Meoncross School, Stubbington
Meoncross School is an independent, co-ed day school for kids aged 2.5 through to 16 years – 381 students with a 51/49 split between boys and girls. Situated in the village of Stubbington (just outside Fareham) it has a lovely rural feel, close to the seaside, without being too far away from society – it’s a mere 10 miles to Portsmouth and 16 miles to Southampton.
The school itself is really quite small, centred around the original Tudor-style building with newer purpose built blocks built around it. The campus is split into the Nursery, Lower School and Upper School – although pupils can to move around the areas freely (ideal for those with smaller siblings they may want to check up on).
The majority of students come from families in the area and there are no boarding facilities, so this is a private school that feels very much part of the local community. With the through-school age range, it’s a place many students will spend their entire academic career, up until they leave for 6th Form.
Because of the small space, this isn’t the place you’ll find an Olympic size swimming pool or equestrian stables.
That said, it does have its own draws. Meoncross’s location near to the coast means there’s a big emphasis here on a mixture of both in-classroom and outdoor learning and the school has a Beach School curriculum that runs, not just for Nursery, but right through to GCSE-level.
Often subjects will tie-in with their local environment with Textiles projects drawing inspiration from the waves and Science and Geography looking at the effects of plastics on our oceans. There is a huge emphasis on ecology within the school and there’s been an active effort to reduce the school and pupils’ plastic as much as possible.
They do have two kitted out music rooms (one smaller in the Lower School and one purpose built in the Upper School) and the hall does a juggling act typical of space-light schools of being lunch hall, classroom and theatre depending on the time of day. There’s also a small purpose built gym with wall bars etc available to the whole cohort.
For swimming, the students have access to nearby HMS Collingwood and the school has also recently started a long-term lease (25 years), and developed a 6-acre laser levelled athletics and sports field. In addition to the usual roster of team-sports, Meoncross also have a Triathlon Club for students aged 4-11– called Meoncross Coastal Stars- which has been stamped with the official bronze standard seal of approval by the British Triathlon Club.
ART & DESIGN
The Art and Design faculties were merged to create one overall subject in the school and they additionally joined the two classrooms into one large art space which is light and airy in one of the newer sections of the school. There’s also an additional Design Technology space in, what was, the former 6th Form area.
With Drama, the school holds four annual performances with a musical in the summer (performed at The Ashcroft Arts Centre), and Shakespeare in the autumn.
Small class sizes and the fact that kids stay at the school for up to 13 years means that the teaching staff get to really know the pupils – a massive advantage of a bijou school. The results are strong with 2018’s GSCE results coming at 43% attaining Level 7 (A and above) and over 25% of all English grades and Maths grades hitting Level 8 0r in excess of A* equivalent).
THE HEAD TEACHER
Mark Cripps is the new head, having joined Meoncross in August 2018. Not only is he fresh to the school and area, but to the country as well – having lived as an ex-pat in Hong Kong for a number of years.
It’s common for heads to take time to reflect what they’ve inherited before making great plans, so there’s nothing major to report, though he’s keen to grow the school numbers (within reason – those class sizes have to remain small) with a view to implementing the necessary infrastructure to deal with an increase in intake. Through working with the whole school community he has already agreed a set of 7 core values to support a strong focus on character education.
Quite a few as it happens! Aside from the fact they have the coastal scheme, the school also offers a huge raft of after-school clubs. The subjects are as you’d expect (sports, debate etc.) with a few curveballs thrown in for good measure. So if your kids fancy becoming the next top hula-hooper, there’s a group for that. There’s also the rather ominous sounding Werewolf Club, a role-playing game played by Years 6 – 8 where ‘villagers’ try to weed out the ‘werewolves’ using collective reasoning and persuasive techniques.
Among the more traditional GCSE subjects is Psychology – quite an unusual addition for GSCE, it’s usually an A-level choice. The school is also currently introducing Mandarin into its syllabus, though, and are offering a GCSE in the subject. Then there’s Passport session, which is free choice for all the school to try non-curricular activities with other year groups, which is a nice touch – anything from ultimate Frisbee to Ancient Greek.
Fees are average for the area and start £2912 per term for Infants, £3290 per term for Juniors and £4192 for Seniors. There’s also a compulsory lunch fee of £262 per term for lunches for years R to Year 6. Because of the high number of forces families in the area they also offer a 10% military discount as well.
WORD ON THE GROUND
Parents really rate the teaching and environment at Meoncross, and in particular, their attitude towards encouraging academic excellence but at a pace that’s right for each individual child. The word ‘family’ gets touted time and again and with the small grounds and cosy feel, it’s easy to see why many would draw that conclusion.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Local families who want small class sizes and a good all-round education for their children. This is the place to send children who don’t like to be too far away from home, thrive in a family-feel setting. Also, any children that are interested in ecology and the sea will benefit from their coastal location.
Not for: Those looking for a top elite ‘named’ school on their children’s CV or a Big Pond-esque scenario – some kids just need bigger classes and more room to roam. Also, if you live a fair distance the traffic can get a bit ropey nearby, though there is a school bus service that operates locally.
DARE TO DISAGREE? Be my guest! The next School in Action Days are Thursday 6 February, Wednesday 18 March and Wednesday 13 May, between 10am-11.30am.
Meoncross School, 65 Burnt House Ln, Fareham PO14 2EF. Tel: 01329 662182