Sunninghill Prep School V's Knighton House V's Castle Court(41 Posts)
I have been avidly reading threads on this site and found everyones comments very helpful.
We are looking for an independent school for our 7 year old daughter next year entering prep. She loves ponies, art, music and is generally very creative. She seems to enjoy and cope with the academics but really her passion is seems to be in the arts. She is not especially sporty but does enjoy riding.
We have been to see Knighton House and loved it. We are considering all our options so also viewing Castle Court and Sunninghill Prep School.
I have read the other threads about Castle Court, some of which are quite out of date. I wondered if anyone had any recent experience of Forms 2/3/4 and what their thoughts are? I hear there is a new head at Castle Court, is he liked? We are viewing Castle Court this week.
I have heard Sunninghill is a very friendly school but the headmaster is growing the school 'too quickly' and it has been causing some dissatisfaction with long term families leaving? I have been told it is in a period of aggressive recruitment and main focus is on bringing the numbers in. Does anyone know whether this is the case? No plans to view Sunninghill yet but prob will as to do our diligence.
Knighton House seemed so lovely, sounds like they get the results whilst keeping them as children for as long as possible. I am not wild on Saturday school however.
I guess we will find out this week but does Castle Court or Sunninghill have Saturday school?
Has anyone experienced two of the schools and can compare or any of the schools. I feel like the longer we look the harder it becomes.
Many thanks in advance!
I am afraid i have to disagree with the last post i have children at the school, especially the religion comment and losing good staff they have fantastic teachers ......i dont know where you heard the head was on the move but i sincerely hope not because he is brilliant !!
Might not be ideal then, I agree. I do think that bullying can be very damaging and that schools should have clear bullying policies.
Hanford lovely but quite eccentric and a friend removed dd because of bullying.
I'd say Hanford. Supposed to have a friendly and family like atmosphere, quite creative girls , lots of outdoors (climbing trees etc) and ponies to ride. Good record for entry to well known schools, particularly in the West Country, eg Sherborne girls and Bryanston.
I loved Sunninghill but that was many years ago and only for a term. But still my most fond memories of school!
Have you considered Talbot Heath? Then you have a good school the whole way through.
Hi KAHsch are you still looking for a prep school? If so, Knighton House Open Day is on October 12th. I would advise you to go along and see the school. www.knightonhouse.dorset.sch.uk
I have to agree with everyone who mentioned Hanford. I went there and so did my daughter and things have not changed a bit. It is the only school I have ever ever heard of that provides the most natural upbringing for a child. Honestly it is just astounding. The environment is brilliant with everyone waking up for early morning rides across the countryside and taking initiative is naturally introduced. You create your own houses out of wood etc. Honestly I just couldn't recommend this school enough! I went back to visit it the other day with my friend (also from Hanford) and had an hour long chat individually with most of the teachers (most of whom haven't changed since I was there) as they just wanted to talk and to see what I had done in my life. You just couldn't wish for anything better for both parents and pupils as firm friendships are created all around. Truly I cannot begin to express the joy it brought me going there.
Academically as well, it is incredibly impressive. An incredibly high percentage each year of girls get scholarships to schools such as Bryanston, St Marys Shaftesbury, Malborough, St Marys Ascot, Sherborne etc. I would honestly be prepared to say that there just isn't another school like it.
I would just add that it's all about personal choice so would urge anyone to visit Knighton to gain an insight into the warm, friendly, caring school it is. Girls are impeccably mannered, nurtured and stretched academically. Leaver destinations this year include scholarships for Malborough and Bryanston to name but two. Music and riding are heartily encouraged for all. 'Come and see' is what I would say and you will know instantly. Hope that helps! www.knightonhouse.dorset.sch.uk/
I second Hanford, especially if your dd is horsey
My daughter has been at Knighton House since reception and is now about to start her last term there. I have found it a very warm and friendly school which succeeded all my expectations and more. The teaching staff do a very thorough job and teach children as individuals which I believe is very important in a prep school. There has never been any major bullying incidents while she has been there. Although a few hiccups which the pastoral staff quickly dealt with. Whilst Saturday school can be seen as a extra effort, Knighton Saturday school can include the whole family inviting them to weekly church services and frequent matches. Boarding is a very enjoyable experience and my daughter describes it as a home from home. Would thoroughly recommend Knighton House.
Is Hanford in your area? I have friends who sent their daughters there. Really lovely girls and although now much older speak so fondly of their time at Hanford.
Obviously things may have changed with time (they are at Uni now) but perhaps worth a look, if you are still at the weeding them out stage.
It was never said that the teachers were not qualified. Please reread the post. It is possible for any private school to hire inexperienced/unqualified staff as it is not a requirement. They don't have to follow the same procedures as state schools. Two other independent schools have closed in the area so yes the demand for places has increased. Local state schools are excellent but most are at full capacity.
I have friends whose children were at Sunninghill and they did thrive there. Of course any prospective parent should look around and make up their own minds on whats best for their children.
Just another thought is to where your child will go onto after prep school. Quite a high number of Sunninghill pupils do choose to go onto Thomas Hardye the local comprehensive which has an excellent reputation.
There have been no new classrooms built. A hall is now a classroom which is not the same thing. It holds two classes.
Sunninghill has increased its numbers, but due to popular demand, but as a parent I can honestly say, it remains a very family friendly school. Due to the increased numbers class sizes have not been effected as the school has invested considerably in building new classrooms and creating two form entry in some years. Due to the rise in numbers additional staff have been recruited all of whom are fully qualified.I am not sure how the rumour has started that some of the teachers are not qualified! Some of the new staff, are very experienced and are strengthening the senior team, whilst a newly qualified teacher has brought great ideas, is very creative and enthusiastic. My children really enjoy the energy the younger teacher brings and it complements the skills and experience of senior teachers.
Really would advise any parent to come and have a look at the school and make their own judgements.
It is true that Sunninghill has increased dramatically which has caused some dissatification as it just cannot accommodate the amount of pupils. Some say standards have dropped and yes some long term families have left. It has also taken on either unqualified staff or teachers newly qualified which some parents are not happy with. I know some parents moved their children to other schools in the area. Sherborne/Dumpton/Perrot Hill.
Our experience of CC could not be more positive, children are nurtured, happy.
There is emphasis is on good manners, being a kind, thoughtful to others, speaking nicely and respecting each other.
We as a family are not actively religious but our experience is positive, it is not stifling and appreciate the values that the school permeates, we have certainly noticed a huge improvement how our children converse at home!
The head is very friendly, visual and effective.
Our middle daughter much like yours is very artistic, enjoys music and sports. She is very well catered for. The D&T facility is loved by both children, teachers are exceptional, committed and again effective. The musical and artistic talents in the school are exceptional.
The IT and sports facilities are outstanding. The forest school means that environment and nature is integrated into all areas of learning. No getting on a bus to do den building or a nature walk. There are several science labs and two fantastic and recently updated computer suites.
Our youngest enjoys the multiple playgrounds, guinea pigs, chickens, pet pigs. All the classrooms from age 2 and upward have interactive whiteboards and multiple desktop computers (about 5) per classroom in addition to the IT suite. There are class pets and good quality outdoor toys. Lower school teachers are at the right level and our little one who finds everything scary comes home relaxed and happy.
The forest school is a real added extra. Our children have lots of outdoor space at home but they spend a great deal of time at school and it seems that cc are aware there are more ways to learning something than being sat in a classroom. They understand children are children and do not expect them to be anything else, they encourage fun, underpinned by good manners and understand that happy children learn.
Just caught this thread. Definately no strong evangelical ethos at Castle Court now - that was the old head. It is a Christian school, with assemblies, grace before meals etc but no heavy handed approach. I love the fact at Castle Court that my child is a child, comes home muddy and dirty from the woods, but also supported in the classroom so achieving there as well. I know that there is a riding club at school, and riding is an option on a Wednesday so plenty of chances to be a little girl with ponies if that is what your dd likes! Also when you visited the school did you see the art around the place done by the children? Amazing .... if only I had that talent! Oh yes, and defninatly no Saturday school. Good luck with your decision making.
mjm7 - no evangelical ethos there currently. It's a Christian school, yes, they pray at the end of the day to say goodbye but no evangelising. I heard that was the case in the past.
If you're considering Castle Court which in many ways is a lovely school make sure you are aware of and happy with the evangelical ethos there.
Does anyone have any direct experience of Knighton House? Will look at Dumpton, thanks.
Dumpton would be my choice if it wasn't too far away.
Have you looked at Yarrells? Lovely school. Slightly more girls than boys there and no Saturday School.
Also Dumpton might be worth a look but I don't know much about it.
Have you looked at Hanford?
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.