'Biggest investment' in Harrogate school's history is announced in forward-looking shake-up to help pupils
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The investment also heralds the start of a new era for Ashville College, which was founded in 1877, as it focuses on becoming exclusively for day pupils, who currently form more than 90 per cent of its growing school community.
Its boarding offer will gradually be phased out, freeing up space that will be repurposed to enhance the educational experiences and opportunities that Ashville offers all its pupils.
In a letter to parents sharing an insight into the school’s future, its Head Rhiannon Wilkinson said: “Investing in both facilities and educational opportunities will be a great source of future strength for the ‘new’ Ashville.
“The decision to wind down boarding is made from a position of confidence and it brings us many opportunities as an all-through, co-educational day school.
“Our plans revolve around a commitment to creating a culture of academic aspiration and success, a nurturing environment for every single pupil, an inspiring co-curricular provision and the development of skills, ideas, talents and capacities to face the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century.
“We will be able to develop our teaching spaces to accommodate the new styles of teaching and learning which a changing world of work necessitates.”
She added: “We have plans to develop social and study spaces for our pupils and we are keen to invest further in our sporting facilities.
“We also want to redesign and upgrade a number of other areas across the campus as we further develop a modern learning environment for all our pupils.”
Ashville College has already started to partner with architects and designers to take forward its vision and has pledged to share more details of the planned improvements next term, when parents, pupils and staff will be invited to give their views.
Jamie Search, Chair of Governors, said: “We are confident that Ashville’s future is bright and that the sensible – and inevitable – decisions we have taken about boarding will allow us to fulfil our aim of becoming the school of first choice for parents who want independent education for their children aged 2-18.
“In the UK independent sector, boarding education as a concept has been under considerable pressure for some time, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Ashville College is a day school with some boarding and is, therefore, very different to a full boarding school.
“Like many similar schools, where boarding is a small and decreasing part of its operation, Ashville has not been immune to these trends.
“We now have about a third of the number of boarders we had ten years ago and we occupy only two of our four boarding houses.”
The school is currently working to support families of pupils who currently board by offering one-to-one specialist advice and guidance, including signposting them to alternative boarding schools, before boarding at Ashville ceases in July 2025.
This timescale will allow current Year 10 and Lower Sixth boarders to complete their current stage of education, whether at GCSE or ‘A’ Level.