West Buckland School


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  • Category: Pre-Preparatory / Preparatory / Senior / Sixth Form
  • Pupils: Co-Education
  • Type: Day & Boarding
  • Religious Affiliation: Christian
  • Roll: 333 (Boys) 300 (Girls)
  • Age Range: 3-18 years
  • Founded: 1858

School Contact Details

West Buckland School
West Buckland
EX32 0SX

[t]: 01598 760281
[w]: www.westbuckland.com

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School News

West Buckland independent school Devon

Mr Nick Robinson will be taking up the position of Headmaster of West Buckland Prep School in Spring 2018, joining the North Devon school from

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his position of Head at Bedales Prep School, in Hampshire.

Nick emerged as the top candidate after a rigorous process that attracted over sixty applicants and confirmed West Buckland’s popularity and appeal as one of the leading independent schools in the South West.
Nick joined Bedales from Castle Court where he was Assistant Headmaster. Nick’s career in teaching Maths and Sport began after completing his PGCE at the University of Portsmouth in 2002 and then gaining a Masters in Leadership and Management in 2013. Prior to this, he pursued his passion in swimming as a high performance coach and was Head Coach for the 1996 Zimbabwe Olympic team and placed three swimmers on the 2000 Great Britain Olympic team.
A keen sportsman and qualified mental health first-aider, Nick’s passion for the outdoors, popularity with the pupils during interview and reflective approach to an education that ensures excellent outcomes for all children, seemed a perfect fit for West Buckland.
Nick says: “I am absolutely delighted to be appointed the Head of Prep at West Buckland. It was evident from my first visit that this is a wonderful school in a superb location, with exciting times ahead. It will be a privilege to work alongside the outstanding staff team and I am very much looking forward to meeting with pupils and parents in the coming months.
“My family and I are thrilled to be moving to North Devon and joining the West Buckland community.”
Nick has awaited a return to Devon having previously taught at Kelly College. He moves to West Buckland with wife Lindsey and the two youngest of their four children who will join the senior school. Nick will assume leadership of the Prep School from the beginning of the Summer Term 2018.

West Buckland independent day and boarding school Devon

West Buckland School Year 8 pupil, Harriet Wilson-North, has been presented with a new ipad by Barnstaple Mayor, Mrs Julie Hunt, after winning first prize

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in a poster competition celebrating 50 years of the North Devon Samaritan’s branch.

The competition was open to three age categories with the winners of all three age categories seeing their posters displayed in Barnstaple library over the summer.
In addition to Harriet winning her category, Year 8s Summer Culverhouse, Tyler-Paige Beckley and Jasmine Jefferies were presented with highly commended certificates for their stunning poster designs and a plaque to be hung up in the school in recognition of their girls’ achievements.

The competition, which was open to 99 schools in North Devon, was run to raise awareness of the charity’s invaluable work. Volunteer Anna Flynn was delighted to attend the prize giving at West Buckland in assembly. “This positive and fun activity was aimed to highlight to students from as young as eight, the importance of emotional health and the role of the charity in supporting those in emotional distress. All these girls have put a great deal of thought into their designs and Harriet’s was particularly striking and poignant. Well done to all of them.”

West Buckland independent day and boarding school Devon

Over the Easter holidays we have seen some very notable achievements on the sports field by some of our pupils, including Year 8 Henry Cooper,

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who has been selected to represent the ISFA (Independent Schools) U14 England football team in August.

In addition, Year 9 Saffy Ayara-Ekpe and Year 11 Jess Thompson, have both been in action playing for the ISCA hockey teams at U14 and U16 level, respectively.  Whilst the U14 squad have successfully qualified for the National Finals at Lee Valley in London, to be held in May, the U16s have just been competing at the Nationals, where they excelled, coming runners-up overall.

We congratulate them all on their success.

West Buckland independent day and boarding school Devon

The West Buckland School CCF is celebrating after a select team of eight returned having taken part in the gruelling Cambrian Patrol Exercise, last

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weekend, achieving a very creditable Bronze medallion award.

The Cambrian Patrol is an annual event, taking part in the Cambrian Mountains of Wales. It is a nationally recognised exercise that tests Cadets at Section level, in a demanding environment, on leadership, teamwork, endurance, navigation and cadet military knowledge. This was West Buckland School CCF’s first ever entry into the competition and therefore their Bronze award is all the more impressive.

The successful team was:

John Hancock (Section Commander)

Kian Hayles-Cotton  (2I/C)

Jagoda Cottingham

Archie Guildford

Molly Muir

John Skinner

Isaac Tredant

Isaac Windley


West Buckland CCF Instructor, Dave Flynn, was extremely proud of the team’s efforts. “To achieve a Bronze award in their first ever attempt at this extremely testing exercise, is a magnificent achievement.  Before the event, each member of the team was trained to step up to Section Commander or 2I/C if needed, and each one of them proved that they were more than capable of doing so.”

West Buckland independent school Devon

Sixth Formers at West Buckland School in North Devon have delivered another excellent set of A-level results which will see students heading to Oxford, Cambridge

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and other top universities later this year.

37% of all exams were awarded the highest A* or A grades and the overall pass rate was 97.3%.  Within this high level of performance are some outstanding individual achievements.

Beth Keech is Oxford bound to read French and Russian after gaining two A* grades and an A, whilst Ed Mabon will take a place at the University of Cambridge to study Engineering after achieving a clean sweep of three A* grades.

Ed’s twin brother, James, also kept up the high level of family achievement after recording a set of straight A* grades which will see him take a place at the University of Warwick to read Mathematics.

Peter Dawson was also awarded an impressive three A* grades and will now study Physics at The University of Manchester.

Emily Morrish studied four A-levels and recorded an outstanding three A* grades and an A which will see her take a place at Durham University to read Economics with Management, whilst Alex Cammack also studied four A-levels, achieving two A* grades and two A grades and he now intends to study Architecture at the University of Bath.

There were strong results across the curriculum, with over 80% of students in Art and Design, Product Design, Economics, English literature, French, Geography and History all achieving A* to B grades.

West Buckland’s incoming Headmaster from September 2016, Phillip Stapleton says:

“I’m delighted that the hard work of our sixth formers has paid off with some excellent results.  They are to be congratulated and many have achieved or exceeded their expectations which puts them in a strong position as they move towards their futures beyond school.  They will be the first to recognise the contributions of their teachers and parents who have helped them make the most of their abilities in achieving these results”.


Prince Edward visited West Buckland School near Barnstaple on Tuesday (29th September) where he was greeted by hundreds of excited children as he arrived to

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start a number of official engagements in North Devon. HRH the Earl of Wessex, visiting the school for the first time, officially opened Parker’s, the school’s new Sixth Form boarding house and met students and staff as he toured the facility.

He also visited other areas of the school and was treated to a performance from the Prep School Choir in the school’s new Michael Morpurgo Library and learnt more about West Buckland’s link with partnership school Agoro Oyombe in Kenya. He then talked to members of the Sixth Form Charities Committee and heard about their fundraising efforts that this year will support Exmoor charity Calvert Trust and Farms for City Children.

During his tour Prince Edward was given a preview of rehearsals taking place for the popular musical West Side Story which will be performed by West Buckland students in Ilfracombe’s Landmark Theatre early next year.

Headmaster John Vick says: “We were delighted to welcome HRH the Earl of Wessex to the school. It was a really exciting morning for everyone, from the dramatic helicopter arrival to the opening our new boarding house.

“We are extremely grateful for the time he took to engage with pupils and talk to them about many aspects of school life. After the visit from War Horse author Michael Morpurgo a couple of weeks ago, it has been a really exciting start to the Autumn Term.”

The new study centre and sixth form boarding house at West Buckland School in North Devon have been officially handed over to the school’s Governing

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Body as the construction project nears completion.  The handover marks the culmination of an ambitious build programme over the past 12 months resulting in some exceptional new facilities which will greet pupils when they return to the school for the start of the Autumn Term.

The building works were carried out by Barnstaple based Pearce Construction with the formal handover to John Light, Chairman of Governors at West Buckland.

John Light, says: “Progress has been excellent over the past year and these fantastic new buildings are a great addition to the school campus.  They provide our pupils with some exceptional new facilities which will significantly enhance the experience for pupils joining us in September and in the years to come.

“It has been a huge collaborative effort and I would like to thank all on the project team who have made this happen.  This includes the architects from the David Wilson Partnership and Pearce Construction.  The governors are grateful to all the professionals who have used their skills to deliver an exceptional build that heralds a truly exciting new chapter in West Buckland’s history.”

The study centre is built over two floors and houses a library, new classrooms, open plan study spaces, IT resources and a higher education and careers area.  Sixth Form students will have their own dedicated study area on the upper floor.

The 70 room boarding house will provide Sixth Form boarding students with some of the best facilities to be found in any school in the South West of England.  Students will enjoy single en suite rooms along with a variety of vibrant social areas.

During August the internal fit out and furnishings will be completed with both buildings being officially opened in September.


Photo: The team behind the new build at West Buckland School

West Buckland School in North Devon is pleased to announce that Mr Phillip Stapleton has been appointed Headmaster from 1st September 2016.

Phillip is the current

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Deputy Headmaster at Ardingly College in West Sussex.  With a degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from Durham University, Phillip’s career began at Stonyhurst College in 1996 teaching chemistry before moving to Charterhouse School where he was a Housemaster and then joining Ardingly in 2011.  He will be coming to West Buckland with his wife Jules and their three young children.

Phillip is currently completing a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) at Cardiff University and also holds a Masters degree in Educational Leadership and a Diploma in Boarding Management.  Phillip brings a wealth of academic experience and is also a keen sportsman, playing and coaching a range of sports including rugby, hockey, cricket and athletics.  He has completed several endurance and long distance running events including the North Pole Marathon, raising considerable sums for children’s charities.

Chairman of Governors, John Light says: “Phillip competed against a formidable field of over 40 candidates and we are delighted he and his family will be joining West Buckland.  Phillip brings great experience, energy and enthusiasm which will ensure that West Buckland moves forward whilst building upon its recent achievements. Without doubt he has a passion for education and the care and development of young people.  We look forward to welcoming Phillip and his family in 2016.”

Phillip Stapleton says: “No one who visits West Buckland could fail to be inspired by its forward thinking architecture and approach to education. I believe West Buckland is on the brink of something special. A place where great education is in reach for everyone.  Attracted by its holistic approach, creative flair, strong foundation and gruelling cross country course, my family and I are looking forward to joining the school community and living in this beautiful part of the country.  I am honoured to be invited to lead West Buckland School in the next chapter of its history.”

Phillip succeeds John Vick who is retiring in summer 2016 after 19 years of distinguished service to the School.

The Prep School Chamber Choir has been shortlisted as one of eight finalists in BBC Radio Devon’s Star for Christmas competition. The competition aims to

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find Devon’s best Primary School Christmas Choir and give them the chance to perform at a special carol concert organised by BBC Radio Devon, taking place at Exeter Cathedral on Thursday 18th December.

The entries from the finalists were played on Radio Devon over the course of last week and all entries are now open to an online public vote which closes this Thursday (11th December) at 4pm.

An intrepid group of West Buckland students undertook their Duke of Edinburgh Gold expedition over the October half term. The students were in Snowdonia, North

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Wales to take on the challenge of the ‘Welsh 3000s’ which involves reaching the peaks of all 15 mountains in Wales over 3000 ft.

This is an extremely tough and demanding challenge, and the students had to battle winds in excess of 50mph, driving rain, and, at times, reduced visibility down to little more than 10 metres! Despite a broken tent on one of the nights meaning six boys had to sleep in a three man tent, some excellent navigation, leadership and team working saw the challenge completed and everyone enjoying the experience and taking a huge amount of satisfaction from it.

Our U14 girls will be playing at the County Hockey Tournament to be held at Exeter University on 7th November.

The girls are through after beating

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Bideford College and Holsworthy Community College before facing Shebbear College in what turned out to be a tightly fought final. Penalty flicks were needed to settle the match, with the West Buckland girls holding their nerve to secure victory and progress to the county competition as North Devon Champions.

The U14s follow in the footsteps of our U16 girls who also competed at county level last month and will be playing in regional finals later in November.

Last Saturday 29 pupils from West Buckland Prep School went to Sandy Park, home of Exeter Chiefs, for ‘Super Saturday’. They took part in a

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coaching session led by Exeter Chiefs’ players in the morning, before watching the Chiefs take on Saracens later in the afternoon. They were also treated to a tour of the changing rooms, fitness area and even tested the temperature of the ice bath!

The boys are coached at school by Paul Bailey, ex Saracens and Plymouth Albion player, who took the opportunity to catch up with some of his past team mates whilst they boys got a bit more insight into their teacher’s previous life!

The boys were able to venture on to the pitch before the clash between Saracens and the Chiefs and again at half time. They also had the opportunity to collect autographs after the game. Ten year old Ollie Heath, sporting a full plaster cast on a broken leg, was given plenty of attention throughout the day including being photographed with the Chiefs’ mascot and receiving Saracens winger Chris Ashton’s autograph after the game!

Year 11 students at West Buckland School have delivered an impressive set of GCSE results which sees 91.8% of all exams passed

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at A* to C grades.  In a year where many commentators predicted volatility in results as a consequence of significant reforms to GCSE exams, students at West Buckland continue to deliver a strong GCSE performance.

43.9% of exams were awarded A* and A grades, whilst 93.2% of the year group achieved the all-important five or more passes at grade C or higher.

Amongst the year group were some outstanding individual performances.  Beth Keech excelled and made it a clean sweep with a remarkable 10 straight A* grades.  Twins Ed and James Mabon each studied 11 subjects with Ed being awarded eight A* grades and three A grades, whilst James recorded six A*s and five As.  Emily Morrish achieved eight A* grades along with two As, whilst Madeline Simmonds, Peter Dawson, Lydia Clements and Maisie Milton all recorded five or more A* grades.

Headmaster John Vick says: “I am very pleased for our Year 11s who have delivered some excellent results.  There have been some outstanding individual performances at the highest level which are richly deserved.  More importantly, it is extremely pleasing to see good results from across the whole year group which means the vast majority have achieved the all-important A* to C grades.  This gives them a solid platform as they move into the next stages of their education.

“In a year where there have been significant reforms to GCSE examinations, with has included more demanding English and geography papers and a scrapping of the modular approach to GCSEs, our performance remains consistently very good.  I am delighted in subjects such as mathematics and chemistry that over 50% of all entries were marked at A* and A grades.

“Given that the school has a wide ability intake, our overall results are testament to the quality of teaching and care for our students, their hard work and application, and of course, the support from parents and families.  I am pleased for everyone connected with the school and well done to them all.”

Sixth Form students at West Buckland School are celebrating after another excellent year which sees 75.2% of all A-levels passed at A*,

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A and B grades.

An impressive 45% of all exams were awarded the top A* and A grades, 91% were passed at A* to C, with the overall pass rate standing at 99.5%.

It is the eighth successive year at the school where well over two thirds of exams have been awarded the top A* to B grades.  These are the grades students need to secure places at the most competitive universities.

This consistently high level of academic achievement continues to place West Buckland amongst the highest performing schools in the South West. Against the national context, the performance is all the more impressive in a year where exam entries receiving the top grades have fallen for the third consecutive year.

Among the overall high level of performance at West Buckland have been some outstanding individual performers.

These include Laura Wormington who achieved an A* in biology and straight As in chemistry, maths and music.  She plans to take a year our before reading Medicine at the University of Birmingham.  Rachel Groome and Milly Flynn both achieved two A* grades and an A; Rachel will now study Medicine at the University of Nottingham and Milly will be taking a place at the Urdang Performing Arts Academy in London.  George Fincher will be studying Physics at the University of Exeter after securing an A* and two A grades whilst Isaac Haigh achieved an A* in chemistry and A grades in biology and maths which will see him study Biochemistry at King’s College, London.

Headmaster John Vick says: “2014 is another impressive year for A-level results at West Buckland School.  Last year’s results were excellent but this year they are even better and I am delighted 75% of all exams were awarded A* to B grades.  A large proportion of our students consistently achieve these grades that are required by our most demanding universities and many will go on to take up places at highly respected Russell Group and 1994 Group institutions.

“They have worked incredibly hard and their success is well deserved. The performance is all the more impressive given the slight downward trend in results across the country.

“It is extremely rewarding for parents, teachers and everyone at the school to see these young people do so well.”


Photo: left to right – Callum Adams, Thomasin Light, Jasmine Brent, Beth Withecombe, Laura Wormington, Sean Davies, Rachel Groome and Hannah Evans

West Buckland School has secured planning permission for a new Study Centre and Sixth Form Boarding House.  Construction works on the £5m

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project will begin in July, with the development to the school campus transforming the study environment for all senior school pupils along with the living arrangements for sixth form boarders when both buildings open in the Autumn Term 2015.

The Study Centre will be equipped to enable students and teachers to use the latest technology for independent learning and teaching.  The ground floor will house a classroom, open plan study spaces, library, IT resources and a careers and higher education area.  The first floor will provide a classroom and dedicated sixth form study area and further IT resources.   The design will enable students to work in a similar environment to the one they are likely to experience at university.

The boarding house will provide 70 en suite single bedrooms for boys and girls along with a variety of social spaces.  Both buildings will be located in close proximity and have been designed to create a dynamic new hub to the campus that encourages interaction and integration between day and boarding students.

Headmaster John Vick says: “Our new Study Centre will provide pupils with an outstanding environment, enabling them to learn independently and fulfil their academic potential.  The Sixth Form Boarding House will be a superb facility and combined with the Study Centre, will help our senior students prepare for university and enjoy their full experience in the West Buckland Sixth Form.

“This development is one of the most significant in West Buckland’s 150 year history and demonstrates our continued ambition and commitment to provide all of our day and boarding students with the best facilities and learning opportunities.”

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