Colin and Jo Munce have a daughter at Brockhurst and Marlston House School in Hermitage, Berkshire.
Our daughter Esme was only eight years old when she was about to start her third school, and with another posting on the horizon, it was only a matter of time before that became the fourth, fifth and sixth. It was clearly taking a toll on all of us and we decided, with some trepidation, that boarding would provide us the continuity and stability of education we sought.
The early days of our school search will be familiar with many military parents. We were driven mostly by location as we knew we wanted a school in the South of England; somewhere close enough to family support, but also, assuming we would be posted along the M4 corridor at some stage, close enough for exeat weekends and half term. Thereafter our priorities included a school with excellent boarding facilities, especially if we were to be posted overseas, as well as the ‘right’ values, opportunities to try new things, a nice setting and school leadership that understood the military community. We also had to be convinced that our daughter would be happy amongst the other kids, and of course, fees and finance were key.
We visited five schools before stumbling across Brockhurst and Marlston. There was nothing obvious that ruled out those five, we just didn’t get ‘the feeling’. Yet when we first visited Brockhurst and Marlston we drove away asking ourselves why we wouldn’t choose it. We knew immediately it was the school for us. It was conveniently located only five minutes from the M4 Junction 13 (Newbury / Hermitage), the boarding house was warm and homely, the facilities were incredibly modern, yet the school values were traditionally charming. Despite being so close to the M4, the setting is rural countryside, with plenty of green space and woods for children to play in. Children are initially taught in single sex classes, with boys in Brockhurst and girls in Marlston House. But as they get older they are increasingly taught in mixed classes. This single sex education, but in a co-education school and setting is unusual, but exactly what we were looking for – the best of both worlds! The school leadership also impressed; they instinctively understood the military community and were passionate and professional about the school family. And the financial support to military families was equally attractive.
A taster day and boarding experience followed, both of which were pitched perfectly for a new pupil, and shortly afterwards, Esme started full time. Esme has loved every minute of her journey at Brockhurst and Marlston. Two years in and she feels completely at home. We have watched her grow in confidence and maturity, learn to play the flute, gain new skills and try some amazing things. Her boarding experience has been equally exciting. There are plenty of military boarders, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming. There is never a dull moment in the boarding house and weekends are spent on trips to London and Harry Potter World, or cinema, trampolining and go-karting.
We are delighted with Brockhurst and Marlston and it has been such a relief to find it. It has taken a huge weight off our shoulders, Esme is happy and thriving, and it’s given us the continuity and stability we were looking for. We couldn’t be happier
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