A SMALL school with a big impact, Westbourne School, Penarth lives up to a reputation for excellence.

Split into separate buildings – the nursery, the prep school and the seniors – the school is filled with cheerful, passionate pupils and staff alike, with students ranging in age from two years old in the nursery, to 18 in the sixth form.

The school came with plenty of outdoor areas for students to take full advantage of, with separate areas for the school’s sixth formers.

The buildings, in the heart of Penarth, are split across a five-minute stroll. The seniors school can be found on Hickman Road, the juniors and nursery a short distance on in Victoria Road.

School facilities include a full gym, a library, an IT suite, a sports hall, science laboratories, and nearby access to local sports facilities including athletics track, Penarth RFC’s rugby pitch and the International Sports Village in Cardiff Bay.

Traditionally the school was strictly boys only. However, in the mid 1980s the decision was taken to also accept girls and become a coeducational school.

Westbourne was first established in Penarth in 1896 as Westbourne House Preparatory School for Boys, and has kept the choice for children to board.

A number of international students attend the school, and they often board with families from the area – usually Westbourne alumni themselves. More than 15 different nationalities take the opportunity to board in the area.

Westbourne are rightly proud of this international aspect.

“Everyone here mixes in together,” said Marie de Tito Mount, the school’s director of marketing. “We have children studying from Russia, China, the US, Poland, India, and they’re all friends.

“There’s no cliques or groups, and we’re proud of the international aspect this is giving our children.

“We feel like we’re making them citizens of the world.”

Ranked 1st in Wales by The Sunday Times Schools Guide and 1st in the UK by The Daily Telegraph League Tables, 90 per cent of Westbourne graduates go to Russell Group universities or equivalently elite international institutions.

The school points to two factors for this – the small number of pupils, and the highly trained staff.

With a class size of just eight students per teacher on average, every student gets full and undivided attention.

The children clearly thrive from this, building confidence and passion for their work.

In reception, there was a palpable excitement to show off their handmade vegetable dolls.

A Year Five jumped at the chance to read out her – impressively well-written – poem.

In the senior school, a young man attacked a maths problem on a board with gusto. He was animated and passionate, and had clearly forged a close bond with his teacher.

The head of Westbourne Prep School, Joanne Chinnock, said: “Our school is a happy place, and we’ve long held the philosophy happy children learn well.

“Our ‘secret’ is the very close bond between the children, from Nursery and Reception classes all the way to the top of the school and the staff, who know each child very well indeed.”

There are a huge number of after school clubs on offer. Children have the opportunity to learn a wide range of instruments, including the harp, trumpet, piano, violin, drums, guitar and organ.

A large set of sports clubs stake full advantage of the the Welsh coast, with frequent use of Penarth Pier, the beach and natural beauty spot Cosmeston Lakes. Sports on offer include swimming, yoga, basketball, touch rugby, dodge ball, gymnastics, cross country, and football.

There are even more opportunities to excel in other areas, with offerings including Young Journalists, Nature Club, Art Club, Chess and “Mad Science”.

Westbourne offers the International (IB) Diploma Programme in sixth form and GCSEs and IGCSEs for its secondary pupils.

Their IB average is 36-38 points, high enough to qualify for Oxford University, with two-thirds of all Higher Level grades being 7s and 6s, and two-thirds of students receiving a Bilingual Diploma.

The GCSE results are equally impressive with 40 per cent of all grades being 9s and 8s (the old A*); 20 per cent the new, harder, grade 9 and a further 20 per cent grade 8s. This is up to five times the UK average.

The academic rigour extends to the staff too. More than 50 per cent of teachers at Westbourne have a PhD or masters and more than 50 per cent have taught internationally.

Westbourne School has cultivated a warm and highly supportive culture; one in which students and teachers truly support each other.

For more information, visit: https://www.westbourneschool.com/