Perse Prep, Cambridge(35 Posts)
Am considering the Perse Prep for my DS, to start this Sept in Yr 3. If you currently have DCs there, would really appreciate any thoughts on the school, please. Although it seems a brilliant school - and one in which we thought our DS would thrive - have heard mixed reports about the recent changes there, and am concerned. You can PM me if you prefer anonymity.
Not sure if your daughter has started at Stephen Perse already. I would appreciate your comments as mine will be joining in Sept. I am going through very mixed feelings.
I would appreciate your thoughts and experiences of the S Perse.
Anyone got any views on the new Perse Prep head? From a distance he looks better?
Why did they go co-ed?
In common with many schools, viability.
Upper is near the end of a massive expansion and to stop the academic standards falling too far went mixed (or so the cynic in me believes). The academic standards will almost certainly start to drop - I think year 11 will be the first of the larger mixed years but the current year 8 is much bigger still.
The prep went co-ed in 2010 I think, maybe 2009. When my nephew went late 80's it was very much the boys school.
I also thought- again erroneously, that the Perse Prep (and Higher or upper or whatever the 13+ school calls itself?) prided itself on having a firm handle on boys education, but I see a DD passed the Prep tests.
Why did they go co-ed? I can't imagine it's to boost their exam results, is it? Weren't they stellar? Why would you change if what you were doing was tested and top-notch? But, tbf, maybe I've answered my own question with my surprise that The Perse is in 25th position in the academic league tables!
Gosh! 25th! I'm actually rather surprised- I thought it was top 10. Didn't it used to be 'better' academically?
Thanks. I was interested as dd passed the prep entrance exam this year. I didn't actually see the paper of course, but I did research the old papers and they seemed reasonably tricky compared to what she has been learning at state school. I think the Perse has such a huge reputation, they do need to keep the academic side high on the 'agenda' as it were.
Well for example St Johns College School and Kings College School. Both do seem to have a spread in ability (which is healthy) but more streaming and so are more geared up to do stuff with bright kids. eg Kings CS were county chess champions in 8 of the last 11 years, and the school calendar on their website lists the Intermediate Maths Challenge which as far as I can tell the Perse virtually never lets children take until year 9. The head of Perse prep said at the open day we went to "we don't need extension maths or English because we are selective intake". So he thinks when you remove the lower tail of a distribution the upper tail magically disappears too? Hmm. When you go around both K and J stress assessing the children and customizing the approach. The Perse is more "improve yourself somewhere else sonny in case you show our other kids up".
I meant prep schools - Yd said There are certainly other local prep schools which appear more genuinely academic and flexible, although Perse prep talks itself up.
Perse is Top 25 in this list - no other nearby schools come close.
Just out of interestet Ydad, which ones do you think are more academic?
There are certainly other local prep schools which appear more genuinely academic and flexible, although Perse prep talks itself up. I have DC at one of the other prep schools as well as P Upper.
I think if his clever DS is clever enough and broadly science not arts then Hills Road Sixth Form after year 11 Perse looks a very good plan. Ours don't really have the option to stay in PU sixth form anyway, unless we win the lottery (oops, we don't buy lottery tickets). Too many DC.
As far as I can tell Perse Upper put a lot of effort at basic Oxbridge entrance level (endless practice papers etc) but although the kids well above this have a huge effect lifting the performance of their peers PU does not seem to try to identify them or make provision (or even want them really in terms of financial accessibility etc). It is also questionable whether they prepare them for the challenge when they get there. In time the approach may backfire since I am told the Colleges track results in finals back to schools and they will spot if on average Perse candidates do worse in finals cos the better kids leave after year 11 (in the case of CU Engineering I think they may have already spotted it). Anyway Hills Road gets more into Oxbridge that the Perse.
But where else could his youngest go? Perse girls does not take boys! The Leys gets far fewer into Oxbridge (5 v 30) although they have some super clever ones (I think the Captain of the UK Olympiad maths teams is there) and it seems to put more thought and effort into stretching the smart ones. Fewer smarties might mean less inclined to assume they are all the same. Or was he thinking of boarding at Oundle or Winchester or somewhere? Boarding is way over our budget.
Hi- I was erebus last year!
My friend has decided not to send his youngest to the Upper. He is at the Prep (which the dad describes as 'pedestrian!) but my friend isn't very happy with what he's seeing with his elder, more clever DS in the Upper, though he will stay through to do his O levels, at this stage (then go to Hills Rd). I don't know what he's planning on doing, mind, with the youngest for secondary as I haven't seen him to ask in conversation for a few months!
A year on we are in the same position as you were last year. Did you send your son to Perse Prep in the end and if so how's it going? We were very impressed by the open morning etc but have nagging doubts which made us wonder how our bright but happy go lucky youngest child would be there.
Thank you all very much for all this - certainly lots to digest and consider.
Erebus, Yes DS1 has flown the nest but has left most of his belongings! Perhaps, the school is being a little less selective at the moment, having expanded in a recession. Local state schools are generally pretty good, so there has to be a very good reason for forking out £12k per year to go independent.
Re vetting ... Hills Road is very selective so an "average" student would never get a place. And even within the state secondary schools, there has to be some vetting of who goes into which set (which for Y10 and 11 can mean the difference between the opportunity to take a subject at higher level GCSE or only at a level with B or C as the top grade and no real chance of being able to take that subject on to AS/A2).
As alternatives, both King's and Dame Bradbury's in Saffron Walden are very good.
I have always disputed the wisdom of seeking to assess potential in this way in such strictly defined terms at the age of 11. I can't think of many academics who would have scored straight A* at 16 or even 18, and there are many very capable Oxbridge students who don't either. That's because intelligence and education is a far richer, more complex thing than can be demonstrated by such league tables and examinations. And long may it remain so.
To me, there's also something vaguely immoral in schools vetting pupils as intensively as this, and then managing parental expectations. Eleven is far too early to be able to tell what is going to happen throughout adolescence in terms of development and fulfilment of potential (particularly in the case of the average boy). Instead this approach favours certain kinds of social groups who know how to navigate such systems. This all makes for an unchallenging, homogeneous school population, and life for the teachers is consequently very much easier, with school results being automatically better. However they are doing their pupils and the local community a disservice if they reject many of the late developers, the less affluent and the more unusual children, as the remaining pupils will experience a skewed population and an intensification of academic pressure that is not necessarily commensurate with true learning. They travel this way at their own peril (and I speak as someone with bright children who might be expected to use these schools).
The more I see of schooling in Cambridge, the more I wonder if I should be setting up an alternative ....
Lily- I get the impression that your DS is all grown up and flown the nest! Glad his experience at The Perse (or 'Purse' as my friend calls it!) was good.
I think my friend's worry is that there will be an inevitable knock on effect at the Upper if they are a) going co-ed and b) evidently accepting less able pupils into the school. As he says, it doesn't have to all be a bad thing it's just that he feels the school is still resting on the laurels of the school it was, not the school it now is! For the record, his eldest is reasonably able, but by his dad's own admission, academically he's a B, with the odd A -able, not straight A* -able, iyswim.
There's also places like the Friends school in Saffron Walden, not sure what that's like these days but some of our friends have been very happy with it as well.
You can always get into Hockerill a bit later on, places can and do come up. Or weekly board, as distances don't count then.
Our experiences at secondary level were that the Perse was a fantastic and very laid back school for our academic DS. He enjoyed it and appreciates the excellent teaching he had which has been of great help at university and work. Younger DS was less academic and went to our village college which did not do him enormous favours especially because of the constant shortage of science and maths teachers. A friend sent her less academic DS to King's School Ely (again eye watering fees) and both parents and child have been very happy with the school.
Sorry - a digression from talk of prep schools, but it's important to think ahead!
If friends live in Cambridge, don't hold out to much hope for Hockerill. Think there were hundreds of kids testing this year for 12 aptitude places. The bulk go on distance to school and siblings.
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