house and housemaster.
There are eight senior boarding houses, each with their own distinct character. Cornwall, Alexandra and Elizabeth are girls’ houses; Edinburgh, Albert, Gloucester and Kent are boys’ houses. Gatton Hall is a co-educational Sixth Form boarding house – the first floor is for girls and the second floor is for boys, and students share a common room, kitchen and IT suite facilities. Pupils will join their boarding house in Year 7 and most will remain in the same house until they leave in Year 13. This provides continuity of pastoral care, opportunities for mentoring younger pupils, and fosters a true sense of pride and ownership.
The Sunley Sixth Form Centre is a hub for Year 12 and Year 13 students. The Sixth Form is an integral part of the School but it has its own identity and dedicated building. Sunley, as it is commonly known, has three IT suites, a break room for small group work, quiet zones for study time, and an ‘Internet Café’ style common room. The building overlooks one of the school’s three lakes, and in summer it is not uncommon for the Sixth Form team to host barbecues, and to find students relaxing in the nearby garden.
The Town Hall was commissioned by a previous owner of the Gatton estate, Sir George Colebrook, and built in 1765. It is where the seven electors of the Gatton borough voted for two Members of Parliament until 1832. At the time the city of Birmingham had no MPs! Gatton was one of a small number of ‘rotten boroughs’ that existed until the Reform Act of 1832.
For much of Gatton Park’s history, there was a kitchen garden and orchard on site. The School and Gatton Trust have slowly re-established these for the enjoyment of pupils and visitors. The School allotment is popular with pupils and is one of the many co-curricular activities that pupils can join. Next to the school allotment, there is now “Gatton Farm” with chickens that pupils help look after. The allotment supports learning about nutrition and the basics of agriculture and animal husbandry.
The Gatton Park estate is often described as one of Surrey’s hidden treasures, and has been home to the Royal Alexandra and Albert School since the late 1940s. The estate covers over 260 acres and has seen many changes over the years. In 1762, Sir George Colebrook commissioned Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, the leading landscape architect of the time and renowned for his work including the parks at Blenheim Palace and Chatsworth, to reshape the park in his English landscape style. Capability also added the lakes which can be seen today around the park. Sir Jeremiah Colman commissioned a parterre for the back of Gatton Hall and, in 1909, the Japanese Garden was built to satisfy Sir Jeremiah’s fascination with all things eastern. In 1912, the Rock and Water garden was added. The Park is a fantastic backdrop to the many activities and lessons that take place, and Gatton’s history is weaved into the curriculum whenever possible.