The education scene in Bristol has changed hugely over the past decade. It now offers an array of options, with good state primary schools, some excellent state secondaries, a few academies, a free school, a Steiner school and fantastic independent schools.
All of Clifton, Redland, Henleaze, St Andrews, Montpelier and Cotham have good state primary schools, although their catchment areas are small and they can be oversubscribed. If you are canny about where you rent or buy then your child can go on to one of the good state secondary schools. The beacon of Bristol’s state secondary education is Redland Green School in Redland. Also based in Redland but with a wider catchment area is Cotham School and St Mary Redcliffe is another good state secondary down in the centre of town. There are also two former independent schools, (Colstons Girls and Bristol Cathedral) which have become good academies.
There is a range of excellent independent schools to choose from and, while there are entrance exams and some schools are more academically selective than others, with one exception there are no “pre” entrance exams and nothing like the competition you and in London and the South East.
All independent secondary schools in Bristol have a junior school and often a prep school so the following comments apply to both. There are some independent junior schools offering education up to 11 or 13 just outside Bristol. These include:
Gracefield 266 Overndale Road, BS16 2RG 0117 9567977
gracefieldschool.co.uk (ages 4–11, co-ed)
Silverhill Swan Lane, Winterbourne, BS36 1RL 01454 772156
silverhillschool.co.uk (6 weeks–11 co-ed)
Fairfield Fairfield Way, Backwell BS48 3PD 01275 462743
fairfield.school (ages 2–11, co-ed)
The Downs Wraxall, BS48 1PF 01275 852008 thedownsschool.co.uk
In a beautiful location outside Bristol in North Somerset, offers excellent facilities and education from 4 to 13.
Tockington Manor Washingpool Hill Road, Tockington, BS32 4NY 01454 613229
tockingtonmanorschool.com also outside Bristol offers boarding and day from 2 to 13. They both feed into the independent schools in Bristol, all of which have Year 9 as well as Year 7 entry.
The most well known public school in Bristol is Clifton College Guthrie Road, Clifton, BS8 3EZ 0117 3157 000 cliftoncollege.com (ages 2–18), set in spectacular grounds near the zoo. Co-ed and boarding, it excels at sport and has good offerings in music and drama. Once viewed as less academic, over the past decade it has tightened its pupil selection and academic achievement has risen to a high standard.
Other co-ed options include Bristol Grammar School University Road, BS8 1SR 0117 973 6006 bristolgrammarschool.co.uk (ages 4–18), one of the most academic schools in Bristol, although its central location means limited outside play areas for younger pupils. This is balanced by excellent sport facilities ‘over the bridge’ just outside Bristol.
Colstons’ School Bell Hill, Stapleton, BS16 1BJ 0117 965 5297 colstons.org (ages 3–18, co-ed), on the outskirts of town has an excellent reputation for sport and beautiful grounds surrounding the school.
Another interesting co-ed offering is Clifton High School College Road, BS8 3JD 0117 973 0201 cliftonhigh.bristol.sch.uk (ages 3–18) with its ‘Diamond Edge’ educational model – pupils fully co-ed in the junior school and sixth form but educated separately for certain subjects in the senior school. It has excellent pastoral care and its junior school is one of the loveliest in Bristol.
For single sex boys’ education there is only one option QEH Berkeley Pl, BS8 1JX 0117 930 3040 qehbristol.co.uk (ages 7–18). It has links with Red Maids High School and many siblings are educated by the two schools. Like BGS it has a town centre site with sports facilities over the bridge.
As for single sex girls’ schools, Red Maids school (the oldest girls’ school in England) recently merged with Redland High School to create Red Maids High School Westbury Rd, BS9 3AW 0117 962 2641 redmaids.co.uk (ages 4–18). With high academic standards, it is the only school in Bristol offering the International Baccalaureate. It has an excellent reputation for music and a growing reputation in sport with good onsite sports facilities.
Badminton School Westbury Road, BS9 3BA 0117 905 5200 badmintonschool.co.uk (ages 3–18) also in Westbury is the other option for single sex girls. With small classes, boarding and a good proportion of overseas students, girls achieve well academically.
If you are looking for a different ‘education is a journey not a race’, approach, The Steiner School Redland Hill House, BS6 6UX 0117 933 9990 bristolsteinerschool.org ages (3–11, co-ed) on the edge of the Downs in Redland is worth considering.