The School caters for both day and boarding pupils from a wide catchment area. Although there is an entrance assessment, there is a wide ability range. We pride ourselves on an extensive range of activities outside the classroom which clearly give the ethos of a thriving boarding environment. There are currently 55 teaching staff attached to the School, where class sizes are kept to a maximum of 19.
Taunton Preparatory School has a total of 450 pupils.
12-year-olds become one of the youngest teams ever to swim the English Channel
Twelve school girls and boys from Taunton Preparatory School in Somerset have achieved their mission to swim the English Channel becoming one of the youngest teams ever to complete it.
Swimming in two teams of six, the pupils took on the brave challenge of swimming the English Channel on an Sunday evening in the autumn.
Setting off from the shores of Dover late in the afternoon, they accomplished the 21-mile six-person Relay Team Crossing largely during the night through the choppy waters of the Channel, arriving in France at sunrise.
The Channel 4 celebrity “Sink or Swim” team set off at the same time as the Taunton School 12-year-olds who were delighted to get some great advice from Ross Edgley who was the Celeb team’s coach.
Emotionally and physically exhausted, but riding high on adrenaline, the 12 youngsters arrived back at school late on Monday afternoon to a hero’s welcome of cheering peers and teachers.
Most of the students are from Somerset and Devon, so chose to raise money for The Neonatal Unit at Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton. Many of the students were born at the maternity unit in Musgrove and so far, they have raised almost £5000.
The squad began their endurance pool based training in May 2018 and then undertook acclimatisation training at Wiveliscombe outdoor pool over the Christmas holidays in water temperatures of only 19degC with frost all around. Since then they have completed over 300 hours each of training in Clevedon and Lyme Regis, as well as in the schools two swimming pools several times a week.
During August, they completed the Clevedon Long Swim and the following day took on The Chestnut Appeal Plymouth Breakwater Swim. They began night swimming training in Lyme Regis a few weeks ago.
The students were supported by Taunton School’s Long Distance Swim Coach Hamish McCarthy who is an experienced open water swimming coach. He led a team of 13 and 14 year-olds across the Channel in 2016. The students then were racing against a team of Marines who they managed to finish just two minutes behind. Hamish is also Head of Geography and Pastoral Head of Years 7 and 8 at Taunton Prep School, and last year won the Somerset Activity and Sport Award for Contribution to School Sport.
Hamish said: “When you’re 10 years of age and you make the decision to train for the English Channel it’s aspirational; when you are then 12 and swim most of it at night it’s just extraordinary, a great feat of courage and resilience. I believe our students are one of the youngest teams to have undertaken a channel relay swim since the rules changed some 30 years ago. Many of our pupils only turned 12 in July and August. Having spoken to Channel Swimming and Pilots Federation staff, they didn’t know of another team that had been younger. It really is an incredibly overwhelming achievement.”
Isabel said: “It was very dark and difficult at times but the water was warmer than what we’ve been training in so wasn’t too bad. It was good to know that I was safe; Mr McCarthy wouldn’t let anything happen to us and the boats are with you the whole time. When we got to France we landed on massive rocks with waves crashing!”
Martha said: “I felt a bit uneasy at the start. Between the relay we were trying to get to sleep but mostly lying awake because it was cold on the boat. I’d do it again though!”
Poppy commented: “I didn’t think I’d be able to do it at the beginning of the training but I conquered by fears and did it.”
Maddie said: “I’ve been swimming since I was 3 so I can swim quite fast. I don’t know if I could swim the whole thing now but maybe I will when I’m older.”
Louis added: “I cheered on my friends when they were swimming when I wasn’t resting. It was really fun.”
Elizabeth said: “In one of our training sessions we saw a dolphin which was great”.
To qualify under the Channel Swimming and Pilots Federation rules, all students have had to swim for two hours in sea temperatures of 16degsC and pass a stringent medical examination. All have to be 12-years-old when the swim occurs. Cara Cunnginham was the youngest at just 12 years and 8 days old, the minimum age being 12 years and 3 days.
10-year-old Emily wins Five GBR Gold medals to become European Champion
Taunton School Year 5 pupil Emily Miller has returned from the European Championships in Madeira with an incredible five GBR gold medals.
European Champion Emily, won the Individual Biathle, Individual Triathle and mixed relay in the Biathle and Triathle and Team to claim 4 Golds and her 5th Gold medal came from a team competition where she was with two other GB girls. Around 500 competitors took part in the European Champsionships overall.
Earlier this year, Emily won both her qualifying events in Biathle and Triathle which subsequently then paired her with the winning under 11 boy to compete in the mixed relay. Emily traveled to Madeira with the GB team at the end of June for five days to compete in the European Championships.
Emily said "It feels amazing to be European Champion in Triathle and Biathle and representing my country. I am really looking forward to the World Championships in Florida in October".
Emily added: "Thank you very much to Taunton School for supporting me and taking me to lots of sports events - this really helped me with my training. I am also competing in the European and World Championships for Laser Run for Great Britain and I hope to have qualified for the Schools Laser Run Finals too".
Emily also competes in Triathlons (Shoot, Run, Swim) and Tetrathlons (Ride, Shoot, Run, Swim) with her pony, Alfie. Emily's dream is to become an Olympic Gold Medalist in Pentathlon.
Emily was the recipient of the Taunton Preparatory School Mission prize at the end of this school year.
She now looks forward to the World Championships in Florida in October.
Thirty-two pupils from Taunton School have successfully passed their Royal Academy of Dance ballet exams this year.
The large cohort of pupils from Pre-Prep (age 4) up to Year 11 (age 16) have passed their RAD ballet exams with Distinctions and Merits.
Their exams range from Pre-Primary to Grade 6. Diane Turner, RAD Ballet teacher at the school says: “I’m very proud of each and every one of our students for their commitment and hard work to pass these exams. Congratulations to them all on such excellent results.”
Taunton School to invest in major building improvement
Taunton School will be undertaking a radical improvement of its dining facilities with a major building project this summer.
The light and spacious facility will provide a welcoming environment for pupils to enjoy their meals and will act as a central hub for dining in the heart of the historic school.
The current kitchens and dining halls within the listed main building were designed for fewer students than the number now on campus. The existing dining hall and kitchen areas will be reconfigured to provide a new Sixth Form Centre and teaching facilities.
Building work will begin in July of this year with completion expected by spring 2020. The new dining hall will cater for 1600 covers and seat up to 400 people at any one time. Sustainable materials will be used together with the latest technology in lighting, acoustic materials and audio visual equipment. The building will enjoy a view over a green central space, bringing all aspects of the school together, while maintaining and improving the integrity of the Grade II listed main school and incorporating the architecture into the design and build.
Headmaster, Lee Glaser, said of the project, “We believe that what happens at mealtimes impacts powerfully on the rest of the day. We are creating a facility that will welcome our students and staff in one beautifully designed space.
“This project has taken several years of planning and consultation and we are delighted that is now coming to fruition. We are aiming for minimal disruption by completing the majority of the work during the summer holidays and we are looking to deliver an outstanding facility on budget and on time.”
Award winning architects Wotton and Donoghue have been commissioned to design the build and following a robust tender process, the South West firm C G Fry & Son Builders were appointed, to carry out the work.
Students get hands-on with World War II Enigma Coding Machine
A rare original WWII Enigma Machine was brought to Taunton School recently, when students had the opportunity to learn the science of code-breaking.
Noted mathematician and public speaker Dr James Grime visited Taunton School to speak to students aged 10 to 18 in a series of lectures and workshops about the secretive world of codebreaking. On display was one of the original WWII Enigma Machines, which is still in working order. Enigma is most famously known for the apparent unbreakable German code that mathematician Alan Turing managed to decipher during World War II, in a pivotal moment leading to Allied victory over Nazi Germany.
After a day of workshops where students were able to operate the Enigma Machine, Dr Grime gave a fascinating presentation to a full theatre of students, staff and parents that delved deeper into the world of code making and breaking. The talk led the audience from the origins of coding some 3000 years ago with the Spartans through to the work carried out at Bletchley Park.
Dr Grime is the current custodian of a truly rare and unique piece of history and his original WWII Enigma machine was used in his talk and demonstrations. The event was organised by Dr James Penny, Head of Science at Taunton School, who commented: “The day was a great success, with a lot of students being involved and inspired by this incredible historic artefact.”
Taunton School recently invited all school parents to attend a talk on Mental Health issues in children by well-respected speaker and advocate Dick Moore.
The School’s Parent Teacher Association dedicated its latest parent’s evening to focusing on children’s mental health. Over 165 parents attended and had the opportunity to learn from mental health advocate Dick Moore who shared his personal and professional experiences.
Mr Moore was invited in to speak to parents and provided a powerful, insightful and very personal testimony on the importance of good mental health, having lost his own son to suicide some years ago. This proved to be one of the most important talks that the School has ever held.
Mr Moore, who is a former teacher and headmaster, explained the problems and difficulties that mental health challenges can cause. He detailed the triggers that can cause mental health problems, and took time to explain the tools parents can use to help.
Parents who attended the talk said: “I now feel more informed and confident to deal with the teenage years. It was moving for all who attended”. Another added: “Dick’s talk was the most profound I have ever heard and I learnt more about parenting in that 90 minutes than I had ever done before”.
Dick also gave a talk to the Upper Sixth, with slightly different messages, and this talk will shortly be available on the Taunton School website.
This event reinforces the importance that Taunton School places on wellbeing for its students and staff. Taunton School was recently a finalist in a prestigious Wellbeing and Mental Health Award, by respected education establishment Tes, who recognised the innovative processes that have been put in place by the school to ensure that students are fully supported in their mental health.
Taunton School Hockey Dominates Top of the County Leaderboard
The Taunton Prep School boys and girls hockey teams have been placed top in the county, with four teams being crowned county winners, and one team county runners up.
Last term the Under 13 girls and Under 12 girls set the bar by becoming county champions, after winning their games in the tournament hosted at Millfield. Shortly after, the Under 12 boys finished runners up in the same tournament. More success followed for the U11 boys and U13 boys who both reached the county finals and managed to win, claiming the title of Somerset U11 and U13 champions.
All five teams have now qualified for the Regionals where they will be representing Somerset against the County champions and runners up from Avon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Hereford, Cornwall and Wiltshire.
Director of Prep Sport Shaun Winsor said: “To see five of our young teams getting to the Regionals is a real achievement. They have all worked very hard this year on techniques and skills, and deserve to do very well.”
The Regional Finals will be held at various dates in March and April. The top two U13 teams from the Regionals will then qualify for the National finals.
Over 40 students from Taunton School have made the cut in the latest round of county cricket selections. Meanwhile, Year 10 student Ben Chaffey has been selected to tour Sri Lanka with the Somerset County U15 team.
Both boys and girls ranging from 9 to 18 years have been selected for county, district, academy and international squads, including Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and as far as Hong Kong.
Director of Cricket Pete Sanderson said: “This is the biggest number of players we have had and it has doubled in the last two years. The provision we have for excellence has increased with more 1-1 coaching sessions and more group sessions throughout the year, and the change in facilities has also been significant.”
Pete added: “This year particularly there is a considerably higher number of players on specific excellence coaching programmes such as PSPP, EPP and Bowling, which are all above county level. I’m extremely proud of all the students for their hard work and commitment on the cricket programme here at School.”
One of the school’s most promising players is Year 10 student Ben Chaffey, who has been chosen to tour with Somerset County Cricket Club in Sri Lanka this week. Ben is currently in Somerset’s Under 15 youth squad.
Pete Sanderson said: “Ben has this fantastic opportunity to represent Somerset U15s on a 10 day tour. He has been practicing hard at school and with Somerset particularly playing spin and on slow pitch types and I am sure he will do us proud.”
Marcus Trescothick, Head of Cricket Development at Taunton School, has helped Ben to prepare for tour. He said: “Ben has been working very strategically on preparing himself, working hard at how to play against spinners and adjusting to a different type of cricket, but at the same time getting himself in great shape for the tough Sri Lankan climate. I’m sure he’ll do brilliantly and gain lots of valuable experience.”
All players at Taunton School benefit from regular sessions with Pete Sanderson and Marcus Trescothick. In addition, many visiting coaches from Somerset County Cricket Club have delivered training sessions, including new Somerset signing Jack Brooks who recently delivered some bowling classes.
Forthcoming Open Days
Sorry. No Open Day dates have been provided by the school.