Outstanding Newbury Prep School Welcomes New Head

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One of the UK’s leading prep schools, famous for preparing pupils to secure coveted places at world-renowned schools such as Harrow, Eton and Winchester, has appointed a new Head teacher selected for his progressive and dynamic approach to teaching and learning.

Horris Hill, nestled in the heart of the Hampshire/Berkshire countryside, will welcome Rob Stewart to lead its move from a single-sex to co-educational setting from September 2022, as a new chapter for the school begins.

Rob joins the school, which was established in 1888 and has since built a shining reputation for academic and sporting excellence, from the Oratory Prep School in Reading where he spent six years as Head, launching the school’s nursery and introducing a wraparound care model which was applauded by parents. The school under his leadership also has a rigorous inspection and Rob achieved the highest grading possible in every category. Previous to that Rob spent over a decade at Eton, latterly as a Housemaster.

Rob said: “I’m poised with excited anticipation for this new era, in both the story of Horris Hill and my career. Having spent six fulfilling and wholly enjoyable years at OPS, where I have worked with some of the most inspirational teachers and students, now is the time for a new challenge and fresh successes in a new school.

“Horris Hill is simply an incredibly creative and enriching place to learn, which is what drew me to apply for the position as Head. The setting, in rolling countryside and 65 acres of idyllic grounds perfect for outdoor learning and sporting enjoyment, is of course a major pull too – but what I am most looking forward to is bringing my experience of co-educational and early years introduction to the school as it navigates some monumental changes, cementing its future as one of the most sought-after prep schools in the country.

“While there are benefits to single-sex education, I’m a firm believer that to prepare all children for the world we live in it is crucial they are skilled in interacting with each other, sharing ideas and overcoming problem solving challenges from the earliest opportunity, which is our vision for Horris Hill.”

From September 2022 the school will be launching co-education for the first time in its 134 year history. Girls and boys aged two upwards will be welcomed into the state-of-the-art and custom-built brand new 50 week nursery, as well as into reception and lower school classes. Girls will be able to progress all the way through the school until the age of 13.

Rob’s approach to teaching and learning, which he describes as progressive, was one of the reasons CEO of Forfar Education which has owned and run the school since 2021, John Forsyth, knew he was the perfect fit for the job.

John said: “We were very impressed with Rob’s investment in and passion for pupil-led learning and his commitment to really broadening the skill set of children in the schools he has worked at. His background at some of the country’s most highly regarded educational institutions such as Eton and Winchester means that he is perfectly placed to direct the school’s academic and sporting achievements but also instils trust in and respect for traditions we hold in high esteem at Horris Hill.

“Rob brings so much to the curriculum but also, and just as importantly, to the pastoral character of the school. He has a wealth of experience in systems which are adept at tracking the emotional and behavioural development and well-being of students – a crucial ingredient in the make-up of a happy, well-adjusted and confident study body.”

Located near Newbury in Hampshire, the school is one of the world’s leading preparatory schools for children aged two to 13. The school boasts impressive facilities, including a new £3m theatre, new science labs and a refurbished sports hall.

Rob added that alongside the school’s welcome to girls, he was invested in ensuring communication pathways between parents, pupils and staff were strong and clear. He said: “It’s crucial that in any school, the mechanisms for open discussions, on any topic, between parents and school leaders, are straight-forward and honest. I believe any challenges can be resolved with direct, timely discussion which is an approach I’ll be bringing to the fore as I settle into my new role.

“The mental and social well-being of our pupils at Horris Hill is paramount to the collective happiness of the school family, so my leadership team will be continuously well trained in pastoral tracking, self-esteem and confidence teaching and learning and unobtrusive methods in ensuring each and every pupil feels supported, in all aspects of school life.

“There is so much to be excited about as we prepare for the new school term, particularly the ever-evolving opportunities in the curriculum for cross departmental collaboration such as between STEM subjects, English and drama, for example. I’m delighted to be joining the Horris Hill family at such a pivotal moment in its history and look forward to meeting all of our parents and children in person as we start the new academic year.” Registrations are now open at Horris Hill for the Autumn term and beyond for all children aged two and above. For more information, a prospectus or to arrange a personal tour of the school, please contact the Registrar on registrar@horrishill.com, call 01635 40594 or visit the website www.horrishill.com

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