Olly Langton became Headmaster of Belhaven Hill School in Dunbar, East Lothian, in July 2020 in the depths of the Pandemic. Belhaven is one of Scotland’s few prep schools that still offers both a boarding and day education, and the longer school day provides more time for a genuinely all-round education with lots of sport, music and life skills, as The Good Schools Guide review suggests.
Mr Langton read history at the University of Edinburgh, having come from Radley College in Oxfordshire where he’d been a history teacher and sports coach, then a housemaster. His headship at Belhaven, which teaches 5 to 13-year-olds, is a family affair with his wife Rosie who is Oxford educated and also taught at Radley College.
The Good Schools Guide published in spring 2022 says in its review of Belhaven:
“Word has it that parents were in tears when he left [Radley College]. Their loss was Belhaven’s gain, with parents here describing him as ‘extremely professional,’ approachable,’ ‘no-nonsense’ and that ‘he works non-stop – if you call on a Sunday, he is always available.’ …Parents like that he is young and knows the direction he wants for the school: ‘A very focused person and very informative.’”
The Good Schools Guide continues: “All agree he is hands-on. He directs plays and organises charity events, as well as having coached rugby and cricket to U14s. He is now getting a girls’ cricket club going at Belhaven. Having played cricket at school and university, sport is very much his thing. He has also qualified as an instructor for able-bodied and disabled skiers.”
Headmaster, Mr Langton, adds:
“Belhaven aims to provide a genuine, all-round education. The school offers an all-embracing education with a strong focus on academics – this is complemented by a wide range of sport, played every day as well as high quality Art, Drama and Music. Most pupils play at least one musical instrument and there are three choirs. The pipe band is very popular. Our ethos is under-pinned by good old-fashioned manners and traditional values.
“We teach and reward life skills so will be launching a Belhaven Award this September. It aims to create a structured approach to learning important life skills. Bronze, Silver and Gold awards will reward the completion of tasks related to the school’s core values, Courtesy, Courage and Creativity – this will provide lots of opportunities for fun, as well as helping to develop the skills needed to thrive and lead in the 21st century.
“The children will be able to select challenges from a list and will be encouraged to push themselves beyond their comfort zone, but within the context of a pastorally supportive and understanding environment. Encouraging them to ‘have a go’ is fundamental to their development as confident individuals who will feel ready to have a positive impact on the world around them.
“The life skills will be varied, from ironing and letter-writing, to coding and cooking. This award will make best use of Belhaven’s two greatest assets: time, and space, which we can offer as both a boarding and day school with much more time at school.”
Here is some feedback from a recent parents’ survey about the school’s all-round education: “It is a school that offers a wide range of activities of all kinds to the children, educating them to open their eyes to the world, helping them to become curious individuals…” “Its quest to genuinely provide children with an all-round education and its genuine desire to produce well rounded children.” “…Being a small school with small class sizes enables an individual focus on each child which isn’t possible in larger schools and really enables each pupil to excel.”
The Good Schools Guide continues:
“Our own first impression was of warmth and a real family feel. Always nice to be greeted by a friendly black Lab (there are dogs everywhere). … ‘It’s a lovely, relaxed, kind, supportive atmosphere,’ said one [parent]…’
‘The last word’ from The Good Schools Guide concludes:
“The antithesis of a hothouse education, Belhaven provides a nurturing environment for kids to flourish. An all-round approach to education with an innovative new programme in digital education combined with good old fashioned outdoorsy fun (think rosy-cheeked children wild swimming on the beach or drinking hot chocolate in their dens). Biggest prep school music department in the UK and an everyone-must-give-it-a go approach to sport. Hard to fault.”