Progressive learning and enrichment

Swanbourne House School is creating a progressive and dynamic learning experience fit for the challenges and opportunities of the modern world. The school, nestled in over 50 acres of Buckinghamshire countryside just 20 minutes from central Milton Keynes, has been making waves with a new approach to academics. Here we speak to Simone Mitchell, Deputy Head, on the progressive learning at Swanbourne House. 

How does the Swanbourne House approach to academics differ to other schools?

It is about a broad education with rigorous academic foundations. We create an environment where the children undertake activity and investigation, giving them the confidence to think for themselves and to be resilient when problem solving. A Swanbourne House pupil will understand that to ‘fail’ is actually a step forward in learning. 

The hands-on feel means children increasingly take ownership of, and pride in, their education. We are passionate about developing in the children, genuine awe, wonder and curiosity at the complexities of life and the world about us – past, present and future.

We value the skills of independence, communication, collaboration, resilience, reflection, and leadership and the development of these core skills is integral within our curriculum. 

What is the Pre-Senior Baccalaureate and why did Swanbourne adopt it? 

The Pre-Senior Baccalaureate at Swanbourne House is an assessment framework designed to highlight and develop the importance of skills in a 21st century education. Senior school heads were regularly informing us that the pupils leaving prep schools lacked independence, a thirst for learning and the skills to thrive at senior school and beyond. This provided the opportunity for us to evaluate and modernise our academic curriculum. 

With PSB, the core skills of independence, communication, collaboration, resilience, reflection and leadership are fostered and applied during the learning process.

Academically, the children benefit because, alongside ‘learning’ the knowledge of a demanding curriculum in all areas, they understand how to apply that knowledge. 

How does the academic programme cross with enrichment?

In this ever-changing, globalised world, we have a major part to play in preparing our children to be adaptable and innovative so that they have the best chance of happiness and fulfilment in tomorrow’s workplace - it is essential that we develop in our children the qualities and virtues exclusive to human beings. This is where the enrichment programme supports the academic programme, as it enables us to educate ‘character’ as well as young minds. 

For a child to go on and flourish in a busy world of change and opportunity, they need to be happy in their own skin; able to bounce back when things do not go to plan; be aware of their limitations but at the same time able to meet life’s challenges, with confidence and optimism. Our Enrichment Programme encourages the children to try something new and discover their talents. They learn that acquisition of skills such as teamwork, critical thinking and leadership can be applied to the classroom and everyday life, and often return to class from an activity with a renewed sense of vigour and confidence. 

How do the facilities at Swanbourne give exposure to more advanced learning for pupils? 

We have a contemporary and modern teaching environment; our classrooms are designed to offer a flexible teaching space, which organically integrates technology. 

Our facilities are exceptional; and they give us the ability to teach an inspiring, challenging and flexible curriculum, which is stimulating and engaging. From the up-to-date science laboratories, design technology and engineering rooms, bespoke performing arts spaces and outdoor classroom, not to mention the indoor swimming pool and golf course! First-time visitors to the school are invariably impressed by the scale and range of our specialist facilities and by the wide-open outdoor spaces enjoyed by the children.

What is the scholarship programme? How does it benefit pupils? 

We are one of the few schools still able to offer bespoke scholarship programmes. They are designed to give our most talented and committed children the very best chance of securing scholarships to senior school, in the areas in which they are passionate. This in turn opens further doors and affords life-changing opportunities.

Academic Scholars are taught in small classes of around six to eight children, allowing each subject specialist teacher to stretch and challenge the children at an extraordinary level. The curriculum is bespoke and tailored to the needs of each child and the school for which they are aiming.

Our Practical Scholars enjoy a vastly extended course of practical study to further develop their skill base and prepare portfolios for senior school scholarships. We are able to offer many opportunities beyond the curriculum to enable the children to accomplish highly creative projects, access visiting experts, enhance their problem-solving skills and benefit from a range of visits to senior schools and external organisations. 

How does choosing a Swanbourne House education benefit a pupil as an individual learner? 

Looking back on my own education it was the teachers that made it very special. Part of our teaching and learning approach is to employ the most enthusiastic and passionate teachers who are able to instil in our children a genuine love of learning and a real sense that nothing is beyond them.

We place a strong emphasis on academic achievement. Our smaller class sizes allow us to personalise children’s learning so that within individual subjects we are able to appeal to their interests and individual needs.

We are a school in which each child’s personal talents are identified and developed, and where all children learn the confidence to embrace what they find hardest and join in with everything. 

Good schools achieve consistently strong results. Great schools help each individual achieve his or her best outcomes.

Swanbourne House is an Independent Day and Boarding Prep School for

children aged three to 13 years. To find out more and arrange a visit, call 01296 720264

or email  Join the Virtual Tour of the School at