Bedstone College is a small independent boarding school in Shropshire that has an intimate, boutique feel and a reputation as an excellent academic school. The school offers a rigorous educational programme for pupils from the ages of 4 up with boarding available from the age of 9. The school caters well to international students and embodies the public school traditions and ethos for which the English independent school sector is so famous.
The school occupies the historic Bedstone Court manor house in the small village of Bedstone in County Shropshire, a leafy patch of west England near the Welsh border. The school maintains an inclusive ethos and takes pride in its small and friendly community. Bedstone College boasts impressive academic results and university placements, including a significant Oxbridge pedigree. In addition, through broad and varied co-curricular and sports programmes, the school seeks to ensure that every student has the opportunity to find an area to excel.
Bedstone College was founded in 1948 as a secondary school for boys, occupying the grounds of Bedstone Court, a historic, architecturally-prized manor house.
Bedstone Court dates back to 1881, having been commissioned by Sir Henry Ripley, MP to be the seat of the Ripley family who had made their wealth in the fabric dyeing industry and hailed from Bradford (the constituency represented by Sir Henry). Sir Henry had recently been knighted becoming the 1st Baronet of the Ripley Baronets. He was a partner in his family’s successful firm, Edward Ripley & Son, and a serving Liberal Member of Parliament. He sought to build a grand house befitting his status and so sought out a well-known architect who had been the darling of Bradford society. As such, Ripley appointed the renowned architect, Thomas Harris, to design a grand black and white timbered house in a “flamboyant” style. Bedstone Court was completed in 1882, however, Sir Henry died before its completion. The house is a notable example of the Victorian Calendar House, a unique and quirky architectural style that incorporates 365 windows, 52 rooms (across the principal 2 floors), 12 chimneys, and 7 external doors. The house also has a series of stained glass window pane displays depicting signs of the zodiac and calendar months. Bedstone Court’s history is extensively detailed in ‘Bedstone Court: The Story of a Victorian Calendar House‘ by Jonathon Richard Hodges.
The Ripley family, who actually resided predominantly in the neighbouring Bedstone House property (now the junior girl’s Boarding House) decided to sell the property in the 1940s and it was acquired by Mr and Mrs R Rees, two well-established teachers, to be converted into a school. Their son, Martin Rees, would go on to peerage of the school’s most famous alumni, having a distinguished career as an astronomer and being elevated to the peerage as The Rt. Hon. Lord Rees of Ludlow.
The school operated as a small, family-owned boarding school until it was converted into a charitable trust in 1962. In 1972 the school underwent significant expansion with the opening of an attached preparatory school, offering junior boarding. In that same year, the school began to welcome girls, being one of the first schools in England to become fully co-educational. The preparatory school was expanded in 1994 to include a pre-preparatory and nursery school (neither of which offer boarding) and the building of a dedicated Junior School site.
Shortly afterward, in 1996, a massive fire damaged Bedstone Court where boys boarding at the school were housed. A large-scale repair and refurbishment project was completed in 1998 and Bedstone Court was reinhabited by the school, becoming the Sixth Form campus and better known at Bedstone as “The Court”.
The school continued to expand and develop its facilities with the Murch Sports Centre opening in 2001. In 2017 the school was acquired by the London & Oxford Group, an investment and asset management firm catering, particularly, to Chinese investors. The firm supports its investors, facilitating their access to UK-based assets and opportunities. The new owners have been keen to preserve the original character and ethos of Bedstone. The new owners will also support the school’s plans to expand, financing further expansion of the preparatory school and enhancing the school’s art, design, and technology offerings.
With the expansion of the school’s campus and investment in improved facilities, the school has seen a growth in admissions, particularly day pupils and overseas boarders. Today, Bedstone accepts pupils between the ages of four and eighteen years across the pre-preparatory, preparatory, and senior schools.
Bedstone College is a vibrant and welcoming community. Students come from all over the world, and the school is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive environment with much support for those away from their families or for whom English may not be their mother tongue.
The school offers a broad and challenging curriculum, with a strong focus on academic excellence. Bedstone is consistently one of the top independent schools in the county in the GCSE and A-level league tables and has sent a number of graduates up to Oxford and Cambridge, as well as other Russell Group universities. Senior school pupils are also able to avail of various International Baccalaureate-certified syllabus options.
Notwithstanding the school’s reputation for academic rigor, Bedstone students are encouraged to be independent thinkers and to develop their own interests and talents. The school also places great emphasis on pastoral care, and students are supported by a team of dedicated staff. The school takes character development very seriously and offers pupils a number of opportunities to engage in leadership and character-building initiatives, such as the Duke of Edinburgh scheme and various co-curricular events, clubs, and societies. This is shaped by Bedstone’s overarching strategic objectives to develop pupils who are:
so they are willing to explore concepts and ideas that are currently beyond their horizons;
so they are able to deal with the inevitable challenges and disappointments that life will bring;
so that they can learn and develop new skills rapidly and hence be successful in our ever-changing world; and
so that they are able to understand the importance of, and see the value of, the contributions that people of other faiths, cultures and lifestyles bring to the global community.”
The school abolished Saturday lessons in 2021 and replaced these with a dedicated enrichment programme combining applied and experiential learning with activities and excursions. In addition, Bedstone has strong music and art traditions with an active school choir. There are many opportunities for students to get involved in extracurricular activities, including sports, music, drama, and the arts. Bedstone College fields over sixty varsity teams in a range of sports, including: Association Football (Soccer); Athletics (Track & Field); Badminton; Basketball; Cricket; Cross-Country; Hockey (Field); Netball; Rounders; Rugby Union; Swimming; Tennis; and Volleyball.
Boarding students, who make up some 40% of the student population, are well cared for, with a dedicated team of Houseparents acting in loco parentis and supported by House Tutors (on-hand to provide for a pupil’s educational needs), and Gap Students (who are a quasi-staff member-cum-student on the school’s dedicated gap year programme and who are invited to live in-house and support the House prefects and Houseparents in managing each boarding house). Boarding pupils are offered a range of dedicated support services and regular events and activities to ensure that their experience at Bedstone is the best possible. The dorms are well-equipped and furnished and the various boarding houses have various amenities and equipment to make life enjoyable for their residents. Boarding students may be joined in the evenings by day students for Prep – the dedicated evening study period wherein homework and exam preparation may be undertaken. Day students may board on an ad hoc basis in exceptional circumstances and flexi-boarding is also available.
Bedstone embraces many of the traditions that have come to define the Public school model in England, including a system of school prefects and a House system fostering internal competition. Prefects are appointed from the Sixth Form and are afforded special privileges and roles within the school, including management looking out for and supporting the growth and development of junior pupils. Prefects are appointed by the school’s Head based on commitment and service to the school. So too are the positions of Captains of Sport; Heads of House; Heads of Competitive House; Head Choristers; Head Girl; and Head Boy.
The student body is divided into a number of houses that compete against one another in athletic, academic, and school spirit competitions. This house system was enhanced in 2012 with the addition of a complimentary pastoral and tutorial system introducing house points for conscientious behaviour and environmental stewardship. All students, day and boarding, are assigned to a Competitive House. This house system operates in tandem with the longstanding Boarding House structure in which boarding students are assigned to a residential house. A boarder can, therefore, be both a member of a Boarding House and a Competitive House. All the Houses, both Boarding and Competitive, are named for personalities associated with the school or neighbouring towns..
THE HOUSES OF BEDSTONE COLLEGE
A Boarding House for junior girls. Bedstone House was once the actual home of the Ripleys and adjoins Bedstone House, being located on the same grounds.
A Boarding House for senior boys. Pearson House is located within Bedstone Court and is named for Allan Pearson, an Old Bedstonian and former teacher at the school.
A Boarding House for junior boys. This House is also located within Bedstone Court. Ernest Rutter was a famous Old Bedstonian who returned to the College as a teacher. Hew was a close friend and confidante of Sir Winston Churchill.
A Boarding House for senior girls. The House is named in honour of Geoff and Margaret Wilson who managed the school from 1971 – 1990.
One of three Competitive Houses at Bedstone. Comprised of day pupils and boarders who compete against Stokesay and Wigmore. It is named for the neighbouring village of Hopton and Hopton Castle which is located there.
Another of Bedstone’s day houses, Stokesay brings together day pupils and boarders from all Boarding Houses who compete together against Hopton and Wigmore. Stokesay is a nearby village that is home to Stokesay Castle.
The final of Bedstone’s competitive day houses, Wigmore is also a mix of boarders and day pupils. In keeping with the school’s convention of naming the houses for great houses in the locality, Wigmore is named for the nearby village of Wigmore and Wigmore Abbey.
Pupils are able to accumulate points for their House throughout the year and also at specific sporting competitions and academic challenges which pit House teams directly against one another. The Houses have their own dedicated assembly once a week. Each House is led by a Head of House appointed from the student body. Similarly, the Boarding Houses have their own Heads of House who are appointed from the members of that House by the Houseparents. Such appointments are a reward for exemplary behaviour and contribution.
Other performance-based rewards are a regular part of life at Bedstone, including the school’s system of commendations and “Mark Order’ reports, where good behaviour or excellence are recognised by way of a Mark Order report forwarded to the Headmaster. The Headmaster may then present a commendation at the weekly Friday morning Headmaster Assembly. Particularly good efforts may be recognised as part of a termly prize-giving in which a letter and book token are awarded at the appropriate Headmaster Assembly. For pupils up to Year 9, the reward scheme is in the form of ‘Merit” prizes which may be regularly collected. For students in Years 10 and above, particularly outstanding efforts may also be recognised by having their name inscribed in the ‘Book of Excellence”. Having one’s name in the Book of Excellence is considered a great honour with entrants receiving the prestige of a letter of congratulations from the Headmaster (a copy of which is dispatched to their parents), a mention in the programme on “Speech Day” (the celebratory day marking the end of the academic year), and a Book Token prize.
In contrast, the school also operates a system of “Sanctions” which are distributed for poor efforts or behaviour below that of the standard expected at Bedstone. Junior students may see sanctions in the form of diminished Activity Time (a period allocated to participating in a preferred or fun activity). Senior students may find themselves sanctioned in the form of privileges being withdrawn, being gated, or more serious punishment.
Sixth-formers enjoy the greatest privileges at the school, including a monthly Dining Club (a special dinner and lecture event), access to a weekend “bar service”; and Sunday Exeats (standing permission to be off-site during the day on Sunday). Sixth-formers may also be appointed as Prefects and will assume a mentoring role for younger pupils in their charge. The most senior Prefects may also be appointed to roles such as Head Boy or Head Girl.
As with most traditional independent schools, and especially those with a boarding history, the school has developed a lexicon of its own which includes a combination of slang, place names, and event titles that have come to be common language at Bedstone.
THE UNIQUE SLANG, JARGON, AND TERMINOLOGY OF BEDSTONE COLLEGE
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Campus and Facilities
The college occupies a 40-acre site in the British countryside. It is the former country estate of the Ripley family, historically known as Bedotone Court. The grounds include beautifully landscaped gardens and 15 acres of playing fields, making it the preferred setting for the annual Midlands Independent Schools Association (ISA) cross-country championships. The school’s rural setting on the edge of Bucknell in Shropshire is framed by farmland and forests with outdoor activity being a major part of life at Bedstone. Nearby facilities include dry ski slopes and horse-riding trails and stables.
This is complemented by cutting-edge science and technology laboratories, an art and design technology centre, and a music school (which houses a recording studio and soundproofed rehearsal pods).
Bedstone is approximately an hour’s drive from Birmingham city centre and an hour and a half from Birmingham Airport (BHX) (about 65 miles), the nearest international airport. The closest train station is Hopton Heath.
Bedstone operates a non-selective admissions policy and invites applicants of all backgrounds and nationalities to apply, subject to satisfying any necessary visa and immigration requirements and demonstrating sufficient English language ability. In respect of the Senior School, preferential admissions may apply to pupils already in attendance at the Junior School. Bedstone is not aligned with any religious order or faith-based ethos and welcomes pupils of all faiths and none.
Bedstone’s past pupils are known as Old Bedstonians (or “Old Bods”) and, alongside former faculty, are invited to join the Old Bedstonian Society (OBS), which was founded in 1956. The institution maintains records of all members past and present. The Secretariat of the OBS also organises an annual reunion and an old pupils cricket tournament. Famous Old Bestonians include former Astronomer Royal, The Rt. Hon. Lord Rees of Ludlow, and Monty Halls, the celebrated television presenter.
Old pupils of Bedstone are referred to as Old Bedstonians and are entitled to use the post-nominal letters “OB”. They call themselves by the nickname “Old Bods”. Former faculty are also eligible to become Old Bedstonians. The Old Bedstonian Society (OBS) manages the records of the school’s alumni and arranges an annual retreat and annual cricket tournament.
Accreditations and Affiliations
Bedstone College is a member of the Independent Schools Council (ISC) and is subject to oversight by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI). As such the school is considered to be an “Association School” that is an accredited member of a number of recognised bodies including the Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA); Independent Schools Association (ISA); and The Society of Heads. The school and its senior faculty are also members of the Association for the Education and Guardianship of International Students (AEGIS); The Association of Governing Bodies of Independent Schools (AGBIS); The Council for the Registration of Schools Teaching Dyslexic Pupils (CRESTED); and The Independent Schools Bursars Association (ISBA). Bedstone’s current Headmaster is affiliated to The Heads’ Conference (HMC).
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOL
JUNIOR BOARDING SCHOOL
PRE-PREPARATORY AND PREPARATORY SCHOOL
BOARDING & DAY
4 – 18
RECEPTION – SIXTH FORM
SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS
IN ACCORDANCE WITH NATIONAL GUIDELINES
INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS INSPECTORATE
ROLL NO.: 6237
LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION
FAITH / ETHOS
PEDAGOGY / PHILOSOPHY
COUNTRYSIDE / RURAL
HOPTON | STOKESAY | WIGMORE
DRAMA & THEATRE
DUKE OF EDINBURGH AWARD
VARIOUS ACADEMIC SOCIETIES AND SOCIAL CLUBS
ASSOCIATION FOOTBALL (SOCCER)
ATHLETICS (TRACK & FIELD)
BEDSTONE EDUCATIONAL TRUST / LONDON & OXFORD GROUP
PATRON / VISITOR
HEAD OF SCHOOL
MR TOBY MULLINS (HEADMASTER)
212 PUPILS (72 BOARDERS)
AVERAGE CLASS SIZE
GBP £1,872 – £13,000 PER TERM
FEES ARE ALL INCLUSIVE
SCHOLARSHIPS, BURSARIES & FINANCIAL AID
SCHOLARSHIP SCHEME AVAILABLE
BEDSTONE JUNIOR SCHOOL
NAVY BLUE BLAZER, NAVY JUMPER, WHITE SHIRT, SCHOOL TIE, AND CHARCOAL GREY TROUSERS OR SCHOOL TARTAN SKIRT/KILT. SIXTH FORMERS MAY WEAR THE SIXTH FORM TIE AND ARE ALLOWED TO WEAR BUSINESS ATTIRE.
SCHOOL UNIFORM AVAILABLE HERE.
BOAT CLUB COLOURS
ACCREDITATIONS, ASSOCIATIONS AND AFFILIATIONS
ATHLETIC CONFERENCES & SPORTS LEAGUES
SISTER SCHOOLS & PARTNER SCHOOLS
OLD BEDSTONIANS / OLD BODS
OLD BEDSTONIAN SOCIETY
CELEBRATED ALUMNI & FACULTY
RT. HON. LORD REES OF LUDLOW; MONTY HALLS
SHROPSHIRE SY7 0BG
BEDSTONE, BUCKNELL, SHROPSHIRE SY7 0BG, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOL
JUNIOR BOARDING SCHOOL
PRE-PREPARATORY AND PREPARATORY SCHOOL