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Prep schools for boys near Guildford - any views on Lanesborough, Downsend, Parkside, Claremont Fan Court, Cranmore(34 Posts)
I'm currently looking for a Prep school for my son to start next Sept and would be interested in any views on the above schools, particularly regarding their reputation in sports, bullying, academic results, types of people it attracts, co-ed vs single sex schools, etc. Am also worried about the commute as we live in Burpham (Guildford). We have got some tours planned with these schools but wanted the inside track on them before making up our minds. We need to decide in the next few weeks. Any help, greatly appreciated.
BUrpham is the right aide of Guildford for Downsend, Cranmore, PArkside, Claremont although the latter two are a bit of a schlep from G'ford and I would think twice unless they have a bus and/or you are prepared for mucho driving to parties etc at weekends to kids who may live as far away as Wimbledon! Lanesborough will entail a trip across town which is not for the faint hearted.
So apart from commuting aspects I can only comment on Downsend as a former parent
Downsend very good all round school, pushes the kids to reach their potential, very sporty if that's what you are into but also very strong on music. LAcks on the drama side IME. Academically very succcessful with many scholarships gained by Year 8 leavers every year (streaming very successful), 100% to senior schools of choice every year - vast majority to St Johns and Epsom College. Zero tolerance of bullying but it does go on, punished by suspension in extreme circs. Very "normal" (ie not super rich types like Danes HIll) professional parents, high proportion of working mums, excellent holiday provision marks it apart from other local schools. It's a very busy place and suits kids who like to muck in and get involved - dn't think it would suit a wall flower. We were very happy with it and would recommend. Think they do bus from Guildford but you would have to check.
Many thanks HTH. On the map, I thought Downsend looked just as far as Parkside. Is Downsend (Leatherhead Lodge and main school) really awful to get to as I've commuted through Leatherhead last year and it was sometimes dreadful, or is it ok? Did you use the Leatherhead Lodge at all? I am worried about the bullying - do they deal with it straight away?
You will not find any school that does not experience bullying! And yes it is dealt with IME. Leatherhead Lodge is lovely. Leatherhead traffic not bad if you stick to A246 / A24 and thereby avoid centre and one way system. Parkside is in Cobham which is further away from Guildford unles you use the A3 I suppose. But I do know that Cobham schools tend to have people who live further north into west London and that was not our experience at Downsend which is more Epsom/ Ashtead/ L'head/ Horsley based
It would also be a reasonable journey to Hoe Bridge in Woking, and indeed Ripley Court in (guess where?) Ripley. I know nothing about Ripley Court. HB is mixed but still quite boy-focussed, relatively new head, not bad on special needs, quite sporty and not academically selective. Lanesborough is more academic, boys only, tends to be a feeder school for RGS, quite strict (or so I've heard). Disclaimer: I have no sons.
From Burpham your obvious choices are Lanesborough vs Cranmore. Very different schools you hear all sorts about both. You meet happy parents at both. You hear about bullying at Cranmore but alot of it is unspecific and under the previous head. Lanesborough is very cramped site that is the main negative IMO.
Cranmore - non-selective, but an academic school but good at music and excellent at sport. A mix of parents some working but quite a few not. It has a community/family feel. Downsides for some is that it is catholic plus concerns about pastoral care and emphasis on sport and some pushiness in terms of academic work - some think thats a good thing for their boy though.
Lanesborough - very cramped sites. Suits a bookish non-sporty child IMO, excellent at music as it has the choristers for the cathedral. Lots of working parents, less of a community feel more of a city/urban feel. Academic but not pushy.
Other schools to consider that are nearer and are co-ed - Hoe Bridge and Ripley Court. Mixed reports about both and certainly less academic than Cranmore/Lanesborough.
Downsend is right by the M25, horrible, polluted location and must be v noisy.
Not at all noisy- you honestly don't notice the M25 there at all!
Thanks for all the comments. I've just looked at Hoe Bridge and it looks great from the website. If any of you know anymore about Hoe Bridge, do tell. I think it's probably our number 1 as it seems very caring.
I know zillions of people who've put boys through Hoe Bridge. My DD1 was there till she was 7, but she is now 17 so it's hardly up to date information. We moved her because the prep was too boyish for her, which I think is largely still true but less so than it was. It seems better for support of things like dyslexia than some, def less academic than some, lots of different things to do and I think is generally quite caring - new head has been there just over a year, I think. I know of one boy, not specially good or bad at anything, who's got a bit lost in the crowd. I can't think of anyone i know who's moved a boy (rather than a girl) because they were dissatisfied with the school As Such, although obviously I know some who were moved because they had serious issues of some sort or another (autism, severe behavioural problems, etc). I think if you want an academically respectable but not massively pushy traditional type of school, it does what it says on the tin. Most children who go there live in Woking, so be prepared to get to know the A320 very well indeed, but the journey won't be too bad if he's prep age and has to be there by 8.15 - if he's pre-prep age and only has to be there later, the journey would be worse. Go and have a look!
I know a few boys that have/tried to move to the Lanesborough from Hoe Bridge looking for a more academic school. Plenty happy with Hoe Bridge though. Ripley Court closer but have heard very mixed reports about the headmaster you seem to hate him or love him.
I think with any prep school you need to ask where the kids go on leaving- this will give you the best steer on where it lies in the academic scheme of things (knowing which senior schools require higher common entrance pass rate helps for this) Prep schools job is to PREPARE for senior school entry and if they get the children into schools of patents choice they are at least doing that part of the job well!
Thanks for all the feedback. I think we've now narrowed it down to Hoe Bridge, Cranmore and Lanesborough. Our son appears to be quite sporty so that may rule out Lanesborough (we have a visit booked in a few weeks' time). We heard Cranmore has great facilities and does well academically but are a bit worried as to whether it's caring enough and if they make the lessons enjoyable. We don't want it to be all push and no enjoyment. From Hoe Bridge's website, we got a real feeling for caring, nurturing though facilities aren't as good and not as wide a range of sport available as with Cranmore. As a working Mum we also want to be able to mix well with other parents and we heard that most of Cranmore's Mums don't work (not that it should matter).
Which schools are you hoping to move onto for secondary? Lanesborough is very much a feeder for RGS which is a love it or loathe it school. Very academic, rather eccentric and bookish - right up our street but if my sons were sporty I'd think twice.
We are in the same position and in addition to the other schools we are also considering Longacre. A few very helpful MNers mentioned it, and we went to visit the school. We were really overwhelmed by the genuine warmth and the friendliness, and very much liked the new head and the teachers there. We are on the Burpham edge of Merrow, but the journey is doable as you can cut through Chilworth and avoid the morning traffic. The facilities don't compare to Cranmore, of course, but there are other things to compensate.
Lots of working mums at Cranmore maybe not quite as much as Lanesborough but you get more of a family feel as a result - quite good after school care provision and holiday provision, far better than at Lanesborough where you have to collect them by 4pm.
Longacre I have heard good things but from Burpham playdates are going to be tricky. Journey doable but not much fun in the winter. Not convinced from what I have heard that Longacre is very sporty but you could move them (and have a further commute) to Cranleigh at age 7.
Given you have to work I would look at where the schools are - Cranmore does a school bus from Guildford, Hoe Bridge you are on the edge of Woking , Longacre well....
Lots of boys I know from Lanesborough do not go to RGS. (Usually because they'd struggle to meet the Maths requirement). Quite a few go on to St John's Leatherhead and so on, and the odd one goes to Eton.
How about Belmont, is that too far to consider? We haven't been to see it yet, but I've heard that they do a minibus from Merrow.
Longacre does do a bus from Guildford but I agree with others that socially you will find yourself constantly in the car. IME the parent profile at Longacre tends to the monied end
Of course the other downside of Longacre for boys in particular is that it only goes to Yr 6 meaning a move to another prep school for 2 years if you want to go to a 13+ senior school. Many boys leave Longacre at 7 for this reason
We have looked at Longacre and from Burpham it looks an awful journey and would take me in the opposite direction to work. I heard back from Hoe Bridge today and there is already a waiting list for entry for next Sept which means we can't depend on Hoe Bridge; their nursery is also fully booked right now so that isn't an option either. So we're back to the drawing board and will now visit the other schools (Parkside, Downsend, Claremont Fan Court). Does anyone have any other views on Cranmore, i.e. we know it has a good academic reputation and sports are good but do the boys enjoy themselves or is it all push? Does anyone know whether Claremont or Hoe Bridge provide any holiday activities? We know Cranmore, Parkside and Downsend do. We know Lanesborough don't but can't tell about Claremont or Hoe Bridge.
I would also look at FeltonFleet before Claremont personally, and maybe St Andrews? Or even St George's junior school?
I'd like to know the answer to the Cranmore question as well. We are really in two minds about it. The facilities are fantastic and the academic record is very good, but we are not sure whether whether it's nurturing enough for a gentler, sensitive, bookish soul like our DS. They are also going up to a three-class intake this year, so they will be even bigger then they are now... Consequences...?
The comments about rgs are a bit odd tbh.
Rgs has a decent sports record with rugby boys getting into the Harlequins academy and the under 18 England team. I watched one of dss friends turn out for Quins last season.
Cricket is a bit weak but hockey is fine and the range of sports available is huge.
Where RGS get left behind some other schools is that, unlike schools like Whitgift, they don't get sports scholars. There are no sporting scholarships so the boys are just the 11plus intake.
And Lanesborough is no longer a feeder school. That pretty much died out under the last Headmaster and the new Head give no preference at all to Lanesborough. Entry is totally based upon academic excellence.
RGS is becoming much harder to get into all round. More boys want to go and the pass mark is getting ever higher. Lanesborough never was a straight feeder school for RGS, I have known boys not get in from there for years at 11, and sometimes only scrape in at 11 (these boys have graduated Uni by now). Sports for RGS seem fine. Lanesborough does have quite a cramped site, and not the facilities of other schools (playing fields the same or less than my DCs state school, although they do spend more time on sport).
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