SUTTON VALENCE PREP SCHOOL, NR MAIDSTONE
Sutton Valence Prep School is a co-educational day prep school in Chart Sutton, just south of Maidstone, in a wonderful countryside setting, not far from the Senior School of the same name. The original building, above, is a grand red brick mansion and the rest of the school is housed in sympathetic modern buildings. There’s around 320 boys and girls (split pretty evenly around half of each) aged 3-11 years roaming in rural playing fields and woodland.
BETHANY SCHOOL, GOUDHURST
What? Where? Bethany school is a wonderfully rural, independent secondary school for pupils aged 11 – 18 in Goudhurst, near Cranbrook, in the picturesque Weald of Kent. A non-selective school, which is big on pastoral care and space and small on class sizes. It’s a co-educational school with 345 kids (242 boys, 103 girls – used to be a boys school but number of girls is increasing), in a very sizeable and stunning 60 acres of grounds.
The single sex versus co-ed school debate. People feel strongly about it don’t they?!
As someone with an older brother and therefore constantly around boys as a tween, I loved the escape of my all girl’s school, where I could parade my dodgy hair and spots in peace. But I know even from my own friends that many of them are vehemently against single sex schools, thinking them an anacronism, a throwback to the Fifties, a bit weird.
SAINT RONAN’S SCHOOL, HAWKHURST
What? Where? Saint Ronan’s is a bucolic prep school, set in a stonking 249 (frankly gorgeous) acres of Tongswood Estate, in Hawkhurst and perfectly positioned for Cranbrook, Goudhurst and just over the border in East Sussex (or further afield if you don’t mind the drive or live in one of the villages served by the useful school minibus service).
With a new school year on the horizon it’s the perfect time to fire up your mini muddies imaginations with this list of the best illustrated books compiled by Holly Millbank founder of Fat Fox a fab new independent book publishing company – based right here in Kent. Come now, let the wild rumpus start!
Publisher, Holly, also mum to three young children, says:
‘I love how the imagery in a book – from highly colourful picture books through to black and white sketched young adult novels – work intrinsically with the story – bringing the words and the sentiment of the book to life.’
‘I feel that a visual narrative is so important, that we have in fact recently even published a young adult book that has beautiful sketches on almost every page which is very rare in the YA market.
Crikey, the summer holidays have screamed by. Before I know it I’ll be hosing down the kiddies before waving them off at the school gates and kicking my heels in delight. But there’s a teensy bit of me that is already mourning all the many things I promised myself I’d take time off work to do with them this summer. So this week a friend and I took our sons to The Historic Dockyard, in Chatham, and fulfilled a promise I’d made, oh, about 18 months ago: Batten down the hatches – let’s go!
Why does the mind always go blank when you’re trying to plan a day out with the kids? Perhaps it’s all the gin we drink to survive… (Or, maybe that’s just me?) Anyhoo… what with August being the only month of the year when the Mini Muddies are off school every single day, we all need some ideas when it comes to entertaining the bratlets. And like your very own fairy godmother, I’ve put together the following itinerary… You can also check out the Muddy weekly guide to keep updated on what’s happening every seven days… No need to thank me, (just buy me a Jeroboam of sparkling rosé).
And I thought the biggest battle this Half Term would be between my Mudlets – over who has the master controller for the Wii computer or who was ‘breathing too loudly while eating breakfast’. But no, there’s been some proper legitimised, fighting going on over at Leeds Castle. Fully armoured knights battling it out in a real jousting competition, combat displays and try-it-yourself archery.
If you, like me, find your weekends filled with household chores, taxi-ing the kids round and, if you’re lucky, a hangover headache recovery period, then you probably don’t find the time to visit Kent’s historic castles as much as you’d like.
Welcome to the Muddy Best School Guide, the massively popular review section, which is now launching in Kent.
When a school goes under the Muddy microscope I spend a day there nosing around, meeting staff, chatting to the kids and generally doing a bit of Muddy journo ‘digging’. So class, listen up, and no talking at the back please!
DULWICH PREP SCHOOL, CRANBROOK
I’ve been a lifestyle journo for over fifteen years working on national glossy magazines but somehow, along the way, I also managed to squeeze in two years running the Learning Resource Centre (posh word for library) in two Secondary schools. Most recently I worked full time in a Kent grammar school where I took Y7 lessons, ran clubs, and was integrated in all elements of school life.
As you can imagine, I am anything but your typical tidy, quiet librarian!