Hopelands ranked top Independent Preparatory School in Gloucestershire!

Hopelands Preparatory School in Stonehouse has been ranked as the top independent prep school in Gloucestershire, according to The Sunday Times Schools Guide 2022.


We were thrilled to receive the news that Hopelands was awarded position number 22 in the newspaper’s Parent Power ‘Top Independent Preparatory School’ league tables, which came out last December.

Parent Power league tables identify the 2,000 highest-achieving schools in the UK, and their table of ‘Top Independent Preparatory Schools’ positions Hopelands as the highest independent preparatory school in Gloucestershire.

Schools are normally ranked by their recent standard assessment tests (SATs). However, as these tests did not take place last year due to the pandemic, Parent Power took a three-year average of the schools’ previous academic outcomes. They focused on Reading, GPS (Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling), and Maths. A score of 100 represents the expected standard children should achieve by the end of year 6, Hopelands scored well above this with 110, 108 and 108.

‘This outstanding result, which has seen us increase our ranking by 13 places from last year, alongside recently becoming a Music Mark School, is a fantastic achievement. Together with our dedicated staff, supportive families, and wonderful children I am very proud of the inclusive learning environment we have here at Hopelands,’ said Head Teacher, Mrs Sheila Bradburn.



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Changing Schools

All every parent wants, is for their child to be happy at school. Seeing your child thrive in an innovative and nurturing environment is key to both their and your happiness. Listening to your child’s excited chatter at the end of the day about what they have learnt, or the games they have been playing, gives you the confidence that they are both settled and content at school.

However, sometimes this does not happen. Your child may be showing signs of struggling at school, becoming disinterested in lessons or have problems with friendship groups. Simply put, they are just not happy. Changing schools can seem extreme, especially part way through the year, but it does happen, and if it is done carefully, it can be incredibly effective in restoring your child’s happiness.

Is it easy to change schools?

At Hopelands, we receive many enquiries from families who are looking to move their child part way through their primary schooling. The first thing we advise them to do, is to come and visit us during a normal school day. They will be able to spend time with the Headteacher and be shown around the school by the Head Pupils. We feel it is important to hear what the children have to say about their school and to see how they behave in the lessons and during playtimes. After the visit we offer a taster session. This provides a great opportunity for the child to come and join their class for either a morning or an afternoon. As we are a small school, with an average of 12 children per class we find that this helps the settling in process as they soon get to know everyone, from Reception right through to Year 6.

What happens when you start at Hopelands?

We recognise that moving schools and making new friends can be a little daunting and we work hard to ensure there is a smooth transition. On the first day the child is assigned a buddy and for children in the younger years their buddy will be a child from Year 6. At Hopelands it is seen as a privilege to be a ‘buddy’ and the pupils treat this role with great pride and responsibility. The buddies often form great friendships with the younger pupils and even have ‘buddy’ photos taken at the end of the year when the school photographer comes in.

The teaching staff keep a close eye to make sure the new pupil is settling in well. If there are any concerns the children are listened to, and a resolution is swiftly found. We pride ourselves on pastoral support and teacher/pupil relationships are key to our success. Our small class sizes come into their own here. But if the new child does not yet feel confident to talk to a staff member, they can post their concerns in the worry boxes which are in every classroom. Every day, the worry boxes are checked by the form teachers to ensure no worries are ever missed.

What do the families say who moved here from another school?

At the end of the day no one understands better what the reality of changing schools means than the families who go through this. We always strive to achieve the best for our families and regularly ask for feedback – here is a snapshot of what some families have said:

‘We hadn’t planned to send any of our children to an independent school. We weren’t sure if we’d “fit in”! Hopelands is a really special place. Freddie immediately felt at home and has thrived and grown into the absolute best version of himself. He is much more confident and happier; he has really been nurtured by the small class sizes and the engaging teaching. We truly believe that moving Freddie to Hopelands has been the best decision we’ve ever made for him. He wasn’t failing in his previous school, he wasn’t unhappy there, but he wasn’t the Freddie we now have!’

‘Our eldest daughter joined Hopelands in year 3. We were nervous about the move as she had been at her previous school for 5 years (nursery & lower prep) but for various reasons we had to make the move. To say it’s the best decision we made is an understatement. She fitted in straight away and her teachers helped with our nerves! She is now just about to start year six and our only regret is we didn’t move sooner.’ 

We were obviously apprehensive about our son changing schools, but from our first contact with Hopelands we were impressed by how welcoming both the children and staff were. He settled in immediately, and the transition could not have gone more smoothly.’ 

To find out more about Hopelands Preparatory School please call 01453 822164 or email scompton@hopelands.org.uk




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What to look for when choosing a Primary School

Choosing the right primary school for your child is one of the hardest decisions for any family. At such a young age you are deciding the next 7 years of your child’s school life. Although people look at different features in a school, most families want their child to achieve the following:

  • Happiness
  • Academic Excellence
  • Creativity
  • Confidence
  • Resilience

and probably most importantly to instil a love of learning. It is important to choose a school which you believe will motivate your child to be the best they can be.

Here are key things to look for when visiting schools:

  1. Open days/mornings are great but to get a true feel for the school, visit again during a normal school day. See the children in the classroom environment, do the pupils look happy and engaged in the lessons, are they working in teams, are they inquisitive? Observe a break time, are the children being kind and respectful, is there any bad behaviour and if so, is it dealt with both quickly and efficiently. Do they walk around school calmly and well behaved? Are they good ambassadors of their school? Do they wear the uniform with pride? Did you feel welcome when you first entered the school?
  2. Look at the displays, they can give a good indication of what the children are working on in class. Do the displays celebrate the pupils’ work and achievements, are they interactive?
  3. Ask questions, how does the school support high or low achievers, is there a parent / pupil survey which you can look at, where do children normally go to secondary school afterwards, is there morning and/or after school provision etc.
  4. Find out if the school offers extracurricular clubs. If a school has a wide variety of both lunchtime and after school clubs this can really add to a child’s school experience, and is a sign of committed and passionate teachers, who will want to go the extra mile to support your child’s educational journey.
  5. Study the schools’ website. Is there information on there about the school’s ethos and values? If so, do you agree with them? Read their latest OFSTED/ISI report. Does the school have regular newsletters, it may be useful to have a look through recent ones as this will give you an insight into daily school life, are the children’s achievements celebrated frequently? Check out the school calendar, is it filled with different trips and excursions? All these will enrich a child’s learning.

As well as considering the factors above, it is also important to trust your instincts when choosing the right primary school. Nothing beats the feel-good factor when you walk round somewhere. Primary schools can be a fantastic experience for both you and your family; great relationships, academic excellence, and a love of learning which will continue to grow.

The deadline for Primary School Applications for September 2022 is the 15th January 2022.

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The Benefits of learning a language at Primary School.

At Hopelands Preparatory school we believe it is important for all children to be given the access and knowledge to not only learn a new language, but to also gain an understanding of another county and their culture.

French is spoken by over 221 million people across five continents and is the second most widely learned language after English. It is the international language of cooking, fashion, theatre, visual arts, dance, and architecture.

Instilling a love of language at an early age has many benefits, at Hopelands Preparatory School we support this by having a specialist French teacher who teaches the children from Reception through to Year 6. Through learning from an expert, the children become fully immersed in the world of language. Not only does this build their language skills it also supports their transition to secondary school. Our French teacher, Madame Trebble, outlines the following benefits.

‘Learning French’: 

  1. Is fun! French provision at Hopelands offers the children the chance to explore French through games, songs, rhymes, and storytelling.
  2. Promotes self-confident and curious learners. Pupils are encouraged to become language detectives and as they learn to ‘crack the code’ there is a repeated sense of accomplishment.
  3. Enhances communication, social and literacy skills. Lessons focus on practising reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills.
  4. Provides opportunities to perform which nurtures pupils’ self-esteem.
  5. Improves memorisation skills and the ability to interpret meaning. Pupils are presented with many new items of vocabulary and structures.
  6. Enhances knowledges of your own language. As pupils’ study French grammar and compare it to their own, English grammar rules are reinforced and made clearer.
  7. Increases intercultural understanding. Pupils are encouraged to explore, compare and contrast aspects of culture with those of other countries.
  8. Develops critical thinking skills, problem solving, creativity and flexibility of mind. Learning a language helps to boost children’s cognitive development.
  9. Improves performance. Many studies have shown that foreign language learners tend to perform better in maths, reading and vocabulary tests than those who don’t!

Learning a language allows you to fully appreciate the culture and engage with local native speakers when traveling, hugely enhancing the experience of travel.

Gone are the days where French lessons consisted of looking through the Tricolore and wearing a beret on the obligatory French day. Now the children discover the wonder of language through songs, games, puzzles, storytelling and more.

If you wish to find out more about what Hopelands can offer for your child please contact us on 01453 822164 or email scompton@hopelands.org.uk

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Summer Performance of Oliver

Lights on, videographer ready, staging set, Stonehouse Court Hotel booked, and the children rehearsed. The only thing potentially missing was the audience. With the late announcements of further restrictions, seating plans had to change, key stage bubbles could not mix, and we had to adhere to the hotel’s Covid policy.

Our fantastic and understanding families supported us with the new seating plan. The use of a large gazebo for the younger children ensured they could remain an integral part of the whole school performance. Lastly, the clever juggling and re-arranging of the show by our drama teacher meant ‘Oliver’ could go ahead against all odds.

We were absolutely thrilled that the children were able to hold their summer production of ‘Oliver’ in front of an audience. The children had an amazing time and performed to perfection! The production was filled with acting, dancing, singing and most importantly children having fun. But the icing on the cake was for parents to share their children’s enjoyment.

We are all looking forward to our next show!

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Memories from one of Hopelands first ever pupils!

In 1954, Mrs Eva Murray-Browne, who was the wife of a Doctor and lived in Stonehouse, saw that there was a need for an affordable local school which offered excellent education. She was a mother of 4 children and she originally founded the school in her home which was called the Mount (pictured). Her vision was to encourage pupils to learn together in an environment of strong family values. It is incredible to think that our school originally started with just fifteen pupils round the dining room table and is now bustling with over 70!

The vision of Mrs Murray-Browne, developed over fifty years ago, is still integral to the success and progress of Hopeland’s Preparatory School. By working closely with our Hopeland’s parents, we retain the family and homely atmosphere while continuing to achieve academic excellence.  Our aim is to ensure, that by the time our pupils leave us in Year 6, they are confident, resilient, inquisitive young people who have gained a love for learning and a zest for life.

We love hearing from former pupils, and we were delighted when John Tuffin got in contact. He attended the Mount from 1954 to 1956, together with his brother and sister, (in those days boys had to leave when they turned 7). John said it was a happy experience where he received a high standard of tuition and unlimited kindness.  Here are some of his recollections from his time at Hopelands:

I have abundant memories of The Mount, as it then was. (Hopelands was the name of the house where it later moved, further up Regent Street).

Mrs Murray-Browne was the Principal and never far away.  On a day-to-day basis the school was run by two friends, Miss Gallie and Miss Bowmer.  They were talented teachers.  Miss Bowmer was very musical.  Other teachers were Miss Alliston and Miss Saint.  In keeping with the Parents National Education Union tradition, various mothers used to come in and help as well.

Apart from the three Rs we learned some general culture about Roman history and Greek legends.  We started French, read Bible stories, and had a lot of music.  When I was about 6, we had Picture Study.  Each term we were given a book of reproductions of about 10 paintings by a single artist.  Every week we spent a period looking at one of these and discussing it.  I did Vermeer, Gozzoli and Memling.  Vermeer and Gozzoli struck a particular chord with me, and I still have one of the Gozzoli reproductions.

We also spent a lot of time with games of all sorts, drawing and painting, sewing and crafts.  In the summer we played rounders outside. The food was excellent and abundant, and we had lunch in Mrs Murray-Browne’s dining room.

I have only good memories of Hopelands, I am delighted to see that you are still going, and I wish you every success for the future.

A fantastic insight into the early days of Hopelands!


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Lockdown Part 3 – What our parents say

Within a week of entering 2021 the nation was put on lockdown once more. With minimal notice, plans had to be cancelled, businesses and schools were closed, parents hoped their home IT was up to the challenge and school staff aged a few years overnight.

Within a day, Hopelands Preparatory School teachers moved their lessons online and the virtual timetable, which had been developed to strengthen pupils’ resilience and continue their passion for learning, was implemented. The virtual timetable mirrors the school day and runs from 8.30-3.30. Every subject continues to be taught including art, DT, dance, French, PE, and music. The children attend the lessons, interact with their form teachers, see their friends, ask questions, and receive feedback on their work. We know that home schooling can be both uninspiring and isolating, so having this interaction with teachers and peers is key to continuing the successful relationship the pupils have with our school. To date we have had an outstanding high engagement rate with our pupils through the virtual learning which we are incredibly proud of.

There are 10-minute breaks between each lesson as well as the longer morning and afternoon breaks and time for a healthy lunch. Children are encouraged to move away from the screen, run around outside or play with their siblings or toys.

Parents have both embraced and supported the timetable and have been instrumental in encouraging their children to carry on their love of learning. We have listened and acknowledged their feedback as it is important for us to understand how we can further support our families through these difficult times.


  • ‘I am amazed and grateful for how well the online learning appears to be working and a credit to all those involved in accomplishing this.  Thank you.  Our son is certainly more comfortable with the experience this time round, if still a little reluctant to open his camera!  Tomorrow morning’s music session might sort that out as he presents his violin and a short piece of music!’


  • ‘We have been blown away by how brilliant you have all been this term, and prior to this lockdown. It is evident there has been a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes preparing for a possible lockdown, but to roll out a full online timetable for all 6 classes with 24 hours’ notice is incredible! The communication has been fantastic, both from you all in the office, but also from all the teachers keeping us updated with lesson plans. We were very impressed with how the class teacher adjusted her teaching plans considering feedback from some of the parents, adapting content and providing resources such that classes could be carried out off-line if that was the parents’ preference. She has also been brilliant these last two days managing on-line teaching and 4 students in class. We are reminded, yet again, how pleased we are that we decided to send our child to Hopelands…. as before in the previous lockdown, the ‘I can, I will, I do’ attitude shines through.’


  • ‘We are so deeply grateful for the day we stepped into the Head Teachers office: two confused worried parents, too frightened to make the change to Prep School. “Well, what are you waiting for?!” you asked us quite firmly! It was just the shake we needed. Our daughter is flying at grammar school and we are so grateful for the excellent quality of teaching our youngest child is receiving at Hopelands. So, thank you one and all.


  • ‘Just wanted to say what a fantastic job you and the rest of the staff are doing. The Government really did spring it on everyone this time, but it has been incredibly smooth and well organised. Both my children really enjoyed the school experience yesterday, so thank you’


  • ‘We just wanted to say how pleased and impressed we are with the provision of teaching during the lockdown. It’s great to see how well the children and teachers can work together remotely.’


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Choosing a Primary School for your child during lockdown

Choosing the right primary school for your child is one of the hardest decisions for any family and made even more difficult during a national lockdown. At such a young age, you are deciding the next 7 years of your child’s school life. Everybody has a different set of criteria in terms of what they are looking for in a school. However, most families want to ensure their child achieves the following:

  • Happiness
  • Academic Excellence
  • Creativity
  • Confidence
  • Resilience

and most importantly to instil a love of learning that leads to academic success.

In normal times you can visit different schools and see the children in the classroom environment. As soon as you enter a school, your instincts will tell you, if you have a good feeling about it. However, due to Covid, schools are currently closed to external visitors, which makes choosing much more difficult. There are other ways which can help with your decision:

  1. Contact the school to arrange a virtual meeting with the Head Teacher. At Hopelands Preparatory School we are happy to organise meetings via Microsoft Teams with our Head, the appropriate class teacher, and the parents. At these meeting you can discuss your needs and hopes for your child. Ask questions, how does the school support high or low achievers, is there a parent / pupil survey which you can look at, where do children normally go to secondary school afterwards, is there morning and/or after school provision etc.
  2. Study the schools’ website. Is there information on there about the school’s ethos and values? If so, do you agree with them? Read their latest OFSTED/ISI report. Does the school have regular newsletters, it may be useful to have a look through recent ones as this will give you an insight into daily school life. Are the children’s achievements celebrated frequently? Check out the school calendar, is it filled with different trips and excursions? All these will enrich a child’s learning.
  3. Find out if the school offers extracurricular clubs. If a school has a wide variety of both lunchtime and after school clubs this can really add to a child’s school experience, and is a sign of committed and passionate teachers, who will want to go the extra mile to support your child’s educational journey.

Schools have been, and continue, to be working above and beyond during the pandemic. At Hopelands we are following our timetable online with every subject being delivered including art, PE, music, and dance. Our children have yet again risen to the challenge of virtual learning. They have all engaged and it is clear to see that their in-school training on Teams has been highly beneficial. Their focus, concentration and resilience has been apparent, and we are very proud of them.

If you wish to find out more please call 01453 822164 between 8.30-3.30 or email scompton@hopelands.org.uk to find out more.


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Christmas Message from Mrs Bradburn

This year I have been astounded with our children’s resilience, strength, and determination. They have not only readily adapted to life during a pandemic, they have also risen and exceeded the challenge of staying positive and focused on both their academic studies and future aspirations. They impress and inspire me every day.

As we end the Autumn term, I would like to share some of the highlights with you:

Reception have been busy settling into school and getting to know their new teachers and friends. They had a virtual visit from the local fire service, made ‘superpower’ vegetables, evil pea soup and learnt about our amazing world and space. They even had a spaceship land in our classroom and tried some freeze-dried astronaut food.

Class 2 have had a fantastic start to the year getting to know their new teacher, Miss Cook. A particular highlight for me was watching the children’s ideas come to life in DT where they designed their own superhero capes for their teddies. The children were careful with their needlework and produced some great work of which they were proud!

This term has been a steep step up for Year 3, and I must say they have all risen to the challenge. They have been learning how to survive the Stone Age when building replica axes; discovered their bearings by creating their own magnetic compasses; explored the local geology and bedrock of Stonehouse during the rock walk and started to develop essential (and lifelong) coding and multimedia skills.

Y4 have risen to many creative and academic challenges this term from the Roman invasion, creating their own haikus, tankas and cinquains. In DT, they have carefully planned, designed, and finally constructed individual ‘Toy Theatres’ for a live performance of ‘The Owl & The Pussycat’ by Edward Lear. The project was complex from the very start, however Y4 greeted every lesson with enthusiasm and a determination to succeed and they should be very proud of their achievements. A paper and card theatre can be bought from Amazon, but no shop bought construction can match the imagination and vitality of the hugely successful Y4 work!

This term, Year 5 have enjoyed learning about the crime and punishment in history in all its grizzly glory! Learning about the planets and constellations in science has been fascinating for all, especially discovering how big and messy the craters created by meteorites can be when they hit earth. They have also enjoyed the ‘Christmas’ activities with Mrs Elmore and creating fragmented horses in art. And of course, the best thing of all was ‘Barvember’ in maths!

This term, Year 6 have enjoyed making practical face masks in DT, creating mountain formations out of cake in geography, experiencing what it would have been like to live during an air raid in history and dissected pigs’ hearts in science. In ICT they have learned how to use code to create their own challenging point scoring games. As well as this, they have even had time to rescue Miss Porter from her worst nightmare – a huge spider stuck in her hair!

Last, but not least, we end this term with an immense sense of pride as a we have recently been ranked 35th Top Independent Prep School in the country (Sunday Times 2020). What an achievement for a small prep school like ours.

As you can see, it has been a busy and successful term for your children, and I hope you agree that Hopelands remains true to its ethos in that it is a very special place where children are able to grow in a safe and nurturing environment.

As a small school, we have fortunately not been as affected by Covid-19 as some of the larger schools in the country. This has meant that your children’s education has not been compromised by the continuous disruptions the pandemic has created. I am very pleased that at Hopelands we have not had to return to online learning during the autumn term as all lessons could be delivered in school. The very few children who have had to isolate have received online lessons and we will of course continue with this for as long as is necessary. I am hopeful however that the positive trend continues. I thank you for the support you have shown to the school in this unpredictable time.

Finally, the festive season is on the doorstep. Christmas is such a special time of year, the opportunity to spend time with our families and taking time to reflect on and appreciate all that we are thankful for. I obviously want to wish all our families a wonderful Christmas break with lots of time for family fun, food and festivities. I always feel privileged that I get to spend part of the Christmas period with young children, for surely, Christmas is the perfect time of year for being around young people. The pure joy, innocence, and magic of Christmas for children is simply infectious.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New year, and I look forward to seeing you all in the New Year to kick-start the spring term.

Mrs Bradburn

Head Teacher



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