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The Most Brilliant Education

An insight into Ardvreck School by Headmistress Ali Kinge

The scrumptious smell of a delicious cooked breakfast creeps up the oak staircase to the dorms where its tantalising aroma helps the Gappies to awaken the tousled, drowsy boarders. The possibilities and excitement of another joyful and busy day in our exceptional prep school begin.

Tucked away from the stresses and strains of modern life, in breathtaking Scottish countryside, Ardvreck Preparatory School nurtures and educates your children in a caring, and loving, family environment.

Visitors gasp at the awe-inspiring views of doorstep Munros as they make their way up the school’s sweeping drive. Their attention is soon diverted to the even more thrilling spectacle of laughing, be-kilted and wellied children hanging out of trees, hiding in Dens or building dams in the burn which flows down the Headmistress’ lawn.

The heavens here are fresh and pure; the Milky Way is a constant presence on a cloudless night and sightings of the Northern Lights a frequent treat. The pure, unpolluted atmosphere ensures that our pupils’ eyes shine with wonder and their cheeks constantly bloom with a rosy glow. Who could imagine that this idyllic childhood, seemingly so far from the sinful city, is just one hour from the worldwide gateways of both Edinburgh and Glasgow airports?

You have probably gathered that we firmly believe classrooms do not need walls. As well as outdoor lessons, the entire school regularly adventures into the exciting, natural playground on our doorstep to undertake Barvicks (expeditions) and a regular Ard Challenge.

The Scottish wilderness is the greatest of all educators – and that’s certainly saying something given that our actual team of terrific teachers is second to none. Many of them live on site and, without exception, each one is talented, intelligent, committed, loyal, hard-working and incredible amounts of fun. They are movers and shakers, optimists, can do’ers, smilers and who all care, beyond belief, about the education and wellbeing of every single child in our school.

This is most definitely the school every grown-up wishes they had attended as a child. It’s where kindness, courtesy and good manners are at the forefront of every human interaction. It’s an environment where working hard and playing hard are of equal importance and where good humour and fun permeate every undertaking. We firmly believe that there is definitely nothing old-fashioned about traditional values.

Music plays an enormous part in making a school the home-from-home which so many parents seek for their children. We recognise that music is an extremely important part of a child’s upbringing; it is a way of expressing feelings as well as emotions. We are exceptionally fortunate in having two resident professional opera singers and a professional violinist on our team and, alongside the constant, joyful laughter, there is music of all kinds around every corner. Our traditional ensembles and choirs are robust and, due to our location north of the border, the school’s repertoire is injected with the Celtic kick of a full pipe band, and a ceilidh band which provides music for our regular, raucous reeling! Drama always culminates in a spectacular musical – do take a peek at the most recent trailer for our Lion King production!

Ardvreck School is resilience personified. Nothing can stop its feisty ethos and this is exemplified in how the school is tackling distance learning during the Covid-19 pandemic. After a live assembly, with live hymn singing, live lessons are delivered every morning for 3 to 13 year olds and, in the afternoons, the children are set free to complete fun, outdoor challenges which are monitored by tutors. A full programme of pastoral care is in place, overseen by the child’s tutor, with online instrumental and LAMDA lessons also in operation! With a nod to the school’s renowned robust spirit, we have named it An Ard-e Education! The feedback from pupils and parents is super positive and the entire Ardvreck family is having great fun! Our most recent amusement was putting together the following movie which is proof that, during Ard times, Ard pupils, parents and teachers don’t get down, they GIT UP!

And what of our leavers? My heart very nearly bursts with pride at each speech day when we celebrate the achievements of the girls and boys whose lives we have helped to shape. They are happy, well-rounded and fulfilled children who are full of hope and ambition for their futures. What is most remarkable though, is that each and every one of them is completely at ease in his, or her, own skin. Through the challenges and situations to which they have been exposed, be it scrambling up a cliff, swimming in a loch, helping in the community or chatting to royalty, every child is equipped with the skills and the confidence to feel unperturbed by any situation. It will come as no surprise then, that Head Teachers from public schools all over the UK are very keen to enlist Ardvreck pupils. This year, our leavers are heading to a total of 12 different public schools, including to Eton and to St Mary’s, Ascot.

At the end of it all, any school can provide excellent academic rigour, a strong pastoral ethos and a broad co-curricular programme, all of which we do outstandingly well. However, we truly believe that the real value of a rural, prep school education lies in the things that are remembered long after what was taught has been forgotten. The things that contribute to defining not what we know, but who we are. This is why Ardvreck School provides the most brilliant education.

Mrs Ali Kinge