Papplewick School in Ascot has 15 acres of land, opposite Royal Ascot Racecourse, where 200 boys have plenty of space to be boys and sport is an important part of daily life.

The three main team sports are rugby, football and cricket, and inter-school matches are also played in tennis, hockey, swimming, athletics, squash, basketball, golf, shooting and polo. The school, which offers day, weekly and full boarding for boys from the ages of six to 13, also has a large sports hall, covered pool and floodlit astroturf.

Boys can also work off their energy via a huge range of extra-curricular activities, such as riding, arena polo, elite athletics, table tennis, karate, cross-country, fly fishing, clay pigeon shooting, fencing, golf, skiing, water polo, circuit training and aqua-fit.

There are clubs to suit every personality – including Warhammer, chess, cooking, Bibliomaniacs, junior craft, eco-club, Lego Club, iPad sessions, miniature set design, Macbeth, K’nex, school newsletter, camp craft, film and cinema and photography. Every boy takes part in at least two activities, and is encouraged to try out as many new experiences as possible during the course of his time at Papplewick.

At the school’s Herpetology Club – the most popular, with around 100 members – the boys buy snakes or lizards for a small sum and help to feed them on particular days of the week. As well as looking after the animals as pets, they study them in science lessons, where they weigh them, observe how many times they shed their skins and look at the number of mice they need to eat to grow to a certain size.

Boys can really be boys at Papplewick, and it seems to work. The school has an excellent record for academic achievement and feeds many of the UK’s top independent senior schools including Eton

Through this study, boys start to learn basic genetics, trying to breed different kinds of frogs and bearded dragons in unusual colours, for instance. The club owns around 60 snakes – mostly corn snakes and all constrictors (not poisonous) – more than 20 bearded dragons, and a number of leopard geckos.

Boys can really be boys at Papplewick (although a huge emphasis is placed on kindness, with the most coveted award on Speech Day going to the boy who has shown enthusiasm, contribution to the community and kindness to others, for example), and it seems to work. The school has an excellent record for academic achievement and feeds many of the UK’s top independent senior schools including Eton, Harrow, Winchester, Wellington, Stowe and Bradfield.

In the last two years the school has maintained its academic record, gaining no less than 26 awards to top independent schools, including three King’s Scholarships to Eton and regular art and music scholarships.

This success is attributed to strong supportive relationships with Papplewick’s team of dedicated professional staff, who encourage and challenge the boys to do their best in all their activities. For all its success, Papplewick is non-selective.