Recommended mixed private North Devon Schools for ages 3-18

(86 Posts)
Gatita1980 Sun 04-Aug-13 15:44:40

Afternoon, we are thinking of moving down to North Devon and need a mixed school for our son who will be in Reception in September 2014 and our daughter who goes into Year 1 this September. Ideally we would like to be as close to the coast as possible, we have stayed in Woolacombe, but are not sure how practical that would be.
Thanks in advance.

Gatita1980 Mon 05-Aug-13 08:57:37

Thank you MrsDeVere we only went to Barnstable once, maybe we should take a closer look, can you suggest anywhere in particular?

MrsDeVere Mon 05-Aug-13 09:07:13

Not really. I have not been down for a few years. There are so many villages in the area.

Its a big town for the area so a good place to start. I know nothing about private schools so am a bit rubbish on the whole smile

If I were you I would track down the schools
work out how far I wanted to be from the school and the beach
get a map and mark out a territory to explore.

This worked for me when I was house hunting years ago.

It cuts out so much faffing about.

Gatita1980 Mon 05-Aug-13 09:37:18

The place that keeps popping up is Kingsley, it's obviously a huge move as we are based in the East Midlands, but I would like to get the kids settled in a school where they can stay until the leave after 6th form.

Sleepyhoglet Mon 05-Aug-13 09:47:08

http://www.kingsleyschoolbideford.co.uk/Top_Navigation/Our-School/Inspection-Reports/STD2929_Kingsley_School_Final.aspx

The numbers worry me. Only 47 pupils age 5-11. That averages only 10 pupils on average in a year group. That says problems with recruitment and retention. The small numbers of less than 300 for the entire school from 2-18 are shocking. They will have a very small budget, and morale may be low in the staff.

Of course, I don't know any of this for certain. I am just inferring it from the information in the recent inspection. I will read the rest if the inspection report now. It is good that it is from June 2013. Interesting that the school did not provide a copy on their website.

Sleepyhoglet Mon 05-Aug-13 09:48:35

Sorry, 350 for entire school, but is still very small.

Sleepyhoglet Mon 05-Aug-13 09:49:43

You know what? I'm not wearing my glasses today. It is actually 450 for the whole school! That is probably ok! The prep school numbers are still low though.

Sleepyhoglet Mon 05-Aug-13 09:57:30

I've skimmed the report. It isn't an 'outstanding' school, but it certainly has good features. I like the prospectus as well. I would go and visit it with the children and let them have a taster day. A lot of the good ins pendent schools are closer to Exeter, Dorset or somerset, so this might be your best option if you want to live in North Devon.

Gatita1980 Mon 05-Aug-13 10:18:11

Well spotted sleepyhoglet I will take a closer look

Gatita1980 Mon 05-Aug-13 10:21:47

I found the report on the school website, the numbers are low but my daughter currently only has 34 in her year where she is now, so around 16 max per class. You are right about needing to look around, my teachers head would need to have a good poke about.

West buckland near Barnstaple has amazing facilities.

Shebbear college further south and in land also ok.

Blundells is probably the best. Or some of the ones nearer to Exeter.

Sleepyhoglet Mon 05-Aug-13 12:27:32

Ah yes,...forgot about West Buckland!

Gatita1980 Mon 05-Aug-13 13:32:09

Thank you, will go on the website

Gatita1980 Mon 05-Aug-13 14:05:43

It looks lovely, I will show hubby.

teacherwith2kids Mon 05-Aug-13 15:15:07

If I were you, if what youy are looking for is for your children to:
"continue to access the same level of curriculum and extra-curricular activities" as you say, I would look not only at the private schools in the area that you are interested in, but also at the state schools (and extra-curricular opportunities available in the community) to get a fair comparison.

The state: private balance of benefits varies widely across the country, so when moving between two very different places it is often worth at least a quick squizz at both sectors, just for information.

My children, as it happens, are being state educated. However, we moved when they were about the same ages as yours. Where we moved from, I was actively looking into local private schools as the only way to access an education suitable for DS in particular. So I looked at both state and private (and also at facilities for particular interests - football and dance being my DC's passions) where we were moving to.

As it happens, where I now live the local privates aren't as good as the state + community extra curricular options. That doesn't mean that the privates aren't fine - in fact they are very much on a par with the privates where I used to live - just that the state options are very substantially better and the extra-curricular opportunities available in the town and round about are great.

The are you are moving to isn't stuffed with nationally-known top flight private schools (there is nothing, anywhere, in the state sector to match the all-round quality of e.g. Winchester, so the balance is different when such schools are in the equation) so it may be that the balance is slightly different and you may find what you are looking for in state rather than private options.

(I am also interested in your wish for 3-18. IME, children really benefit from the changes in size, scopeand character of schools that occur at a transition, e.g. at 11, and it may well be that the environment that is absolutely right at 3 may be absolutely wrong at 18... )

Tiggles Mon 05-Aug-13 15:17:36

If you happen to be Methodists I would recommend Shebbear.
I really liked the atmosphere when looking around.

Sleepyhoglet Mon 05-Aug-13 15:58:23

teacherwith2kids. The stability can be a plus when you have two children. The OP probably wants Co-ed so the children can attend the same school. If there are not that many schools around and there may be some commuting she won't want to drive to a senior school and a prep school when her children are at different ages.

teacherwith2kids Mon 05-Aug-13 16:45:39

Sleepy - I suppose not, though children all over the country do exactly that because all-through schools that are excellent for all age groups are a relative rarity - with older children travelling by bus or other transport.

I do see the 'convenience' aspect, but it shouldn't over-ride the need for the best fit for children at each age group IF the primary concern when choosing private is excellence of education rather than childcare / convenience.

MrsGSR Mon 05-Aug-13 16:57:37

West Bucklands and Kingsley both have quite good local reputations. There are a few state schools in Barnstaple that used to be quite good, Bideford college has just had a new campus built but doesn't do that well in results takes.

Combe Martin wildlife Park and Paignton zoo are both near Barnstaple and are great days out for kids. There is a soft play Centre in Barnstaple that is great for smaller kids. The big sheep and the milky way are closer to Bideford and are also good. There is a good bowling alley in Barnstaple and a couple of local swimming pools that have a 'fun hour' on Saturdays with inflatable toys etc.

There isn't as much to do as some cities but there is some good days out around.

Gatita1980 Mon 05-Aug-13 19:19:50

teacherwith2kids I appreciate your comments, I also teach and I would like to give my children the most stability I can, along with the best education. I would of course move schools if they were not happy, I would also, where possible like to take them to school, at least whilst they are at Primary, after that I am happy for them to use transport. I would not consider single-sex schools for either of them and would like the continuity of the same school.

burnsie Mon 05-Aug-13 20:26:12

I would suggest coming down here and having a good look at what's on offer.

Also take into account the distance you will be travelling. When mine were in prep we used to do 30 mile round trips twice a day. Add the holiday traffic into the mix and the journey can be quite a challenge.

West Buckland has a wonderful prep and the most fantastic reception teacher.... My kids were very happy.

If you chose not to go down the private route then re are some jolly good local primary schools.

Good luck in your search.

Moving down here was the best decision we made.

Gatita1980 Mon 05-Aug-13 20:32:31

burnsie where did you move to? Are your kids still at West Buckland? My daughter starts Yr 1 in Sept and my son will be in Reception in Sept 14, are you keeping yours there for senior school as well?

burnsie Mon 05-Aug-13 20:49:37

Mine are now in Senior School (going into yrs 10 and 8) and are thriving.

We live about a mile from Saunton Beach and the school supplies a bus from our village every day. There are quite a few kids from Braunton who go.

Kingsley also supply a minibus from the village and has great facilities for children with dyslexia.

I'd suggest booking appointments with both but don't discount the local schools as a very viable option.

burnsie Mon 05-Aug-13 20:51:49

Do you know where you would like to live?

Gilbertus Mon 05-Aug-13 21:06:44

Why north Devon? It's pretty depressing out of season. Blundells is the only decent time private school imo

Gatita1980 Mon 05-Aug-13 21:13:37

Gilbertus we have fallen in love and have always wanted to live on the coast, we stayed in Woolacombe but may look at Westward Ho! as its closer to some of the schools we are thinking about. We will need to come down out of season as well to see how quiet it gets, but the main pull is the sea and the more relaxed way of life.

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