DRIVING through the gates at Woodleigh School in Langton is rather like arriving at an old country house surrounding by rolling countryside and farmland.
Step out of the car though and you soon hear the sound of children’s laughter in the spring sunshine.
Inside the school, formerly Langton Hall, is still very much like a country manor – but look around the impressive old hall and evidence of school life is clear to see with photographs and trophies displayed on the walls.
Woodleigh School is an independent day and boarding school for girls and boys aged from three to 13.
It was founded in 1929 in Hessle, near Hull, by Arthur and Barbara England, grandparents of the present headteacher Michael England.
During the Second World War the pupils were evacuated to Kirkbymoorside and then Firby before moving to the present location in 1946.
Michael England, who was born at the school and now lives there with his own family, said the hall and its grounds make a wonderful and stimulating atmosphere for the pupils.
He said: “We have a mix of local pupils and those from further afield and aim to create a happy, home-from-home atmosphere for all. We strongly believe in a one-to-one approach to education and also that sports and the arts are vital to a child’s upbringing.”
Mr England added that one area the school specialised in was tuition and learning support to children who had particular needs which many other schools may struggle to meet.
“We have specialist skills in managing children with dyslexia, for example, and equally we support gifted musicians, sports players and academic scholarship candidates,” he said.
After an introduction to the history of Woodleigh School by the newly-formed historical society, I was given a tour by Charlie Goodlass and Cameron Castleton who are both aged 13.
The pupils’ enthusiasm and love for their school is clearly evident.
A school council meets on a regular basis with representatives from each year group.
Members look at different ways to ‘make the school even better’ as well as organising fundraising activities for their chosen charity, Ryedale Special Families.
Sport features strongly at the school with time-tabled lessons each day and twice-weekly matches.
Every child also has the opportunity to represent the school in a sports team.
Similarly, the school focuses on the importance of building confidence and promote teamwork.
Whole school events take place regualry including a musical-in-a-day and an evening cabaret as well as the Founders’ Day variety extravaganza.
For older pupils, a house drama competition involves all pupils in Key Stage 3 and the winning production is performed in front of an audience.
Children are encouraged to take part in all aspects of stagecraft, including set building, lighting, soundtracks, programme design and costume creation.
Woodleigh also offers pupils the chance to develop musical talents through classes and individual tuition.
A brass ensemble provides the accompaniment to singing in assemblies and for monthly church services.
The school choir practises weekly and performs regularly throughout the year while Years 7 and 8 can be heard rehearsing their rock band on Friday evenings.
As well as the day pupils, Woodleigh provides boarding on a full, weekly or occasional basis.
Care is provided by a resident matron with children from China, Hong Kong, the USA and Europe occupying the dormitories over the years.
A range of activities is offered to the children who opt to board including swimming, cinema trips and barbecues – as well as no doubt plenty of midnight feasts.
Woodleigh’s pre-prep department caters for children aged three to seven and shares the facilities of the main school.
From Years 3 to 6 pupils are introduced to subject-based classes including music and Latin, while Years 7 and 8 pupils are prepared for entrance exams into senior schools.
The children clearly feel they are part of a family and enjoy being at school.
Ofsted inspectors recently commented that Woodleigh was a ‘happy’ school.
“The children had an excellent work ethic, were impeccably behaved and enjoyed being part of a very happy school,” they said.
But the final word must go to headteacher Mr England who has never left the school he was born at.
“To do this job you have to really love teaching – which I do. Also there is certainly never a chance of boredom at Woodleigh,” he said.